Mandate of UN mission in Western Sahara extended for one more year

Peacekeepers with the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) consult a map as they drive through vast desert areas in Smara, Western Sahara. UN Photo/Martine Perret

25 April 2013 – The Security Council today extended for another year the mandate of the United Nations mission tasked with monitoring the ceasefire in Western Sahara and organizing a referendum on self-determination for the people of the territory.

The 15-member Council established the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in 1991. In a resolution adopted unanimously today, it decided to extend the mission’s mandate until 30 April 2014.

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.

Numerous rounds of UN-backed informal talks, facilitated by Christopher Ross, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, have taken place in the past few years involving delegations from the parties – Morocco and the Frente Polisario – and the neighbouring countries of Algeria and Mauritania.

In today’s resolution, the Council welcomed the parties’ commitment to continue the process of preparation for a fifth round of negotiations aimed at achieving “a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.”

It also called on them to continue to “show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue” in order to enter into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations.

The Council “affirms its strong support for the commitment of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy towards a solution to the question of Western Sahara in this context and calls for renewed meetings and strengthening of contacts.”


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