Analysis of Resolution 2240 (2018) on Western Sahara

By Kata Lucas

The Security Council extends the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for six months until 30 April 2019.


This resolution extends the mandate of United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2019. The Security Council emphasizes the need to achieve a “realistic, practicable and enduring political solution”, and expresses full support for the intention of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to initiate a renewed negotiations process before the end of 2018. [1]S/RES/2440 (2018), OPs. 2, 3 The Council calls upon all parties to fully cooperate with the operations of MINURSO and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to identify and implement confidence-building measures. [2]S/RES/2440 (2018), OPs. 8, 14

There are two operative references to issues of women, peace and security (WPS) and two preambular references. There is also an operative reference to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA). All references to issues of WPS are the same as the previous mandate renewal, resolution 2114 (2018).

In the operative paragraphs, the Council calls for an increase in the number of women in MINURSO and for the meaningful participation of women in all operations of the mission. [3]S/RES/2440 (2018), OP. 12 The Council also encourages parties to cooperate with UNHCR “to identify and implement confidence-building measures, including to engage women and youth, and encourages neighboring states to support these efforts”. [4]S/RES/2440 (2018), OP. 14 Finally, the Council includes standard language in the operative paragraphs on SEA. In the preambular paragraphs, the Council recalls resolution 2242 (2015), which calls for an increase in the number of women in the military and police components of UN peacekeeping missions, and also recalls resolution 1325 (2000), stressing the importance of a commitment by the parties to continue the process of negotiations through UN sponsored talks, while also encouraging the full, effective, and meaningful participation of women.

Pursuant to the WPS agenda, the Council should make two central improvements in future mandate renewals. First, in regards to confidence-building measures for refugees, the Council should acknowledge the gender dimensions of the humanitarian situation, and call on relevant actors to ensure any efforts to facilitate the movement of refugees, including the meeting of families, are designed and implemented with consideration of the gender-specific needs of female refugees pursuant resolution 2122 (2015). [5]S/RES/2122 (2015), OP. 16 Second, the preambular reference to women’s participation in UN-sponsored talks, should be reflected explicitly in the operative paragraphs. In future renewals, the Council should call on all parties and provide support to ensure the full and meaningful participation of women and civil society, including women’s organizations, in all negotiations and preparations pursuant to resolutions 1325 (2000), 2122 (2013), and 2242 (2015). [6]S/RES/1325 (2000), OP. 2, SCR 2122 (2013), OP 7(c), S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 1

Missed Opportunities

The Council misses two core opportunities to integrate WPS issues. First, the Council misses an opportunity to include a new provision calling on gender to be mainstreamed as a crosscutting issue. The establishment of this function would ensure that MINURSO could fulfill the standard functions of peacekeeping, including monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on local developments through the appointment of personnel responsible for civil affairs to work systematically and directly with concerned communities. [7]Monthly Action Points (MAP) for the Security Council: October 2018 Second, the Council misses an opportunity to emphasize the importance of women’s participation and the protection and promotion of women’s rights. Presently, human rights are broadly referenced in the preambular paragraphs, in the future, the Council should add explicit operative language pursuant to resolution 2242 (2015). [8]S/RES/2242 (2015), also reflective of CEDAW/C/GC/30 and CCPR/C/MAR/CO/6 Third, the Council should also call on the Secretary-General to integrate a gender lens in reporting on human rights violations and women’s and women’s organization’s participation in the political process pursuant to resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015). [9]S/RES/2212 (2013), OP. 1, OP. 2, S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 4 The inclusion of gender-sensitive information should be possible through collaboration and information sharing amongst partners in Western Sahara, such Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNHCR.


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