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.
Printable Version here
General Assembly 1
Genocide in Myanmar
Over the past year, soldiers in Myanmar have been found guilty of systematically killing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims. Myanmar’s government has repeatedly denied citizenship to the Rohingya people and declared them illegal, and has made no efforts to stop the killing. Neighboring countries are becoming overwhelmed with fleeing refugees, many of which do not have the infrastructure or resources to support their own populations. Should the United Nations intervene? If so, how?
General Assembly 2
Libyan Civil War
Even though it has been 6 years since Gaddafi was removed from power in Libya, the country has still struggled to establish and maintain a legitimate government. The UN-implemented Government of National Accord has not been recognized by political and social elites, and military leaders continue to control factions of the country. Such chaos has allowed extremist groups such as the Islamic State to take control in small areas. Should the UN push the Government of National Accord, or push to establish a new government? Should the United Nations be involved at all?
Preventing Terrorism and Extremism in the Horn of Africa
The Greater Horn of Africa is one of the most conflict-affected parts of the world. All countries in East Africa have been victimized by terrorist acts, whether perpetrated by and against a country’s nationals for a domestic cause or focused on extranational or extraregional targets, for example, embassies of Western countries. The rise in terrorism and violent extremism in Africa has created severe security threats as this growing phenomenon has resulted in death, destruction and instability in the countries and regions where terrorist groups operate. However, since the infamous 9/11 attacks in New York, military intervention has become synonymous with countering terrorism and violent extremism. In spite of this hard power approach, the threat is still very much prevalent. Military intervention has brought its own challenges, in the form of a high number of civilian fatalities and damage to infrastructure. This then begs the question: what would an alternate approach be to preventing and responding to terrorism and violent extremism that would minimise the high fatality rate and level of destruction? What other programs can be implemented to mitigate these severe threats to stability?
Women, Peace, and Security:
Most of today’s conflicts take place within states. Their root causes often include poverty, the struggle for scarce resources, and violations of human rights. They have another tragic feature in common: women and girls suffer their impact disproportionately. While women and girls endure the same trauma as the rest of the population -- bombings, famines, epidemics, mass executions, torture, arbitrary imprisonment, forced migration, ethnic cleansing, threats and intimidation -- they are also targets of specific forms of violence and abuse, including sexual violence and exploitation. Women often have fewer resources to protect themselves and, with children, frequently make up the majority of displaced and refugee populations. How should the United Nations engage women in peacebuilding? How can the United Nations help address cases of conflict-related sexual violence? How can this be enforced?
Humanitarian Exemptions in Sanctions Regimes
In recent decades, the United Nations Security Council has instituted an increasingly broad set of sanctions. The power to develop those sanctions derives from the authority granted in the UN Charter to the Security Council in matters of international peace and security. These sanctions, however, can pose a major hindrance to existing humanitarian projects. Thus arises the need for so-called sectoral humanitarian exemption, which carve out space in sanctions and counter terrorism regimes for for principled humanitarian action, allowing humanitarian actors to deliver their services without the risk of contravening those regimes. What elements can be built into an exemption to help ensure it is not abused? How can the United Nations work with sanctioned members to ensure aid is not provided to dangerous governmental organizations?
International Court of Justice
Australia & New Zealand v. France
In 1973, Australia and New Zealand jointly sued France for conducting nuclear tests in the South
Pacific and the Court ruled in their favor, mandating that France was prohibited from conducting
future tests in the region. However, now France’s president has just announced that they will be
conducting eight nuclear tests in the said region, thus violating the previous verdict. As the
International Court of Justice, you must reexamine the outcome and determine whether or not to
reopen the case. If you decide not to, you must justify your actions and release a statement. If
you do reopen the case, you must also suggest measures for future enforcement.
United Kingdom v. Iceland
The United Kingdom is suing Iceland for attempting to expand its fishing jurisdiction by 50
nautical miles, in turn overlapping with United Kingdom fishing territory. In this, Iceland is also
limiting the exclusive fishing rights of vessels from other nations, which, according to the United
Kingdom, violates their rights to the high seas. Iceland maintains that the wellbeing of its
expanding economy and population rely on the expansion of the fishing industry, and therefore,
previous treaties and laws do not apply, or should at least be renegotiated. It is the duty of the
Court to prove their jurisdiction in the case, and to delimitate the boundary between the nations.
