The UN Security Council's faltering stance on self-determination in Western Sahara

By: Deich Mohamed Saleh

Approximately twenty nine years are accumulated since the UN Peacekeeping has arrived the ground of Western Sahara for a specific mission, which is the supervision of a referendum of self-determination for the people of the territory. Such referendum has not yet seen light due to the UN Security Council's lack of action, despite numerous of the UN and the OAU-AU resolutions and engagement of distinguished personalities. Unfortunately, the one who has been benefiting from the situation of procrastination is the Kingdom of Morocco, illegally occupying the territory, whereas the victim is the legitimate owner, the people of Western Sahara, who are fed up of long wait. The UN’s failure, over more than fifty years, in the application of the legitimate right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and independence left no doubt how the International Community’s action is controlled by interests and not by principles.

The Decolonization process

The process of the decolonization of Western Sahara dates back to the Spanish colonial era (1884-1976). Since the inscription of the territory in 1963 on the list of non-self-governing territories the UN treatment of the question has been based on the Resolution 1514 (XV) of the UN General Assembly containing the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. However, the UN General Assembly in its first resolutions on the question of then Spanish Sahara (2072(XX) of 1965 and 2229(XXII) of 1966), consecutively, asked Spain to decolonize the territory through a referendum of self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. Increasing the internal and international pressure made Spain to declare in August 1974 its intention to organize the referendum of self-determination of the territory in early 1975. King Hassan II of Morocco announced that his country could not accept a referendum that included the option of independence to be joined by Mauritania in claiming Western Sahara, calling for arbitration by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to make a judgement on the pre-colonial legal status of the territory. In its resolution 3292 (XXXII) of 1974, the UN General Assembly requested the ICJ to give an advisory opinion on the status of Western Sahara prior to Spanish colonization, and called on Spain to postpone the referendum until the General Assembly was able to decide on a decolonizing process that included an ICJ advisory opinion. However, the ICJ advisory opinion, which was released on 16 October 1975, denied any ties of sovereignty of Morocco and Mauritania over Western Sahara. The ICJ endorsed the decolonization of the territory based on the principle of self-determination. In response to the ICJ ruling, King Hassan II, with the complicity of certain Western powers, ordered the military invasion and occupation of Western Sahara on 31 October 1975.
For its part, the Organization of Africa Unit (OAU)/ now African Union (AU) was guided by the principles and objectives of its Charter in dealing with question of Western Sahara since its creation in 1963 , in particular those relating to the total decolonization of the African territories under foreign occupation. The Position of Africa Bloc was reinforced by the status of the territory as UN non-self-governing territory whose people were entitled to exercise their inalienable right to elf-determination in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV). The African Organization consistently seized the question of Western Sahara calling for immediate decolonization of the territory and showing its solidarity with the people of the territory against Spanish domination. Morocco itself voted on the resolution CM/Res. 272 (XIX) of 1972 adopted unanimously in Rabat, Morocco, by the OAU Council of Ministers endorsing the right of the people of the then Spanish Sahara to self-determination and independence.
The decolonization of the Western Sahara has not yet taken place and that Spain remains the administrating power until the completion of the decolonization process. Thus, it has to comply with the obligations set out in Articles 73 and 74 (d) of the Charter of the United Nations. This was reaffirmed by the Legal Opinion of the UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Hans Correll, in 2002.

The Saharawi state

In the report on its visit to Western Sahara in May and June 1975, the UN Visiting Mission gave evidence that it “ noted that the population, or at least almost all those persons encountered by the Mission, was categorically for independence and against the territorial claims of Morocco and Mauritania… and the Frente Polisario (Polisario Front) appeared as a dominant political force in the Territory. The Mission witnessed mass demonstrations in support of the movement in all parts of the Territory “. The Polisario Front (Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el Hamra y Río de Oro) founded in 1973 after receiving widespread support among the population of Western Sahara, which made it embrace the people's aspirations in self-determination and independence. Shortly after signing Madrid accord, supermajority of representatives of the then colonial General Assembly (Jama'a) met on 28 November 1975 in Galtat-Zamur to endorse the Polisario Front and dissolve itself to be replaced by the Provisional National Council. On 27 February 1976 in Bir-Lehlu, the Polisario Front proclaimed the Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) to avoid a juridical fait accompli created by the departure of Spain.

