Target: UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon
Goal: Increase human rights monitoring by peacekeeping force in Western Sahara
At the end of April 2014, the UN Security Council is likely to extend the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). However, this is the only modern UN peacekeeping operation with no human rights monitoring. Although the peacekeepers remain to keep the people of the Western Sahara region of Morocco safe, local authorities have continued to restrict civil liberties and tamp down dissenting opinion. Outside activists continue to face significant hurdles to completing their important work, and to providing aid to the people of the Western Sahara. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in a unique position of power to ensure that in the future, this mission is carried out including an element of human rights monitoring.
According to Amnesty International, there have been many cases of police brutality, torture, and general mistreatment of activists and protestors, who have called for MINURSO to adopt a human rights mandate. Human rights activists are often harassed and spied on by security forces, and local authorities continue to put up roadblocks to the formation of local human rights organizations. Salil Shetty of the Amnesty is quoted as saying, “If Morocco wishes to prove it is serious about respecting its international obligations, it must end the harassment or intimidation of activists and stop blocking independent human rights monitoring by both local groups and the UN.”
If peacekeeping forces in the Western Sahara region were granted the power to oversee human rights issues, there would be no need for reports such as the one done by Amnesty International. In every other peacekeeping operation carried out by the UN there has been particular emphasis on preserving the dignity of the people, not just their security. An expansion of the mandate of MINURSO would also allow for investigation of disappearances and politically motivated deaths going back more than twenty years.
This kind of mission is completely in line with the goals and founding principles of the United Nations. It is their responsibility to ensure that all peacekeeping missions are carried out with equal dedication to safety, and the preservation of rights. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must demand that these provisions be added to the mandate of MINURSO when it is renewed in late April. The inalienable rights of the people of the Western Sahara region depend on it.
Dear Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,
UN peacekeeping forces play an important role in preserving the rights and dignity of people living in war-torn and conflict-stricken regions of the world. It is an invaluable responsibility.
I am writing to you today to demand that the mandate of MINURSO be expanded to include a human rights component that will protect the rights of the people of the Western Sahara.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons