n African Renaissance - The forgotten conflict in Western Sahara

Volume 2, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


Recently, I was reminded of a 1998 conversation I had with the then foreign affairs adviser to the self-proclaimed government of Ibrahim Rugova in Kosovo. We were attending a conference in Barcelona on the 'implementation of the right to self-determination as a contribution to conflict prevention'. For many years, the Rugova government on behalf of Kosovar Albanians had initiated a non-violent struggle against Serbia for independence. The campaign received little international attention, support or diplomatic interest. However, that changed dramatically in the mid to late 1990s when the KLA (Kosova Liberation Army) launched a guerrilla war. The resulting conflict focused intense international attention and ultimate intervention in the long simmering situation. The Albanian adviser asked me rhetorically what was the message the international community was sending groups engaged in non-violent struggles when it ignored the non-violent struggle of the Rugova government for so many years, but as soon as the KLA initiated an armed struggle, there was international attention.

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