Moroccan occupation

Morocco’s military invasion and occupation of Western Sahara on 31 October 1975, involving 350.000 civilians in a march into the territory, was not only in violation of the UN and the OAU/AU resolutions as well as the principle of intangible colonial borders and the ICJ advisory opinion on Western Sahara. But also it was against the will of the people of the territory and constituted an attack on the sanctity and sovereignty of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. The UN and OAU/AU are in line of the UN General Assembly resolution 2625 (XXV), which recognizes illegal the territorial acquisition by force that Morocco is an occupying power as the UN General Assembly stated in its resolutions 34/37 (1979) and 35/19 (1980).
Morocco occupation of Western Sahara generated a tragic situation, which made thousands of the population of the territory flee from the troops and airforces bombard, seeking for a safe place in Algeria. For more than 47 years, those people have lived in exile in hard conditions, waiting for the day they return back home. Morocco has applied since the outset of its occupation a military siege and media blockage in the territories under its control in order to conceal the genocide and crimes against humanity which have been committed by its troops and police forces, resulting in hundreds of deaths, disappeared, disabled due to torture and daily aggression and intimidation. Most of the human right organizations have reported widely on the subject as the UN High Commissioner (OHCHR), the Human Right Council, African Commission on Human rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch ….etc.. Besides detailed reports from the media.
It was explicit that some of the five permanent members of UN Security Council, namely France and United Sates had planned to the illegal Accord of Madrid in November 1975 between Morocco, Spain and Mauritania as well as to occupy Western Sahara. Recently, the USA Intelligence Service revealed hundreds of declassified documents on the issue of Western Sahara (see https://www.cia.gov). Their objectives were not only to circumvent the right of the people of the territory to self-determination and independence but also to destabilize the whole region and enter endless spiral . Both United States and France offered generous support to Morocco in military, political and financial aspects. In 1979 Mauritania abandoned the southern part of Western Sahara, which led to the signing of a peace agreement with the Polisario Front and recognizing the SADR afterwards in 1984.
King Hassan II mistook his estimation of occupying Western Sahara when he said that it would last only one week. He realized that it was impossible to achieve a military victory after incurring heavy costs in lives, materials and thousands of prisoners as revealed in the declassified documents of the CIA.

Goodwill vs deception

The sixteen years of fierce armed struggle almost resolved the conflict in favor of the SADR as its Army had advanced in taking control on the ground and the diplomatic achievements increased, which was crowned by the membership of SADR within the OAU in 1984. The progress of the Saharawi struggle as well as the international calls to prompt solution to the conflict, particularly in Africa, culminated in joining the UN and the OAU efforts. The African leaders played decisive role in reaching an agreement on a settlement plan for the organization of a referendum of self-determination for the people of Western Sahara, underling the cooperation of the SADR in this trend. The OAU resolution AHG/Res. 104 (XIX) of 1983 was effectively instrumental in laying the foundations for the subsequent UN-OAU efforts, which was reflected in the UN General Assembly resolution 40/50 (XXXX) of 1985. This resolution urged the two parties to the conflict, the Polisario Front and the Kingdom of Morocco, to engage in a direct negotiations under the auspices of the UN and the OAU, which led to a ceasefire on 06 September 991 and the deployment of the UN/OAU-AU Peacekeeping.
The UN Security Council has taken over running the question of Western Sahara pursuant to its approval, in 1990, of the Settlement Plan and establishment of the United Nations for a referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). Both parties, under the auspices of the UN Secretary and the OAU Chairman, agreed on the cease fire and the organization of a referendum of self-determination by February 1992 in accordance with the timetable approved by the UN Security Council. The referendum was postponed due to Morocco attempt to extend the criteria to include 120.000 Moroccans in the list of voters. It was clear then that Morocco’s objective from its engagement in the referendum process was: a) to succeed in changing the electoral body in its favor or b) to maneuver and play for time. The fact that Morocco realized that it was impossible to win the outcome of the referendum, especially when the UN published temporal list of eligible to vote in 1999.
The preposterous is that the UN Security Council did not dare to impose sanctions against the Kingdom of Morocco for its obstruction of the referendum. The fact that the UN Security Council’s inaction against Morocco tribute to explicit collusion with it inside the Council and the Secretariat. France was behind paralyzing the OAU/AU role in the peace process because of bothering it in achieving its goals. No one of the five permanent members, advocates for the immediate exercise of the inalienable right of the people of the territory to self-determination and independence, just as France defends Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. Moreover, They remained silent about the crimes committed by Moroccan authorities in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. It is true that there is a fundamental change in the views of USA, Russia, UK and China of the conflict in Western Sahara, but has not yet reached to the point of standing up for France. Significant efforts carried out by distinguished personalities as Special envoys of the UN General Secretary like Mr. James Baker III, former USA Secretary of State and of the Ambassador Cristopher Ross as well as the Ex-President of Germany, Mr. Horst Kohler, who failed due to the five's lack of will. Even the Council was unable to include the report on human rights in the MINURSO mandate because of France, despite of the calls for independent mechanism and the reports on the situation. Beyond that, the Council did nothing against Morocco for the expulsion of the civilian component of MINURSO in March 2016, which drastically affected the ability of the mission to carry out its functions. Five months later, in August 2016, Morocco took advantage of the UN Security Council’s inaction to violate the ceasefire by constructing a road across Mauritania in an attempt aiming to annex the Guerguerat region including La-Aguera city. France now uses all its influence to involve many international parties’ interests in the conflict in order to complicate its solution. It worked hard to implicate the European Union in plundering the natural resources in violation of the decisions of the European Court of Justice of 2016 and 2018.
In contrary, all hell broke loose when the SADR and the Polisario Front show resolute to fail out Moroccan maneuvers. If SADR did not respond to the dangerous and provocative move in Guerguerat and exercise its legitimate sovereignty over this liberated area, Morocco would succeeded in striking all Security Council resolutions against the wall and the credibility of the United Nations in general for ever. The Council has never invested the Saharawi party's goodwill or recognize its considerable concessions in finding a durable peaceful solution. The influence of France on the UN Security Council decisions, if continued, may lead to the worst in the Council's history of dealing with question of Western Sahara.

