Mission in Northern Africa—MINURSO

  • Håkan Edström
  • Dennis Gyllensporre
Part of the New Security Challenges Series book series (NSECH)


Westerns Sahara is a former Spanish colony. In 1965 the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution in that requested Spain to take measures to allow its independence (UNGA Res 2072/1965). When Spain relinquished the administrative control of Western Sahara in 1975 both Morocco and Mauritania affirmed their claim to the territory. These claims were opposed by a national liberation movement, the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y de Rio de Oro (POLISARIO), that proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. A war erupted leading to a Mauritanian withdrawal in 1979 and Morocco securing control of most of the territory. In August 1988 Morocco and POLISARIO reached an agreement to settle the dispute by holding a referendum for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, organized and supervised by the UN in cooperation with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) (UNSC Res 621/1988). However, it was not until 1991 a UN sponsored ceasefire agreement and settlement plan could be reached. The settlement plan envisioned a referendum that would decide on independence or accession to Morocco. To assist further progress the UN Security Council (UNSC) decided to establish the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) (UNSC Res 690/1991). In this chapter the ongoing MINURSO mission is explored.


Security Council Military Personnel Identification Commission Peace Process Political Aspiration 
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Copyright information

© Håkan Edström and Dennis Gyllensporre 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Håkan Edström
    • 1
  • Dennis Gyllensporre
    • 2
  1. 1.Swedish National Defence CollegeStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of Peace and Conflict ResearchUppsala UniversitySweden

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