UN keeps force in Western Sahara for a year

2014-04-30 10:14


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - The Security Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to keep a UN peacekeeping force in Morocco's Western Sahara region for another year without a mandate to monitor human rights, which was proposed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon but rejected by Morocco's king.

Human rights groups accuse Morocco of using violence to stifle dissent and restrict freedom of expression. Amnesty International said earlier this month it has documented cases of activists and protesters being tortured or ill-treated in police custody following demonstrations calling for the UN mission to adopt a human rights mandate this year.

The resolution adopted by the council extends the UN mission known as MINURSO, which monitors the cease-fire, until 30 April 2015. It includes about 200 military observers and 30 troops and police.

Morocco annexed the former Spanish colony in 1975 and fought a local independence movement called the Polisario Front. The UN brokered a ceasefire in 1991, pending a referendum over the territory's fate that has never taken place.

Morocco has proposed wide-ranging autonomy for the mineral-rich Western Sahara, but the Polisario Front insists on self-determination for the local people through a referendum on the territory's future.

Morocco's UN Ambassador Omar Hilale told reporters that King Mohammed VI threatened to kick out the UN force in a phone conversation with Ban if a human rights monitoring mechanism was included.

Hilale said their discussion was "decisive," calling Ban's proposal for a human rights monitoring mechanism "a bad mistake" that created tension. The UN peacekeeping presence and negotiations between the two parties were "in danger ... but happily Mr Ban acted with responsibility," he said.

UN human rights monitoring

The resolution's only mention of human rights is to stress the importance of improving the rights situation in Western Sahara and its refugee camps, and to encourage both sides to work with the international community "to develop and implement independent and credible measures to ensure full respect for human rights".

It also welcomes recent Moroccan initiatives to strengthen the National Council on Human Rights Commissions operating in Western Sahara, the examination of Morocco's rights record by the U.N. Human Rights Council, and the planned visit of UN human rights chief Navi Pillay this year.

"A continued clampdown has left human rights defenders powerless to effectively document rampant violations in Western Sahara," Amnesty's Secretary General Salil Shetty said on April 11. "Maintaining a peacekeeping force with a limited mandate is no longer an option."

Hilale said there is no need for UN human rights monitoring.

The UN monitoring is only needed "when there is massive and huge violations of human rights" and no national human rights institutions, examination of a country's rights record, or visits by UN experts, he said. "There is already action" on all these fronts in Morocco.

Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, criticised the Security Council for refusing to allow UN peacekeepers to monitor and report on human rights violations.

She said the vote continues MINURSO's "shameful legacy as the only modern peacekeeping mission with no mandate to track and investigate human rights violations."
- AP
Read more on:    un  |  ban ki-moon  |  morocco  |  north africa  |  western sahara

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!



Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


“To infinity and beyond”….. As the Sun and the Moon move into Sagittarius you are able to let go of the emotional intensity of the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.