Peace or War

It is clear that the United Nations Secretariat and the Security Council have never interested in establishing the International legitimacy in the Northwest of Africa through the exercise of the right to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. Instead, they have been working together over approximately twenty nine years to dispossess the people of the territory and its state of their legitimate right and grant it to the occupier, he Kingdom of Morocco, whose its claims were denied by the Advisory of Opinion of ICJ in 1975. The SASR, represented by the Polisario Front, accepted and still accepts to engage in any process leading to a referendum of self-determination, otherwise it will take the necessary measures, including armed struggle to liberate the rest of its territories still occupied by Morocco.
Obviously, France's recent attempts, which were reflected, in particular, in the Security Council resolution 2495 (2019), aimed to change the sense of self-determination to match Morocco’s desire. France's trend of colonizing the peoples’ territories and dominating their natural resources has never stopped. It continued support of Morocco illegal occupation of Western Sahara is a part of larger plans aiming to hit the stability of many countries in North Africa. By the adaptation of that resolution by the UN Security Council, the SADR and the Polisario Front decided to review its engagement in the entire process supervised by the UN. However, There is no significance to the UN's presence in the territory as well as the ceasefire while there is no referendum of self-determination. Decades of tireless efforts and big sacrifices were doomed.
The specter of war hangs over again between the two African countries, and nothing will stop it unless there is a serious will for the international community to put a prompt end to this long-standing conflict on the basis of international legitimacy in accordance with the United Nations and the African Union Charters and resolutions. As long as Morocco rejects the referendum of self-determination, there is no other realistic solution than the establishment of relations with SADR as it is a full member of the AU and one of the founders of it. The Sahrawi Republic has made great strides in building modern state institutions which are able to provide services in education, health, stability, justice, modernity and have a unique democratic experience as well as has got a wide range of international relations. Its political arm, Polisario Front, receives strong support among the population.
The restoration of AU’s pivotal role is crucial in this stage, given that what is happening is on African lands and between two African countries and both of them are members of the same bloc. The AU has to act against the Kingdom of Morocco for immediate withdrawal of the territories which it occupies of SADR, even if it requires military intervention. With its admission to the African Union, the Kingdom of Morocco is obliged to respect the fundamental principles contained in the AU Constitutive Act including, inter alia, (b) respect for borders existing on achievement of independence, and (f)prohibition of the use of force or threat to use force against other AU Member States (article 4).
The peace and stability of the region and of the north Africa in general, can not be achieved on the expenses of the legitimate rights of the peoples like what is happening to the people of Western Sahara. The presence of the big five on the ground for more over than twenty nine years are enough to discover the reality of SADR and its commitment to peace and peaceful coexistence. Yes, Western Sahara is rich in natural resources, but they cannot be exploited without the consent of its generous people.


