UNITED NATIONS WESTERN SAHARA (MINURSO)

The U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, also known by the acronym MINURSO, is a peacekeeping mission that was established through United Nations Security Council Resolution 690 in 1991. It was created in response to the 16-year war that had been waged between Morocco and the Polisario Front over the territory of Western Sahara that had formerly been a Spanish territory. The Polisario Front represents the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which claims all of the territory of Western Sahara but effectively controls only around a quarter of the region.

Establishedfollowing a ceasefire agreement, the goals of MINURSO include monitoring the ceasefire, ensuring that Polisario and Moroccan troops maintain positions in designation locations, work to ensure the release of political prisoners, facilitating the exchange of prisoners of war, promoting voter registration and participation, and aiding in the organization of open and fair referendums that can lead to rule based on the principle of self-determination.

The original MINURSO mandate has been extended more than forty times, but it has not been modified to include an official program to monitor human-rights abuses or to protect human rights. It was most recently extended on April 29, 2016, by a Security Council Vote of ten in favor, two opposed, and three abstentions.
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