The U.N. shifts on the Western Sahara conflict
The U.N. Security Council’s renewal of the mandate of the U.N. Mission in Western Sahara, or MINURSO, on April 28 marked a shift in the United Nations’ approach to the Western Sahara dispute.
The inability of Morocco or Polisario to negotiate over the Western Sahara’s self-determination – whether autonomy or independence – has largely confined the U.N.’s mediator role to contextual, if not peripheral issues. As a result, the Western Sahara dispute has shifted ground with Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario advancing competing agendas on the purpose and role of MINURSO, particularly whether the peacekeeping force should monitor human rights. The U.N. Security Council’s annual resolution extending the mission Western Sahara, whose language has remained virtually identical over the last three years, is no longer subject to negotiation: Parties to the conflict are instead focusing on influencing the reports the U.N. secretary-general sends to the Security Council.
The Daily Star
Polisario Front Becomes Party to Geneva Conventions, Launches Solemn Appeal to Companies Operating in Western Sahara.
The Polisario Front, through an approach with the Swiss Federal Council, as the depositary of the Geneva Conventions, declared that it is “committed to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I in the conflict between it and the Kingdom of Morocco,” according to a statement by Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO Mhamed Khaddad.
In 1975, the Polisario Front unilaterally declared that it would respect the right of the Geneva Conventions, and it has always remained so. The declaration on June 23, 2015 has a different scope since it was accepted by the Swiss Federal Council, and thus establishes the Polisario Front as a subject of international law and only “authority representing the people of Western Sahara fighting for its right to self-determination” (Article 96.3 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1949).
Intense debate on Western Sahara in the Committee of 24
The examination of the question of Western Sahara in the UN Decolonization Committee was characterized by numerous interventions defending international legality in Western Sahara, a conflict that almost 40 years.
Swift action must be taken to end the “dangerous status quo” in Western Sahara and to finally grant independence to the “last African colony”, the Special Committee of 24 heard today, as it approved five draft resolutions on a range of items on its agenda.
Saharan Press Service