Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

From 1975-1991, the Moroccan government engaged in an armed conflict in the Western Sahara with the indigenous Sahrawi population, led by the Polisario Front (the independence movement in the Western Sahara). The armed conflict began after the Moroccan occupation of the territory was initiated by King Hasan II, immediately following Sahrawi independence from Spain in 1975. Despite the existence of a ceasefire, organized by the United Nations in 1991, there have been no further decisions made by the international community regarding the status of the Western Sahara. In particular, there have been no developments in relation to a self-determination referendum, a decisive factor in whether or not the Sahrawi will be granted sovereignty by the Moroccan government. Using a realist and liberal framework, this paper analyzes the regional and international geopolitical and cultural conflicts preventing the referendum from occurring and sovereignty being granted to the Sahrawi. Furthermore, this research aims to develop a realist and liberalist analysis of indigenous autonomy underneath a post-colonial critique and against a critical historical background.

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