Washington Must Act at the UN on Western Sahara’s Dangerous Crisis

NEW COMMENTARY FROM CRISIS GROUP

Washington Must Act at the UN on Western Sahara’s Dangerous Crisis

For several months the resumption of hostilities in Western Sahara failed to elicit a discernible international response. The U.S. administration appears to prefer avoiding to confirm or rescind former President Donald Trump’s December 2020 recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a major win for Rabat. Instead, Washington has focused on restarting the UN-led diplomatic process by pressuring Morocco to accept the latest candidate for the UN envoy position, Staffan de Mistura. In October, the UN announced the appointment of this widely experienced diplomat.

In this commentary, our present and past co-chairs, Susana Malcorra and Thomas Pickering point out that this resumption exacerbates the plight of tens of thousands of Sahrawi refugees and fuels conflict in North Africa, the Sahel and Europe. The UN Security Council, months after fighting has restarted, has yet to take a clear stance to address the crisis. It is time now for Washington to act and place a higher priority on resolving the conflict. Given its influence over both parties, the U.S. has a special responsibility ahead of an important Council meeting on the disputed territory this month.

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