South Africa laments lack of extended human rights monitoring mandate for MINURSO

New York, 11 July 2020 (SPS) - South Africa's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Jerry Matthews Matjila, regretted on Tuesday that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) still lacks a broad mandate for human rights monitoring, deploring the Security Council's "selective" and highly "politicized" attitude.

"South Africa notes with concern that the issue of human rights components has not escaped the political dynamics of the Security Council as it continues to be politicized and selectively applied," said Ambassador Matjila during a debate in the Security Council on peace operations and human rights.

"While some members of the Security Council advocate the importance of the human rights component in peacekeeping missions, it is regrettable that the same vigour and enthusiasm is conspicuously absent from other missions, such as the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara," the South African diplomat deplored.

He added that the decisions of the Security Council to give several peace missions human rights monitoring mandates "reflects the general acceptance" within that body of "the relevance of this component in the UN peace efforts."

Currently 12 UN peace operations (six peacekeeping missions and six special political missions) have human rights monitoring mandates, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who took part in the debate.

The ambassador stressed that members of the Security Council must not "stand on the wrong side of history" by allowing their "narrow interests to trample on the interest of the majority of the world's citizens whom the Council is mandated to serve."

Matjila noted that peace operations are mandated to monitor and report on the situation on the ground. But, "if human rights violations do not fall within the realm of protection of civilians it would be difficult for peace operations to intervene without an appropriate mandate." (SPS)