United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara

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United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara
Emblem of the United Nations.svg
Western Sahara (orthographic projection).svg
Location of Western Sahara in North Africa
AbbreviationMINURSO
Formation24 April 1991
TypePeacekeeping Mission
Legal statusActive
Headquarters Laayoune, Western Sahara
Head
Colin Stewart (Canada), Special Representative
Parent organization
United Nations Security Council
Website minurso.unmissions.org
Left a car of MINURSO, right a post of the Frente polisario in 2017 in southern Western Sahara Posten der Frente Polisario 2.jpg
Left a car of MINURSO, right a post of the Frente polisario in 2017 in southern Western Sahara
MINURSO cars in Laayoune. Twnwbylt d lmynwrsw fl`ywn.jpg
MINURSO cars in Laayoune.

The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (Arabic : بعثة الأمم المتحدة لتنظيم استفتاء في الصحراء الغربية; French : Mission des Nations Unies pour l'Organisation d'un Référendum au Sahara Occidental; Spanish : Misión de las Naciones Unidas para la Organización de un Referéndum en el Sáhara Occidental; MINURSO) is the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, established in 1991 under United Nations Security Council Resolution 690 [1] as part of the Settlement Plan, which had paved way for a cease-fire in the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front (representing the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) over the contested territory of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara).

Contents

MINURSO's mission was to monitor the cease-fire and to organize and conduct a referendum in accordance with the Settlement Plan, which would enable the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara to choose between integration with Morocco and independence. This was intended to constitute a Sahrawi exercise of self-determination, and thus complete Western Sahara's still-unfinished process of decolonization (Western Sahara is the last major territory remaining on the UN's list of non-decolonized territories.)

To this end, MINURSO has been given the following mandates:

Plans

The independence referendum was originally scheduled for 1992, but conflicts over voter eligibility prevented it from being held. Both sides blamed each other for stalling the process. In 1997, the Houston Agreement was supposed to restart the process, but again failed. In 2003, the Baker Plan was launched to replace the Settlement Plan, but while accepted by the Polisario and unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, it was rejected by Morocco. Morocco insisted that all inhabitants of the territory should be eligible to vote in the referendum. Following the 1975 Green March, the Moroccan state has sponsored settlement schemes enticing thousands of Moroccans to move into the Moroccan-occupied part of Western Sahara (80% of the territory). By 2015, it was estimated that Moroccan settlers made up at least two thirds of the 500,000 inhabitants. [2]

Presently, there is no plan for holding the referendum, and the viability of the cease-fire is coming into question.

Extensions

The MINURSO mandate has been extended 47 times since 1991. [3] In October 2006 the Security Council passed a resolution extending the mandate of MINURSO to April 2007. [4] A provision decrying human rights abuses by Morocco in Western Sahara had the backing of 14 members of the Security Council, but was deleted due to French objections. [5]

In April 2007 the resolution extending the mandate to October took "note of the Moroccan proposal presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution" and also took "note of the Polisario Front proposal presented on 10 April 2007 to the Secretary-General". [6] The representative of South Africa took exception to the way that one proposal was held more worthy than the other as well as the lack of participation outside the Group of Friends in the drafting of the resolution. [7]

The October 2007 resolution extending the mandate to April 2008 contained the same preferential wording in its description of the two proposals. [8] The representative of South Africa commented on this again, and regretted the fact that the resolution "considered" rather than "welcomed" the report on the situation by the Secretary-General—"presumably because [it] dared to raise the issue of the human rights violations against the Saharawi people", and quoted the warning in the report [9] about there being no mandate to address the issue of human rights. [10]

The April 2008 resolution extended the mandate for a full year to April 2009. [11] Before the vote, the representative of Costa Rica expressed his "concern at the manner in which the draft resolution on which we are about to vote was negotiated" and a "difficulty in understanding the absolute refusal to include" references to human rights. [12] MINURSO's budget is roughly 60 million dollars per year. [13]

Bases

There are two sets of teams, those in the Moroccan-controlled portion west of the berm and those in the Sahrawi-controlled region and refugee camps to the east and in Algeria. The camps west of the berm are located in Mahbes, Smara, Umm Dreiga and Auserd. The eastern camps include Bir Lehlou, Tifariti, Mehaires, Mijek, and Agwanit. There is also a liaison office in Tindouf which serves as a communication channel with POLISARIO leadership.

