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Special Political and Decolonization Western Sahara - IDIA

Special Political and Decolonization Western Sahara - IDIA

Rutgers Model United

Rutgers Model United Nations 15 House. Some of the accusations of human rights abuses by Morocco include the bombings of refugee camps in Western Sahara in 1976, and the repression and torture of dissenters. An Amnesty International Report released in 1999 stated: The men, women, and children who “disappeared” in Western Sahara came from all walks of life. Many were detained because of their alleged pro-independence activities, support for the Polisario Front, and opposition to Morocco’s control of Western Sahara. Others including elderly people and children “disappeared” because of their family links with known or suspected opponents to Moroccan government policy. 56 Further illustrating the climate in the North African region, Ghania Djeini, the director of a human rights group, speaking during a spike in violence between the two groups in 2010 stated, “All Sahrawis live in fear.” 57 Human Rights Watch has also exposed the human rights abuses conducted by the POLISARIO, noting that the “POLISARIO effectively marginalizes those who directly challenge its leadership or general political orientation, but does not imprison them.” 58 Lastly, the POLISARIO, and the governments of Morocco and Algeria face accusations that they have violated the Geneva Conventions regarding how they treat prisoners of war. 59 Possible Causes Differences Over Voter Eligibility Differences regarding who can vote in the referendum have contributed to the continuation of the Western Saharan conflict. Originally, as prescribed in the MINURSO mandate, only the Western Saharans who were accounted for in the 1974 census conducted by the Spanish could vote. 60 All parties involved agreed that voter eligibility would be limited to “Western Saharans in the 1974 census undertaken by the Spanish authorities and aged 18 years or over whether currently in the Territory or outside as 56 Amnesty International. Morocco/Western Sahara: “Turning the Page”: Achievements and Obstacles. bba353fc63d9/mde290011999en.pdf (Accessed 4 April 2012) 57 Worth, Robert F. “Desert Land in Limbo is Torn Apart.” New York Times, 9 December 2010. (Accessed 4 April 2012). 58 Human Rights Watch. Human Rights in Western Sahara and in the Tindouf Refugee Camps. (Accessed 4 April 2012) 59 General Assembly, Morocco, Algeria Face Accusations As POLISARIO Representatives, Ex-Officials Address Fourth Committee Hearing Of Petitioners In Decolonization Debate, 10 October 2005 (Accessed 4 April 2012). 60 Castellino

Rutgers Model United Nations 16 refugees or for other reasons. 61 However by August 1991, Morocco had suggested that there had been tribes who normally resided in the Territory who had been excluded from the census. Morocco then put forth a list of 120,000 possible voters. In order to solve the conflict surrounding eligible voters, and to aid in the referendum process, MINURSO established an Identification Committee as an attempt to update the 1974 census. Following much debate, the Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar issued a final report suggesting guidelines for voter eligibility, which included: 1. Persons included in the revised 1974 census list 2. Persons living in the territory as members of a Saharan tribe at the time of the 1974 census but who could not be counted 3. Members of the immediate family of the first two groups 4. Children born of a Saharan father born in the territory 5. Members of Saharan tribes belonging to the territory and who have resided in the territory for six consecutive years or intermittently for 12 years prior to 1 December 1974 62 This voter eligibility guideline produced by de Cuellar further stoked the conflict, as issues such as the final two criteria, tribal allegiance, and sources of evidence to determine residency became sources of contention. 63 Furthermore, both the POLISARIO and the Moroccan government maintain positions at odds with one another. POLISARIO argues that those included in the 1974 census should be the only people allowed to vote. Morocco, on the other hand, claims that the Spanish census is limited and excluded legitimate residents of the territory. Since the establishment of the Identification Committee, both the POLISARIO and the Moroccan government have accused each other of stalling the process. Disputes over voter eligibility were not just confined to the original referendum. Throughout the peace process, the determination of voters remained a point of contention and disagreement. The conflict of voter eligibility surged to the forefront once again with the introduction of the Framework Agreement. Introduced in 2001, the Moroccan government, upon the announcement of the Framework agreement, declared the Western 61 Castellino 62 United Nations, Report of the Secretary General on the Situation Concerning Western Sahara, 19 August 2000. (Accessed 11 April 2012) 63 Castellino

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