48 years later, it is not a time of peace for Western Sahara

Tags : Western Sahara, Morocco, UNO, Spain, Pedro Sanchez, decolonization, selfdetermination, Gaza, Palestine, Ukraine,

In a world marked by growing military tension and conflicts in places like Gaza, Ukraine, and Yemen, the 48th anniversary of the proclamation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic on February 27 invites us to reflect on the importance of peace in a context where the escalation of violence threatens to overshadow any possibility of international harmony.

Paradoxically, the Western Sahara conflict does not seem to be one of the most concerning issues for the international community. The 2022 annual report from the International Crisis Group did not include the Sahrawi conflict among the top 10 to watch in 2023, although it also did not anticipate the crisis in Gaza.

In the current global landscape, peace is at a crossroads, challenged by conflicts that seem to emerge in different parts of the globe. From the live-streamed genocide in Gaza to conflicts in Ukraine and Yemen, it is evident that the escalation of violence is on the rise. But this is only the visible side of the coin.

According to the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, there are currently more than a hundred armed conflicts in the world, including 7 in Europe and 45 in North Africa and the Middle East. Meanwhile, the recent Munich Security Conference, attended by over 350 high-level participants from more than 70 countries, has shown the inconsistency of foreign policy by displaying a double standard in the application of international law personalized in the conflicts of Ukraine and Palestine.

A call for peace and dialogue

Despite the motto of this conference, which began in 1963, being « Peace through dialogue, » peace and dialogue have disappeared from the equation, overshadowed by an exchange of accusations and requests for military support. Only the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, reflected on the democratic cost of the current world situation, wondering if « democracy will survive in the world and if we can defend our values. »

In this context, the anniversary of the proclamation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic takes on special relevance, reminding us of the urgent need to prioritize peace over discord. Over decades, the Sahrawi people have maintained a firm commitment to peace, even in the face of provocations and breaches of agreements by Morocco. Their longing for a peaceful future has been eloquently expressed in their participation in efforts to resolve the conflict and in their constant willingness to negotiate peace.

Despite adversity, the Sahrawis have shown admirable resilience, reaffirming their commitment to regional stability in a context where nobody seems to remember that 48 years have passed since this conflict at Europe’s doorstep and that more than 250,000 people strive to survive in the refugee camps of Tindouf, increasingly forgotten by donors and the international community.

Despite the Sahrawi people having figures like Aminetu Haidar, internationally recognized for her peaceful resistance and fight for human rights, reminding us that peace, despite provocations and challenges, remains a fundamental goal for the Sahrawi people, the international community chooses to whitewash Morocco by granting it the presidency of the Human Rights Council.

Complex international relations

The recent visit of the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, to Morocco has raised questions about his commitment to international law. Ignoring the occupation and exploitation of Sahrawi territory by Morocco not only violates fundamental principles but also highlights the complexity of international relations in an increasingly interconnected world.

In this critical context, spaces for reflection are needed that can shed some light on this bleak panorama. Soon, the University of Deusto will host the conference « Western Sahara: Exploring New Perspectives from International Law and International Relations » to analyze the complexities of the situation in Western Sahara, explore new perspectives, and seek solutions from the field of international law and international relations. It will be a space for constructive dialogue, with the hope of finding paths towards peace and justice in a region marked by controversy.

Paraphrasing Hannah Arendt, « in dark times, » it is imperative to remember that peace and international cooperation are essential for building a sustainable and just future. The situation in Western Sahara gives us the opportunity to reflect on how we can move towards a world where respect for international law and peaceful conflict resolution are the norm, not the exception.

Source : The Conversation

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