UN seeks to push the situation forward in Western Sahara against a backdrop of deepening suspicion
UN Security Council
Resolution 2468 has been passed by the UN Security Council. The resolution deals with the extension of the mandate of the peacekeeping force MINURSO and calls on all of the parties in the dispute to come to the table with an attitude of pragmatism and compromise. However, this is seen by some as evidence that there is greater support for Morocco within the Council.
Some members remain suspicious that the situation in the region is simply ‘business as usual’ but the Security Council is keen to maintain the recent momentum in the political process. In accordance with UN tradition the language used in Resolution 2468 was neutral, however the new additions to the text presents a more Morocco-friendly appearance.
Prioritizing compromise in dialogue
There was much speculation over the contents of the draft resolution, particularly the assertion that it was more Morocco-friendly.
Although some sticking points had been raised and there had been claims that these were against Morocco, this was not the case. In fact the resolution supported many of Morocco’s past suggestions for the area and the language used was certainly geared toward neutrality.
As has been the case previously, the document is looking at all parties in the conflict to come to the table in the spirit of compromise and with committent to finding a political solution.
In previous resolutions Algeria and Mauritania were known as “neighbouring countries.” The aim was to ensure that those more actively involved, ie, Morocco and the Polisario Front, were identified as being parties to the conflict. In Resolution 2465 this differentiation has been removed with all being included as parties to the conflict on equal terms.
The resolution seeks political compromise rather than a referendum and, in a similar vein to the appeals by Morocco, it calls for realism and practicality and for a long-lasting political solution to be found with compromise at the centre of this.
On the issue of human rights the draft points at all parties to take on the responsibility of maintaining human rights in Western Sahara and the Tindouf camps. Instead of singling out Morocco the draft looks to ensure that parties work collaboratively to maintain higher human rights standards.
Unfortunately what the UN diplomats are hailing as new momentum in the political process, has been seen by Polisario supporters as tacit support for Morocco. They have said that Moroccan and UN representatives have met in secret to push the Moroccan agenda forwards.
Although the new resolution may leave some of them feeling justified, for the UN, the issue is to move forward and break free of decades of stagnation in the region. Secretary-General’s Envoy, Horst Kohler invited all four parties to Geneva to attend the third round-table meeting to keep the momentum going.
Time will tell when it comes to the UN’s plans and whether they can bridge the differences that exist between Morocco and Polisario and finally reach a settlement for the area.