Western Sahara (MINURSO)

Background

Western Sahara, a territory on the north-west coast of Africa bordered by Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria, was under Spanish control until 1976. Both Morocco and Mauritania affirmed their claim to the territory, a claim opposed by the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (Frente POLISARIO), and fighting ensued. These tensions led to the establishment of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in 1991, in accordance with the settlement plan for a transitional period for the preparation of a referendum, in which the people of Western Sahara would choose between independence and integration with Morocco. Despite that the ceasefire has generally held since that time, negotiations between the two sides have repeatedly deadlocked, and a referendum has yet to occur.

Today, MINURSO continues to monitor the ceasefire and reduce the threat of landmines and UXOs.

How MINURSO Supports U.S. Interests

The U.S. has long supported the need to move forward toward a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution in the Western Sahara.

Supports negotiations

MINURSO helps facilitate the negotiations between parties that could lead to a political solution. Moreover, the mission monitors the ceasefire zone so that all parties respect their obligations and refrain from any actions that could destabilize the situation or threaten the UN process.

Monitors Security Concerns

It is estimated that some 100,000 km² of Western Sahara may be affected by a large number of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). The MINURSO Mine Action Coordination Centre, in partnership with other international NGOs, has been responsible for clearing landmines and explosive remnants of war. They have also assisted in route safety verification and reinforced risk education activities to civilians to prevent potential casualties.

Budget

While the U.S. is the largest single contributor to the UN’s peacekeeping budget at 28% or $1.8 billion of the total budget, other UN member states pay the vast majority of costs and contribute 99% of the nearly 90,000 troops. Provided below is a breakdown of the cost of each mission and the U.S. contribution to MINURSO.

Resources

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