The U.N. Security Council has approved keeping a small peacekeeping force in Western Sahara for another year but without the human rights monitoring mandate that residents have long demanded.

The territory held by Morocco is called Africa's last remnant of a colonial past. The Polisario Front group wants independence for the mineral-rich former Spanish colony.

The mission in Western Sahara is the U.N.'s only peacekeeping force without a mandate to monitor human rights. Human rights groups say Morocco uses violence to stifle dissent.

Morocco's ambassador has said U.N. monitoring is needed only "when there is massive and huge violations of human rights."

The U.N. special envoy was not allowed to visit Western Sahara for close to a year after U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon last year suggested human rights monitoring.