Magazine article UN Chronicle

Identification Commission to Proceed with Voter Registration

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Identification Commission to Proceed with Voter Registration

Article excerpt

The Identification Commission of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been asked by the Security Council to proceed with the identification and registration of potential voters by 30 June, with a view to holding the balloting by the end of 1994. The registration process would be based on the Secretary-General's compromise proposal concerning the interpretation and application of criteria for voter eligibility in the referendum for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

The Council acted on 29 March by unanimously adopting resolution 907 (1994). Expressing deep concern over continuing difficulties and delays in the work of the Commission, it requested the Secretary-General to report no later than 15 July on progress achieved in the Commission's work, as well as on other aspects of the UN settlement plan for Western Sahara, agreed upon in 1990.

The Council also decided that, in the event the Secretary-General reported that the referendum could not be held by the end of 1994, it would "consider MINURSO's future, including an examination of options regarding its mandate and continued operations".

Three options

The Secretary-General had presented (S/1994/283 and Add.1) on 10 March three options to the Security Council. The Council chose option B, by which the UN would continue its efforts to obtain the cooperation of both parties on the basis of the Secretary-General's compromise proposal, while the Identification Commission would continue its work until 30 June.

Under Option A, the Council would have authorized the UN to hold the referendum, regardless of the cooperation of either party. According to Option C, the Council would have concluded that the cooperation of both parties could not be obtained at present, and would let the whole operation be phased out within a given time-frame or that the registration and identification process be suspended, but that a reduced presence be retained to encourage respect for the cease-fire.

The Secretary-General noted that both options A and B would require Member States to provide military personnel. Even maintenance of MINURSO at its present strength of about 350 from 25 nations would require urgent action in light of the impending withdrawal of contingents from Australia, Canada and Switzerland.

The Secretary-General stated that following protracted delays, every possible avenue had been explored to break the deadlock over criteria. …

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