Toothless UN resolution extends peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara
May 4, 2010 3 Comments
The UN Security Council has extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, Minurso (The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara), for another year with resolution 1920. The resolution was adopted unanimously by the Security Council‘s 15 members, and urged Morocco and the Polisario to “show political will to initiate more intensive and substantive negotiations” as well as to continue discussions under the auspices of the UN Secretary General to achieve a “just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution which will provide for the elf-determination of the people of Western Sahara”.
Whilst one can of course only welcome this, the above quote symbolizes the lack of commitment and action in relation to Western Sahara in both the UN and the international community. The reasons for this inaction are many but the common denominator seems to be that each country has either a self interest in delaying a solution to the Western Sahara problem, and therefore actively works against a solution to it, or that they seem to have no interest in acting at all.
One example is that of the self-appointed “Western Sahara friends” group within the United Nations, consisting of Spain and four of the permanent five members of the UN Security Council – the USA, Great Britain, France, and Russia – that has monopolized the writing and observation of resolutions within the UN framework. This group has not proved willing to press Morocco to concessions, France even defending Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara, and trying to block any attempt at monitoring the human rights situation in Western Sahara under UN auspices. Minurso is consequently the only UN Mission that has no mandate to monitor the observance of human rights, and Polisario Secretary General, Mohamed Abdelaziz, recently accused France of adapting Resolution 1920 so that Minurso would remain without any mandate for such monitoring, even though Uganda, Nigeria and Mexico had tried to get this included in the resolution.
If the international community wants Morocco to abandon its lucrative colonization of Western Sahara, it has to categorically condemn Morocco’s continuing violation of human rights, its illegal exploitation of Western Sahara’s natural resources, and its disregard for UN resolutions calling for the holding of a referendum on Western Sahara; prioritize the monitoring of human rights; or impose actual sanctions against Morocco. Otherwise Morocco will be able to continuously delay any process that seeks to resolve the Western Sahara problem.
Security Council Resolution 1920
International Court of Justice ruling on Western Sahara, 1975
General Assembly resolution on Western Sahara, 1979