United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara

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).

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:

  • Monitor the ceasefire
  • Verify the reduction of Moroccan troops in the territory
  • Monitor the confinement of Moroccan and Polisario troops to designated locations
  • Take steps with the parties to ensure the release of all Western Saharan political prisoners or detainees
  • Oversee the exchange of prisoners of war (through the International Committee of the Red Cross)
  • Implement the repatriation programme (through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
  • Identify and register qualified voters
  • Organize and ensure a free and fair referendum and proclaim the results
United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara
Emblem of the United Nations
Western Sahara (orthographic projection)
Location of Western Sahara in North Africa
AbbreviationMINURSO
Formation24 April 1991
TypePeacekeeping Mission
Legal statusActive
HeadquartersLaayoune, Western Sahara
Head
Colin Stewart (Canada), Special Representative
Parent organization
United Nations Security Council
Websiteminurso.unmissions.org
Posten der Frente Polisario 2
Left a car of MINURSO, right a post of the Frente polisario in 2017 in southern Western Sahara
طونوبيلات د المينورسو فالعيون
MINURSO cars in Laayoune.

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 41 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 HQ, El Aaiun, WS
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 Troops Experts on Mission Staff Officers Police Total
 Argentina 0 3 0 0 3
 Austria 0 5 0 0 5
 Bangladesh 19 8 0 0 27
 Bhutan 0 2 0 0 2
 Brazil 0 10 0 0 10
 China 0 12 0 0 12
 Croatia 0 7 0 0 7
 Djibouti 0 2 0 0 2
 Dominican Republic 0 0 0 2 2
 Ecuador 0 4 0 0 4
 Egypt 0 19 0 0 19
 El Salvador 0 1 0 0 1
 France 0 2 0 0 2
 Germany 0 2 0 0 2
 Ghana 0 8 7 0 15
 Guinea 0 4 0 0 4
 Honduras 0 12 0 0 12
 Hungary 0 6 0 0 6
 India 0 3 0 0 3
 Indonesia 0 3 0 0 3
 Ireland 0 3 0 0 3
 Italy 0 2 0 0 2
 Japan 0 2 0 0 2
 Jordan 0 2 0 0 2
 Kazakhstan 0 5 0 0 5
 Malawi 0 3 0 0 3
 Malaysia 0 5 0 0 5
 Mexico 0 4 0 0 4
 Mongolia 0 1 0 0 1
   Nepal 0 6 0 0 6
 Nigeria 0 6 0 0 6
 Pakistan 0 11 0 0 11
 Philippines 0 2 0 2 4
 Poland 0 0 1 0 1
 Portugal 0 0 0 1 1
 Russia 0 15 0 0 15
 Sri Lanka 0 4 0 0 4
 South Korea 0 4 0 0 4
 Spain 0 2 0 0 2
 Sweden 0 2 0 0 2
  Switzerland 0 2 0 0 2
 Togo 0 2 0 0 2
 United Nations 19 193 7 1 220

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]

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]

In September 2010, former MINURSO Force Commander, General Esegbuyota Okita stated about the Independence Intifada events:

...it reminded me of the forced removals of black people by the Apartheid Regime in the 1950s. The Saharawi people's protest was met by severe repression by the Moroccan forces, where they exposed to beaten and bulldozers for demolition their houses.

— Esegbuyota Okita.Algiers, 25-09-2010.[26]

He also expressed his regret on the inability of MINURSO members to intervene, because their mandate does not monitor the protection of human rights, stressing the need to include them within the MINURSO mandates.

