- The US-based PR company 'Independent Diplomat', which has worked for the exiled government of Western Sahara since 2006, claims it managed to convince the UN Security Council members to term the situation in the territory "not acceptable" in its latest resolution.
'Independent Diplomat' says it has been on the payroll of the exiled government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) since 2006, "advising the leadership on its diplomatic strategy, preparations for the UN-led negotiation process and legal aspects relating to Western Sahara's natural resources." The PR company had "also helped the SADR to enhance its public profile and political advocacy."
In a new statement about the US company's work - providing seldom insight into the diplomatic struggle between Western Sahara and occupying power Morocco - 'Independent Diplomat' says it had worked hard with the changing members of the UN Security Council over the last years, thus gaining some minor victories in the deadlocked situation.
The first success noted by the PR company was a detail in the April 2009 resolution of the Council. The company noted a "minor success last year in securing a reference in Resolution 1871 to the 'human dimension' of the 35-year-long dispute." While the Saharawis had fought for a reference to human rights violations committed by Morocco, the "human dimension" note was seen as a step in the right direction.
Prior to the UN Security Council meeting on 30 April this year, 'Independent Diplomat' had intensified its lobbying towards several non-permanent members of the Council, urging for a tougher text as the question of Western Sahara again was on the agenda.
The PR company "worked assiduously with the delegations of Uganda, Nigeria, Mexico and Austria to ensure that this year's resolution reflected our client's concerns on human rights, the illegal exploitation of Western Sahara's natural resources, and the importance of holding a referendum," the statement reveals.
With the company's assistance, the Saharawis and their allies "forced a week-long battle in the Council," the statement adds. "Like last year, France was isolated, laying bare President Sarkozy's commitment to act as a proxy for Morocco in the Council, and to avoid subjecting Morocco to international monitoring at any cost," the company notes from the negotiations.
"The end result - recognition in Security Council Resolution 1920 that the status quo in Western Sahara is 'not acceptable', and the need for the parties to 'adhere to their obligations' – constitutes some progress, but it is not enough," 'Independent Diplomat' concludes on its efforts.
The 30 April resolution again made reference to the "human dimension" of the Western Sahara conflict. Additionally and for the first time, it recognises "that the consolidation of the status quo is not acceptable in the long term."
The preamble to the resolution also refers to protests by Uganda, Nigeria, Mexico and Austria, which all had called for a tougher text. Uganda expressed "concern" about human rights violations in Western Sahara. Nigeria was "deeply troubled" by the lack of reference to human rights in the resolution text. Austria and Mexico said they had wanted a "more balanced" resolution.
Little has so far been known about the use of PR companies by the Saharawi government, which is based in Algerian refugee camps and strongly under-funded. The Saharawi money spent on 'Independent Diplomat' however is dwarfed by the Moroccan side's worldwide spending on PR firms and lobbyists, especially in the US.
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