India v. Pakistan
India is suing Pakistan over the dispute concerning Indian national and former India Naval
officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav, after being sentenced to death in Pakistan on charges of terrorism
and espionage for connections to India’s Intelligence Agency. Since his arrest, Pakistan has
denied 13 requests for consular access to Jadhav and access to the judgement and charges by
India. India is now taking Pakistan to the International Court of Justice to dispute the death
sentence. It is your job as the Court to review both sides of the argument, including ulterior
motives that may be involved concerning the history of the two nations’ relations.
Hungary v. Czechoslovakia
Hungary is suing Czechoslovakia for violating a 1977 treaty (The Budapest Treaty) by utilizing
the Danube River to construct a dam. The original treaty terms mandated that both nations
cooperate in the building of the dam, however Hungary has since withdrawn from the treaty,
claiming that Slovakia is disproportionately benefitting from the project. The treaty states that
“Watercourse states shall participate in the use, development and protection of an international
watercourse in an equitable and reasonable manner”, and Hungary is suing on the basis that
Slovakia is not carrying out the project in a manner that results in equal resource gains. Your job
as the Court is to determine the justness of the project (Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Project), and
whether or not Hungary’s claims are based in fact. If not, you must determine a fair and realistic
way for the nations to proceed.
Commision on the Status of Women
Women’s Right to Education
In 2015, the UN Statistics’ World’s Women Report determined that of the 781 million illiterate adult individuals in the world, two-thirds are women. Particularly in developing countries, even if a girl is enrolled in primary school, the chance she will continue on to secondary and higher education is slim at best. Barriers to achieving an education in developing countries includes primary responsibility for domestic chores, child marriage, limited investment in girls’ education, and societal norms that deny this right. Even in developed nations, underrepresentation of women in STEM fields persists. How can all member States ensure they meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 4 ensuring equal access to quality education for girls and women? Through what means can the UN help countries change social norms to promote education for girls?
Early and Forced Marriage
In many cultures, early and forced marriage of young girls is pervasive. UNICEF estimates that over 720 million women today were married under the age of 18 and without consent. Reducing the incidence of child marriage decreases gender based violence against women, and helps women better realize their full potential. While the rate of child marriage may be decreasing, since the human population grows exponentially, the number of girls forced into marriage will remain nearly constant. What resources must be allocated to dramatically decrease the incidence of child marriage? How can the UN utilize previous landmark resolutions concerning child marriage to incite pragmatic change within member states to eradicate the root causes of child marriage? What resources should the UN and member States provide to help empower women who are currently child brides or who face violence and abuse due to their early and forced marriage?
Gender Pay Gap
Differences in pay between men and women vary enormously across the globe. From denying women equal access to jobs to pay gaps of over 20%, women are consistently undermined and undervalued in the labor force. This is just one issue that reflects the extensive inequalities between men and women. In order for equal pay throughout all sectors to be achieved, segregation of women into jobs that meet stereotypical gender roles must be eliminated, and underrepresentation of women in higher leadership roles must be addressed. In many cases the intersectionality of racial and other social inequalities with gender influence availability of opportunities and pay disparities. In what ways should the UN combat the gender pay gap in order to create meaningful social change? How can member States ensure equal pay to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5? What kinds of cultural shifts need to be undertaken to resolve gender pay differences?
Women in Politics
The UN Women Foundation reports that in January of 2017, only 10 women serve as Heads of States, and 9 serve as Heads of Governments. Furthermore, only about 23% of individuals serving in country’s elected positions are women, despite close to 50% of the world’s population being women. It is only through representation of women in national legislatures, that women’s rights issues can be resolved. In many cases, women’s participation in politics leads to legislation more representative of the needs of a locality. What types of barriers in first, second, and third world countries exist that prevent women from being involved in country politics? How can the UN encourage member States to strip regulations banning women from seeking elected office? What kinds of resources must be allocated to ensure women have the same opportunity to engage in government as men?
