UN human rights vote: Travesty of justice for Western Sahara
The United Nations today voted not to monitor human rights violations in Western Sahara. This represents a tragedy of justice for the people of Western Sahara, who will continue to be subjected to the brutal oppression of occupying Moroccan forces.
It appeared, several weeks ago, that change was afoot at the United Nations. The USA had proposed a draft resolution that would grant MINURSO the mandate to monitor human rights violations in Western Sahara, and there was general optimism that finally the UN would take action to protect the Saharawi people’s rights.
The UK had come out in support of the initiative, with the UN Secretary-General, several UN Special Rapporteurs, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders, also calling for monitoring.
Yet, the UN Security Council today voted not to monitor human rights violations. The Moroccan Government will continue to wage its campaign of systematic violations of the rights of the Saharawis – MINURSO will remain a silent on-looker.
Upon learning of the US-led plan for monitoring, both Morocco and France immediately engaged in intense lobbying to defeat the initiative. The USA, and the UK, quickly crumbled to the demands of Paris and Rabat. A new resolution was hastily drafted and agreed upon in private earlier this week, before being unanimously approved at the Security Council today.
This new resolution added nothing new of significance. MINURSO is the only post-1978 peacekeeping operation in the world which is not tasked with monitoring human rights violations. This year there was a clear opportunity to remedy this grave injustice, but the UN has elected not to.
Despite its place among the ‘Group of Friends of Western Sahara’, France is clearly no friend of the people of Western Sahara. Wielding the threat of a veto at the Security Council, France has once again acted to protect the interests of long-time ally Morocco – and acted to obstruct attempts to protect human rights.
The USA and Ambassador Susan Rice are to be applauded for leading this early initiative. However, faced with the force of Moroccan and French lobbying, the USA caved too easily. The USA is heralded as a champion of human rights around the world. Upon this occasion, the USA simply did not stand up to Moroccan and French demands.
The UN is tasked with conflict mediation and resolution around the world. Confidence is fading fast, among the Saharawi people, in the UN’s ability to fulfill either of these roles. This year’s failure to implement human rights monitoring will further erode confidence in the UN. As MINURSO’s legitimacy fades, what hope remains for a UN-led peace process in Western Sahara?
There is still time to resolve this decades-old conflict. But the UN’s failure to approve human rights monitoring today further undermines the already-faltering peace process. Above all the failure represents a travesty of justice for the Saharawi people, and another year of brutal oppression at the hands of the occupying Moroccan authorities.
WESTERN SAHARA CAMPAIGN UK
The Western Sahara Campaign works in solidarity with the Saharawi people to generate political support in order to advance their right to self-determination and to promote their human rights.
Our role is to lobby the UK Government and the EU. You can help us to ensure the UK does not ignore the voice of the Saharawi people.
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