The UN settlement plan for Western Sahara was launched on 6 September, with a formal cease-fire between the forces of Morocco and the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia el-Hamray y de Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) and the stationing of UN military observers at 10 observation posts.
Through extensive patrols by land and air, the military observers were to ensure observance of the cease-fire and the cessation of military activities, and ultimately monitor confinement of Moroccan and POLISARIO troops at designated locations.
By mid-September, the Security Council had endorsed the stationing of some 200 military observers and the staff necessary for command and control functions, logistical support, communications, air transport and medical support.
The dispatch of the team is the first stage of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, known by its French acronym MINURSO. The Mission was formally established by the Council on 29 April to ovesee implementation of the UN settlement plan, which details how a referendum on the future of Western Sahara should be organized. The people of the Territory are to choose between integration with Morocco and independence.
On 5 September, the day before the cease-fire, Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar reiterated the vital importance of parties abiding by their commitments and halting completely all their military operations, including troop movements and reinforcements, as well as acts of violence or intimidation that might compromise the plan's implementation.
The month before the cease-fire was marked by some worrisome developments. The Secretary-General expressed concern over reports of renewed military action in Western Sahara.
Mr. Perez de Cuellar on 9 August appealed to all concerned to refrain from any action which would endanger the implementation of the UN plan or jeopardize the existing truce.
On 13 August, the OAU joined in the appeal, expressing hope that the referendum would be held as planned.
The Secretary-General on 27 August, after meeting in Geneva with a POLISARIO representative, expressed confidence that the situation would "calm down".
The Security Council on 9 July approved a proposal from the Secretary-General that MINURSO's military component be composed of units from 36 countries.
The 36 countries are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Congo, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Findland, France...