UN: Western Sahara mission 'undermined'
18 April 2012, 08:32
New York - The United Nations stepped up complaints about Morocco's
tactics in Western Sahara as the UN Security Council on Tuesday held its
annual talks on efforts to end deadlock over the territory's future.
leader Ban Ki-moon has told the Security Council that the UN mission's
communications from the Moroccan-controlled territory with UN
headquarters have been "compromised".
He said various "factors
have undermined the mission's ability to monitor and report consistently
on the situation" in Western Sahara and has asked for the mission to be
With years of UN-brokered talks between Morocco and
Polisario Front rebels showing no sign of a breakthrough, the Security
Council faces growing pressure to let the mission investigate human
Diplomats said the UN report was one of the
most critical in many years on events in Western Sahara, which Morocco
started to annex in 1975 after Spain withdrew. The Polisario started a
guerilla war and the UN brokered a ceasefire in 1991.
of spying on the headquarters of the MINURSO mission particularly show
the UN's frustration," said one Security Council diplomat. MINURSO is
the official title of the UN mission.
Ban said in his report to
the council that there have been "indications that the confidentiality
of the communications between MINURSO headquarters and New York has, at
least on one occasion, been compromised."
The UN compound is a
former hotel in Laayoune, the main city which is under Moroccan control.
The report did not say who had "compromised" UN communications,
The UN compound is surrounded by 21 Moroccan flags and
the UN is also upset that Morocco forces UN cars to display Moroccan
diplomatic plates. Everywhere else in the world UN vehicles use a
neutral UN registration. When the cars cross into areas controlled by
the Polisario they have to change to UN plates.
report said the flags and the registration plates "create an appearance
that raises doubts about the neutrality of the mission".
parallel, the Moroccan police presence outside the compound discourages
visitors from approaching MINURSO in an independent capacity."
Access to "external contacts is controlled and monitored", Ban's report said.
UN leader said "MINURSO is unable to exercise fully its peacekeeping
monitoring, observation and reporting functions, or to avail of the
authority to reverse the erosion of its mandate implementation
capabilities on its own".
"It is a hard-hitting report," said one Western diplomat.
times of cutbacks in the UN system Ban has asked for an extra 15
military observers to be added to the mission of 228 "to bolster its
He has also asked again for the mission to have a greater powers to look into allegations of human rights abuses.
seek the assistance of the Security Council in reasserting the mandated
role of the MINURSO, upholding peacekeeping standards and United
Nations neutrality," Ban said in his report.
Security Council is working on a resolution to extend the mandate of the
mission in Western Sahara which has to be passed this month.
Morocco's UN mission made no immediate comment on the UN report.