Current composition

As of 30 June 2018, MINURSO had a total of 220 uniformed personnel, including 19 contingent troops, 193 experts on mission, 7 staff officers, and 1 police officer, [14] supported by 227 civilian personnel, and 16 UN Volunteers. Major troop contributors are Bangladesh, Egypt, and Pakistan. Armed contingents patrol the no man's land that borders the Moroccan Wall, to safeguard the cease-fire.

MINURSO headquarters in El Aaiun, Western Sahara, June 2, 2012. Several Moroccan flags are displayed at the entrance of the compound, in contrast with MINURSO bases in the POLISARIO Liberated Territories, where only the UN flag is displayed. MINURSO HQ, El Aaiun, WS.jpg
MINURSO headquarters in El Aaiun, Western Sahara, June 2, 2012. Several Moroccan flags are displayed at the entrance of the compound, in contrast with MINURSO bases in the POLISARIO Liberated Territories, where only the UN flag is displayed.

Other personnel:

State Contingent TroopsExperts on MissionStaff OfficersPoliceTotal
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 03003
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria 05005
Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh 1980027
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium 07007
Flag of Bhutan.svg  Bhutan 02002
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 0100010
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China 0120012
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia 07007
Flag of Djibouti.svg  Djibouti 02002
Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Dominican Republic 00022
Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador 04004
Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt 0190019
Flag of El Salvador.svg  El Salvador 01001
Flag of France.svg  France 02002
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 01002
Flag of Ghana.svg  Ghana 087015
Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea 04004
Flag of Honduras (darker variant).svg  Honduras 0120012
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary 06006
Flag of India.svg  India 03003
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia 03003
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland 03003
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 02002
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 02002
Flag of Jordan.svg  Jordan 02002
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan 05005
Flag of Malawi.svg  Malawi 03003
Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia 05005
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 04004
Flag of Mongolia.svg  Mongolia 01001
Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal 06006
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria 06006
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan 0110011
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines 02024
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland 00101
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 00011
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 0150015
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka 04004
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea 04004
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden 02002
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland 02002
Flag of Togo.svg  Togo 02002
Flag of the United Nations.svg  United Nations 1919371220

There have been a total of 16 fatalities in MINURSO: six military personnel, a police officer, a military observer, three international civilian personnel, and five local civilian personnel. [15] [ clarification needed ]

Criticism

MINURSO is the only UN peacekeeping mission established since 1978 to be operating without the capacity to monitor human rights. [16] Although Resolution 1979 of the UN Security Council recommends the establishment of one, this has not yet happened. [17] In 1995, MINURSO's inability or unwillingness to act against perceived Moroccan manipulation of the process, and abuse of Sahrawi civilians, caused its former deputy chairman Frank Ruddy to deliver a strong attack on the organization; [18] he has since kept up his critique of what he argues is an economically costly and politically corrupt process. [19] Growing criticism has been voiced against the UN Security Council for not establishing a program of human rights (as MINURSO is the only UN mission in the world who has no mandate on them) monitoring for Western Sahara and the Sahrawi population, [20] despite serious reports of numerous abuses. . [21] This possibility has been denied by France with its veto power on the Security Council. [22] In April 2016, Uruguay and Venezuela expressed their dissatisfaction with this state of affairs by taking the rare step of voting against a Security Council Resolution reauthorizing MINURSO, United Nations Security Council Resolution 2285, from which Russia and two other powers abstained.

