Committee Agenda Topics
Delegates must complete 2 position papers on 2 different agenda topics, with the exception of General Assembly members who only need to write 1. In February, credentialing sessions will take place. Additionally, delegates – especially Big Five ones – are encouraged to write a resolution by the Spring Conference.
General Assembly 1
Response to Human Overpopulation
The world’s population will double in the next 63 years, severely worsening a plethora of problems – environmental disaster, resource scarcity and extinction being three of them. How should the United Nations respond to this global crisis? Are there particular causes of overpopulation, or particular actions that can be taken to mitigate its effects?
General Assembly 2
Combating Global Corruption
Corruption is one of the biggest issues that plagues the global community. It affects the poorest the most, and undermines political development, economic development, the military, people’s health and more. What has the United Nations done in the past to reduce corruption and what should it do today?
30 countries operate nuclear power plants in the world. Proponents argue such facilities effectively provide base-load electricity, while avoiding environmentally-destructive fossil fuels. Opponents, however, argue that nuclear power plants pose significant threats, such as meltdowns, cyber-attacks, or terrorists stealing materials from such facilities to build nuclear weapons. What should the United Nations do about this? Are regulations or a ban on nuclear power production necessary?
Around the turn of the century, the United Nations began to make efforts to curb illegal arms trade around the world, adopting the Program of Action and the Arms Trade Treaty. However, these efforts have significantly decreased; fewer countries are submitting accountability reports, while the Arms Trade Treaty remains unratified by almost half of United Nations member states. How should the Security Council re-frame its position to effectively combat arms trafficking? Are more regulations necessary or is revitalizing current regulations sufficient? How should the Security Council ensure that renewed efforts do not falter?
International Court of Justice
Marshall Islands v. India
Despite not owning any nuclear weapons, the Marshall Islands have hosted numerous nuclear tests for the United States. Since the height of the Cold War, three of the nine nuclear weapon holding countries have vowed to move towards nuclear disarmament including India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. However, little action has been made towards this goal. In the case against India, India argues that the International Court of Justice has no jurisdiction in this case.
Somalia v. Kenya
With large stores of petroleum and oil in the Indian Ocean, the boundary between Somalia and Kenya is largely disputed. Somalia is bringing Kenya to court to request an exact boundary be drawn by the international community, with Kenya claiming that this act is not within the jurisdiction of the court. The two parties have met several times to negotiate a border, however none of these meetings have yielded an agreement.
Iran v. United States
In 1955, The United States and Iran signed the Treaty of Amity, ensuring economic relations and consular rights. Since then, the US has imposed a number of sanctions, as well as legislative and judicial against Iran, particularly against their national bank, Bank Markazi, under allegations of "State-sponsored Terrorism", a claim that has been adamantly denied by Iran. Iran is now bringing the US to the ICJ to demand immunity for its interests in US courts and reparations for resulting damage. However, the US claims that the Treaty does not apply where state-sponsored terrorism is present, and they claim their allegations are based in fact.
Equatorial Guinea v. France
The Government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea is bringing France to the International Court of Justice for violations of international sovereignty and violations of their jurisdiction after France initiated legal criminal proceedings against the Second Vice President of Equatorial Guinea, Mr. Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, under allegations of corruption regarding their embassy building and other property solicitation. Equatorial Guinea, however, claims that France lacks jurisdiction in this area and, even so, their claims are lacking in factual foundation.
Terrorism is an increasing global issue, and impacts are being felt across the globe. However, in addition to conventional organized terrorist attacks, isolated incidents perpetrated by individuals have become increasingly common. Many organizations based in the Middle East and North Africa has been carrying out an increasing number of mass bombings and attacks in the region. Individuals, such as the perpetrator of the attack in Nice France in July, have become radicalized through media and have taken action for the most part autonomously. How should the United Nations address these isolated incidents? How should it deal with the issue of terrorism on the larger scale? How and to what degree should the United Nations intervene in nations that are harboring and cultivating terrorism?
Law of the Sea
Sea and island ownership disputes have been rising to the forefront of global discussions. The most predominate issue being islands in the South China sea, however, there is also current conflict between Kenya and Somalia over their coastal rights. In the South China Sea, many countries such as China, Japan, the Philippines, and other East Asian countries have made claims. China has been increasing military activities in the disputed waters, and the Philippines have begun large-scale joint combat exercises. These conflicts revolve around national claims to the bordering seas. The current United Nation policy is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. What needs to be done to prevent the start and escalation of physical conflict? What should laws be regarding water rights and mile limits? How will this be enforced? Do current treaties and conventions need to be modified or rewritten to achieve such goals?
