Glossary of the Moroccan Sahara Issue

This glossary is designed as a reference document accessible to all audiences and based on scientific arguments. It includes objective and up-to-date definitions of the main political, legal and historical concepts related to the Moroccan Sahara issue. Its objective is to clarify the fundamental notions pertaining to this issue and contribute to the improvement of Morocco’s communication on its Southern Provinces, by highlighting the historical and social realities that can help dispel the ambiguities and erroneous interpretations propagated by the opponents of the Kingdom’s territorial integrity.

Term Main definition
Administering Power

The Administering Power is the State responsible for the administration of a United Nations Trust Territory under Chapter XII of the United Nations Charter and by a trusteeship agreement or a Non-Self-Governing Territory under Chapter XI of the same Charter Read more...

Autonomous bodies

According to the Moroccan Initiative for Negotiating an Autonomy Statute for the Sahara Region Read more...


By virtue of constitutional provisions, the autonomous regions are vested with "self-government in economic, social and educational matters through freely elected institutions"[1] Read More....

Baker I (Drafted in 2000, but never submitted to the Security Council)

The Baker I Plan, which was developed following the Houston Agreement, proposed autonomy for the Sahara, while foreign affairs and defense were to remain the Central Government's responsibility. Morocco accepted the plan. Algeria and the Polisario rejected it.

Baker II (May 2, 2003)

The Baker II Plan proposed a referendum including the option of independence after five years of autonomy. Morocco rejected this proposal.


This term refers to the 2,720 kilometer-long defense embankment, commonly named the wall, built by the Royal Armed Forces between 1980 and 1987. It allowed Morocco to control the military situation on the ground and secure the entire Territory west of it.

The Berm is in no way a border of Morocco. The Moroccan Sahara, i.e., The Southern Provinces, extends to the border with Algeria.


The Moroccan Initiative for negotiating an autonomy statute for the Sahara region states that would not this Region have sufficient financial resources to achieve its development objectives, the Central Government will provide it with the additional funds, based on the national solidarity principle.

Contiguous Zone

"The contiguous zone may not extend beyond 24 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured".[1] The coastal State may "exercise the control necessary to Read More...

Continental shelf of the Sahara/off the Sahara

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, "The continental shelf of a coastal State comprises the sea-bed and subsoil of the submarine areas that extend beyond its territorial sea throughout the natural prolongation of its land territory to the outer edge of the continental margins or to a distance of 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured where the outer edge of the continental margin does not extend up to that distance."[1]. Read More....


Created by His Late Majesty King Hassan II, the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs was overhauled in 2006[1] Read More....

Exclusive Economic Zone

Under the International Law of the Sea, this zone is located beyond and contiguous to the territorial sea. It may extend up to a maximum of 200 nautical miles from the baselines. The coastal State has sovereign rights over natural resources. It exercises jurisdiction over certain activities for the purpose, among other things, of protecting the environment. It has an obligation to respect other States' rights (arising from the maintenance of certain freedoms of the high seas regime such as the freedom of navigation) Read More...

Financing of the Autonomous Region

By virtue of the 2007 Moroccan Initiative for Negotiating an Autonomy Statute for the Sahara Region, the population of the Sahara "will have the financial resources necessary for the development of the region in all areas."[1] Read More....

Fourth Committee of the UN

The Fourth Committee of the United Nations is a plenary political committee that deals with various topics such as peacekeeping issues, monitoring of special political missions, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and decolonization. It continues to examine the question of the "Western Sahara", not admitting the Territory has been decolonized by Morocco.  Read More....

Geneva negotiations

In December 2018[1] and March 2019[2], two rounds of negotiations were held in Geneva, Switzerland, in which  representatives of Algeria and Mauritania took part as parties to the conflict.

Good offices

Although not explicitly mentioned in Article 33 of the United Nations Charter relating to the peaceful settlement of conflicts, good offices are a procedure fulfilling the same purpose. Article 33 states that: Read More....