Morocco has shown wisdom, responsibility and neutrality by not getting involved in the vote of the UN General Assembly on the situation between Ukraine and Russia, said political scientist Mustapha Sehimi. Analysis of the position of Moroccan diplomacy.
The Kingdom did not wish to take part in the vote on a resolution condemning Russia at the General Assembly of the United Nations. This vote, which took place on March 2, was marked by massive support, with 141 countries having voted “for”, against 5 votes “against”, 35 abstentions and 11 no votes.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release following this non-participation. “Morocco’s non-participation shall not be subject to any interpretation in relation to its position of principle concerning the situation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, as reaffirmed in the press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Residing Abroad, dated February 26, 2022”, indicates the text.
The statement refers to the one in which Morocco said it was following “with concern the development of the situation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine”, reiterating its support for the territorial integrity and national unity of the Member States of the United Nations.
“The Kingdom of Morocco also expresses its support for the non-use of force for the settlement of disputes between States and encourages all initiatives and actions promoting a peaceful settlement of conflicts”, underlined the ministry, marking Morocco’s position, against escalation and for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
While the ministry’s first communiqué did not mention “sovereignty”, which created various interpretations, the clarification following the vote did. According to political scientist Mustapha Sehimi, the use of this term would have been interpreted as a “position in favor of Ukraine”, which says that it is its sovereignty and independence that are threatened, while Russia says it wants “restoring peace”.
“What is interesting in this press release is that there are not two other notions that are traditionally taken up, sovereignty and independence. Why there are not these two notions, because pronouncing on sovereignty and independence is a way of interfering in the internal politics of Ukraine.
Morocco sticks to the principles of international law which derive from the United Nations Charter of 48 by mentioning territorial integrity and national unity, and “it is a way of saying that the national unity of ‘Ukraine must not be called into question,” asserts our interlocutor.
According to him, Morocco’s non-vote would therefore be “an extension” of the position expressed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its press release of February 26.
“Morocco has no interest in taking sides with one or the other of the countries and therefore it has a position of wisdom and responsibility and neutrality in the face of the situation created today” by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, in particular because Rabat is attached to a kind of “equidistance between Kiev and Moscow”.
Indeed, Morocco has privileged relations with both Moscow and Kiev. With Russia, there is a strategic partnership which was signed during the visit of King Mohammed VI in May 2016 to Moscow, and in parallel, potentially more important relations with Ukraine, since in 2017 there was talk of a free trade agreement.
Why not abstain?
“The non-participation in the vote means that you do not intend to get involved in this vote” or in this conflict*, indicates Mr. Sehimi. “Abstention is a different act, it is a position which can be interpreted as a position of neutrality but it can be a positive or negative neutrality”.
“Abstention means that you are taking part in the vote and that you are not in favor of the draft resolution of the general meeting, but at the same time you are not joining the +no+ camp, and that means that you fit into the equation”, unlike non-voting where no position is taken on the draft resolution and no voice enters the system.
According to him, Morocco wants to show that it is completely foreign and that it does not want to interfere in the conflict that there is in its diplomatic aspects, thus, he wants to say that “it is not concerned by this vote, and it is an interesting position”.
It is “a position which is not uncomfortable, which is not ambiguous, it makes it possible to preserve the achievements with the two countries”, explains our interlocutor in delivering his analysis. It makes it possible to make the singularity of the Moroccan position heard, and Rabat affirms with “its autonomy of judgment”, even if Ukraine risks not appreciating it at first.
This position was not adopted by the majority, only 11 countries chose not to participate in the vote, including African countries and others from Asia which have a linguistic link with Russia such as Turknenistan.
The presence of other African countries also demonstrates that Africa has no common position on the issue, no shared vote at the level of the African Union as has been the case for the European Union. Some African countries have chosen to vote “for”, several have chosen to “abstain” and one, Eritrea, joined the “against” camp.
What explanation of the position of Moroccan diplomacy?
If Morocco did not wish to vote, this decision can be analyzed by the communications of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in particular in its press releases but also by the interventions of the head of Moroccan diplomacy Nasser Bourita.
On Wednesday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs made a long speech at the Conference on Disarmament where he not only pleaded to curb the arms race but also recalled Morocco’s attachment to the principle of non-use of force for settlement of disputes between States, and the peaceful settlement of conflicts.
Among the arguments justifying Morocco’s position is that the country does not wish to interfere in the internal situation of Ukraine. It nevertheless reiterates its support for the territorial integrity and national unity of this country and recalls one of its key principles, the non-use of force for the settlement of disputes and conflicts.
And it is in this idea that the position of the Kingdom makes itself heard. Morocco is not seeking to aggravate the situation, by taking a stand for one or the other, or by condemning them. Rabat, on the contrary, by its non-vote expresses its alignment, its distance, because it, above all, wants there to be a dialogue between the two belligerents, who moreover are neighbors, and whose future is intimately linked.
It is probably a wise and far-sighted path that Morocco has taken since it does not insult the future of the two countries, because it does not want a war that lasts over several years and because it believes that a peaceful solution between them is possible.
“We are at ease with everyone, because we are in a perimeter that is ours, that is to say that Morocco is for peace, negotiation, it is not for recourse to force”, affirmed in this sense Mustapha Sehimi.
“This singular position also shows the extent of Morocco’s independence in the conduct of its diplomacy, which displays its positions and expresses its autonomy of decision and evaluation, estimated the political scientist, stressing that this position is , moreover, “in accordance with the general principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations”.