Introduction

Welcome

American Model United Nations (AMUN) is a non-profit, educational organization founded in 1989 to provide students with the highest quality, most professionally run simulation of the United Nations available. AMUN strives to combine educational quality with highly realistic simulations of the United Nations to give students an unparalleled Model UN learning experience. We return to these ideals year over year as we create the policies and applications expressed in this handbook. We are excited to have you join us for the 2019 Conference. 

2019 Simulations

In 2019, AMUN will simulate the General Assembly (GA) Plenary, three Main GA Committees (GA1, GA2 and GA3), The World Council on Youth (WCY), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). AMUN also simulates three historical bodies: the Historical Security Council of 1961 (HSC61), the Historical Security Council of 2003 (HSC03) and the Historical Commission of Inquiry: Assassinations (COI). Finally, AMUN features a simulation of the International Press Delegation (IPD), which produces the Conference newspaper, maintains the AMUN Twitter feed during Conference and covers all simulations’ work.

The General Assembly First (Disarmament & International Security), Second (Economic & Financial) and Third (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural) Committees, the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary, the World Council on Youth, and the International Telecommunications Union will meet for the first three and a half days of the Conference (i.e., from Saturday evening to Tuesday morning). These six committees will then come together for a plenary session of the General Assembly during the afternoon session on Tuesday. Up to four representatives may be seated at the country’s placard for the combined plenary session, and may change out as required.

The purpose of the General Assembly combined plenary session will be twofold. First, for the General Assembly Main Committees (GA1, GA2, GA3), the plenary body will consider and vote on one of the body’s resolutions; the purpose here is to build consensus among Member States and to ratify the work of the General Assembly Main Committees. While a small amount of additional debate is typical, it is expected that the work done by each Committee will be respected. It is rare for significant changes to be made or for a resolution to fail in the Plenary session after passing in Committee. Second, for the remaining bodies, whose resolutions are not sent to the General Assembly Plenary for further consideration, the plenary session will hear the reports of and take questions on the work of these bodies. Each of these committees will have an opportunity to present their work and answer questions in front of the larger group, but no vote will be taken.

The Economic and Social Council, the Economic Commission for Africa and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice will meet for the first three and a half days of the Conference (i.e., from Saturday evening to Tuesday morning). The ECA and CCPCJ are report-writing bodies whose purpose is to build consensus and to write and ratify reports submitted to the ECOSOC. These three simulations will convene on Tuesday afternoon for a plenary session in which the reporting bodies submit resolutions to the Economic and Social Council. The purpose of the Economic and Social Council plenary session will be to hear the reports of and take questions on the two subsidiary bodies submitting a final report to the Economic and Social Council. The Members of the Economic and Social Council will receive the reports of its commissions and will vote on resolutions that recognize the bodies for their work and accept the work of their commissions. It is expected that the Members of Economic and Social Council will ask questions and read a short abstract about the commissions’ work and then will generally pass a resolution adopting these reports with consensus or at least overwhelming support. While a small amount of additional debate is typical, it is expected that the work done by each commission over the first three days of the Conference will be respected.

The Contemporary Security Council will be responsible for dealing with international peace and security issues as they stand at the opening of the Conference. A tentative list of topics will be provided for preparation, but representatives should be prepared to discuss any and all security issues that might arise. The Historical Security Councils (1961 and 2003) will simulate the events of those years; they will use contemporary rules of procedure but will role play from the viewpoint of their delegation at the time of the simulation. The Security Council and the Historical Security Councils will meet all four days of the Conference, including an emergency session on Monday night and a debrief on Tuesday afternoon.

The International Press Delegation, the International Court of Justice and the Historical Commission of Inquiry are unique simulations that will meet all four days of the Conference. Individuals must apply for positions on these simulations on the AMUN website. The International Press Delegation will provide journalistic cover for the Conference, producing at least one newspaper each day. The International Court of Justice will hear cases brought to the Court by Member States. The Historical Commission of Inquiry: Assassinations will simulate a fact-finding investigation of two international incidents as requested by the Security Council.

How to Use This Book

This handbook is published to assist representatives in preparing for the American Model United Nations Conference. This handbook provides representatives with a full picture of conference philosophies, policies, and logistics, the rules of procedure required in each simulation, and substantive overviews of the simulations and topics for the Conference. Section I: Conference Policies, Logistics and Preparation is relevant to all participants at the Conference, while sections II-V detail the specific rules and substantive overviews for different types of simulations at AMUN. Delegates should be familiar with the sections and chapters relevant to their Conference assignment; Faculty Advisors and Permanent Representatives will want to be familiar with the whole handbook. 

General Conference Information

Safety at AMUN

AMUN places extreme importance on the safety of our participants and guests. We hope that you have an excellent and fun learning experience while at the Conference but encourage everyone to consider safety issues in and around the Conference hotel. Safety should always be more important than avoiding minor embarrassment to you or another person.

We suggest that you follow several common-sense rules to keep all participants safe during the Conference, including the following guidelines:

  • As a general rule, do not leave the hotel grounds without letting your group know how to find you.
  • Always let one of the leaders of your group (faculty, club officer, etc.) know where you are going prior to leaving the area around the hotel (to visit local friends or relatives, etc.).
  • Never leave any hotel alone after dark, and always travel with at least one person that you know.
  • Always remove your credentials prior to leaving the hotel so as not to advertise yourself as a tourist.
  • Help other participants to be safe by encouraging them to not travel outside of the hotel alone.
  • Inform one of the leaders of your group or an AMUN Secretariat Member immediately if you have a safety concern, or if any emergency situation occurs to you or another participant, regardless of the time.

AMUN encourages all faculty advisors and other group leaders to take time before the Conference to reinforce these and any other relevant safety instructions based on the rules of your schools. In case of an emergency, hotel security may be reached by dialing 0 on any hotel phone and requesting the security office. Also, please feel free to contact the AMUN Secretariat at any time during the Conference, day or night, if any emergency event occurs in which we can be of assistance.

Conference Policies

Minimum and Maximum Delegation Counts

AMUN strongly recommends delegations place two representatives on the following committees: the Security Council, the Historical Security Council of 1961 and the Historical Security Council of 2003. Each delegation may place one or two representatives on the following committees: General Assembly Concurrent Plenary, General Assembly First, General Assembly Second, General Assembly Third, the World Conference on Youth (WCY), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ). Each delegation may place only one representative on the Special Committee, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Seats on the International Court of Justice, International Press Delegation and the Historical Commission of Inquiry: Assassinations are assigned by application. Generally, only one person from a school can be assigned to each of these simulations.

Delegations may also designate a floating permanent representative to assist with coordination across the delegation. Representatives may also have part-time assignments at Conference as an advocate for the International Court of Justice, as a party to the dispute in the Security Council or a Historical Security Council or as a witness to the Historical Commission of Inquiry simulation.

Schools may register up to four faculty advisors.

Dress Code

The appearance of AMUN participants provides the first impressions of their delegation to other representatives. Attention to proper appearance sets an expectation for professionalism and competence. In order to demonstrate respect to fellow representatives, Secretariat members and distinguished guests of the Conference, AMUN requires conservative Western business attire for all representatives and Secretariat during all formal sessions, including the final sessions on Tuesday.

Western business attire is a business jacket or suit, dress slacks or skirt, dress shirt, appropriate hosiery or socks and dress shoes. Attire should be appropriate for visiting an embassy. Conservative accessories such as ties, scarves, and formal jewelry are traditional in business settings. Sweaters or leggings are too casual for Western business attire. Clothing that reveals undergarments in any way is not appropriate. AMUN will not consider any manner of dress appropriate that includes T-shirts, jeans, shorts, hats, athletic shoes or any form of commercial advertising.

Participants shall not wear the traditional or religious garb of any State or organization. The only exception to this is required traditional or religious garb of a student’s personal religion or culture. Additionally, participants should not affect the mannerisms, linguistic characteristics or any other perceived traits of a State or culture that they are representing. These affectations are inappropriate and may be seen as offensive by other students or by natives of that State or culture. Small lapel pins representing the delegation’s flag or other national symbols are appropriate.

