PRESS RELEASE – 9th April 2010

UN Western Sahara report sparks international call for human rights monitoring

The publication of a UN report on Western Sahara has today been met with anger by parliamentarians and campaigners around the world for its failure to recommend human rights monitoring in the disputed territory. The report which will inform the drafting of a new Security Council resolution acknowledges human rights violations in Western Sahara but fails to offer a mechanism to address them. Campaigners are now calling on Security Council to correct this failure as over 100 international parliamentarians and NGO's signed a letter calling on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to implement human rights monitoring in the disputed territory.

The letter which includes signatures from British MP's, members of the European Parliament, former US Ambassadors and NGOs, calls on the UN to monitor human rights in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. MINURSO, the UN mission for Western Sahara, has the dubious distinction of being the only contemporary peace-keeping mission without a mandate to monitor human rights. Human rights defenders in the disputed territory are regular victims of arbitrary arrest, sexual violence, torture and "disappearance" as demonstrated by the arrest of the six prominent human rights defenders currently in the fourth week of a hunger strike. Morocco opposes human rights monitoring, and France a key ally of Morocco last year blocked its implementation. Now it is up to Security Council members to decide whether to implement human rights monitoring in the region.

Natalie Sharples , of the Western Sahara Campaign UK said today:
“Whilst the UN recognises the extensive violations of human rights against the Saharawi people it repeatedly fails in its responsibility to protect them. We call on the UN to fulfill its responsibility under article 73 of its Charter to uphold human rights in non-self governing territories and begin human rights monitoring in Western Sahara.»
Stefan Simanowitz, Chair of the Free Western Sahara Network said today
“The renewal of MINURSO's mandate on the 30 April provides the opportunity the security council must use to rectify this. Only when human rights are guaranteed can the UN implement the long-awaited referendum on self-determination and finally resolve the 35 year conflict.”

For more information visit Western Sahara Campaign :
or Free Western Sahara Network :

1.) MINURSO’s mandate will be renewed on the 30th April. This is a key opportunity to extend the mandate to include human rights monitoring in line with all other contemporary peace-keeping missions

2.) Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. A 1975 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice found no ties of territorial sovereignty between Western Sahara and either Morocco or Mauritania, and confirmed the legal right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. Despite this the UN has failed to implement a referendum and the Saharawi people have spent 35 years living under occupation, whilst 165,000 refugees from the conflict live in exile in the Algerian desert


Frank Ruddy, U.S. Ambassador (ret.), Former Deputy Chairman, United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)
Trade Union Congress (TUC) UK
Simon Dubbins, Unite (UK)
Ken Loach, Film Director (UK)
Mark Thomas, Comedian (UK)
War on Want (UK)
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (UK)
Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB (UK)
Graham Bennett, Director, One World Action (UK)
Emira Woods, Co-Director, Foreign Policy In Focus, Institute for Policy Studies (US)
Carne Ross – Director, Independent Diplomat
Frontline Defenders
Bill Bowring – President, European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights
Glenda Jackson MP (UK)
Lord Redesdale (UK)
Suzanne Scholte, Seoul Peace Prize Laureate 2008, President, Defense ForumFoundation (US)
Michael Beer, Representative Human Rights Action Center (US)
Angus Robertson MP, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Scottish National Party
Western Sahara Campaign UK
Free Western Sahara Network
Western Sahara Resource Watch
International Platform of Jurists for East Timor
Izquierda unida de Aragón
Derek Vaughan MEP (UK)
Dr Caroline Lucas MEP (UK)
Edward Peck, U.S. Ambassador (ret.), Former Ambassador to Mauritania
President, Foreign Services International
Gare Smith, Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor, Department of State (US)
Michael Cashman MEP (UK)
David Drew MP (UK)
Colectivo de Solidaridad por la Justicia y Dignidad de los Pueblos. Coliche (España)
MRAP, Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour l'Amitié entre les Peuples (France)
Associació Catalana per a la Defensa dels Drets Humans (España)
Hywel Williams MP (UK)
Willy Meyer, MEP, eurodiputado de Izquierda Unida  (España)
Salah Eddine Amaidan, Président APSO Avignon (France)
Carlos Wilson, Executive Director, US-Western Sahara Foundation
Helena Laukko, UN Association, Finland
Nina May, Founder and Chairman, Renaissance Foundation (US)
Women Living Under Muslim Laws
International Solidarity Network
Jill Evans MEP (UK)
Stephen Thomas, United Nations Association, Wales
Linda Fabiani, MSP
Lyn Allison, President, Australia Western Sahara Association
Sandblast (UK)
Thomas Schmidt – Secretary General, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Liz Davies – Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Konstantina Isidoros, University of Oxford, (UK)
Pedro Pinto Leite, International Jurist, Leiden, the Netherlands
Teresa K.E. Smith de Cherif, M.D. M.I.A. Medical Director, Sahara Fund Medical Missions to Tifariti, Western Sahara Sahara Fund, Inc, (US)
Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics & International Studies Chair, Middle Eastern Studies Program, University of San Francisco
Paul Balta, Writer and Journalist  (France)
APSO, Amis du Peuple du Sahara Occidental, (France)
Bart Staes MEP (Belgium)
Guido Milana MEP (Italia)
Western Sahara Association of Japan
Francesc Verdugo Ibarz, President de l' associació, Projecte Tibsima Mollet Sàhara per a Infants Sahrauís Discapacitats
Swedish Western Sahara Action
Janet Lenz, International Liaison, Board of Directors, Not Forgotten International, Inc.
Cheryl Banda,Saharawi Programs Coordinator,Christ the Rock Church (USA)

Ronny Hansen,Chair, Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara
David Lippiatt, International Executive Director, We International (US)
Foundation 'Africa Another Way' (Polska)
Nancy Purcell, Executive Director, 318 Partners Mission (US)
Steve Hagens, Executive Director, Homeland International (US)
Associació Catalana d'Amics del Poble Sahrauí
Henry Song, Board of Directors, PSALT (US)
Javier Trincado González.Plataforma de Apoyo Político al Pueblo Saharaui (PAPPS)
Asociación de Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui de Santurtzi, AMAL
M Mercè Rovira Regàs, Ajuntament & Universitat de Girona
Enrique Santiago Romero,Secretario de Derechos Humanos del Partido Comunista de España
Partido Comunista de España
Marcia Woodward Director, English Project 27th of February Camp
ACAPS, Associació Catalana d’Amics del Poble Sahrauí, España
Olaia Sagredo, Iesbaa
Taleb Gachbar, Président, OF2PS (France)
Djemilla Bendriss, Présidente, Enfants de la Méditerranée (France)
Olivier Bordes, Journalist (France)
Marie Thérèse Marchand,  Association CAPSOLIDAIRE "Faire Grandir l'Enfant par le Jeu le Désert  (France)
L'Association des Sahraouis en France
L'AFAPREDESA, Association des Familles et des Disparus Sahraouis (France)
CORELSO,Comité pour le respect des libertés et droits humains au Sahara occidental
Jean-Paul Le Marec, ingénieur agronome (France)
Comité Limousin de Solidarité avec le Peuple Sahraoui (CLSPS) (France)
Aba Haissan, Saharawi Jurists Union, UJS
Mohamed Cheikh, General

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