The Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, will soon go back on the campaign trail after he disappeared from the region for more than five months. The UN mediator “will undertake as of October 27, a tour in the region, which will lead him to the parties to the conflict as well as to neighboring states”, Algeria and Mauritania, a source close to the UN in New York told us.
Ross is entrusted with conducting new rounds of informal talks to create common ground for the protagonists in the Western Sahara conflict and reach a final settlement. Ban Ki-Moon’s envoy was forced to interrupt his mediation in May after Morocco voiced reservations on his latest report to the UN Secretary General. Rabat deemed the report biased and favorable to the other party.
Moroccans also blame Ross for his attempts to pressure the Security Council to expand the prerogatives of the MINURSO in the Sahara.
Ultimately, even the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has described as unproductive the two latest rounds of informal talks (8th and 9th) led by Christopher Ross in July 2011 and March 2012, in Manhasset, United States.
Before embarking for his new tour in the region, the UN envoy should first present a survey on the Western Sahara conflict negotiations process before a meeting of the 15-member Security Council.
The meeting would be held behind closed doors, as announced by Ban Ki-moon in his address to the 67th session of the UN General Assembly. The UN Secretary General had then recognized the persistence of numerous obstacles to the settlement of the territorial dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.
The ball is now in the court of Christopher Ross who needs to show more objectivity and a lot of dynamism to get things moving in the right direction.