Please be aware that representatives who are not appropriately attired or who do not follow these rules may not be recognized during formal debate in any AMUN simulation. Further, AMUN reserves the right to refuse admittance to the Conference floor to any representative who is inappropriately attired or who violates the above provisions. Decisions about appropriate attire and professional behavior are at the discretion of the AMUN Secretariat.

Conduct

Representatives are expected to conduct themselves at all times in a manner befitting international diplomats. This means that every courtesy, both in speech and behavior, should be extended to all representatives, faculty members, hotel staff members, guests and AMUN Secretariat members at the Conference. AMUN expects the same level of diplomatic courtesy in written communications, including notes passed during formal session and posts to social media sites. AMUN reserves the right to expel any representative not acting in a courteous and professional fashion. Please refer to Rule 2.2, Diplomatic Courtesy, for more information.

To provide all participants, including representatives, Faculty Advisors, exhibitors, hotel staff and AMUN Secretariat, the opportunity to benefit from Conference, AMUN is committed to providing a harassment-free environment for everyone regardless of race or ethnicity, language, disability, appearance, religion, gender identity or expression, or any other group identity. AMUN seeks to provide a conference environment in which diverse participants may learn and enjoy an environment of mutual human respect. We recognize a shared responsibility to create and foster that environment for the benefit of all. Some behaviors are, therefore, specifically prohibited. Examples of such behavior include, but are not limited to:

  • Harassment or intimidation based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, language, physical appearance, race or ethnicity, religion or other group identity.
  • Sexual harassment or intimidation, including persistent and unwelcome sexual attention, stalking (physical or virtual), or unsolicited physical contact.
  • Yelling at or threatening others (verbally or physically).
  • Assault of any kind.

Speakers are asked to frame discussions as openly and inclusively as possible and to be aware of how language or images may be perceived by others. All participants are expected to observe these rules and behaviors in all conference venues, including online. Participants asked to stop one of the aforementioned behaviors are expected to comply immediately. Any final rulings on violations of the Code of Conduct are subject to determination by the Executive Office with consultation as needed with the Board of Directors.

If anything happens throughout the conference that makes you feel unwelcome, unsafe or that prohibits you from fully participating in the AMUN experience, please let us know so that we can help you understand your options and decide what steps can be taken to address the issue. You can contact us anytime by stopping by the Ohio Room, asking to speak to a member of the Executive Office at Conference Services, emailing, calling or sending a message through the conference app.

Accessibility and Accommodation

AMUN makes every effort to ensure that all attendees are able to fully participate in their respective roles. If you or any member of your delegation requires any accommodations or modifications to get the most out of the AMUN experience, please contact AMUN staff at inclusion@amun.org as soon as possible, so we can discuss appropriate arrangements. Should you realize once Conference starts that you need an additional accommodation or modification, please visit the Ohio Room on the office level and a member of the AMUN Secretariat will be happy to assist you.

Use of Electronic Devices

The use of electronic devices, including laptops, tablets, e-readers and cell phones, is permitted in committee rooms provided they are silenced. All electronic devices must be set up and powered in a manner which does not create a safety hazard or distraction for other representatives. During formal session, groups may not congregate around said devices; all caucusing must take place outside committee rooms. Any use of electronic devices in committee rooms should relate to the purposes of the Conference and must comply with the expectation of Diplomatic Courtesy as outlined in Rule 2.2. All representatives are expected to comply with the directions of the AMUN Secretariat regarding the use of electronic devices.

Accessibility and Collaboration

American Model United Nations is committed to making its conference accessible to all participants. Further, collaboration and consensus-building are cornerstone philosophies for the organization. To further both of these aims, AMUN requests all participants work to ensure the work of the body is accessible to all who wish to participate. The work of the body includes participating in formal debate, informal caucusing during suspensions of the meeting, note-passing, and collaborating on working documents or conducting other substantive negotiations via electronic devices and cloud computing. In this broad consideration of accessibility, we ask participants to consider language, disability, access to mobile computing devices and online tools, country of origin, and other factors that may limit some participants’ access. Ensuring accessibility is a matter of diplomatic courtesy. AMUN does not limit the tools that may be used for collaboration nor does it mandate specific access requirements, but AMUN secretariat members are available for consultation about how to make the work of the body more inclusive and collaborative.

Plagiarism

AMUN strives to create a simulation of the United Nations which is as realistic as possible while still allowing for the fulfillment of our participants’ and the organization’s educational goals. As such, the AMUN policy regarding plagiarism focuses on an educational rather than a punitive goal. At AMUN, plagiarism involves the substantial, verbatim or near-verbatim copying of language, without attribution, in published or unpublished texts, speeches or documents. Representatives should adhere to their country’s policies at all times, but this does not give license to plagiarize existing materials. Thus, parts of speeches or position papers may be derived or paraphrased from previous speeches or papers, but should not be copied verbatim. Additionally, representatives should not copy and represent as their own the work of another representative or group of representatives. Collaboration and consensus-building is encouraged and appropriate, but representatives should take care that the authors of resolutions, reports and other documents are fully represented in the discussion of the body’s work. Collaborative work remains the work of the collaboration even when not all representatives are able to sign on to the final product.

Similarly, AMUN expects that all representatives are familiar with past resolutions at the United Nations, but the work of the United Nations should be expanded on in representatives’ work, not copied verbatim. There are some exceptions: for example, representatives are not necessarily expected to expand upon a phrase that is often or always used when a country gives a formal speech or a clause that is repeated verbatim through several years of resolutions on a topic. Generally, it is not necessary to explicitly credit such sources, although if substantial language is quoted, it should be acknowledged and cited. Final determinations on plagiarism and its consequences are at the discretion of the AMUN Secretariat.

The goal of any Model UN conference is to work toward the resolution of a problem facing the world. The documents created to this end are inevitably the work of a collaborative process; without that collaboration, States could never achieve consensus. Obtaining individual credit for the submission or sponsorship of a draft document should never be a State’s or representative’s goal during a Model UN Conference. Representatives are expected to collaborate in the drafting and submission of draft documents with the utmost level of respect and diplomatic courtesy.

Credentials

Name badges act as representatives’ credentials for the Conference. Credentials will list a representative’s name, country and the Committee to which they are assigned. Credentials for permanent representatives will state “Permanent Representative” regardless of whether they are assigned to a particular simulation. Representatives, faculty advisors and Conference guests will be required to wear their assigned credentials at all times while in the Conference area. This includes social events after normal Conference hours. No one will be admitted to any Conference area, including social events, without approved credentials.

Representatives must also wear their credentials at all times while in the common areas of the hotel. This will allow both Conference and hotel staff to easily recognize representatives and will help to alleviate any potential problems that may arise within the hotel. Representatives should always remove their credentials immediately before leaving the hotel. A convention badge worn on the streets of a large city advertises you as a tourist and can decrease your safety. Please exercise caution in this area.

Seating and Placards

A placard with the name of each delegation will be placed at that delegation’s seat in each Committee. These are the property of AMUN; the placard should not be defaced or removed from the location assigned by the Secretariat or removed from the room. Placards of Member States are generally always placed in alphabetical order, with the exact position of the placards changing at the beginning of each session to ensure equity in seating delegations. Observer States are generally always seated at the end of the Member States, and will also rotate positions when the room is reset. Exceptions to this are routinely made for representatives that require accommodations. Representatives are welcome to take their placard with them as a souvenir after their committee has convened for the last time (for delegations in report-writing bodies, after the ECOSOC Plenary session).

Lost and Found

Any found unclaimed property can be turned in to the Lost and Found located at Conference Services. Items will be held until the end of the closing session, at which time they will be turned over to hotel security.

  • The Conference Services staff will make every attempt to contact the owner if an email, phone number, country name or address is located on the item.
  • In order to claim a lost item from the Lost and Found, the owner must describe as closely as possible the lost item.
  • Conference Services’ hours are listed in the Conference Program.