Illicit Arms Trade
The illicit arms trade has been a major factor in many global conflicts in recent and current history. Civil wars, terrorist organizations, and cartels are among its many beneficiaries. Extensive networks have been established worldwide involving both land and sea routes, and the total value of the global arms trade is estimated to be nearing US $100 billion. What is the role of the United Nations in countering these illegal trade networks? Should the United Nations hold countries accountable for illicit activity occurring within their borders? To what degree should the United Nations regulate (through treaties and other documents) arms trading in general?
Due to growing conflict in many countries, especially within the Middle East and Northern Africa, the refugee crisis is larger than ever. Many of these refugees have been immigrating both legally and illegally to Europe. This mass immigration has had massive
impacts on Europe as a whole including in some cases an increase in security problems. What should the United Nations do to ensure that immigration is being carried out safely? Should the United Nations play a role in providing security for countries struggling with it? How should the United Nations ensure that refugees have legal immigration opportunities?
Should emerging economies be held to the same environmental standards and regulations as developed economies related to the burning of fossil fuels? Why should emerging economies be expected to use more expensive, clean energy sources to help solve a world environmental crisis that they did not contribute toward? Should developed countries be expected to subsidize the emerging economies for the increased costs of green energy? What proposal do you have that balances the needs for emerging countries to grow with the global responsibility for reducing pollutants? How can this be executed?
Regarding the Syrian crisis, nearly 11 million people have been killed or forced to flee their homes. With starvation and sickness in mind, the United Nations has predicted that Syria will need 7.7 billion dollars to aid the needs of the Syrians. Should the United Nations be responsible for raising the money? Is there any other approaches that could assist the lives of Syria, apart from simply giving money? How can this funding crisis be avoided in future situations? Should developed countries subsidize the developing
economies responsibility to pay of the fund?
In the past three years, France, Argentina, Jamaica, Greece and many other countries have teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. Billions of dollars have accumulated in debt for these countries and some have no way of escaping it. How can the United Nations help pull these countries out of debt? What laws can be created to guide countries in avoiding decisions that will result in bankruptcy? Should the United Nations be responsible for aiding the bankrupt countries, or the countries themselves?
Global inequality is a rising issue regarding the poverty gap in many countries. Over the last 10 years, the income inequality between the rich and poor has increased dramatically. Countries such as the UK, Italy, Korea, U.S. and Mexico are all facing this situation. The OECD has said rising inequality is inevitable. How can countries on their own help avoid this income gap? Will reforming taxes help? What policies should be created by the United Nations to help maintain steady income gaps like those in Spain, Portugal, and France? If getting more people into the labor source will help, how can individual countries assist in employing citizens? How can the United Nations help?
Clean Water and Sanitation
Lack of clean water has been increasingly deadly all around the world. In fact, the water crisis is the #1 global risk based on impact to society as announced by the World Economic Forum in January 2015. There are many organizations such as CARE and the Water Project that look to make clean water a reality, but this has not solved the problem as 700 million people still lack access to water and as many health-care facilities in developing countries have the same fate. How can the United Nations work to provide clean water to everyone? How will access of water for sanitation and drinking be determined and provided?
Rights of Refugees
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, over 65 million individuals are forcibly displaced in the world. The United Nations has created numerous resolutions to attempt to ease the access of refugees in countries while protecting the safety of individual countries. Currently, 54 percent of worldwide refugees come from three countries: Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria, with Syria containing 5 million by itself. This issue creates an effect in the short term as there has already been environmental, social, and economic impacts globally. What laws and resolutions should be passed by the United Nations to ease the process for refugees while preserving the safety of countries?
Torture and Punishment
The United Nations Convention against Terror was organized thirty years ago to obliterate the torture-filled, inhumane activity going on within the countries of the United Nations. However, a recent report by former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak shows that 90 percent of countries still contain this phenomenon and many of these countries were once part of the United Nations convention. A number of bodies have been created by particular conventions to monitor compliance with specific standards and provide guidance on how they should be interpreted, but the statistics provided by Amnesty and the United Nations do not show significant improvement. How should the United Nations work to address this problem? Should they inflict punishments upon the countries that signed the Convention against Terror or treat all countries equally in this subject?
