IL Newswire

UN Peacekeeping Force in Western Sahara Must Urgently Monitor Human Rights

On 18 April 2017 Amnesty International published a statement encouraging the Security Council to renew its peacekeeping mission in the Western Sahara region as a result of the continuing human rights abuses. The vote is scheduled for 27 April; currently, the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has no reporting mechanism enabled to report on or publicize the human rights abuses perpetuated by both the pro-independence groups (the Polisario Front) and the opposition groups (the Moroccan government). 

In his short time as Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has already called for a renewed discussion on the Western Sahara issue. Talks have stalled and UN efforts have not amounted to anything since the advent of the conflict in 1975. A report was published which outline the imperative that "talks must aim for a mutually acceptable political solution over the ultimate status of Western Sahara, including through agreement on "the nature and form of the exercise of self-determination". 

The Amnesty International report calls for independent and impartial human rights reporting since "perpetrators of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law committed during Morocco’s armed conflict with the Polisario Front between 1975 and 1991 have largely gone unpunished". The African Union echoed this statement, as well as also calling upon the Security Council to review and renew MINURSO's role in the region. 

For more information on understanding the resurgence of interest in resolving in this decades-old conflict, see this Al Jazeera report