Article 1 (2) of the United Nations charter states its purpose is: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples”. The decolonization efforts of the United Nations derive from this purpose. The UN lists 17 non-self governing territories where the process of decolonisation is not complete. The largest, most populated and the only territory in Africa on that list is the Western Sahara.
In 1991, the Security Council established the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) with a mandate to oversee a referendum of self-determination of the Saharawi people. However for nearly 30 years the Security Council has renewed MINURSO’s mandate yet there is currently no real prospect that the Saharawi people will be able to express their inalienable right to self-determination in the promised referendum. Instead, year by year the situation has deteriorated and in the last year, particularly in four areas:
The APPG is clear that the UK government has a duty to make it a priority for the UN Security Council to act to bring the process of self-determination back on track by addressing these four points. We urge that it should support the following actions by the UN Security Council:
If the UN Security Council fails to act to fulfil its mandate the Saharawi people will progressively lose faith in the ability of international institutions to enforce international law which will cause increased instability in the region.
The UK Parliament’s Western Sahara All Party Parliamentary Group calls on the UK Government to fulfil its duty as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and act so that the Saharawi people can express their right to self-determination through a referendum.