Tuesday, July 06, 2010

IDN-inDepth NewsAnalysis

Western Sahara Back on Radar Screens

A small shop in El Argoub, Western Sahara | Credit: Wikimedia Commons

By Ramesh Jaura

IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) – Western Sahara, one of the most thinly populated territories in the world, mainly consisting of desert flatlands, is drawing renewed focus after having been consigned to mainstream neglect for years.

The disputed territories are back on radar screens in the aftermath of new reports that the area is one of the most heavily mined territories in the world. These have been accompanied by one significant step taken by the United Nations.

Spanning 266,000 square kilometers (103,000 sq miles), Western Sahara has been on the UN list of non-self-governing territories since the 1960s when it was a Spanish colony. Spain withdrew from Western Sahara in 1976.

But he noted that two informal meetings under the auspices of his personal envoy Christopher Ross held in August 2009 and February 2010 produced no movement on the core substantive issues, and more work is needed before a fifth round can be held.

The efforts undertaken by Ross -- since his appointment in January 2009 -- to promote a settlement have been "laborious", Ban said. "Their pace and substance have been heavily affected by the parties' reaction to events in the region and their unyielding attachment to mutually exclusive positions."(..)

Former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker went through a similar disappointing experience as Secretary General Kofi Annan's personal envoy for Western Sahara. Subsequently, he resigned in 2004. He was succeeded by Dutch Ambassador to the UN, Peter van Walsum in July 1995.

April 30 UN Security Council resolution called on the parties to continue the dialogue under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions to achieve "a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara".

see the link

http://www.indepthn ews.net/news/ news.php? key1=2010- 07-06%2002: 14:43&key2=1

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