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On W. Sahara, UN Report Notes Protests of Lack of Rights Monitoring, Nordics

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 10 -- The annual ritual around Western Sahara in which the same human rights monitoring mandate that other UN Peacekeeping missions have is proposed and then shot down by Permanent Member of the Security Council France has now formally begun.

  April 10 saw the circulation of an advance copy of the "Report of the Secretary General on the situation concerning Western Sahara," to be issued as a document of the Security Council under the symbol S/2014/258.

  With UN Peacekeeping controlled by Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row in that position, these advance copies of reports have sometimes changed before the UN puts them online. We will be watching for that.

  As a part of this watchfulness, Inner City Press is publishing today a letter just submitted to the President of the Security Council by "a number of Nordic organisations, from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden," urging the inclusion of human rights monitoring in MINURSO's mandate.

  Even former UN envoy on Western Sahara Peter van Walson has written to French president Francois Hollande urging France to stop opposing human rights monitoring in Western Sahara.

  Also new this year is the discomfort caused by Spanish actor Javier Bardem asserting that French Ambassador Gerard Araud told him that Morocco is like France's mistress.

  French foreign ministry spokesperson Romain Nadal has reportedly confirmed that Araud met with Bardem in 2011; Araud has said he would seek permission to sue Bardem. (There is a pattern here.) Now, Jacques Audibert is said slated to take over for Araud by July.

  So this will be Araud's last campaign opposing human rights monitoring in Western Sahara. Earlier on April 10 Araud spoke at the Security Council stakeout about Central African Republic but when Inner City Press asked about the Chadian troops there, charged by the High Commissioner for Human Rights with killing 30 civilians, Araud told Inner City Press to Ask Chad's Ambassador.

  US Ambassador Samantha Power moments later answered Inner City Press' question about the withdrawal of Chad's troops from CAR, video here.

  The April 10 advance copy of the "Report of the Secretary General on the situation concerning Western Sahara" consists of 104 paragraphs and a map.

  To begin with -- Inner City Press will have more than one report on this Report -- there is a recognition of "demostrations aimed at drawing attention to human rights concerns, socio-economic issues and political demands, including the right to self-determination. These were swiftly dispersed by Moroccan security forces. On most such occasions, there were credible reports of heavy-handedness on the part of security forces as well as violence, such as stone-throwing, on the part of the demonstrators."

  The Report says "of particular note was a demonstration that took place in Laayoune on 5 May 2013... Protesters expressed dissatisfaction that Security Council resolution 2099 (2013) did not include provisions to include human rights monitoring in MINURSO's mandate."

Will it be different this year? Watch this site.


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