Over a two-year period, mostly 2006–2007, MINURSO personnel vandalized archaeological sites by spraying graffiti over prehistoric rock paintings and engravings [23] in the Free Zone (POLISARIO-controlled parts of Western Sahara). There are also accusations of looting of prehistorical paintings by individuals from the UN on some of those sites. [24]

In May 2010, the Polisario Front suspended contacts with the MINURSO, because of the failure on implementing the self-determination referendum, and accused the force of "...turning into a protector shield of a colonial fact, the occupation of the Western Sahara by Morocco". [25]

See also

Related Research Articles

Free Zone (region)

The Free Zone or Liberated Territories is a term used by the Polisario Front government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a partially recognized de facto sovereign state in the western Maghreb, to describe the part of Western Sahara that lies to the east of a 2,200-kilometre (1,400 mi) border wall flanked by a minefield, often referred as the Berm, and to the west and north of the borders with Algeria and Mauritania, respectively. It is controlled by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, as opposed to the area to the west of the Berm, which is controlled by Morocco as part of its Southern Provinces. Both states claim the entirety of Western Sahara as their territory.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1675

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1675, adopted unanimously on April 28, 2006, after recalling all previous resolutions on the situation in Western Sahara, including resolutions 1495 (2003), 1541 (2004) and 1634 (2005), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until October 31, 2006.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1720

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1720, adopted unanimously on October 31, 2006, after recalling all previous resolutions on the situation in Western Sahara, including resolutions 1495 (2003), 1541 (2004) and 1675 (2006), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for six months until April 30, 2007.

Manhasset negotiations

The Manhasset negotiations were a series of talks that took place in four rounds in 2007–2008 at Manhasset, New York between the Moroccan government and the representatives of the Saharawi liberation movement, the Polisario Front to resolve the Western Sahara conflict. They were considered the first direct negotiations in seven years between the two parties. Also present at the negotiations were the neighboring countries of Algeria and Mauritania.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1754

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1754, adopted unanimously on April 30, 2007, after recalling all previous resolutions on the situation in Western Sahara, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for six months until October 31, 2007.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1017

United Nations Security Council resolution 1017, adopted unanimously on 22 September 1995, after recalling resolutions 621 (1988), 658 (1990), 690 (1991), 725 (1991), 809 (1993), 907 (1994), 973 (1995), 995 (1995) and 1002 (1995), the Council discussed the implementation of the Settlement Plan in Western Sahara and extended the mandate of United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 January 1996.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1056

United Nations Security Council resolution 1056, adopted unanimously on 29 May 1996, after reaffirming all previous resolutions on the Western Sahara, the Council discussed the Settlement Plan for Western Sahara, including the suspension of the voter identification process, and extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 November 1996.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1920

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1920, adopted unanimously on April 30, 2010, after reaffirming all previous resolutions on the Western Sahara including 1754 (2007), 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008) and 1871 (2009), the Council discussed prospects for a settlement of the dispute and extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until April 30, 2011.

In United Nations Security Council resolution 1133, adopted unanimously on 20 October 1997, after reaffirming all previous resolutions on the Western Sahara, but recalling Resolution 1131 (1997), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 20 April 1998.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1163

United Nations Security Council resolution 1163, adopted unanimously on 17 April 1998, after reaffirming all previous resolutions on the Western Sahara, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 20 July 1998 so that it could proceed with voter identification tasks.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1185

United Nations Security Council resolution 1185, adopted unanimously on 20 July 1998, after reaffirming all previous resolutions on the Western Sahara, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 21 September 1998 so that it could proceed with voter identification tasks.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1198

United Nations Security Council resolution 1198, adopted unanimously on 18 September 1998, after reaffirming all previous resolutions on the Western Sahara, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 1998.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1292

United Nations Security Council resolution 1292, adopted unanimously on 29 February 2000, after recalling all previous resolutions on the question of the Western Sahara, in particular resolution 1108 (1997), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 May 2000.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1301

United Nations Security Council resolution 1301, adopted on 31 May 2000, after recalling all previous resolutions on the question of the Western Sahara, in particular resolutions 1108 (1997) and 1292 (2000), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 July 2000.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1342

