Inscrit depuis 1966 sur la liste des territoires non autonomes — et donc éligible à l’application de la résolution 1514 de l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU portant déclaration sur l’octroi de l’indépendance aux pays et peuples coloniaux —, le Sahara occidental est la dernière colonie en Afrique, occupé depuis 1975 par le Maroc qui est soutenu par la France. Jacob Mundy, enseignant à l’université Colgate de New York, explique les raisons des récentes attaques dirigées par le Maroc contre le secrétaire général de l’ONU.
For the secretary-general, these tensions appear to have helped fuel continued frustration towards Morocco and the visit may have been an attempt to show Western Sahara that the international body has not forgotten about the issue, according to Jacob Mundy, a political science professor and North Africa expert at Colgate University. As Mundy noted, the visit was unusual in the fact that Ban only met with one side. “It’s kind of unprecedented, just on its face, only going to meet with one side of the conflict,” he said. “The secretariat has never visibly shown this much frustration before and if it was… it never would have made its frustration public.”
As the Syrian regime continues to slaughter unarmed civilians, the major powers at the United Nations continue to put their narrow geopolitical agenda ahead of international humanitarian law. Just as France shields Morocco from accountability for its ongoing occupation and repression in Western Sahara and just as the United States shields Israel from having to live up to its obligations under international humanitarian law, Russia and China have used their permanent seats on the UN Security Council to protect the Syrian regime from accountability for its savage repression against its own citizens. Although the joint Russian and Chinese veto of the resolution is inexcusable, the self-righteous reaction by U.S. officials betrays hypocrisy on a grand scale and fails to take into account a series of policy blunders that have contributed to the tragic impasse.
Coauthored with Anna Theofilopoulou
The recent decision by the Obama administration to invite Israel and the Palestinian Authority to engage in serious negotiations over the Middle East conflict should be instructive for those interested in resolving one that seems almost as intractable — the Western Sahara dispute. Key to this new effort in the Middle East conflict is (1) the U.S. is sponsoring and supporting the talks; (2) the U.S. has demanded that the two negotiate seriously, tackle the difficult subjects that have trounced previous attempts for resolution; and (3) the U.S. has given the two sides a one-year deadline. Though the fate of the Israel-Palestinian talks still hangs on a knife’s edge, a similar attitude on the part of United States towards the Western Sahara dispute might pave the way to a durable solution to one of Africa’s oldest conflicts.
Co-authored with Anna Theofilopoulou.
The Secretariat under Ban Ki-moon does not seem to recognize, or is unwilling to admit, the tough choices facing the UN venture in Western Sahara. As early as December 1995, Boutros Ghali admitted to the Council that the differences between the sides were irreconcilable and surprised everybody by admitting that he never believed that the referendum would happen. He understood that there were really only three options on the table: force a solution on the parties, withdraw or keep pressing for negotiations. Consistently, the Security Council chose number three. For the Obama administration, these choices remain fundamentally the same and dismal in their prospects.
Pourquoi l’ONU ne résoudra pas le Sahara occidental (jusqu’à ce que cela devienne une crise)
Translation by Amis du Peuple du Sahara Occidental, France
Por qué no resolverá la ONU el problema del Sáhara (hasta que se convierta en una crisis abierta)
translation by Javier Villate
In recent months, the 32-year old Western Sahara conflict has generated almost unprecedented media coverage, all because of one de-contextualised fact. The pro-independence Polisario Front and the occupying Moroccan government met to discuss the disputed Britain sized territory in June and August 2007. Optimists pointed out that these were the first face-to-face meetings between the two antagonists since 2000. For pessimists, this author included (see Mundy, 2007) the mere existence of talks has come as a surprise. Nonetheless, the chances of a Polisario-Morocco agreement any time in the near future remains nil given that both sides are still attached to diametrically opposed positions. As always, Polisario continues to demand a self-determination referendum on independence for the native Sahrawi population of Western Sahara. Morocco, on the other hand, says independence is off the table, though it is willing to discuss an asymmetric power-sharing agreement (i.e., limited ‘autonomy’).
in Review of African Political Economy, Volume 34 Number 114 (Dec 2007), pp730-735.
Since 1988, the United Nations has been actively involved in the Western Sahara dispute between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Western Saharan liberation movement known as the Frente POLISARIO. Over fifteen years later, there seems to be no end in sight for this seemingly intractable conflict. For the UN, the Western Sahara file is beginning to look less like East Timor and a lot more like Cyprus.
in Mediterranean Quarterly 15.3 (2004), pp.130-148.
Article in Current History (May 1996).