United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara

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This book is the first comprehensive study on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). Its aim is to not only to fill a gap in the literature on peacekeeping, but also to explore the implications and links between the mechanisms put in place by this peacekeeping mission in relation to conflict resolution. MINURSO has halted violent interactions between warring parties, but it failed to implement the other aspects of its mandate.

The first part of this study is structured around three main tasks which are undertaken by MINURSO in response to conflict: peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. MINURSO is also evaluated in light of the conclusions of the Brahimi panel related to reforms to UN Peacekeeping Operations. The second part examines the operative analytical potential of new theoretical grounds in peacekeeping research. In particular, this research explores perspectives from critical theories to look at the links between peacekeeping, Western policies of conflict containment and the parties’ (Morocco and POLISARIO Front) production of power/knowledge.


“ ... This book is a valuable contribution to current efforts by academics and practitioners to critically review the theory and practice of peacekeeping. In order to provide security as a global good, the United Nations must have at its disposal a robust and efficient mechanism to stop violent conflict and to engage warring parties in a conflict resolution process based on the principles of international law and democratic governance ... The author’s assessment of conflict resolution theory and practice applied to peacekeeping provides an outstanding contribution to current efforts to facilitate the promotion of an international order based on a normative framework in which communal groups can peacefully co-exist.” – (from the Preface) Professor Tom Woodhouse, University of Bradford

“I recommend this book as an original piece of work which investigates the impartiality of the United Nations and other external parties in the prolonged conflict in the Western Sahara. The subject matter is highly relevant for two reasons – first, there is a great deal of interest in critiques of peacekeeping concepts in the academic community, and second, North Africa has gained in importance as an area of interest in the light of attempts by non-Arab states to influence the future direction of Arab states, including the introduction of democracy and market economies ... Dr. Andreu Sola-Martin is an expert who has spent some years researching this issue and is well-qualified to write such a book.” – Professor Michael Pugh, University of Bradford

“An investigation of the role of the UN in contemporary conflict and the nature of international conflict resolution in the post-Cold War era, this book breaks new ground in analyzing UN peacekeeping efforts in relation to more generic forms of conflict resolution. While the study of peacekeeping has grown in the last decade, until now no one has successfully investigated the role of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara and extracted key lessons for those policymakers interested in finding a fair and lasting solution to the Western Sahara conflict. This book will also be of interest and a practical resource for students of international relations, conflict resolution, peacekeeping and the role of international organisations in the Arab World and North Africa.” – Dr. Eduard Vinyamata i Camp, Open University of Catalonia

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Preface by Tom Woodhouse
1. OAU-UN Peacemaking: History of the Settlement
2. Assessment of MINURSO Peacemaking
3. Assessment of MINURSO Peacekeeping
4. MINURSO Peacebuilding
5. UN Peacekeeping Reform and Conflict Resolution: The Lessons Learned from MINURSO
6. UN Production of Power/Knowledge
7. The Parties’ Production of Power/Knowledge
8. Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping

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