Women in Terrorism
While terrorism has remained a prominent topic in today’s society and the media, more novel is women’s participation in terrorism. Increasingly, women have been involved in terrorist activities, such as providing safe houses, acting as lookouts, or even by becoming combatants or suicide bombers. Many of these females are less frequently identified as terrorists, providing them with an increased ability to complete their tasks. Sometimes, their support for terrorism forces them to be abused by it, as women are often sexually exploited by male terrorists, or are used to procreate more of them. As the role of women in terrorism differs by location and by culture, how should the UN address women’s increasing participation overall? What should the UN do to aid the victims of terrorism?
While creating biological weapons out of toxins has been around for centuries, recent scientific advancement reveals a new layer on using more intricate weapons in warfare. Developments such as gene editing and finding new biological systems have aided in the field of medicine but could also play a vital role in the field of warfare if countries do not intervene. Although using biological weapons during war is prohibited by the current international humanitarian law, increased research and advancements in the field point to threatened security internationally. What can the UN do to inhibit and prevent the application of biological weapons in warfare? How should the UN discourage the use of biotechnology in potentially creating weapons?
Voting and Election Security
With advanced technology becoming prominent globally, many countries around the world are looking towards electronics to make their election processes run more efficiently. More so in Asia and South America, countries are becoming increasingly interested in using electronic voting machines (EVMs) to count their election ballots. However, these machines are not always secure and protected. In India, an independent study discovered two kinds of cyber attacks that could endanger Indian EVMs and the election security, as they were both easy to create and difficult to detect. The United Nations has a history of supervising and aiding numerous countries with their elections, such as Korea in the 1940s, to Iraq in 2005. The UN currently assists post-conflict or transitional countries with the election process, but also a numerous amount of other countries with UN technical assistance, such as voter registration, election security, the use of technologies, and much more. As countries that previously could complete their own elections are being threatened by the vulnerability of their voting machine, what should the UN do to ensure the security of EVMs and their respective countries? To what extent should the UN intervene within countries that are able to undergo their own elections yet are susceptible to hacks because of their machines? How should technology be limited or augmented within the election process to ensure security?
Small arms and light weapons (SALW) contribute to a majority of global violence. As the root cause for a variety of harmful activities, such as terrorism, abuse, and illicit trade, SALW negatively impact the global community and especially pose a threat to the most vulnerable citizens, refugees and internally displaced peoples. Additionally, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reveals that about half of all suicides in 2016 resulted from a firearms. Therefore, SALW has a massive impact on the global population. While most of the small arms and light weapons are created in large industry factories, many firearms are also made by civilian craft; these are used most frequently in attacks on the government. West Africa houses many of these SALW craft-producing nations, but many terrorist groups in other locations also produce guns and weaponry by craft. For now, their production capabilities remain small, but mass production could lead to destructive effects for citizens around the world. To what extent should the UN intervene in the craft-production of SALW? What should the United Nations do in order to stifle SALW production and access to SALW around the world? How should the United Nations address the countries that house craft-producers of these weapons?
Cryptocurrency, entirely digital currency generated and regulated through the usage of encryption techniques, is now a relatively commonplace mode of transaction. Cryptocurrency has grown to the scale of 100 million USD worth of transactions per day. Supporters of cryptocurrency cite its entirely decentralized nature and its growing value as reasons why it should be embraced. Although Bitcoin, the most popular and most established form of cryptocurrency, is currently valued as the strongest form of currency, its value is incredibly volatile. This volatility has brought many financial experts and countries to treat cryptocurrency as an asset rather than as a currency. Is the this the correct approach, or does it unfairly stunt the potential for changes for the better in modern transactions? Further, cryptocurrency, being a decentralized mode of transaction, is often tied to money laundering and other illicit activities. What is the UN’s role in regulation/support for cryptocurrency? How can the UN help limit illicit activities tied to cryptocurrency?
Development of Remote Locations
Many significant resources are located in remote locations or in isolated communities, for instance many African countries could look to solar energy as a huge untapped resource, and mountain communities often sit on vital access to clean water. What is the UN’s role in protecting and helping develop the resources of isolated communities? In approaching this question, delegates must keep in consideration potential strong distrust of the UN in these communities.