Post-Conference Surveys

The AMUN Secretariat works year-round to prepare and run a premiere Model UN conference. With your feedback we are able to improve the educational and administrative experience for our participants. Please take a moment to complete a post-conference survey. Your feedback is invaluable to us as we plan for an even more successful Conference the following year. Surveys can be completed online.

Special Conference Events

Keynote Speaker

American Model United Nations International strives to bring quality keynote speakers to the Conference. AMUN keynote speakers are usually individuals with extensive background in international affairs and have included ambassadors, United Nations employees, speakers from NGOs and notable personalities. The date and time of a keynote speaker will depend on the speaker’s schedule, and the conference agenda will be adjusted accordingly to accommodate the speaker and to maximize representatives’ time in committee. The Conference Program will provide the keynote speaker’s biographical information. If you have a suggestion for (and, ideally, a connection to) a keynote speaker at AMUN, please email the Executive Office at mail@amun.org.

After-hours caucusing space

One of the draws of any Model UN conference is the after-hours informal caucusing. An informal meeting area is available in the River rooms of the Conference hotel, which representatives are encouraged to use after hours. Gatherings in hotel sleeping areas are strongly discouraged; these could very easily disturb other guests in the hotel, reflecting poorly on both participating schools and on the Conference.

Representative Dance

AMUN encourages all participants to attend our representative dance on Monday evening of the Conference. The dance theme will be revealed on AMUN’s website and publications in the fall. Attire matching the dance theme is encouraged, although not required.

As the dance is hosted by AMUN, only representatives wearing appropriate attire and their current conference credentials will be allowed to enter the dance. Due to security and safety concerns, NO bags, glassware, bottles or other containers will be allowed on the level of the dance. Representatives bringing any of these items will be asked to take them to their rooms. Representatives participating in the overnight crisis session for the Security Council or Historical Security Council simulations will be provided storage space, which they can access at the start of the emergency session. AMUN is not able to provide storage space for other personal belongings. This policy requires planning and special attention, especially for representatives staying at area hotels rather than at the Sheraton. While attending the dance, representatives are guests of the Sheraton hotel and must remain in approved areas of the hotel at all times. Representatives must remain diplomatically courteous during and after the dance. AMUN and hotel security reserve the right to expel any participant acting in a discourteous or disruptive manner.

Security Council Emergency Session

Representatives in each Security Council will work to resolve a simulated crisis during the Conference. This unique simulation occurs late Monday evening, during and after the representative dance. All members of the Security Councils are strongly encouraged to stay at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Hotel during their participation at AMUN. The rules of procedure mandate that each member of the Council attend the emergency session. Attendance at crisis sessions is limited to Security Council and Historical Security Council representatives, requested parties to the dispute, International Press Delegation reporters, and their faculty advisors. Observers must secure the permission of the AMUN Secretariat members in charge of the session. Secretariat members have the authority to request anyone they determine is being disruptive to leave the area and return to other areas of the Sheraton or to their hotel.

Events for Faculty Advisors and Permanent Representatives

AMUN hosts several Conference-related events for permanent representatives and faculty advisors during each Conference. They are:

  • Delegation Lottery: The Delegation Lottery is conducted at Conference and allows the current year’s attendees to select countries for the following year. A deposit for next year’s Conference is required to participate.
  • Committee on the Agenda: The Committee on the Agenda is the chance for schools to voice their opinions on topics for the next Conference. This input is highly valued by the AMUN Staff and is used by the Secretariat when deliberating on the topics for the next year.
  • Permanent representative and faculty advisor meetings: Held on Sunday and Monday of Conference, these meetings allow you to share comments and concerns on this year’s Conference and any hotel issues your school is experiencing.
  • Roundtables and workshops for faculty advisors: Guest speakers discuss running and advocating for Model UN with Faculty Advisors in informal discussions and roundtable presentations. Consult the Conference Program for times and locations.

Graduate School and Career Expo

The Expo is a great opportunity to meet with representatives from graduate schools and organizations across the country and plan your future. The Graduate School and Career Expo will be held this year on Monday, 25 November 2019 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event and exhibitors will be announced and highlighted both in our Conference Program, the Conference app and the AMUN Chronicle. The Expo will be located in the main corridor on the Ballroom level, outside of the primary meeting rooms that hold most of the Conference events. Students will be introduced to the Expo area on their way to and from the open Monday morning meeting sessions.

The AMUN Approach to Model United Nations

AMUN Philosophy/Realism

One of the core principles of AMUN is to mirror the practice and dynamics of the United Nations as much as possible. To that end, AMUN strives to create and conduct simulations that are a realistic representation of diplomacy at the United Nations and the within the broader international system. We believe this commitment furthers AMUN’s aims to create a fair and fun experience for all representatives and that it enhances the educational mission of the organization.

For any issue before the United Nations, each Member State or Observer State will have a variety of responses available to it; however, a realistic simulation will consider only those options that would have reasonably been on the table for a State at a particular moment in time. In other words, there will always be options States do not consider or dismiss out of hand because they have limited capabilities or due to historical, cultural or political constraints; in a realistic simulation, these options are not appropriate.

In conjunction with our policy on delegations that are “Out of Character,” AMUN members of the Secretariat will work with representatives to ensure the highest-quality, most realistic simulation of the United Nations as possible, while still allowing room for innovative and creative thinking to open up new possibilities for the United Nations and the international community.

The Purview of Each Simulation

Each background guide contains a brief overview of that simulation’s purview, which provides a general outline of the types of discussions each simulation might have on the topics in question. Purview is an extremely important, though often informally understood, concept in the United Nations system, where a variety of different committees, councils and commissions may discuss different aspects of an international problem. Not stepping on another body’s toes or into its territory is a matter of diplomatic courtesy, respect and an acknowledgement of specific expertise. Representatives should research their topics carefully, so their deliberations can focus on the piece of the problem considered within their simulation’s purview.

Purview is usually best understood through an extended example. To illustrate the concept, this paragraph explores the issue of development and how it might be approached in a variety of committees, councils and commissions. The General Assembly First Committee might discuss the relationship between disarmament and development. At the same time, the General Assembly Second Committee may discuss a variety of financing initiatives to assist Least Developed Countries. Similarly, the General Assembly Third Committee might discuss the social and humanitarian considerations that stem from a lack of development, including gender issues, economic concerns or the impact on underrepresented populations such as the elderly or disabled. And the General Assembly Fourth Committee may discuss the development issues of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The General Assembly Concurrent Plenary might discuss the problem in its entirety or address issues that cut across the mandates of the committees. By contrast, the Economic and Social Council would focus on how the United Nations specialized and technical agencies work with Member States to support economic and social development. The Security Council would address the interlinkages between peace, security and development.

Clearly, different aspects of a single problem are regularly discussed in different bodies. More importantly, at the United Nations, delegations are typically careful to only discuss those aspects relevant to their own committees, councils and commissions, leaving other aspects to others in their delegation to address in the appropriate forum.

Representatives participating in the AMUN Conference should be familiar with the history of the United Nations and with the changing role the organization plays (and has played) in international affairs. This section provides a brief introduction to the United Nations system and some of the issues it faces today.

Introduction to the United Nations

Representatives participating in the American Model United Nations (AMUN) Conference should be familiar with the history of the United Nations and with the changing role the organization plays in international affairs. This section provides a brief introduction to the United Nations system and some of the issues it faces today.

History of the United Nations

Origins of the United Nations

The United Nations came into existence on 24 October 1945. On that day, the United Nations Charter became operative, following ratification by the 51 original Members. The concept of all States uniting to settle disputes peacefully was born of the desire to avoid repeating the horrors of the First and Second World Wars. The United Nations developed as a successor to the League of Nations, which represented the first modern attempt by the countries of the world to achieve this unity.

United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the term “United Nations” in 1942, when 47 countries signed the Declaration of the United Nations in support of the Atlantic Charter. In 1944, representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and China prepared the first blueprint of the United Nations at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference. The final details for the United Nations were established at the Yalta Conference in 1945. On 26 June 1945, 51 States signed the Charter of the United Nations in San Francisco.

