Western Sahara

UN Photo/Martine Perret

The United Nations has long been engaged in the search for a peaceful solution to the conflict over Western Sahara.

The Department of Political Affairs currently provides staff assistance and guidance to the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Horst Koehler, to continue the search for a negotiated settlement under UN auspices.Mr. Koehler was appointed on 16 August 2017. Mr. Koehler was appointed on 16 August 2017.

In 2017, the United Nations Security Council affirmed its full support for the commitment of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy towards a solution to the question of Western Sahara. In this context, it requests the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General to relaunch the negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit leading to the resumption of a political process with the aim of reaching a mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.

The Council also emphasized the importance of the commitment of Morocco and the Polisario, the parties to the conflict, to continue the process of preparation for a fifth round of negotiations while also encouraging the neighbouring countries, Algeria and Mauritania, to make important contributions to this process.

The Council further requested the Secretary-General to provide an update and a clear path forward, within six months of the appointment of the Personal Envoy, on progress towards reaching a mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations,

Amid continued diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict, a UN peacekeeping mission, the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), has remained on the ground monitoring the cease fire and providing a stabilizing presence.

MINURSO was deployed in 1991 to oversee a cease-fire and a UN settlement plan; however, disagreements between the two parties prevented the holding of the anticipated referendum on the territory’s future. A revised settlement plan proposed by the United Nations after seven years of diplomatic consultations was rejected by one of the parties in 2004.