sexta-feira, 8 de maio de 2009
Costa Rica put up a tough fight in the UN for the Western Sahara mission
Costa Rica, Uganda and other member countries of the UN Security Council put up a tough fight on Thursday in favor of renewing the UN mission in the Western Sahara with the inclusion of human rights protection.
It was a lopsided battle of 14 countries against one: France, which even though it was the minority, emerged victorious because Security Council decisions must be reached by a consensus.
In the end, the dominant UN body passed a one-year renewal of the mandate of the Mission for a Referendum in the Western Sahara (MINURSO), without including the responsibility of human rights monitoring in the ex-Spanish colony.
Spain pulled out of the Western Sahara in 1975 without completing the decolonization process, and the Kingdom of Morocco subsequently occupied the territory, with the consent of Spain, contradicting historic rights that have been recognized in international courts.
Between 1975 and 1991 an armed conflict raged between Morocco and the Frente Polisario independence movement. In 1991, a truce was signed for the holding of a referendum that would have allowed the Saharawis to decide their own future, but Morocco has consistently blocked the referendum in the UN since then with the help of its allies, including France.
Around 150,000 Saharawis have lived as refugees in the Algerian desert for 33 years.
The Polisario and a variety of international NGOs have called on the UN to include human rights monitoring in MINURSO’s mandate, the only UN peace mission whose responsibilities do not include any such activities.
In the recently-approved document, the Security Council members encouraged the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front to continue the dialogue that began in 2007, but has yet to produce any results.
In the face of French opposition, a reference to the member states’ concern over the "human dimension" of the conflict was included in the document’s preamble.
At first, France refused to accept this wording, insisting that it preferred the expression "humanitarian dimension." The French representatives eventually conceded.
The Costa Rican Ambassador to the UN, Jorge Urbina, expressed the "dissatisfaction" of his country with the final resolution.
"The guarantee of human rights is a favorable provision for the resolution of this conflict and not an obstacle, as some consider it to be," he noted.