Western Sahara: Negotiation over the Last Colony in Africa
11 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2018
Date Written: October 25, 2018
The Saharawi are a people of nomadic origin whose traditional rangelands were mainly located in so-called Western Sahara . The emergence of the Saharawi as a people claiming the independence of this territory, which they consider as their national territory, is the consequence of colonial history and the long process of decolonization, which is still incomplete. Following the departure of the Spanish regime under Franco in 1973, the occupation of the territory in 1975 by the Moroccan and Mauritanian armies dispossessed the Saharawi of their land for a second time. This dispossession has continued since, with the Saharawi fighting and denouncing such an occupation, both within Western Sahara by passive and active resistance (including demonstrations severely repressed by Moroccan occupation forces) and outside the territory, by a war waged until 1991, and since then by negotiation. When Mauritania withdrew from the conflict in 1979 ,the only opponent of the Saharawi remained Morocco, which occupies most of the country (80%) with the help of a defensive military structure, called the Western Sahara Berm, erected from north to south and running for approximately 2,700 kilometres. The Berm is a series of mined sand dunes . The Saharawi people have built the struggle for independence in the refugee camps. Twenty-five years of war and exile have clarified Saharawi identity, which today stands out by language, institutions, morals and culture that are different from those of its neighbours. For 43 years now, the Saharawi people have been waiting for the UN to organize the hypothetical referendum to determine the future of Western Sahara in a democratic way. To consider the future of negotiations about Western Sahara, it is necessary to briefly study the status of Western Sahara from the point of view of international law before reviewing the approaches that the UN can use to put an end to the last colony in Africa.
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