Purpose of the United Nations

The primary purposes for which the United Nations was founded are detailed in Chapter I, Article 1, of the Charter:

  1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;
  2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
  3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
  4. To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

Structure of the United Nations

The United Nations has six primary organs. Understanding what each of these bodies does and how it interacts with other United Nations bodies, agencies and affiliated organizations is a critical part of Model United Nations preparation.

The General Assembly (GA)

The General Assembly is the central deliberative organ of the United Nations. The General Assembly has been described as the nearest thing to a “parliament of mankind.” All Member States are Members of the General Assembly, and each Member has one vote. The General Assembly makes recommendations on international issues, oversees all other United Nations bodies that report to the General Assembly, approves the United Nations budget and apportions United Nations funds. On the recommendation of the Security Council, the General Assembly elects the Secretary-General and holds the authority to admit and expel Member States. Voting in the General Assembly is ordinarily by simple majority, but most of the body’s work is adopted by consensus.

The Security Council (SC)

The Security Council’s primary responsibility is maintaining international peace and security. It has the power to employ United Nations peacekeepers and direct action against threats to the peace. Fifteen Members sit on the Security Council, including five Permanent Members (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) and 10 at-large Member States, which the General Assembly elects for rotating two-year terms. A majority in the Security Council consists of nine Members voting “yes”; however, a “no” vote by any of the Permanent Members has the effect of vetoing or blocking actions.

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

The Economic and Social Council is the primary body dealing with the economic, social, humanitarian and cultural work of the United Nations system. It also has a mandate to coordinate the activities of United Nations technical and specialized agencies and programs. The Economic and Social Council oversees five regional economic commissions and nine functional, or subject-matter, commissions. The Economic and Social Council is composed of 54 Member States elected by the General Assembly for three-year renewable terms.

The Trusteeship Council (TC)

In 1945 there were 11 Trust Territories, which were regions without their own governments. These 11 regions were placed under the Trusteeship Council, which helped them prepare for and achieve independence. With the admission of Palau as a United Nations Member State in 1994, the Trusteeship Council has now completed its original mandate. Today, the Trusteeship Council is inactive but is formally composed of the Permanent Members of the Security Council.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The International Court of Justice, or World Court, is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations and decides international legal disputes. All United Nations Member States are able to bring matters before the International Court of Justice; however, States must agree to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice before it can decide a dispute involving that State. Fifteen judges serving nine-year terms sit on the Court.

Secretariat

The Secretariat is composed of the Secretary-General and the United Nations staff. Approximately 44,000 people are employed as the staff of the United Nations, only 5,000 of whom work at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The vast majority work for various subsidiaries of the United Nations. The Secretary-General serves a five-year renewable term.

In addition to the six main bodies, the United Nations system includes a number of autonomous technical and specialized agencies and programs. Examples include the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). While most of these agencies and programs have independent governance structures, the Economic and Social Council coordinates their activities.

How the United Nations Seeks to Achieve Its Purpose

Since 1945, the United Nations has established itself as a forum for discussing international disputes. The United Nations seeks, through both its principal organs and various subsidiary bodies, to settle disputes through peaceful means without resorting to the threat or use of force. Through their participation in the various bodies of the United Nations, Member States recognize and legitimize the established machinery of the United Nations and its relevance to solving international problems. It should be understood that the United Nations is not a world government, nor does it legislate. Rather, the actions of the United Nations, in the form of resolutions passed by its bodies, have a strong moral persuasive effect. Member States frequently find it in their own best interests to follow United Nations recommendations.

Bloc Politics at the United Nations

Historically, Member States with mutual interests have used a system of bloc politics to organize their efforts within the United Nations. These blocs tend to be made up of Member States with similar political, historical or cultural backgrounds and are often, but not exclusively, formed on a geographical basis. By organizing themselves with other Member States that hold similar interests, bloc members hope to increase their influence above the level that they would have as a single Member State in the General Assembly.

Regional groups were formally established at the United Nations in 1957 with an endorsement by the General Assembly. As the number of Member States increased, the groups were realigned to form today’s five groups: Latin America and the Caribbean group (GRULAC), the Asia-Pacific group, the Africa group, the Eastern European group and the Western Europe and Others group (WEOG). These regional groups are still used today to manage the elections to various United Nations bodies, including the Security Council, and to determine who will serve as Vice Presidents of the General Assembly. Other smaller regional blocs with more specific affinities and interests, such as the Nordic countries or the JUSCANZ group (Japan, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) are also important, but they lack the formal recognition granted to the five regional groups.

Regional groups are not the only blocs active at the United Nations. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), formed in 1967 as a group seeking a middle course between the Western and Eastern blocs of the Cold War, rapidly became an active body for the coordination of action at the United Nations for developing countries. While its importance has diminished since the end of the Cold War, it is still active on numerous issues at the United Nations. The Group of 77 (G-77) was founded in 1964 as a coordinating body to protect the economic interests of small and developing countries. With 134 members, the G-77 is the largest United Nations bloc, though coordination among members is fairly loose.

Blocs often attempt to form a consensus among members, allowing them to act as a cohesive group. The effectiveness of any given bloc in exerting its positions in the General Assembly depends upon the bloc’s ability to form a consensus among its own members and to get its members to vote accordingly. These acts of compromise form the basis of United Nations politics and often occur within the various caucusing groups. They also form the starting points for debate in the larger United Nations body.

Bloc politics have changed considerably over time. Some blocs are still coherent, like the Nordic countries, while others, like the Western European and Others Group, lack continuing cohesion. In general, their viability as a political tool is diminishing, and blocs are falling out of use as a predictable measure of votes. Often, blocs get together to draft resolutions which will begin the discussion in the larger body, but ultimately, each Member State will usually vote in its own interest, regardless of bloc memberships. States may be part of multiple blocs with diverging or competing interests, which further complicates the issue.

Today, the most common blocs are small, temporary negotiating groups that gather around one issue to try to overcome stalemate in the larger membership bodies. Additionally, developing countries often bind together to maximize their power, especially given their relative lack of economic power. Some blocs have their own secretariat staff whose job is to draft proposals and find solutions that the larger body is unable to find. Some of the more well-funded and organized blocs have a formally recognized role as permanent observers with permanent observer missions at the United Nations headquarters. Examples include the African Union, the Caribbean Community, the European Union, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. These blocs are powerful examples of Member States coming together to advance goals that may be independent of the regions they represent.

At AMUN, blocs are not be treated as official bodies. Representatives are encouraged to caucus in their bloc groups only when appropriate. Representatives should be aware that the State they represent may no longer actively participate in bloc politics or may vote outside of its traditional bloc based on the circumstances. Above all, remember that you represent your State and your State’s interests, regardless of your participation in a bloc while caucusing and drafting.

United Nations Documents

Introduction

Resolutions are the primary tools for action at the United Nations. Debate at the United Nations focuses on solving, at least in part, the many problems facing the global community. After months of debate and behind-the-scenes discussion on a topic, Member States try to come to an agreement about how to proceed on an issue. This agreement is then codified in the form of a draft resolution. The text of a draft resolution is usually developed and agreed upon well in advance of its being brought to the floor, with many States making suggestions and changes behind the scenes. When a draft resolution is brought to the floor, it may be formally discussed, amended, rejected or adopted as circumstances dictate. It is very rare for a United Nations resolution to be rejected after being brought up for consideration; most Member States prefer to bring a draft resolution to the floor only if they are sure it will be adopted. In fact, sponsoring Member States will often wait to bring a resolution to the floor until they are sure that all Member States present will agree to the resolution and adopt it by consensus.

Resolutions usually express a policy that the United Nations will adopt or implement, and they may be included in the body of reports, treaties, conventions and declarations. Resolutions range from general to very specific in content and, depending on the body involved, may call for or suggest a course of action, condemn an action or require an action or sanctions on behalf of Member States. The General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, special committees and commissions may either call for or suggest actions. However, only the Security Council can require action from or place sanctions on Member States. In some cases, conventions and treaties may also require action, but such requirements would be applicable only to the States Parties (i.e., those States which have ratified or are otherwise party to the convention or treaty).