See also

  • Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara
  • Foreign relations of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
  • History of Western Sahara
  • Politics of Western Sahara
  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1720
  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 2285
  • Western Sahara: Anatomy of a Stalemate by Erik Jensen, former director of MINURSO (1995–1998) (ISBN 1-58826-305-3)
  • Peacemonger by Marrack Goulding, former director of UN peace-keeping missions (ISBN 0-8018-7858-6)

References

  1. ^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 690. 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. ^ "United Nations Documents on MINURSO". Resolutions of the Security Council. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
  4. ^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 1720. 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 Resolution 1754. S/RES/1754(2007) 31 April 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  7. ^ United Nations Security Council Verbotim Report 5669. S/PV/5669 page 2. Mr. Kumalo South Africa 30 April 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  8. ^ United Nations Security Council Document 619. S/2007/619 (2007) Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  9. ^ United Nations Security Council Document 619. Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara S/2007/619 page 15. 19 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  10. ^ United Nations Security Council Verbotim Report 5773. S/PV/5773 page 2. Mr. Kumalo South Africa 31 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  11. ^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 1813. S/RES/1813(2008) (2008) Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  12. ^ United Nations Security Council Verbotim Report 5884. 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". http://minurso.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=9531&language=en-US. External link in |website= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  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.
  26. ^ "Saharawi resistance exposed to brutal repression by Moroccan authorities (former MINURSO official)". Sahara Press Service. 2010-09-25. Retrieved 2010-09-28.

External links

List of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1101 to 1200

This is a list of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1101 to 1200 adopted between 28 March 1997 and 30 September 1998.

List of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1201 to 1300

This is a list of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1201 to 1300 adopted between 15 October 1998 and 31 May 2000.

List of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1301 to 1400

This is a list of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1301 to 1400 adopted between 31 May 2000 and 28 March 2002.

List of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1401 to 1500

This is a list of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1401 to 1500 adopted between 28 March 2002 and 14 August 2003.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara (SRSG) is appointed by the Secretary-General to lead the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1148

United Nations Security Council resolution 1148, adopted unanimously on 26 January 1998, after recalling all previous resolutions on the Western Sahara, particularly Resolution 1133 (1997), the Council approved the deployment of an engineering unit to support the deployment of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).The resolution began by welcoming the appointment of Charles Dunbar, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The Secretary-General had submitted plans detailing the strengthening of MINURSO, and the Council welcomed the resumption of identification of eligible voters. It approved the deployment of an engineering unit to assist in demining activities and of additional administrative staff to support the deployment of military personnel. Additional troops would be deployed when it was considered necessary. Both the Moroccan government and the Polisario Front were called upon to co-operate in the implementation of the Settlement Plan and the identification process in a timely manner.

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.The Security Council reiterated its commitment to finding a lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara and its determination to hold a referendum on self-determination for the people of the territory in accordance with the Settlement Plan.

The resolution then welcomed the agreement of the Moroccan authorities to formalise the presence of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Western Sahara and both Morocco and the Polisario Front were urged to contribute to the return of refugees eligible to vote. It called for the conclusion of Status of Forces Agreements for the deployment of MINURSO military personnel. Within 30 days the Secretary-General Kofi Annan was requested to report on progress.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1224

United Nations Security Council resolution 1224, adopted unanimously on 28 January 1999, after reaffirming all previous resolutions on the question of the Western Sahara, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 11 February 1999.The resolution requested the Secretary-General to keep the Council updated on developments, including the implementation of the Settlement Plan, the agreements reached between both the Government of Morocco and the Polisario Front and the viability of MINURSO's mandate.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1380

United Nations Security Council resolution 1380, adopted unanimously on 27 November 2001, after reaffirming all previous resolutions on Western Sahara, including Resolution 1359 (2001), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 28 February 2002.MINURSO's mandate was extended to allow additional time for consultations on a settlement of the issue by James Baker with Morocco and the Polisario Front. The Secretary-General Kofi Annan was requested to inform the Council of significant developments by 15 January 2002 and to provide an assessment of the situation by 18 February 2002.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1463

United Nations Security Council resolution 1463, adopted unanimously on 30 January 2003, after recalling all previous resolutionns on the situation in Western Sahara, particularly Resolution 1429 (2002), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for two months until 31 March 2003.The Security Council extended the MINURSO operation to allow Morocco and the Polisario Front time to consider proposals presented by the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy James Baker III for a political solution to the dispute. The proposal provided for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. In addition, the Secretary-General Kofi Annan was asked to submit a report by 17 March 2003 on the situation.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1485

