Western Sahara: Security Council approves two-month extension of UN mission

Western Sahara: Security Council approves two-month extension of UN mission

Confronted with a political stalemate over Western Sahara, the United Nations Security Council today extended for two months the UN mission which for over a decade has been working to organize a referendum to allow the territory’s people to choose between independence or integration with Morocco.

The Council’s unanimously adopted resolution extending the mandate of the mission, known as MINURSO, through 30 April came in response to a recommendation by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who in a recent report put forward four options for dealing with the “rather bleak” future for the stalled peace process. The Council also expressed its intention to “consider actively” those four options.

The first option would have the UN resume trying to implement the 1988 Settlement Plan, even without the concurrence of the two parties, Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO. Under the second option, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, James Baker III, would try to revise the draft Framework Agreement – again without necessarily gaining the agreement of both sides. The third option would involve mandating Mr. Baker to discuss a possible division of the territory with interested parties.

Under the fourth option, the Council would terminate MINURSO due to the lack of progress, “thereby recognizing and acknowledging that after more than 11 years and the expenditure of sums of money nearing half a billion dollars, the United Nations is not going to solve the problem of Western Sahara without requiring that one or the other or both of the parties do something that they do not wish to voluntarily agree to do,” Mr. Annan wrote.