United Nations Western Sahara ( MINURSO )
The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (Arabic: بعثة الأمم المتحدة لتنظيم استفتاء في الصحراء الغربية; French: Mission des Nations Unies pour l'Organisation d'un Référendum au Sahara Occidental; Spanish: Misión de las Naciones Unidas para la Organización de un Referéndum en el Sáhara Occidental; MINURSO) is the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, established in 1991 under United Nations Security Council Resolution 690 as part of the Settlement Plan, which had paved way for a cease-fire in the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front (representing the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) over the contested territory of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara).
MINURSO's mission was to monitor the cease-fire and to organize and conduct a referendum in accordance with the Settlement Plan, which would enable the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara to choose between integration with Morocco and independence. This was intended to constitute a Sahrawi exercise of self-determination, and thus complete Western Sahara's still-unfinished process of decolonization (Western Sahara is the last major territory remaining on the UN's list of non-decolonized territories.)
To this end, MINURSO has been given the following mandates:
- Monitor the ceasefire
- Verify the reduction of Moroccan troops in the territory
- Monitor the confinement of Moroccan and Polisario troops to designated locations
- Take steps with the parties to ensure the release of all Western Saharan political prisoners or detainees
- Oversee the exchange of prisoners of war (through the International Committee of the Red Cross)
- Implement the repatriation programme (through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
- Identify and register qualified voters
- Organize and ensure a free and fair referendum and proclaim the results
The medal is a circular medal of bronze alloy. The obverse depicts the ‘World-in-a Wreath’ emblem of the UN and the reverse has the inscription: ‘FOR SERVICE IN DEFENCE OF THE PRINCIPLES OF THE CHARTER OF THE UNITED NATIONS’.