United Nations Security Council resolution 1485, adopted unanimously on 30 May 2003, after recalling all previous resolutionns on the situation in Western Sahara, particularly Resolution 1429 (2002), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for two months until 31 July 2003.The Security Council extended the MINURSO operation to allow Morocco and the Polisario Front further time to consider proposals presented by the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy James Baker III for a political solution to the dispute and provide their views on the Baker Plan. The proposal provided for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. In addition, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General was commended for his efforts to resolve humanitarian issues and in the implementation of confidence-building measures proposed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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.The decision to extend MINURSO's mandate was taken after a request by Morocco to further consider the Baker Plan proposed by James Baker III, relating to the self-determination of the territory; the Polisario Front accepted the plan on 6 July 2003. The Secretary-General Kofi Annan was requested to report on the situation at the end of MINURSO's mandate.

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.The resolution marked the 28th extension of MINURSO's mandate.

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.Of the fifteen members of the Security Council, 14 approved a draft resolution that included a provision expressing concern about Moroccan human rights abuses in the occupied territory; only France objected, and thus the paragraph was omitted from the final text. The United States had suggested wrapping up the mission during discussions prior to the adoption of Resolution 1720.

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 690

United Nations Security Council resolution 690, adopted unanimously on 29 April 1991, after recalling resolutions 621 (1988) and 658 (1990) and noting a report by the Secretary-General on the situation in Western Sahara, the Council approved the report and decided to establish the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in accordance with the Secretary-General's recommendations. The Mission was to implement the Settlement Plan for a referendum of self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.The Council called upon Morocco and the Polisario Front to co-operate with the Secretary-General and the Mission, expressing its full support to him and the Organisation of African Unity for their efforts. It also decided that the transitional period will begin no later than sixteen weeks after the General Assembly approves the budget of MINURSO. In May 1991, the General Assembly approved the budget.A ceasefire came into effect on 6 September 1991, and MINURSO was deployed thereafter.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 725

United Nations Security Council resolution 725, adopted unanimously on 31 December 1991, after recalling resolutions 621 (1988), 658 (1990) and 690 (1991) and noting a report by the Secretary-General on the situation in Western Sahara, the Council welcomed the report, supporting his efforts and those of the Organisation of African Unity in the region.

The resolution called for Morocco and Polisario Front to co-operate with the Secretary-General in the implementation of the Settlement Plan.

The report noted the slow progress in the implementation of prior resolutions, particularly with regard to organising the referendum in the Western Sahara. Both parties had acknowledged the Settlement Plan despite some differences, however an informal ceasefire was violated and hostilities broke out. It also stated that the presence of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara had significantly calmed tensions and there would be delay for further consultations on a settlement of the issue. Some members of the Council, such as the United States, did not feel the report and its recommendations, such as on voter eligibility, reflected what the parties had previously agreed, hence Resolution 725 "welcomed" but did not "approve" his report.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 907

United Nations Security Council resolution 907, adopted unanimously on 29 March 1994, after recalling resolutions 621 (1988), 658 (1990), 690 (1991), 725 (1991) and 809 (1993), the Council discussed the Settlement Plan for the Western Sahara.

The proposal by the Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali concerning the interpretation and application of criteria for voter eligibility was welcomed, while concern was expressed over continuing difficulties and delays in the work of the Identification Commission. The Commission was requested to complete the analysis of all applications received and proceed with the identification and registration of potential voters by 30 June 1994, with the Secretary-General reporting back on developments no later than 15 July 1994 with regard to the work of the Commission and other areas relevant to the Settlement Plan.The Council also noted that the referendum could now no longer take place by the end of 1994, and would consider the future of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara where its strength and role would be reviewed.

United Nations System
Members and observers
History
Resolutions
Elections
Related
Other
Africa
Americas
Asia
Europe
Middle East

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.