Resolutions are formal documents adopted by a United Nations body that follow a standard format and include at least one preambular and one operative clause. Any body may issue a resolution, but in practice most are adopted (often by consensus) by the General Assembly, its main Committees and the Security Council.

Reports and presidential statements are similar to resolutions in that they state a United Nations policy or objective, but they have different purposes and utilize different formatting. Reports, which are typically written by long-standing commissions and committees composed of experts on the topics being discussed, advise and inform decision-making bodies of a committee’s work and are divided into chapters and sections that cover the various topics under discussion. Presidential statements comparatively offer a less formal pronouncement of some United Nations action or position and are often used when the Security Council cannot come to agreement or deems that the issue does not necessitate a formalized resolution. AMUN simulates both resolution-writing and report-writing bodies..

Draft Documents

AMUN simulations will accept draft resolutions, reports and other documents only during the AMUN Conference. Draft documents may not be submitted in advance of Conference. Drafting documents is a collaborative process that begins with an idea about how to approach a problem and then incorporates ideas and concepts contributed by a group of delegations. The authors of draft documents obtain signatures from sponsors through caucusing and discussion, and eventually the draft may be moved to the floor for debate. The debate process brings the entire body into the discussion. Often, the debate identifies areas where the draft must be amended to bring about a final document that the body may support by consensus.

In preparing to attend AMUN, delegations should consider solutions they believe would help resolve the issues before the body. The most successful delegates will practice drafting clauses that clearly articulate the background and context for the topic and that form the policies they would like to advocate for. Delegates should also practice reviewing and commenting on the work of others and practice negotiation, collaboration, and amendment to achieve common objectives. These notes and practice documents may be useful at Conference as working papers. When all delegations arrive at Conference prepared and ready to work together, the entire body benefits.  

At Conference, when a delegate is asked to sponsor a resolution or report, they should ask themselves the following questions: Was this document drafted in collaboration with other delegations in attendance? Has the resolution drafting and amendment process been open and collaborative? If a delegate cannot answer yes to these questions, they should consider either working with the drafters to bring the draft document into the collaborative environment or, if that is not an option, foregoing sponsorship in favor of working on other draft documents that represent the collaborative work of the body.

AMUN strongly discourages delegations from bringing pre-written resolutions, that is fully-formed draft resolutions a delegation brings to the conference with the intent to immediately circulate the draft for signatures and bring it to the floor, foregoing the collaborative process. Any draft document that is not created with the input and assistance of other committee members will not reflect the will of the body and cannot hope to achieve consensus. While bringing these resolutions may seem an efficient way to jump-start the body’s deliberations, in reality they short-circuit the collaborative and consensus-building process that is central to AMUN’s educational mission and that reflects the real work of the United Nations. 

Draft resolutions are not eligible for formal consideration on the floor of General Assembly Committees, the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary or reporting bodies until they receive the sponsorship of at least 35 percent of the total delegations registered for their respective simulation. In the Security Council and the Historical Security Councils, only one sponsor is required. In all bodies additional sponsors may be added as the document is written until the document has been moved to the floor; at that point, a delegation may only become a sponsor with the consent of the original sponsors. Once a substantive vote has been taken on a draft resolution or report—or on a contested amendment thereto—no new sponsors may be added to or removed from the draft resolution or report, as it has become the property of the body.

Chairs and presidents will entertain motions for a suspension of the meeting to facilitate the process of discussing, creating, combining and changing draft documents. It is recommended that representatives use this time to discuss the problems facing their committee and begin creating documents or combining existing drafts as proposed by Members of the body. These sessions offer representatives an opportunity to enter the United Nations political process of working with others in an attempt to build consensus, but in a less formal setting.

The process of using drafts and requiring more than one sponsoring delegation is intended to replicate the United Nations practice of gaining near-universal support for drafts before they are brought to the floor for debate and decision. Further, it should push delegations away from looking at a proposal as “theirs” and toward working with others to find a solution and to gain consensus on the topic being discussed. AMUN requires a relatively high number of sponsors in order to encourage the body to work together on proposals, rather than individual delegations or small blocs working on separate proposals in isolation. States that sponsor (or sign) a resolution should be in general agreement with its content at the time it is submitted, such that they would vote “yes” on the resolution. This sponsorship, however, is non-binding. Member States may exercise their sovereign right to vote in any way on any matter that affects the outcome of the resolution.

To this end, representatives will need to work together and most likely combine clauses from a number of drafts or subsequent proposals made by other Member States at the Conference. Representatives are strongly encouraged to undertake this process before a draft is brought to the floor. As with the United Nations in New York, building support for one draft that encompasses the entire topic will be a much better use of the representatives’ time than trying to work on multiple draft resolutions, many of which will overlap. AMUN suggests that representatives not contend over which draft will come to the floor, but rather caucus and compromise to determine how best to combine drafts into a coherent, whole product that all Member States can accept, either through friendly amendments or through the drafting of a new, all-encompassing document. Rapporteurs are available in General Assembly committees, special committees and reporting bodies to assist with this process.

After a draft resolution, report, or presidential statement has been entered into the DPS and receives the requisite sponsorship, representatives must bring two copies of the draft document to the Dais Staff for approval. The Dais Staff will review the draft and discuss with representatives any necessary or suggested edits. Once representatives have entered all necessary edits, the Dais Staff will approve the draft document and submit it for printing. The body will not formally act on a draft resolution until the entire body has been given the ability to review it.

After an approved draft has been printed and distributed, the Dais Staff will announce that the draft has become available for consideration. Although AMUN strives to print draft resolutions as quickly as possible, it may take up to several hours for copies to be delivered to the body, depending largely on the printing needs of the rest of the Conference.

Points to Consider in Writing Draft Resolutions

The following list includes important points to consider when writing a draft resolution. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but should provide a good starting point to make draft resolutions as realistic as possible.

  • In the preambular clauses, describe the recent history of the situation and the issue as it currently exists.
  • Refer to specific past United Nations actions and previous resolutions passed on the topic, when available.
  • In the operative clauses, include actions or recommendations that will address or solve the problem, not just make a statement.
  • Avoid using blatantly political language in the content of the draft resolution—this may damage efforts to reach a consensus on the issue.
  • Take into account the points of view of other States whenever possible.
  • Write the draft resolution from an international or United Nations perspective, not just from a single country’s point of view.
  • Consider whether the substance of the draft resolution is within the purview of the committee and refer relevant parts to other bodies where appropriate.
  • Refer issues which need further discussion to appropriate, existing bodies.
  • Do not create new committees/councils/commissions/working groups/etc. without first considering if other similar bodies already exist.
  • Always consider previous United Nations resolutions on the topic; do not duplicate what other resolutions have done without referencing the appropriate sources.

Purview and Other Content Requirements for Resolutions

As noted above, one point to consider when drafting a document is whether the document’s content is within the purview of the committee. Each body within the United Nations has a particular purview, or subject-matter jurisdiction, over which that body is particularly concerned. A body will not address subject matter that is outside its purview, because another body almost always has purview over that subject matter. The topic briefs for each simulation identifies the purview for each United Nations body simulated at AMUN. Rapporteurs in the committees and reporting bodies and Simulation Directors in the Security Councils will review submitted documents to determine whether they are within the purview of the body. If possible, Dais Staff will offer suggestions as to how to modify a draft document to bring it within the purview of the body, rather than simply rejecting a submission.

As part of our educational mission, AMUN strives to simulate the United Nations as realistically as possible, within the confines of a four-day simulation. Accordingly, for all simulations outside of the Security Council and Historical Security Council simulations, AMUN limits the topics that may be discussed. These topics are identified in depth within this handbook. In committees with limited agendas, Rapporteurs will not accept resolutions unless they are directed to one of the topics for the simulation and can assist in migrating work in this direction as needed.

The Dais Staff will not accept draft resolutions or other documents that it views as disruptive to the work of the body or the Conference as a whole. Disruptive resolutions and other documents are those that are only tangentially related to a topics for that simulation or contain language, proposals or solutions that are generally not seen in actual United Nations resolutions. Such disruptive resolutions detract from the educational experience of all AMUN’s participants. Accordingly, the submission of disruptive resolutions is considered diplomatically discourteous, and will be addressed by the Dais Staff in accordance with Rule 2.2, Diplomatic Courtesy. Decisions of the Secretariat on these matters are final.

