UN announces next round of talks to try to resolve Western Sahara dispute

Separated families meet up again during a family visit in Western Sahara. Photo: UNHCR/S.Hopper

24 February 2012 – The next round of United Nations-backed informal talks aimed at reaching a settlement in the Western Sahara dispute will take place next month, the UN announced today.

Delegations from the parties to the dispute – Morocco and the Frente Polisario – and the neighbouring countries of Algeria and Mauritania will gather just outside New York for three days of discussions starting on 11 March.

The participants are expected to deepen their discussions on their respective proposals for a settlement to the dispute, and to also further discuss the ideas associated with governance put forward by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his latest report on the issue, according to a spokesperson for Mr. Ban.

He added that the meeting is being held at the invitation of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross.

During the meeting the participants are also expected to review the status of confidence-building measures between the two sides and discuss the outcome of the last coordination meeting on the issue held by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The UN has been involved in efforts to find a settlement in Western Sahara since 1976, when fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario after the Spanish colonial administration of the territory ended. A peacekeeping force (MINURSO) has been in place since 1991.


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