sexta-feira, 8 de maio de 2009
Paris prevents the "Blue Helmets" from monitoring abuses in the Sahara
In the early morning hours on Friday, France vehemently opposed that the mandate of the United Nations contingent in the Western Sahara (MINURSO) include the supervision of human rights in said territory and in the Tindouf refugee camps (southeast Algeria).
The expansion of the MINURSO s responsibilities was defended by Costa Rica and Uganda, with the backing of Mexico and Austria, during the UN Security Council s debate over the extension of the mandate of the "Blue Helmets," who were first deployed to the ex-Spanish colony in 1991.
The big players of the Security Council listened in silence while French Ambassador to the UN Jean-Maurice Ripert rejected the petition put forth by Costa Rica and Uganda. MINURSO is the only UN peace-keeping force that is not tasked with the monitoring human rights.
A variety of NGOs, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have recently written to the Security Council insisting that it fix this inconsistency. The European Parliament s Maghreb Delegation petitioned for the same in a special report released in March.
The Kingdom of Morocco resists such an inclusion, considering it an "intrusion in its internal affairs." Its adversary, the Polisario Front, is in favor of such a provision. Ahmed Boujari, the Polisario Representative to the UN, accused France of being the "the primary responsible party" of the "double standards" the Security Council exhibits in the Sahara.
In the end, the Security Council members reached a lethargic compromise, which consists only of emphasizing "the importance of improving the human dimension in the conflict" – in other words, the securing human rights.
The debate over this topic delayed the approval – eventually made by a mandatory, unanimous vote – of the resolution that extends MINURSO s mandate by one year and encourages Morocco (who controls the bulk of the Sahara) and Polisario (who insists on its total independence) "to negotiate without preconditions and in good faith."
Before the formal negotiations begin – the last round of which took place in Manhasset, New York, in March of 2008 – the two adversaries will take part in a series of informal meetings. This development was taken at the suggestion of Christopher Ross, the UN Secretary General s new Personal Envoy to the Western Sahara.
Ambassador Ripert singled himself out, once again, by giving his explicit support to the offer of Western Saharan autonomy under Moroccan control, which Rabat put forward two years ago.