Draft Resolution Guidelines and Format

Draft resolutions will consist of the standard heading section followed by preambular and operative clauses. Preambular clauses are listed first; they are used to justify action, denote past authorizations and precedents for action, or denote the purpose for an action. Operative clauses are the statements of policy in a resolution. Each operative clause is numbered, begins with a verb to denote an action (or suggested action) and usually addresses no more than one specific aspect of the action to be taken.

Draft resolutions must be submitted using AMUN’s Document Processing System (DPS), which formats resolutions in accordance with AMUN guidelines. The draft resolutions must also comply with the following additional formatting requirements:

  • During the processing of draft resolutions, do not use italics, bold or underlined print to highlight words. Italic text should only be used as shown in the Sample Draft Resolution.
  • Clauses must begin with proper introductory words/phrases in italics.
  • Information in the header (the topic and the name of the committee) will be automatically generated when you input the draft resolution into AMUN’s DPS.
  • See the Sample Draft Resolution for additional requirements.

Rapporteurs and Dais Staff are available to assist representatives with any questions you may have about format, grammar and entry into the AMUN DPS.

Sample Draft Resolution

Draft Resolution Guidelines

  • All preambular and operative phrases are italicized.
  • The first word of all clauses, sub-clauses and sub-sub-clauses is capitalized. In a clause with a two-word introductory phrase (e.g., Further noting) both words are italicized, but only the first is capitalized.
  • All preambular clauses begin with an “ing” form verb (e.g., Acknowledging, Recalling), or other appropriate phrase (e.g., Alarmed by).
  • All operative clauses begin with a verb that demonstrates action (e.g., Requests, Calls upon).
  • All words should be spelled according to standard American usage, except in formal program or organization names or titles (e.g., World Food Programme).
  • Acronyms and initialisms are appropriate in resolutions, except when referring to the United Nations and its principal organs (e.g., the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council), which should always be spelled out in full.
  • Acronyms and initialisms are written out in full the first time they are used within a resolution, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses (e.g., African Development Bank (ADB)).
  • Full dates should always be used, including in reference to resolutions (e.g., 9 October 1977 or resolution 61/171 of 19 December 2006).
  • In Security Council resolutions, the year the resolution was passed should be in parentheses along with the full date (e.g., resolution 1757 (2007) of 30 May 2007).
  • When referencing a resolution, use the short resolution number instead of the full document symbol (e.g., resolution 61/171 instead of resolution A/Res/61/171).
  • Whole numbers under 10 are written out, except in fractions, in lists or comparisons, in percentages, vote counts, ratios, etc.
  • Numbers between 10 and 999,999 should be written in figures, except at the beginning of a clause/sentence.
  • Millions, billions and trillions, are written as follows: 1 million, 4.3 billion, etc.
  • Isolated references to weights and measurements are spelled out (e.g., ten kilometers).
  • Generally, do not use a comma before the final element of a list.
  • Lists of sponsors and/or authors are not required in the final version of documents. Once passed, they become the work and property of the whole body.

Amendments

An amendment is a written statement that adds to, deletes from or otherwise modifies a draft resolution, report or other document. An amendment may be as small as changing the word “and” to the word “or” in a sentence, or as large as the deletion or addition of numerous clauses in a document. Both preambular and operative clauses in draft resolutions may be amended.

Member States typically propose informal changes to draft documents during the drafting process. If a sponsor of a draft document does not approve of the proposed changes, they will not be incorporated into the draft document. However, the proposed changes may be introduced via a formal amendment after the document is officially introduced to the body for discussion. Otherwise, a sponsor may choose to withdraw its sponsorship from the draft document into which the proposed changes are incorporated.

Once a document is approved by the body’s Dais Staff, amendments must be made through a formal process. This involves writing the proposed changes on an Amendment form (available in each simulation) and submitting it to the appropriate Dais Staff for approval. See the Sample Amendment Form. A minimum of 15 percent of delegations must sponsor each amendment, although only one sponsor is required in the Security Council and Historical Security Councils. If all of the sponsors of a resolution are also sponsors on an amendment, an amendment is considered “friendly” and automatically becomes part of the draft resolution without a vote. If all of the resolution sponsors have not agreed to the amendment, it must go through the standard amendment process. This includes moving the amendment to the floor, discussion and voting procedure. If the body takes any substantive vote on an amendment or any part of the draft resolution, the document becomes the property of the body and the friendly amendment process is no longer available. Any subsequent amendments must be voted on by the body to be incorporated into the resolution.

Formally submitted amendments should be written legibly, provide exactly what language is to be amended and identify where the current language exists in the draft document or where the newly proposed language should go.

Sample Amendment

Reports

A report is another type of formal document at the United Nations. Reports of functional commissions, standing committees, regional commissions or other bodies that make reports to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) or the General Assembly generally follow the United Nations format for annual reports. At AMUN the reporting body may write only one report for each topic that is presented. The reports summarize the body’s discussion of the topic and make recommendations of actions to be taken by the appropriate body. At this year’s Conference, the following simulations will write reports: the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ).

The report format is outlined here, and a sample Table of Contents for the report follows. A more detailed description and sample reports are available online here. The Dais Staff in each report-writing body will provide additional details to the commission on the first day of Conference and will assist representatives throughout the report-writing process. Please note that in this section “commission” refers to the reporting body and “council” refers to the body that receives the report.

The first item in the report will be an executive summary, not exceeding one page, that outlines the major points of the report, including the commission’s findings and its recommendations to the council. Copies of the executive summary, rather than copies of the full report, will be distributed to all council delegations before the presentation of reports during the General Assembly or ECOSOC Plenary sessions on Tuesday afternoon. Thus, it is important that the executive summary contains all the critical information for the body hearing the report. Rapporteurs will guide representatives through the report-writing process and the chairs will guide the body through the formal acceptance of the report. The executive summary is written last to encompass all parts of the compiled report once actions are determined and deliberations finalized.

Chapter I of the report will be titled “Matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention.” (For bodies reporting to the General Assembly, the chapter titles should be changed accordingly.) First, this chapter will contain the text of draft resolutions recommended by the commission for adoption by the council. With the exception of the title and numbering, the resolutions should follow standard resolution format as detailed in this handbook. Second, this chapter may contain a short statement on any other matter that requires action or attention by the council but has not been included in a draft resolution. Take care when including other matters that require action to ensure that there is consensus within the body for addressing these matters. Further, although Chapter I contains the text of draft resolutions recommended for adoption, the entire report should include substantially more material. The body should focus its efforts on drafting the report, rather than passing draft resolutions, which are merely recommendations, for inclusion in the report.

Chapter II of the report will be titled according to the official agenda item before the commission. This chapter should contain a brief account of the proceedings that the commission considers essential to transmit to the council and should focus on the decision making process that the commission followed in order to make its recommendations. This chapter is typically written throughout the entire time the commission is in session, taking into account all essential proceedings and decision making processes as they occur. Essential proceedings often include statements made by delegations regarding the topic at issue.

Chapter III, if necessary, should be titled “Decisions adopted by the Commission at its [year] session” and should contain those decisions, if any, adopted by the commission that do not require further action and that the commission takes in its own name. This practice is rare because ECOSOC Resolution 1623 (LI) states that resolutions of functional commissions and subsidiary bodies should normally be in the form of drafts for approval by the council. Generally, resolutions the body recommends (in other words, those that require further action) would not be incorporated in this chapter, but rather in Chapter I.

The last chapter should be titled “Adoption of the report.” The chapter should detail the manner in which the commission adopted the report, including the voting record, if any. Following the substantive chapters of the report, the commission may choose to include additional information as appendices for the council, including statements regarding the financial implications of the council’s recommendations; other relevant publications or statements; and relevant data, charts or graphs.

