UN accused of softening criticism of Morocco in Report

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 23: The UN Security Council has reached a deal on a draft resolution to renew the mandate of the peacekeeping force in the disputed territory of Western Sahara this week, envoys said, but the Polisario Front independence movement and South Africa are disappointed.
The renewal of the mandate of the peacekeeping force, known as MINURSO, marks an annual battle in the council between Morocco, backed by France, and African nations supporting Polisario.
The African countries have repeatedly called for U.N. peacekeepers to be given the task of monitoring alleged human rights abuses.
Morocco and France, its former colonial master, have resisted the idea that the peacekeepers should report on rights abuses in Western Sahara, a sparsely populated tract of desert that has phosphates, fisheries and, potentially, oil and gas.
Former British diplomat Carne Ross, who heads the Independent Diplomat, a group that advises Polisario, wrote in the Guardian newspaper last week that Western Sahara is the “forgotten first source of the Arab Spring.” He was referring to the Moroccan authorities’ deadly crackdown on protests there by the Saharawi population in late 2010.
While the Security Council has never formally assigned the peacekeepers the role of human rights monitoring, Morocco has faced pressure to allow language on human rights in the resolutions on Western Sahara. Rabat insists the territory should come under its sovereignty, but the Polisario contends it is a sovereign state.
The latest draft calls on both sides to respect human rights and welcomes Morocco’s decision to set up a national council on rights and grant access to the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council. Previous resolutions had made only a vague reference to the “human dimension” of the conflict.
The Polisario, which represents the Saharawi people, waged a guerrilla war against Moroccan forces until the United Nations brokered a ceasefire in 1991 with the understanding that a referendum would be held on the fate of the territory.
The referendum was never held and attempts to reach a lasting deal have floundered.
The new draft resolution has the council “stressing the importance of improving the human rights situation in Western Sahara and the Tindouf camps, and encouraging the parties to … To ensure full respect for human  rights.”