MINURSO mandate extended, rights proposal buried
UPDATE:UN press release, incl. full text of resolution and Council member statements, here.
The UN Security Council just passed its resolution on the mandate of MINURSO, Western Sahara’s peacekeeping mission, granting it a routine extension for a full year. There was little political input, but three points merit mention:
1. According to the Washington Post, the USA did not, as has been public ritual under the last years of the Bush admin, bring up and specifically endorse Morocco’s autonomy plan. France of course did, but was now alone in doing so. This might have been just a random omission, but a curious one still.
2. The Council did not include a human rights component in MINURSO’s mandate, which Morocco opposes (see MPR & Huffington Post). It did add vague language noting “the importance of making progress on the human dimension of the conflict,” but that means nothing. Even so, again according to the Washington Post, “France initially resisted the word ‘human,’ preferring ‘humanitarian.'” (Me, I’m resisting the use of another word.)
3. Finally, the Council endorsed Special Envoy Christopher Ross’s suggestion for informal meetings before proceeding to round five in the official Manhasset negotiations. Both parties had already agreed, even if POLISARIO has said they don’t really see the point (they want spotlight time, not negotiations). The idea of such meetings is to build negotiator confidence and try to get real talks going, since the previous four rounds were made up of nothing but good wine and uncomfortable silences.
The UN-watchers at Inner City Press were, as usual, on the scene, and had a short chat with Ross in which he diplomatically avoided saying anything at all. ICP also suggests that France’s position on Western Sahara may have been used as a bargaining chip to secure another proposal on Sudan. That’s about it. If you’re interested in the dreary spectacle of both sides celebrating this clinically content-free resolution as an outstanding victory for their own side of the war, here are links to SPS and MAP, knock yourself out.