Reports will be heard, as appropriate, by the Combined General Assembly and by the Economic and Social Council during plenary sessions on Tuesday afternoon of the Conference. Reporting bodies should conclude their substantive work by Monday evening, and they should finalize and accept the reports and compose the executive summaries for the reports during the morning session on Tuesday. All States are encouraged to attend the plenary session, but only those States which are Members of the Council—and whose attendance is required—will vote on the adoption of the reports.

After hearing the report and asking any questions, representatives in the body receiving the report will decide how it wishes to accept the report—this is usually done by consensus. This vote is an acknowledgment of the reporting body’s work, rather than an endorsement of it. Generally, if a State has strong negative feelings about the content of a report or feels the report is inadequate, it will abstain from such a vote, rather than voting no, as a “no” vote would be seen as diplomatically discourteous to the work of the reporting body.

Sample Table of Contents for Reports

Resolution Introductory Phrases

The following phrases/words are a partial list of appropriate introductions in resolutions.

Preambular Phrases 

(single verb in present participle or other introductory phrase):

Affirming Emphasizing Keeping in mind
Alarmed by Expecting Noting with approval
Approving Fulfilling Noting with concern
Aware of Fully alarmed Noting with regret
Bearing in mind Fully aware Noting with satisfaction
Believing Fully believing Observing
Confident Fully deploring Reaffirming
Convinced Guided by Realizing
Declaring Having adopted Recalling
Deeply concerned Having considered Recognizing
Deeply convinced Having examined Seeking
Deeply disturbed Having heard Taking into consideration
Deeply regretting Having received Viewing with appreciation
Desiring Having studied Welcoming

Operative Phrases

(verb in third person present indicative tense):

Accepts Emphasizes Reaffirms
Affirms Encourages Recommends
Approves Endorses Regrets
Authorizes Expresses its appreciation Reminds
Calls Expresses its hope Requests
Calls upon Further invites Solemnly affirms
Condemns Further proclaims Strongly condemns
Confirms Further recommends Supports
Congratulates Further reminds Takes note of
Considers Further requests Transmits
Declares accordingly Further resolves Urges
Deplores Has resolved Welcomes
Designates Notes
Draws the attention Proclaims

Lending Emphasis to Resolution Phrasing

Diplomatic communication relies heavily on connotation and nuance, and United Nations resolutions and decisions are no exception. When resolutions are constructed, they often contain language that actually conveys the very precise attitudes and intentions of the authors. At AMUN, representatives are urged to select words carefully when drafting resolutions. The introductory phrases listed above also carry significant emotional and diplomatic meaning. Accurate use of these introductory terms is of paramount importance at the United Nations, and should also be emphasized in AMUN simulations.

A more useful method for listing introductory phrases, rather than the alphabetical listing above, might be in order of the phrases’ emotional weight, described by United Nations practitioners as crescendos. Each of the following crescendos begins with a neutral phrase at the top (conveying little emotion) and concludes with a strongly worded phrase (conveying strongly positive or negative emotion). Some of these opening phrases also have common uses in the language of United Nations resolutions; when applicable, this information has been included parenthetically with each phrase. Some phrases that express strong insistence or negative emotion are typically only used in Security Council resolutions and even then are selected with great care—these are noted where appropriate.

Sample Preambular Phrase Crescendos

All lists of sample phrase crescendos presented below start with the most neutral/weakest phrase and end with the strongest phrases.

Noting (by being neutral, this term actually can connote negativity; for example, a resolution “noting the report of the Secretary-General” actually insults the Secretary-General’s work by not being more approving)

Noting with appreciation (this is the typical way to recognize a report or other document)

Noting with satisfaction

Noting with deep satisfaction

Alternatively, there can be further detail added to connote a more negative context for the point that is about to be made as shown in the following example:

Noting

Noting with regret

Noting with deep regret

Sample Operative Phrase Crescendos

Notes (See comments on “noting” above)

Notes with appreciation

Notes with satisfaction

Welcomes

Recommends (suggests that other United Nations organs take an action)

Invites (suggests that Member States take an action)

Requests (suggests that the Secretary-General take an action)

Appeals (suggests that Member States take an action, more emotional)

Calls Upon (suggests that Member States take an action, very emotional)

Urges (strongest suggestion by the General Assembly)

Demands (rarely used outside of the Security Council)

Notes with concern

Expresses its concern

Expresses its deep concern

Deplores

Strongly deplores

Condemns (rarely used outside of the Security Council)

Commonly Misunderstood Terms

Declares (used to make a statement)

Decides (used to indicate an action to be taken)

For sample usage of the phrases, see the Sample Draft Resolution and the Checklist for Resolution Formatting.

Security Council Presidential Statements

While the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies usually speak through reports and resolutions, the Security Council has another option: the presidential statement. At the United Nations, the Security Council adopts presidential statements more frequently than resolutions.

A presidential statement is a written statement issued by the President, noting that the Council has been discussing a specific topic and stating the general course of that discussion. These documents are frequently made at the beginning of or after a significant event in a crisis situation, but can be used at any point in the simulation. These statements can be as short as a sentence or two in length, but they can be longer if the situation dictates. Presidential statements are usually simple enough that they are agreed to by the entire body. This also means they often do not prescribe action and have little weight, unlike resolutions, which are technically binding on Member States. Presidential statements are often used when Members want to make a strong statement, but when one or more Member States, often Permanent Members, find it politically inexpedient to pass a binding resolution on the subject.

At AMUN, presidential statements are not written by the body’s President as they are at the United Nations in New York. Instead, presidential statements are written by the Council as a whole; the Council must enter an informal session and reach consensus to adopt a draft presidential statement. While draft statements, like draft resolutions, may be constructed by individuals or small groups during suspensions, AMUN recommends that representatives collaborate as much as possible on the creation of presidential statements and suggests entering into a consultative session for this purpose. For more information, please see Security Council Rule 7.7 Consultative Sessions.

Representatives are free to circulate unofficial drafts, but a draft statement cannot be adopted until it has been entered into the AMUN Document Processing System located in Delegate Services, has received approval by the Dais Staff and copies have been distributed to the Council. To adopt an approved draft statement, the Council must enter a consultative session. Once it appears consensus on the statement has been met, the president will ask if there is any objection to consensus on the document. If there are no objections to consensus, the statement will be adopted. If there are objections, the Council may wish to discuss the draft further and make changes. Once consensus is reached, the statement is considered adopted; the Dais Staff will update the document with any agreed to changes and copies of the final presidential statement will be made available to the Council.

Sample Security Council Presidential Statement

 

Research and Preparation

A holistic approach to research and preparation

AMUN recommends a systematic, holistic approach to research related to Conference preparation, broken into seven areas. Ensuring representatives are well versed in each of these areas will allow for the fullest participation in the Conference and will maximize the educational benefit of the experience. This approach is recommended for students participating in traditional Model UN simulations such as the General Assembly, Security Council or Historical Security Councils. Representatives participating in specialized simulations, such as the International Court of Justice, the International Press Delegation or the Historical Commission of Inquiry may have different preparatory requirements.

The United Nations system

Representatives must understand the basics of the organization which they are simulating—the United Nations. Well-prepared representatives not only know the basic structure of the United Nations but also have a good understanding of how their committee fits into the organization and how it accomplishes its work. Representatives who understand what their committee can or cannot do within the United Nations system can make better recommendations based on a clear knowledge of what they can reasonably act on and what issues are beyond the purview of the body they are simulating. This basic delineation of responsibilities is called purview, and this handbook includes a brief description of each committee’s purview.

The history and current affairs of the represented State

This is the first key to understanding what actions a State may prefer on specific issues. Research should include basic statistical data and general information such as population, demographics, government type, natural resources and trade data. Students should become familiar with the country’s traditional allies and adversaries. A country’s history can be crucial to understanding its contemporary actions, including the question of whether that country was previously colonized or was a colonial power when the country gained statehood and what means were used in gaining independence (e.g., civil war, violent struggle, peaceful protests, state dissolution).