Countries are often very different in regards to the limiting of free speech and the phrases that are allowed and vice versa. For example, the United States, according to the Pew Research Center, is much less likely to censor statements about minorities relative to Europe. In this same manner, is there a specific guideline that needs to be considered in regards to rights of speech. Should free speech be a mandated universal right throughout the United Nations? How would this be implemented and acted upon?
“Global Warming” and Solutions
Globally and currently, global warming, or climate change, is one of the most influential factors on our environment. For instance, carbon levels are directly affecting the health of both wildlife and humans. Furthermore, developing nations often have trouble sustaining both economical and environmental progress. As nations choose to ratify or revoke their acceptance of the Kyoto Protocol from 1997 at the COP3 conference, what should the United Nations do to encourage countries to favor environment over the economy? Is climate change even something that should be considered natural, or even a hoax, as proposed by certain world leaders?
Energy production in many countries is hurting the ecosystem on a longer scope than just its carbon levels. Recent discoveries and advances in gas extraction, such as “fracking”, are undoubtedly beneficial to the economy, but send the message that it’s acceptable to rely on energy sources that aren’t as green and renewable as others, and are even a risk to underground water quality. Should stakeholders side with natural gas, other renewable resources, or both? As countries debate on the cost-benefit analysis of either plan, what can the United Nations do to encourage countries to take on the challenge of renewable and clean energy sources?
Damage to the Oceans
Both indirectly and directly, we are making the world’s largest waste dump out of what is formally called the ocean. Ever-growing plastic Garbage Patches, microfibers of plastic as far deep as 6,000 feet, runoff from crop pesticides, oil spills, and many other factors,
contribute to the transformation of the ecosystem. As major governments pledge their efforts to reduce ocean waste, what can the UNEP do to help and encourage other parties to join the movement? How should money be distributed in the attempt to reverse the damage to the oceans?
With the improvement of healthcare and science, our population has been growing at an unprecedented pace. Side-effects of our 7 billion-strong species include the faster depletion of natural resources, the overworking of farmland, and the invasion of spaces
occupied by other species. The problem is, no moral solutions seem to exist when attempting to reduce this number, or at least the growth of it. Keeping all these factors in mind, what can be done to deal with human overpopulation? Are models like the Chinese
Population Planning Policy feasible, or even effective? How can the UNFPA act to help this increasingly problematic issue?
Health and Human Services
Identification and Acceptance of Refugees into Countries
As violence in the Middle East has continued, the number of refugees fleeing the area has only increased. These refugees have gone all across the world – 4.8 million Syrian refugees are spread out over 30 countries. However, difficulties in identifying refugees
as well as terrorist attacks across Europe have incited concerns about how safe it is to accept refugees. As the United Nations is mandated to lead an international response in assisting refugees worldwide by providing protection, emergency response, and
durable solutions, how should the United Nations address the mounting numbers of refugees while also addressing security concerns?
Hunger in Unstable Areas
According to the United Nations World Food Program, 795 million people in the world go hungry, with large concentrations of these people residing in unstable areas. In these areas, like Venezuela and the Middle East, food is scarce due to factors ranging from the economy to war. What short term and long term solutions can the United Nations implement to ensure that residents in these areas do not go hungry? In war-torn areas, what can the United Nations do to ensure that aid reaches its intended destination?
Mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, malaria, dengue, and yellow fever cause several million deaths each year. Furthermore, these diseases are spread throughout the world - according to the World Health Organization, malaria is endemic to 91 countries, and dengue cases have been documented in 100 countries. Additionally, there are frequently outbreaks of these diseases, an example being the recent Zika outbreak. Recognizing that mosquito-borne diseases are a health hazard throughout the world, what can the United Nations do to reduce the number of mosquito-borne disease related deaths? What measures can the United Nations take to limit the spread of these diseases when outbreaks do occur?
In many countries, less than half of the population is literate - only 27% in South Sudan, and 28.1% in Afghanistan. Of these illiterate people, the majority come from poor backgrounds. Additionally, in several countries education is essentially inaccessible to girls - only 1 in 8 girls in Guatemala will complete the sixth grade and about 500,000 girls are out of school in Turkey. What can the United Nations do to overcome the financial and cultural barriers that deny people a formal education? How can the United Nations ensure education for people of all genders and socioeconomic standing?