By: Emhamed Khadad, POLISARIO Coordinator with the MINURSO.
Last month, in a remarkable challenge to the authority of the UN Security Council, the Kingdom of Morocco ordered the expulsion of most of the civilian personnel in the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara. This unilateral decision to effectively dismantle the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has triggered a crisis at the UN and further endangered the Saharawi people. It has also struck a blow to the cause of peace and security in the region.
While Morocco has made no secret of the fact that it would happily do away with MINURSO, the real shock has been the UN Security Council’s troublingly muted reaction. Western Sahara is classified by the UN as a Non-Self-Governing territory, awaiting a process of decolonization. The Security Council created MINURSO with a clear mandate: to organize and supervise a referendum on self-determination in which the people of Western Sahara would choose between independence and integration with Morocco.
Although Morocco agreed to these terms as part of the ceasefire, it has since renounced the very idea of a referendum. MINURSO has failed to deliver on its basic political premise for 25 years, but under the current conditions it won’t even be able to fulfil basic functions of monitoring the ceasefire between Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO – the internationally recognized political representatives of the people of Western Sahara – for much longer.