UNSC Adopts New resolution on Sahara, no Human Rights Mechanism Included

The United Nations Security Council adopted on Tuesday its annual resolution on the renewal of the mandate of the United Mission in the Sahara, known as MINURSO, until April 30, 2015.

The resolution (S/RES/2152), which was adopted by consensus, does not include any provision for the establishment of a human rights monitoring mechanism in the Sahara and the Tindouf camps.

It, however, calls on both sides, Morocco and the Polisario, to respect human rights and stresses “the importance of improving the human rights situation in Western Sahara and the Tindouf camps, and encouraging the parties to work with the international community to develop and implement independent and credible measures to ensure full respect for human rights.”

The resolution, which was drafted by the United States and circulated to the Group of Friends of Western Sahara (France, Russia, Spain, UK and US) on 17 April, then to the members of the Security Council on 23 April, also “recognizes and welcomes the recent steps and initiatives taken by Morocco to strengthen the National Council on Human Rights Commissions operating in Dakhla and Laayoune.”

In addition to renewing MINURSO’s mandate for another year, it also praises Morocco’s willingness to cooperate with individual U.N. Human Rights Council investigators, and welcomes recent steps and initiatives taken by Morocco, such as the planned visit of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2014.

As in resolution 2099 adopted in April 2013, this year’s resolution renews its call on the parties to the conflict, Morocco and the Polisario Front “to conduct negotiations, without preconditions and in good faith, taking into account the efforts made since 2006 and subsequent developments, with a view to achieving a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution.”

Since the adoption of resolution 2099, the American diplomat adopted a new approach, which consists in holding in separate and confidential meetings with Moroccan officials and the Polisario representatives, as well as Algeria and Mauritania.

It is unclear, however, to what extent this new approach will help the two parties iron their differences and bridge the gap between the, thus paving the way towards the achievement of a long-lasting, political and mutually acceptable solution to the conflict.