United Nations Security Council resolution 1342, adopted unanimously on 27 February 2001, after recalling all previous resolutions on Western Sahara, in particular resolutions 1108 (1997), 1292 (2000), 1301 (2000), 1309 (2000) and 1324 (2000), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2001.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1513

United Nations Security Council resolution 1513, adopted unanimously on 28 October 2003, after recalling all previous resolutions on the situation in Western Sahara, particularly Resolution 1495 (2003), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 January 2004.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1541 United Nations Security Council resolution

United Nations Security Council resolution 1541, adopted unanimously on 29 April 2004, after recalling all previous resolutions on the situation in Western Sahara, particularly Resolution 1495 (2003), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 2004 with a view to reducing its size.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1598

United Nations Security Council resolution 1598, adopted unanimously on 28 April 2005, after recalling all previous resolutions on the situation in Western Sahara, including resolutions 1495 (2003), 1541 (2004) and 1570 (2004), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 2005.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1634

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1634, adopted unanimously on 28 October 2005, after recalling all previous resolutions on the situation in Western Sahara, including resolutions 1495 (2003), 1541 (2004) and 1598 (2005), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2006.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1979

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1979, adopted unanimously on April 27, 2011, after reaffirming all previous resolutions on the Western Sahara including 1754 (2007), 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009) and 1920 (2010), the Council discussed prospects for a settlement of the dispute and extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until April 30, 2012.

References

  1. United Nations Security Council Resolution690. S/RES/690(1991) 29 April 1991. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  2. Shefte, Whitney (6 January 2015). "Western Sahara's stranded refugees consider renewal of Morocco conflict". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  3. "Security Council Resolutions and Statements". MINURSO. 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  4. United Nations Security Council Resolution1720. S/RES/1720(2006) 31 October 2006. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  5. Reuters. "UN shuns W. Sahara rights plea after France objects". Reuters Alertnet. Retrieved 2006-10-31.
  6. United Nations Security Council Resolution1754. S/RES/1754(2007) 31 April 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  7. United Nations Security Council Verbotim Report5669. S/PV/5669 page 2. Mr. Kumalo South Africa 30 April 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  8. United Nations Security Council Document619. S/2007/619 (2007) Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  9. United Nations Security Council Document619. Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western SaharaS/2007/619 page 15. 19 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  10. United Nations Security Council Verbotim Report5773. S/PV/5773 page 2. Mr. Kumalo South Africa 31 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  11. United Nations Security Council Resolution1813. S/RES/1813(2008) (2008) Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  12. United Nations Security Council Verbotim Report5884. S/PV/5884 page 2. Mr. Urbina Costa Rica 30 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  13. "Financial aspects". MINURSO Facts and Figures.
  14. "Troop and police contributors". United Nations Peacekeeping. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  15. "Fatalities". United Nations Peacekeeping. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  16. "Mission Mandate".
  17. "United Nations Security Council Resolution 1979". Resolutions of the Security Council on MINURSO.
  18. Ruddy, Frank (1995-01-25). "Review of United Nations Operations & Peacekeeping". Washington, DC: Congress of the United States. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  19. Catherine, Edwards (1999-10-04). "Saharawi Republic Waits to Be Born". B Net. Archived from the original on 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  20. Whitson, Sarah Leah (2009-04-17). "Letter to the UNSC urging for human rights monitoring in Western Sahara". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2009-07-06.
  21. http://www.afapredesa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=233&Itemid=2 Campaña internacional ampliación D.D.H.H. mandato MINURSO
  22. "Security Council under pressure over human rights in Western Sahara" Pravda, April 27, 2010
  23. "UN vandals spray graffiti on Sahara's prehistoric art". The Times . Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2008.
  24. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) UN peacekeepers: cultural crime, too.
  25. "El Polisario rompe los contactos con la MINURSO" (in Spanish). El País. 2010-05-28. Retrieved 4 June 2010.