The UN’s procrastination and delays in implementing the legitimate right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and independence for more than fifty unveils ulterior motives of some of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. They planned to the Spanish withdrawal of Western Sahara as well as to Morocco’s military invasion and occupation of the territory. The objective was to deprive the people of Western Sahara of their right to self-determination and independence. They are aware of that it was in violation of the UN and OAU/AU resolutions as well as the principle of intangible colonial borders and the ICJ advisory opinion on Western Sahara.
Nevertheless, the people of Western Sahara were able to exist and establish their state despite heavy sacrifices and hard conditions. The peace and stability of the region and of the north Africa in general, can not be achieved on the expenses of the legitimate rights of the peoples like what is happening to the people of Western Sahara. The presence of the big five on the ground for more over than twenty nine years are enough to discover the reality of SADR and its commitment to peace and peaceful coexistence. Yes, Western Sahara is rich in natural resources, but they cannot be exploited without the consent of its generous people.

29 May 2020
Deich Mohamed was the Office's Chief of late President Mohamed Abelaziz and former Ambassador to Zimbabwe.

-------------- This text expresses the opinion of the author and not of the moderators of the forum.


Bourita exposes the BBC Arabic Radio station lies

by Haddamin Moulud Said

A few days ago, on April 20, 2020, the BBC Arabic Radio Station section, London Radio, broadcasted a program, https://soundcloud.com/bbc-arabic/slabachs0keb according to which Morocco had offered humanitarian aid for the Sahrawi refugee camps that are being operated by the Sahrawi Republic and located on the Algerian-Western Sahara borders. However, this radio station, which is being funded with the British people money, claimed that Algeria had refused to receive such a humanitarian aid.

The subliminal message that the radio program, being broadcasted in Arabic language, wanted to transmit was that, supposedly, the infinite mercy of the Moroccan regime was faced with the wicked Algerian behavior, by impeding the aid to reach a certain population in needs of it, mainly during these difficult times of the Corona Virus.

The London Radio, which had enjoyed its climax of the radio hegemony for the last century’s final years, mainly in much of the Arab world, has declined. And, taking advantage of its decadence, the scavengers did not take long to come to seize the remains of what was a very prestigious radio station. Certainly, listening to the BBC Radio, in Arabic language, addressing the issue of Western Sahara, one comes to doubt whether what you are listening to is a radio station funded by the British people money or, instead, a Moroccan radio station.

But time is a ruthless judge! And what better time than a holy month, like Ramadan, for a revelation to happen that makes things quite clear.

Just in the month in which angels descend from heaven, by order of God, to receive the gracious ones’ deeds, the Moroccan minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, reveals the true moral and merciless ilk of a country, which the BBC Arabic Radio station wanted to praise as an example of mercy.

During the first week of the holy month of Ramadan, the Algerian Red Crescent  praised the strong solidarity of the Algerian people, by organizing an airlift to bring thousands of tons of humanitarian aid to the Sahrawi refugee people.

And, there, in that exercise of mercy which kept the angels from heaven prostrate, where the Algerian people fulfilled the commandments of faith, Nasser Bourita brought out the leviathan that he carries within, showing the true satanic nature of the Moroccan regime.

For the Moroccan Foreign Ministry, the humanitarian aid received by the Saharawi refugees from Algeria only helps to foster separatism and fuels instability in the North-West region of Africa.

Just over a week ago, on the first day of Ramadan, the UN Agency, World Food Program (WFP), announced that the French Government had provided,  for the first time, a generous donation of almost half a million dollars to the Saharawi refugee population.

Today, on May 5, 2020, the WFP again announces that the Swiss Government has made a donation,  much more generous than the one made by the French Government, of almost two million dollars to help the Saharawi refugee population.

For Bourita, these people stranded in the middle of the desert with a Legitimate Cause and who have been hit by the pandemic hoping for international justice to come, are unworthy of the mercy that the holy month orders the gracious ones to practice.

It looks clear for those who are not among the gracious ones, that anyone who dares to help the needy, be it in the holy month of Ramadan or in the difficult times of a pandemic, this is promoting separatism and instability in the region

The extreme religious inappropriateness of Bourita's words invites us to think that, that first time in which France has helped the Sahrawi refugee people, it has been felt very badly in Rabat. Hence, the dart sent by Bourita is not only targeting Algiers but also its former metropolis.

For Rabat, the Saharawi people, who have been suffering for more than 45 years due to a military occupation of their territory, are unworthy of international aid, simply because of opposing the irrepressible territorial voracity of Morocco. Therefore, the UNHCR Agency, USA, France, Switzerland or Algeria, they are all promoting separatism and instability in the region by providing humanitarian aid to the Saharawi people. So, the BBC Arabic Radio station will continue to praise the kind contributions made by Morocco.

Haddamin Moulud Said.
May the 5th, 2020.
Translated by Zrug Lula.

--------------  This text expresses the opinion of the author and not of the moderators of the forum.

