Thursday, December 20, 2007

MINURSO allegedly defacing Western Saharan archaelogical sites

Between not organizing a referendum and not monitoring Moroccan human rights abuses, personnel in the United Nation's Western Sahara contingent MINURSO have to find something to keep them occupied. According to Nick Brooks, that means defacing valuable archaelogical sites in Western Sahara.

Brooks, a climate change researcher and the director of the Western Sahara Project, was visiting archaeological sites in the liberated portion of Western Sahara when he saw graffiti MINURSO personnel spraypainted over cave drawings. The cave drawings are faint, so I used my Perez Hilton MS Paint skills and circled one in red below. Brooks has contacted MINURSO, UNESCO, and the UN Misconduct office, so this is a story to follow.
I take a more positive view of MINURSO than a lot of people I've talked to, but that can probably be blamed on international politics fan boyishness. This vandalism and the recent Polisario Congress makes me wonder if MINURSO is helping or hurting the independence movement. MINURSO isn't restraining or even reporting on Moroccan human rights abuses, and I think its presence only prolongs the stalemate. On the other hand, it organizes visits for families divided by the war.

For more pictures of graffiti on archaelogical sites, visit the Flickr album.


  1. Anonymous12:51 AM

    Archeology and politics :->

  2. Nick B1:13 PM

    Try as one might to keep them apart, the two always seem to end up in a grubby embrace.

  3. Less political literotica on my blog, thanks. More archeology.

  4. Laroussi5:41 AM

    "MINURSO isn't restraining or even reporting on Moroccan human rights abuses".

    Well, the simple reason for this is that it is not in their mandate, aka not in their job description.

    It is however in their job description to arrange a referendum, but since no one in the security council seems willing to put pressure on Morocco (as the former Secretary General Kofi Annan so clearly stated) the referendum is still missing in action...

  5. Good point, Laroussi. I knew that and should've mentioned it. As I understand it, the reason that's not part of MINURSO's mandate is because France vetoes the addition every time MINURSO comes up for renewal.

    Whether or not it's part of the mandate, though, I think it supports my argument that MINURSO isn't helping out Sahrawis.

  6. Laroussi6:41 AM

    I think you are attacking the messenger, Will.

    Minurso can only do what they are told to do. The UN however could instruct them to start monitoring human rights abuses as well.

    Such a decision would of course have to be taken by the Security Council, but there is nothing that prevents the Secretary General or his special envoy to Western Sahara to propose such measures.

    Not presenting such measures is also politics...

    So, don't blame Minurso for missing reports on human rights abuses. The responsible are the UN and its institutions and member states. Among them your own country, the USA.

  7. Laroussi4:29 PM

    Time for some positive news from Human Rights Watch.

    The story also made the international headlines today.

  8. Laroussi8:31 AM

    Here is a letter from Human Rights Watch to the Moroccan Minister of Justice following the arrest and abuse of Mr Brahim Elansari and Mr Dahha Rahmouni.

  9. That's good news, Laroussi. I wonder how this beating gets picked up by HRW but all the others ASVDH and CODESA write about don't.

  10. Laroussi6:44 AM

    Now the story about the Minurso graffiti has finally reached the big international media like The Times which in its turn is quoted by BBB News.

  11. I thought about trying to join the U.N. I might add "spray-painting" in my resume...

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