The “Resource Curse”
Further, underdeveloped countries endowed with access to specific resources often end up tying their economies entirely to one resource, creating an almost “banana republic”-like situation. In this vulnerable position, other larger countries can exploit these countries. In recent years, a significant example of this has been Russian predatory relationships with Central Asian resource-rich countries. What is the UN’s role in protecting these underdeveloped countries?
Multinational corporations can be a significant positive factor in jumpstarting the growth of small and developing nations. Investments can aid in the development of natural resources and bring much-needed employment and infrastructure to communities. However, large multinational corporations often exert unhealthy levels of control over small countries that come to rely on that company to maintain the country’s industry. Further, some multinational corporations exploit limited regulatory capabilities in countries and disregard environmental and even workers’ rights concerns. How should the international community approach the role of multinational corporations in investing in developing nations, while also addressing serious concerns about unchecked influence and freedom?
Atrocities committed in South Sudan
After years of conflict with Sudan, South Sudan emerged as an independent nation in 2011. An unstable government, regional and ethnic tension, and corrupt political leaders have triggered a civil war that has ravaged the country since 2013. In July of 2017, the UN OCHA determined that the war has produced over 2 million total refugees and an ongoing famine that has left 6 million civilians food insecure. Reports by the OHCHR states that government forces, the Sudan’s People Liberation Army (SPLA), has been accused of attacking a UN base, torturing and killing civilians, raping hundreds of women, and silencing journalists critical of the President. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has been active in the region since 2011; evaluate whether their actions have been sufficient. What more should the UN do to mitigate the humanitarian crisis and stop the human rights violations? How can the UN facilitate a binding political solution between warring South Sudanese factions to bring lasting peace to the region?
Discrimination against Disabled
The United Nations Statistical Commission estimated in 2016 that one in seven individuals in the world lives with some form of a disability. In 2006, the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) and the Optional Protocol was adopted by the UN. Yet, eleven years later, disabled individuals do not share universal rights, equal opportunity, or the promise of non-discrimination. A deficit of detailed statistics about the disabled in all countries has hindered efforts to bring equality to the disabled. In 2014, the OHCHR maintained that the disabled face systematic discrimination, exclusion from access to social services (education, healthcare), violence (especially in developing nations), and social stigma. In what way can the United Nations better protect the rights of disabled individuals? How can States engender cultural shifts that destigmatize disability? What needs to be done to ensure disability is met with adequate health care and treatment in every country of the UN?
Violence against LGBTQ+ Individuals
The LGBTQ+ community is met with violence throughout the world, facing homophobia, criminalization, hate crimes, abuse, and intense harassment. Despite efforts by the United Nations to defend LGBTQ+ rights, such as resolutions passed in the Human Rights Council protecting their human rights and gender identity, many nations in Africa and Southern Asia continue to criminalize homosexuality and make it punishable by death. In spite of the UN Free and Equal Campaign focusing on advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, only 24 of the 163 nations have legalized same-sex marriage. Has the United Nations done enough to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community? In what ways should the UN address cultural taboos against this community?
In 1999, the ILO adopted Convention Number 182, a landmark resolution that proposed measures to criminalize and stop child labor. Eighteen years later, UNICEF estimates over 150 million child laborers still exist, particularly in Asia and sub-saharan Africa. However, child labor persists in every region of the world, developed or undeveloped. In many cases, child labor is forced and prevents the child from obtaining an education, trapping them in a perpetual cycle of poverty. In the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), target 8.7 describes ending child labor of all forms by 2025. How can the UN ensure this SDG is achieved by 2025? In what ways can the UN encourage policy and cultural shifts in member States to drastically decrease the incidence of child labor? What methods can be used to enforce and implement measures proposed in previous conventions related to child labor in each State?
