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Western Sahara: Anatomy of a Stalemate?, 2nd edition

Erik Jensen
Western Sahara: Anatomy of a Stalemate?, 2nd edition
ISBN: 978-1-58826-829-7
ISBN: 978-1-58826-807-5
2011/181 pages/LC: 2011027647

"A staggeringly eloquent and highly incisive book, which also serves as a fantastic overview. This will firmly take its place on my reading lists henceforth"—Alia Brahimi, London School of Economics and Political Science

"A valuable book with incisive analysis on the Western Sahara imbroglio to benefit students of international affairs, academics, journalists and diplomats interested in one of the most intractable problems of the 21st century."—North-South Magazine

Praise for the previous edition:

"This gracefully written and well argued book will obviously be useful to anyone with an interest in Western Saharan and North African affairs, but students of the United Nations itself and the means by which it adapts to novel regional and local circumstances in a complex political environment will also want this volume as an important part of their collections."—Anthony G. Pazzanita, International Journal of African Historical Studies


Responding to the changes that have swept across North Africa since the first edition of this book was published, Erik Jensen sheds new light on the enduring dispute over Western Sahara.

Jensen reviews the history of the dispute, beginning with its colonial roots, and explains how and why attempts made by the OAU and, more persistently, the UN failed to achieve a formula for resolution acceptable to both Morocco and Western Sahara's Polisario Front. Then bringing the story up to 2011, he describes the new interest in a political compromise.

The conflict remains the single most important obstacle to developing the regional Maghreb Union, which has the potential to change the lot of the region's many unemployed and underemployed. That, Jensen suggests, coupled with such unexpected developments as plans for constitutional reform in Morocco, may offer hope for resolving the stalemate.


Erik Jensen served in 1994-1998 as head of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). More recently, he has been Warburg Professor of International Relations at Simmons College and visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His recent publications include Collective Security, Posse, or Global Cop: The US and Global Security at the Turn of the Century.


  • World Events and Western Sahara.
  • The Place, the People, and the Role of Spain.
  • Attempts to Address the Conflict.
  • The UN Settlement Plan. 
  • Identification: Who Should Vote?
  • The Process Stalls.
  • Settlement Efforts Renewed.
  • Searching for Alternatives.
  • Stalemate and Beyond.
  • Appendixes: The Situation Concerning Western Sahara: Report of the Secretary-General, June 1990; Identification and Registration of Voters: Excerpt from Report of the Secretary-General, April 1991; Instructions Relating to the Tasks of the Identification Commission: Annex to Report of the Secretary-General, December 1991; Peace Plan for Self-Determination of the People of Western Sahara: Annex II to Report of the Secretary-General, May 2003; Moroccan Initiative for Negotiating an Autonomy Statute for the Sahara Region, April 2007.