Much has been written on the Saharan question. It has often been treated with a frightening ignorance especially with respect to the principles which chaired the decolonization process carried out since 1945 by the UN. One cannot thus understand the Saharan crisis without making a historical background. This is even more necessary as the Saharan case, compared to all the other situations of traditional decolonization, benefited from an unquestionable specificity.
Before even the creation of the UN, the allies met between 1942 and 1945 within the framework of several international conferences to prepare the post-war period. The fate of the colonized countries was one of the major concerns of the victorious States at the time of the Second World War.
It comes out from this preparatory phase a certain number of divergences with respect to the phenomenon of national freedom. One could distinguish two groups.
The first group was composed of the United States, the socialist countries, the already independent Third World states and the Scandinavian countries. The thesis of this group was simple as it boiled down to a call for the liberation of colonized people, especially as the colonial powers had promised them independence at the end of the conflict.
But at the end of this conflict, the colonial powers have backed out of their promises: it is the position of the second group. Thus, the colonial powers were opposed systematically to any idea of independence of their colonies.
In this precise context and especially at the time of the final drafting of the Charter, in particular during the Dumbarton Oaks conference, a blockage took place.
The charter was impregnated with these two antinomian positions. Some considered it could only be a compromise between the two views. Others estimated that the UN charter did nothing but accept colonization. The limitations introduced into the provisions relating to the emancipation of the colonized people is clear evidence of this second position.
The insertion of the right of people to self-determination was not made out in such manner as to make it an imperative rule to be imposed to all the Member States.
In the spirit of the writers of the Charter, this principle is only one mission, a goal of the UN, but by no means an imperative provision.
Much more, to block the Charter further, the colonial powers made a point of introducing the Paragraph 7 of Article 2. This paragraph lays out that no "provision of the present Charter authorizes the United Nations to intervene in matters which concern primarily the national competence of a State, nor does it oblige the members to subject such matters to a settlement procedure under the terms of the present Charter; however, this principle does not interfere with the application of measures of coercion envisaged in Chapter VII".
As these powers considered the colonies as part of their own territory, any interference (a support for the colonized people) would be incompatible with the goals of the United Nations.
As for the final statute of the colonized peoples registered in the Charter, it was not up to their legitimate aspirations.