(Committees 4A,4B, 4C)
Use of fossil fuels and other brown energy sources harm the environment and increase the rates of climate change. Even certain green energy sources have multiple downsides to them. Different organizations and countries believe different sources will yield the most net benefits, yet the only official agreements feature pledges to fight global warming- period. As policy, both domestic and international, begins to take a higher prevalence in the efforts to slow environmental damage through alternative energy sources, should the UN encourage incentives for usage and/or research of green energies? Should certain energy sources be favored over others in these incentives? Considering the public isn’t informed enough, are educational programs necessary? Finally, given that many countries don’t have the resources to use green energies, what action, if any, should be taken to increase accessibility?
Loss of biodiversity
As people continue to pollute the environment, decreasing biodiversity is becoming more relevant. The changing climate conditions, along with specific events, like oil spills and forest fires, are harming many species of flora and fauna, which disrupts ecosystems. Furthermore, practices like animal poaching, overexploitation, and overuse of pesticides are endangering species that otherwise would have no problem thriving. All this causes the disruption of the environment, as well as the potential to harm entire industries, like the agricultural industry and the shortage of bees. Do any of these causes deserve attention from the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD)? Does the topic deserve specific international attention from the COP conferences? What additional punishments or restrictions, if any, should be put in place by the UN? Should any efforts be made to artificially increase biodiversity?
Natural Disaster Preparedness
Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, won’t stop happening. They bring mass destruction that can cost billions of dollars to recover from. From an environmental point of view, they have caused huge amounts of pollution. A famous example is the Fukushima accident, but really all disasters pollute the environment; for instance, tsunamis and storms wash debris into the oceans, sterilize farmland, and cause oil spills. Given all these impacts, what can be done to better prepare for these disasters from an environmental protection point of view? Can anything be done to reduce their frequency? Whose responsibility is this? Should any policies be established to ensure this happens? Should it? What can be done in respect to these risks by the countries attending the COP23, and what can the UNEP promote to improve preparedness?
Rapid Climate Change:
Climate change has been an issue for the past few decades. Greenhouse gases have been shown to damage the environment and put the health of humans and animals in danger. Deforestation and over farming also contribute to this phenomenon. Lately, the topic has taken prevalence in politics and, therefore, economics. As NGO’s and governments continue their efforts to slow this process, what can the UN do to contribute? Should it? What would be the environmental and economic impacts of each solution? In regards to the recent stances taken by world leaders on the Paris Agreement, how should other countries react?
Health and Human Services
Treatment and Prevention of Substance Abuse
Drugs such as alcohol can be extremely addictive and dangerous for people all around the world. The addictive tendencies of these drugs can lead to overdosage, and adverse effects of usage add to the daily detriment. An estimated 570,000 people die from drug abuse annually, with the problem growing more complex with time. The effort to both prevent and combat the problem of substance abuse is necessary for the health of both individuals and society. How can the United Nations help combat the spread of drugs? Additionally, what efforts can the United Nations make to help treat the addicted?
Combating Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and West Nile Virus have been a menace to human health in past years, leading to over 1 million deaths a year and lingering throughout the world. With the recent Zika outbreak adding to the striking assortment of dangerous mosquito-borne diseases, and with new diseases such as Oropouche and Rift Valley Fever flourish through insect vectors, mosquitos are still recognized as prominent health threats. What can the United Nations do to reduce the impacts of mosquito-borne diseases on humans? How should the United Nations handle the spread of these diseases through mosquitoes?
Mitigating the Effects of Pollution
Every year, about 6.5 million people die from pollution-related issues, and about 92 percent of people live in areas where pollution exceed safe levels. This pollution not only affects the health of the inhabitants of these areas, leading to ailments such as cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer, but hinders daily processes in society due to the reduced air quality. Pollutants are most often produced through high levels of fossil fuel usage and waste burning that occurs through energy-producing processes in industry and transportation. What level of danger does pollution pose to the United Nations? What actions should the United Nations take to regulate pollution levels?
Ensuring Employment Opportunities
In both developed and developing countries, employment opportunities are not always provided equally to all groups, with biases arising due to gender, race, age, and other factors. Additionally, these biases also occur in wages, as certain groups of people receive higher wages than other groups for the same amount of work. To combat these gaps in some areas, affirmative action programs have also been put into place, attempting to counteract the gap. How should the United Nations act in regards to employment opportunities among different groups of people? What plans should the United Nations establish to handle employment opportunities?