Bureta desnuda las mentiras de la BBC Radio árabe

por Haddamin Moulud Said

Hace unos días, el 20 de abril de 2020, la sección de radio de la BBC, Radio London, emitía un programa, según el cual Marruecos había ofrecido una ayuda humanitaria para los campamentos saharauis que la República Saharaui gestiona en la frontera argelino saharaui. Sin embargo, afirmaba la cadena de radio que paga el pueblo británico, Argelia se había negado a recibir dicha ayuda.

El mensaje subliminal que el programa, en lengua árabe, quería transmitir, era que la, supuestamente, infinita misericordia del régimen marroquí, se enfrentaba a la malvada Argelia para hacer llegar las ayudas a una determinada población que la necesita, en estos tiempos tan difíciles del coronavirus.

La Radio London que, durante buena parte de finales del pasado siglo, había disfrutado de las mieles y hieles de la hegemonía radiofónica, en buena parte del mundo árabe, se ha venido a menos. Y, aprovechándose de su decadencia, los carroñeros no han tardado en acudir para adueñarse de los restos de lo que fue una emisora de mucho prestigio. Ciertamente, oyendo la Radio de la BBC, en árabe, abordar la cuestión del Sahara Occidental, uno llega a dudar si lo que está escuchando es una radio pagada por el pueblo británico o, en cambio, es una radio marroquí.

Pero el tiempo es un juez implacable. Y qué mejor tiempo que un mes sagrado, como el Ramadán, para que acontezca una revelación que deja las cosas bastante claras.

Justo en el mes en que los ángeles descienden del cielo, por orden de Dios, para saludar a los bondadosos, el ministro de exteriores de Marruecos, Nasser Bourita, desvela la verdadera catadura moral e inmisericorde de un país, al que la BBC Radio, en árabe, quería presentar como un ejemplo de la misericordia.

Durante la primera semana del sagrado mes de ramadán, la Media Luna Roja argelina elogiaba la firme solidaridad del pueblo argelino, al organizar un puente aéreo para llevar miles de toneladas de ayuda humanitaria al pueblo saharaui. 

Y, ahí, en ese ejercicio de misericordia, que mantenía postrados a los ángeles venidos del cielo, donde el pueblo argelino cumplía los mandamientos de la fe, Nasser Bourita, sacó el leviatán que lleva dentro, mostrando la verdadera naturaleza satánica del régimen marroquí.

Para el ministro marroquí, la ayuda humanitaria que han recibido los saharauis, procedente de Argelia, fomenta el separatismo y alimenta la inestabilidad en la región del África noroccidental.

Hace poco más de una semana, durante el primer día de ramadán, el Programa Mundial de Alimentación de NNUU, WFP, anunció que el gobierno de Francia había aportado, por primera vez, una generosa ayuda de casi medio millón de dólares para la población saharaui.

Hoy mismo, el 5 de mayo de 2020, de nuevo el WFP anuncia que el gobierno suizo ha hecho una donación,  mucho más generosa que la efectuada por el gobierno francés, de casi dos millones de dólares para ayudar a la población saharaui.

Para Bourita, ese pueblo poseedor de una Causa Justa, que durante la pandemia ha quedado varado en medio del desierto, esperando la justicia internacional, es indigno de la misericordia que el sagrado mes ordena practicar a los bondadosos.

Es evidente que para quienes no están en las filas de los bondadosos, todo aquel que ose ayudar a los necesitados, sea en el sagrado mes del ramadán o en los tiempos difíciles de una pandemia, está fomentando el separatismo y la inestabilidad en la región.

La extrema inoportunidad religiosa de las palabras de Bourita, invita a pensar que esa primera vez en la que Francia ayuda al pueblo saharaui, ha sentado bastante mal en Rabat. De ahí que el dardo enviado por Bourita, si dirija a Argel pero, también, a su ex metrópoli.

Para Rabat, el pueblo saharaui, que lleva 45 años sufriendo por culpa de una ocupación militar de su territorio, es indigno de la ayuda internacional, por el simple hecho de oponerse a la incontenible voracidad territorial de Marruecos. En consecuencia, el ACNUR, la ONU, USA, Francia, Suiza o Argelia, todos, fomentan el separatismo y la inestabilidad en la región, al prestar ayuda humanitaria al pueblo saharaui. La BBC Radio, en árabe, seguirá cantando las bondades de Marruecos.

Haddamin Moulud Said.
A 5 de mayo de 2020.

-------------- Este texto expresa la opinion del autor y no de los moderadores del foro.