The Western Sahara conflict revolves around competing claims to the territory by the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement (otherwise known as the government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, or SADR). From 1884 to 1975, the territory was a Spanish colony (called Spanish Sahara), although it was only in the final decades that Spain exercised administrative control over the Sahrawi tribes in the interior. In 1965, the UN called on Spain to begin decolonization of the Western Sahara. Ten years later, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion. Although the court affirmed the Sahrawis’ right to self-determination, Morocco and Mauritania interpreted the opinion as supporting their respective historical claims to the territory, and took control. On 6 November 1975, King Hassan II orchestrated the so-called ‘Green March’. Approximately 350,000 Moroccans converged on the city of Tarfaya in southern Morocco and crossed into Western Sahara. This mass movement pressured Spain into ceding the Western Sahara toMorocco and Mauritania a few days later. The Polisario independence movement, which had been formed in 1973, launched offensives against Morocco andMauritania, with Algerian and Libyan political and military support. Tens of thousands of Sahrawis fled to refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained were subsumed by waves of settlers from Morrocco and harsh repression. In 1979, Mauritania relinquished its share of the Western Sahara, which was occupied by Morocco. Morocco was able to secure possession of most of the territory by constructing a 2,000 km defensive wall (called the berm), though military activity continued. In 1990– 91 the UN Security Council approved a settlement plan that would lead to a referendum where voters could choose between independence and integration with Morocco. Subsequently, the UN Security Council approved the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to oversee the implementation of the settlement plan. An informal ceasefire became formal after a renewed bout of fighting. ...,
ISS Staff Group 0
International Peacekeeping
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Bergh, S. (2007). The Western Sahara Conflict: Fresh Perspectives. International Peacekeeping, 14(5), 662–669. doi:10.1080/13533310701780290