History of the conflict
New UN Special Envoy
Staffan de Mistura becomes new UN Special Envoy for Western Sahara. The experienced diplomat and mediator was, among other things, special envoy for Syria in 2014-2018. The post had been vacant since Horst Köhler resigned in March 2019.
September 29, 2021
EU court again overturns EU-Morocco agreement
The European Court of Justice declares the fisheries and free trade agreement between the EU and Morocco invalid because it includes Western Sahara without a legal basis. The court ruled that for future agreements on Western Sahara, the Sahrawi people, represented by their internationally recognized agency Frente Polisario, must give their consent.
Renewed outbreak of conflict
Clashes after Africa Cup
Sahrauis in the occupied territory celebrate the victory of the Algerian national team in the Africa-Cup. There are clashes on den Roads El Aaiuns. 24-year-old Sabah Osman, a Sahrawi English teacher, dies in the streetafter they hit and left two Moroccan police cars.
Resignation UN Special Envoy
Gdeim Izik convictions
25 Sahrawi activists are sentenced by a Moroccan court to prison terms ranging from 20 years and sentenced to life. They are accused of being involved in violent riots when the Moroccan security forces evacuated the protest camp near Gdeim Izik in 2010. International trial observers and human rights organizations speak of falsified testimonies, confessions made under torture and other numerous violations of a fair trial.
EU trade agreement: Judgment of the European Court of Justice
Rain disaster in the refugee camps
In October, days of heavy rain fall on the refugee camps in the Algerian desert. The houses of 7000 to 11500 families are completely or partially destroyed, water and electricity supplies are cut off, infrastructure such as clinics and schools are destroyed.
News about the rain: Torrential rain destroys Sahrawi refugee camps
Suppression of peaceful protest, beginning of the Arab Spring
On October 10, 2000 Sahrawis settle down for peaceful protest in an improvised tent city near Gdeim Izik, at the gates of El Aaiun, the capital of the Moroccan occupied Western Sahara. After a few days, 20,000 people are there. On November 8, the Moroccan army and police attack the camp with excavators, helicopters, tear gas and water cannons. According to human rights organisations, the balance sheet: 11 dead, 723 injured, 159 disappeared.
For Noam Chomsky and other experts this demonstration is the beginning of the Arab Spring.
Plan Baker II
After returning to Western Sahara, the Sahrawi people are to elect a government and a parliament from among their own ranks. After 5 years at the latest, a referendum is to be held, for which all those - Moroccan - persons who have lived in the Western Sahara without interruption since 1999 are to be admitted. The Polisario accepts this Plan II, although it requires major concessions from the Sahrawi people. Morocco rejects the plan.
Security Council report on resource exploitation
The legal advisor Hans Corell draws up an expert opinion on behalf of the UN Security Council on the legality of company contracts concerning oil exploration in the occupied territory. He comes to the conclusion that the exploitation of resources in a non-self-governed territory is only legal if the affected population has given its consent.
Plan Baker I
James Baker, Special Envoy of the UN, proposes the following: that the Sahrawi people be allowed to return to the territory of Western Sahara. Western Sahara will be granted the status of an autonomous region, but will remain part of the Moroccan state. The Polisario rejects the proposal and demands that the 1991 peace plan be respected by holding a referendum.
Trick the referendum
Morocco is asking for an additional 120 000 people to be added to the electoral rolls, which is why the referendum is being postponed. Morocco has maintained this tactic of wanting to settle Moroccan citizens and to allow them to vote in the referendum to this day.
Ceasefire, announcement of the referendum
The UN is mediating a ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario. The condition is the holding of a referendum in which the Sahrawi people can vote on the future of Western Sahara.
The United Nations Referendum Mission (MINURSO) is stationed in the area.
Morocco begins to build a wall in the form of a sand wall, called Berm. It separates the resource-rich occupied area with sea access from the narrow strip of liberated land in the barren interior of the country. At 2,700 km, the wall is the second longest in the world after the Chinese. A dense carpet of landmines lies along the wall.
Mauritania goes, Morocco expands
Mauritania renounces its claim, Morocco extends its occupation to the south.
Foundation of the DARS
The Sahrawi people proclaim the DARS (Democratic Arab Republic of Sahara) from exile.
Occupation, bombing, escape
Spain, Morocco and Mauritania sign the "Madrid Agreement", which divides Western Sahara between Morocco and Mauritania.
Spain withdraws from Western Sahara and allows Morocco (from the north) and Mauritania (from the south) to invade. Morocco bombs the refugees with napalm and white phosphorus. Many Sahrawis flee into the Algerian desert with nothing but the clothes on their backs, where they live in five refugee camps.
Decision of the International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice in The Hague passes the following judgement: Neither Morocco nor Mauritania have historical claims to the territory; the people of Western Sahara have a right to self-determination.
Foundation of Polisario
Some Sahrawis found the liberation movement Polisario (Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Río de Oro). It offers armed resistance with the aim of liberating the area from Spanish colonial rule.
Repeated UN requirements
The UN has repeatedly called on Spain to decolonize Western Sahara and to hold a referendum.
The Western Sahara receives the UN status of a non-self-governing territory. Morocco is still NOT listed as an administrative power and therefore has no legitimation to administer the territory.
circumvention of the UN resolution
Spain appoints the Sahara as a Spanish province in order to circumvent the UN resolution on decolonization.
The territory of Western Sahara becomes a Spanish colony.