The conflict in Western Sahara has persisted for decades, becoming one of the world’s oldest protracted and frozen conflicts. Protracted conflicts are not a category of their own in international law. This categorization goes back to the term coined by Eduard Azar in 1985, which characterized certain conflicts by their complexity and durability over time (Azar, 1985). However, this typology of conflict has important implications for international law. This field, built over centuries of history, has always been trailing behind technological advances (Picker, 2001) and shows the complexity of updating the discipline. This inability of the countryside to adapt can lead to the legal uncertainty of having to apply, through a broad interpretation, rules, principles and provisions adopted in the mid-twentieth century. These limitations are even more evident when it comes to so-called protracted conflicts, also known as frozen conflicts. The persistence of these conflicts over time, in addition to their complexity (Zartman, 2005; Coleman, 2003) and multidimensionality (Millar, 2020), another essential issue is added: compliance with international law and the debate around its nature (Howse & Teitel, 2010). The factors inherent in protracted conflicts create margins of the ineffectiveness of international law, or «entropy», inherent in the system and tend to grow.

The conflict in Western Sahara is one of the traditional examples in the literature of such conflicts and a textbook example of the law’s inability to resolve a conflict despite the clarity of the applicable provisions. The breakdown of the ceasefire on 13 November 2020 and the return to hostilities have shown not only that the status quo in the area was unsustainable, as argued in the literature (Zoubir, 1996; Darbouche & Zoubir, 2008; White, 2015; Fernández-Molina, 2017; Jensen, 2005; Wilson, 2015), but also that the actions of the parties provoke a series of reactions within the system of unpredictable consequences. In the current political context, this situation presents unique challenges and opportunities. The Maghreb and North Africa region is undergoing significant changes in geopolitical dynamics, and the resolution of the conflict in Western Sahara has become a crucial factor for regional stability.

In addition, the current global geopolitical context has highlighted the risks involved in the failure to resolve conflicts such as the Sahrawi, Palestinian or Armenian conflicts, has highlighted the risks posed by the prolongation or perpetuation of the status quo for international security, as well as aggravating associated humanitarian crises. Undoubtedly, the importance of the states involved, such as SADR, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania, together with the role of Spain and France, is fundamental in the application or non-application of international law in the conflict in Western Sahara. These States have political, economic and strategic interests at stake in the region, which influences their position and actions with respect to the conflict. Moreover, their adherence to or resistance to international resolutions and norms plays a crucial role in the search for a solution. On the other hand, international bodies such as the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN) and the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), the Court of Justice of the European Union and the UN Human Rights Committee, also have a critical role in monitoring and promoting compliance with international law in the conflict. Its ability to exert pressure and mediate between the parties is essential to moving towards a peaceful and just resolution. The cooperation and political will of all these actors are essential to effectively address the issue of Western Sahara from a legal and international relations perspective.

Faced with this situation, it is urgent to address the Saharawi conflict and other similar conflicts on the international stage from a multidisciplinary and innovative perspective that seeks to provide novel approaches and critical reviews of the conflict and the current geopolitical context that can help identify areas and ways of resolving the Saharawi conflict.

The conference also seeks to involve younger research staff (predoctoral and postdoctoral students) and undergraduate students, incorporating participatory dynamics and simulations that help raise awareness of the relevance and multidimensionality of conflict.

Objectives of the Conference:

The main objective of the conference is to encourage the exploration of innovative and multidisciplinary approaches to the conflict in Western Sahara from the perspectives of International Law and International Relations. In addition, it seeks to actively involve undergraduate students in Law, International Relations and Business in a reflective and collaborative dialogue on this crucial topic, as well as to open a window of opportunity for young researchers to present their progress.

This conference addresses a topic of great relevance in the field of international law and international relations, as the conflict in Western Sahara is one of the oldest protracted and frozen conflicts in the world and presents significant challenges in the current geopolitical context. The event is proposed as a space for critical reflection and collaborative dialogue, where presentations by young researchers and the active participation of students are expected. His focus on exploring new perspectives and novel approaches is essential to addressing complex issues such as this conflict.


The proposals include the topics listed below , although other proposals aligned with the objective of the conference will be studied:

  • New perspectives of International Law in the Western Sahara conflict.
  • Multidisciplinary approaches to the resolution of protracted conflicts.
  • Challenges in the face of the reactivation of conflicts: a comparative analysis between Palestine, Western Sahara and Ukraine
  • Geopolitics and regional dynamics in the Maghreb and North Africa.
  • Impact of protracted conflicts on international security.
  • Humanitarian crises associated with protracted conflicts.
  • Technological innovations and their influence on International Law.
  • Challenges in the long-term care of the Saharawi diaspora in Europe
  • The status of the Saharawi community under Spanish law
  • Role of the new political actors in the Saharawi conflict
  • Challenges arising from recent political changes in Spain and Europe
  • Human Rights in the Context of Prolonged Occupation
  • New challenges arising from the prolonged occupation of the territory: the promotion of occupation in tourism
  • The role of art in transformative approaches to the Saharawi conflict

Thematic Panels

Proposals for thematic panels related to the areas of interest mentioned above will be welcomed. Panels should consist of at least three speakers and a moderator. Each panel will last 90 minutes, including time for questions and discussion.

Submission of papers

In addition to the thematic panels, we invite researchers and predoctoral students to present individual papers related to the themes of the conference. Papers should contribute to the discussion and exploration of new perspectives on the Western Sahara conflict.