Friday, October 10, 2008

UN criticed by Former UN Rep -Mr Francesco Bastagli

Francesco Bastagli criticises UN passiveness in the decolonisation of Western Sahara



Former Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Western Sahara, Francesco Bastagli, criticised the UN passiveness in the decolonisation of Western Sahara and failure to protect human rights in the occupied zones of the last colony in Africa.

In his intervention on Thursday before the UN 4th Committee, the former UN official said that the Committee had been “staring into the crystal ball of a stalled political process” while ignoring its core mandate, he said, adding: “This has to change.” Because no administering Power existed in Western Sahara to fulfil the “sacred trust” cited in the Charter, the Organization was duty-bound to fulfil that trust itself.

“The United Nations had also failed its responsibilities under Chapter XI of its Charter, particularly Article 73e, which listed commitments ranging from human rights protection to institution building to social and economic development. All of those commitments had been smothered in a conspiracy of silence”, he regretted.

He said that just days after he had resigned his post in August 2006, he had been accosted by a Saharawi woman on a street in the occupied city of El Aaiun who told him, “thank you for doing nothing the Saharawi people”, and he said he wanted to “convey that woman’s message to the Committee today”.

Continuing, he said United Nations bodies debated the future of faceless people, without the essential ingredients of responsible decision-making. No independent information analysis on the Saharawi people’s needs existed. Nor did anyone speak out on human rights violations or on the illegal plundering of the Territory’s natural resources.

The performance of the United Nations Secretariat “wavered between the embarrassing and the outrageous”. Indeed, no social or economic assistance was offered except hand-to-mouth aid relief in the refugee camps.

“The Secretary-General and concerned agencies should, among other things, secure independent information on the health, education and economic and social conditions of the Saharawi people in the camps and the Territory; transmit as appropriate the information and related analyses to the United Nations and other concerned intergovernmental bodies; advocate for the Saharawi people’s basic human and economic rights; and formulate and implement a programme of assistance pursuant to Article 73e. By pressing for such action to be undertaken, the Committee would break a stifling routine by providing a more informed and open decision-making environment for the political process”, he concluded.

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