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In W. Sahara, 15-0 But Qs of Rights, AU, Morocco PR Answers ICP

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 28 -- The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, MINURSO, which has yet to hold any referendum, was unanimously "renewed" for a year on April 28 by the UN Security Council.

 In explanations of vote, Venezuela said human rights monitoring should have been included, and the African Union should have been allowed to address the Council. Angola, citing Chad and Nigeria as well, echoed this.

  Afterward Inner City Press asked Moroccan Permanent Representative Omar Hilale a series of questions: about what Venezuela said, about the African Union, injured protesters, and why Frente Polisario couldn't speak at the same microphone.

  Hilale asked if Venezuela was the right country to speak of human rights. He called the African Union "toxic" on this issue, having made up it mind it should not address the Council.

  Inner City Press asked how this is different, say, from the European Union addressing the Council about Kosovo. (Hilale said every situation is different: the old "sui generis").

  Inner City Press asked why Polisario couldn't speak at the UNSC stakeout where, for example, private citizen Hilary Clinton recently did. Hilale said Hilary Clinton is with a member state. But so are a lot of people.

  Hilale went after Independent Diplomat, saying they shouldn't be allow inside the UN. Inner City Press noted that for example France, the UK and US like ID's work with the Syrian opposition. Hilale insisted, let them do it from outside the UN.

  When Inner City Press turned around, neither the Polisario representative nor Independent Diplomat were in the "Turkish Lounge" area next to the Security Council stakeout -- from which the press, too, was banned, to which the Free UN Coalition for Access has objected. We'll have more on all this.

  On April 22, Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesman

Inner City Press: on Western Sahara, I think it was a week ago, I asked… it was a kind of confirm or deny these reports of a clash between Moroccan security and protesters in Laayoune, you said you'd ask MINURSO [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara].  Given that a week has gone by and today is the day of the consultations, did you ask them and they say it didn't happen…?

Spokesman:  We owe you an answer.

 On April 23, at the beginning of the UN noon briefing (UN transcript here), the UN Spokesman said:

Mr. Lee, you had asked about Western Sahara:  MINURSO [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara] has received reports of violence during a protest in Laayoune last week that resulted in protesters being injured.  The Mission has been in touch with the relevant authorities and will continue to follow up.

  Follow up? Why did this take a week?

 On April 22 before the consultations began, a group of Moroccan diplomats greeted Council Ambassadors as they went in. They are, it is acknowledged, doing their job. Polisario was nowhere to be seen. At the stakeout already there was talk that while Polisario should be able to speak at the UNTV microphone -- Hilary Clinton did -- there would be a block.

 On April 21 when Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson met with Kim Bolduc, she was listed not as head of MINURSO but of MONUSCO in the Congo. Photo here. Inner City Press asked and was told it was a mistake.

 On (the lack of) human rights monitoring, on April 15 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: there are reports and I wanted to know whether you or MINURSO [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara] know if they are true of a, quote, Moroccan crackdown on demonstrations in [inaudible] directed at the idea of there being a human rights monitoring mechanism so it…

Spokesman Dujarric:  We will ask our colleagues in MINURSO.

 But nine hours later, no answer, no information. No monitoring.

 Meanwhile, Inner City Press has become aware that Morocco wrote to the Security Council; Inner City Press has uploaded the letter here.

  On April 10 Inner City Press obtained from multiple sources the advance copy of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's report on the MINURSO mission. We published it in full here and embedded below (unlike others who try to remove things from the Internet, like here).

 On April 13, Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the report "speaks for itself;" Inner City Press asked how that applies to Paragraph 62 merely reciting Morocco's and the Frente Polisario's positions for and against oil drilling at this time. Video here.

 Dujraric said he had "nothing to add;" he also said that enovy Christopher Ross will help provide more details. On the record?

  While there has been no formal response to the African Union's request that the UN Security Council at least hear from its envoy Chissano, Inner City Press asks why at a minimum an Arria formula meeting could not be set up? These do not require unanimity, even of some members boycott, as might happen here, the meeting goes forward. We'll have more on this.

  Meanwhile, with regard to claims about then-Office of Legal Affairs chief Hans Corell's 2002 letter, UN Doc. S/2002/161, here are links to two of his publications since, here ("The Responsibility of the UN Security Council in the Case of Western Sahara.” In: International Judicial Monitor, Winter 2015 Issue") and most recently here ("Western Sahara: the EU should reconsider its fisheries agreement with Morocco.” In: New Europe, 12 April 2015.)


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