February 21, 2024

For nearly four decades, the United Nations has been sending multinational military missions to regions of political tension to help keep the peace between formerly warring states and groups. In June 1991, one of those missions was sent to conduct an independence referendum in an arid, sparsely populated portion of northwestern Africa. When it deployed, the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) was one of the most ambitious UN peace-keeping operations ever attempted, the first to give to the UN authority to restrain local security forces, identify and register voters, conduct the referendum, certify the results, and supervise the losing side’s withdrawal or disarmament

More than a year after its deployment, and long after it was to have done its job and gone home, MINURSO was only ten percent deployed, awaiting orders to go ahead that seemed ever more remote with each passing month.

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Building on Sand UN Peacekeeping in the Western Sahara

Source: International Security

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