The United Nations Security Council on Friday extended for another year the U.N. peacekeeping mission (MINURSO) in disputed Western Sahara and demanded the urgent restoration of its “full functionality” after Morocco expelled international civilian staff.
The resolution received 10 yes votes, two against and three abstentions. It asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report back within 90 days on whether the mission’s functionality has been restored, but does not threaten any punitive measures against Morocco if the mission remains understaffed, Reuters reports.
The resolution should have stated the reality, that the expulsion of the civilian component has seriously compromised the mission and its ability to discharge its mandate.
Some council members expressed discontent with the resolution’s laxity in demanding for the restoration of MINURSO’s full strength.
“It should not have been like this … the resolution should have stated the reality, that the expulsion of the civilian component has seriously compromised the mission and its ability to discharge its mandate,” New Zealand’s U.N. Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen told the 15-nation council.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the weeks of haggling over the wording of the resolution on MINURSO’s extension was “challenging and contentious”.
The resolution does not explicitly call for a referendum as expected by the Sahrawi Polisario Front, but it “reaffirms” previous resolutions calling for a plebiscite.
The controversy over Ban’s “occupation” comment, made during a visit to refugee camps for Sahrawi people in southern Algeria, is the worst dispute between the United Nations and Morocco since 1991.