The represented State’s viewpoints on the issues to be discussed at the Conference

This is the central point of most Model UN preparation: focused research on the issues being discussed in each committee and on the Member State’s position on those issues. Research can come from a variety of sources, beginning with United Nations documents and information and moving to other articles, periodicals, books and internet resources. United Nations resolutions and reports on the issues under discussion are especially helpful because they provide a quick reference to what has already been accomplished by the United Nations and what still needs to be done. These documents frequently provide voting information, which allows representatives to quickly determine their country’s past positions on issues. A number of relevant sources are provided throughout each topic brief in this handbook. Contacting the delegation’s permanent mission to the United Nations can also be helpful, but the level of assistance provided varies with each country’s policies and available resources.

It will be very easy for some States to find specific information to determine a position on most or all topics, while for others this information will be difficult to come by or simply not available. When clear-cut information is not available, representatives should make the best possible inferences about what their country’s policy would be given the facts available. Representatives can form these inferences based on the country’s background, its historical voting record, the positions of its traditional allies or regional group, among other factors. Regardless of the facts available, knowing exactly what a country would do in a given situation is often not possible. Representatives should strive to know as much as they can about their country and its stance on each topic and to educate themselves enough to make reasonable policy assumptions on issues that are not totally clear.

The relationship between the current world situation and the represented State

This is a subset of the previous two areas of research, but it is important enough to be mentioned in its own right. The world situation is dynamic, as are the States that make up the international system, and States’ positions on some issues may hinge on their particular situation or perspective. For example, it may seem obvious that there are differences between the policies of a regional great power and a state with very little military might, but it is also worth considering the extent to which States are engaged militarily beyond their own borders. States with different development profiles—for example, rich, industrialized countries v. poor, developing countries—may have vastly different concerns and policy positions. A country that is currently in the midst of civil war or a country under United Nations sanctions may have unique positions on some issues. Knowing where the State a student represents fits in the current world geopolitical context, as a complement to his or her country-specific research, can answer many questions that may arise during the simulation.

The perspectives of other States on the issues on the Conference agenda

This is one of the more difficult areas of preparation. While it is reasonable to expect that a representative will know who his or her general allies and adversaries are on a given issue, it is very difficult to have detailed information about the policies of each country in the simulation. Limitations in preparation time necessarily require that representatives focus primarily on the policies of their own country, often learning about others through references in their own research. This is an area where complete knowledge will serve participants well, but it is much more likely that each Representative will be learning the formal policies of the other countries in the Committee when they give speeches from the floor and confer behind the scenes in caucus sessions. In roleplaying, flexibility is key: representatives must aggregate and assimilate new information they gain at the Conference with their pre-Conference research to reach consensus and compromise on complex issues.

AMUN rules of procedure

While substantive discussions of the issues form the basis of any good simulation of the United Nations, the rules of procedure are used to facilitate the substantive debate which occurs. In general, these rules are intended to provide an even playing field, allowing each State to accomplish its individual policy goals while also maximizing opportunities for the group to reach agreement, or even consensus, on the issues. Several levels of preparation are possible on the rules. For new Model United Nations participants, we recommend that each person have a working knowledge of the principal motions which can be made during the simulation, encapsulated on the Rules Short Forms. The dais staff of each Committee will assist representatives in using these rules and will work to create an even playing field for all representatives. For experienced representatives, who have not attended AMUN in the past, we suggest reading AMUN’s rules in depth, to note differences from other conferences they have attended. AMUN veterans should re-read the rules as a refresher. Most Model United Nations conferences use different rules of procedure, and in some cases the contrasts are significant. In order to best facilitate everyone’s experience, it is incumbent on every participant to learn and use the rules established for this conference.

Practicing using the AMUN rules of procedure in a mock session is one of the best ways to prepare for this aspect of the conference. AMUN provides the Model UN in a Box simulation guide to all registered schools, which can assist faculty advisors or club leaders in running practice simulations. Please email the AMUN Executive Office if you have any questions about the AMUN Rules of Procedure.

Resolution and report writing

At AMUN, the main substantive work of the body in written documents, namely resolutions and reports. These documents are the work of all the representatives in the body. There are several ways to become familiar with the resolution and report writing process. To begin we suggest reading the UN Documents chapter of this handbook for guidelines about crafting resolutions and reports. The UN Documents chapter also includes a sample resolution as well as a sample report table of contents, which can be used as a guide when drafting these documents. Resolutions and reports at the United Nations often have a distinct tone and style, and representatives can familiarize themselves with these conventions by reading and analyzing the language and content of many resolutions or reports. Representatives can practice writing resolutions and clauses of resolutions, so they become familiar with the genre and are ready to translate their ideas into clear statements at the conference. Representatives should also familiarize themselves with the purview of each body, developing a good understanding of what their committee can and cannot do and how it fits into the larger United Nations system. More information about purview is included at the start of each simulation’s background briefs. As always each room has dais staff available to help with questions regarding documents and purview. Remember while writing resolutions and reports ahead of time can be a great way to practice, the best documents are crafted by the body as a whole.

Preparing as a Group

All of these areas of preparation will require research and practice, and we recommend team preparation whenever possible, as delegations should represent their State’s positions consistently across simulations, and many of the preparatory categories cross committee boundaries. Representatives can work together by assigning various topics to individuals for research and then come back together as a group to hear each others’ reports and to discuss the implications for representing the country. Research about the United Nations system and the basic information about a country—its background, history, statistical data, contemporary situation, etc.—is easily accomplished by a collaborative effort. Research about specific committees and topics will be more individualized. Still, other team members on the delegation may benefit from having a briefing on each topic. These briefings can give the entire delegation a broader picture of the country’s policies and positions. Formal briefings—both about general information and topic-specific findings—also allow representatives to practice public speaking, answering questions, consolidating information, and presenting information persuasively.

Note, when representatives are working in pairs on a single committee, AMUN recommends against having one person become the expert in each topic. In simulations, the coverage of topics may be uneven and unpredictable, and teams function most effectively when both partners share expertise.

Developing a Conference Strategy

As part of its preparation, each delegation should determine its strategy and goals for the Conference. All delegations should be involved in working toward solutions to the problems placed before the United Nations. This requires a great deal of negotiation and compromise, often at the expense of certain positions that may be of concern to an individual delegation. Each delegation’s representatives must therefore decide which items are of greatest importance to their country and set their strategies accordingly. Strategic areas to consider include the following:

  • What kind of role will your delegation play at the Conference (e.g., conciliatory, obstructive, aggressive, neutral or leading)?
  • Will your delegation seek informal leadership positions in each committee and in the Combined General Assembly Plenary?
  • How can your delegation achieve the goals and interests identified in your research and delegation strategy?
  • What other countries will your delegation attempt to work with? Note: these delegations may vary by committee or by topic.
  • Which countries may present adversarial positions to your delegation and how will your delegation respond?

Remember, passing resolutions and reports is not the only or even truest measure of success at the Conference. While each delegation is encouraged to propose solutions on the various issues and to secure passage of resolutions and reports that outline the solutions, representatives must stand ready to compromise to achieve any real solution to the problems being discussed.

Conducting Research

General Sources of Information

AMUN recommends the following general sources of information to use when researching a country and the issues for the Conference. Many of these sources are available on the internet, either publicly or through subscriptions held by school libraries.

United Nations Sources

Most United Nations resolutions, documents, speeches and other resources can be accessed through the internet. Most United Nations agencies have a significant presence online, and there are also a number of databases with relevant information on various regions around the world.

The main United Nations website provides current information and continuous updates on the work of the United Nations, especially in the General Assembly, Security Council, and the Economic and Social Council. The website also includes historical information about these bodies, reports from the Secretary-General, and a host of other useful documents. The United Nations website is updated frequently and the navigation sometimes changes, but it remains a useful starting point for research.

Most United Nations Members now have websites for their permanent missions in New York and Geneva. When a website is available, it often includes details on the State’s policy and may include the text of speeches given by representatives at the United Nations.

The United Nations also provides public access to its Official Document System (ODS), which includes nearly all documents published by the United Nations, including many that are not available from the United Nations main website. Please note that the search engine available on ODS is not always easy to use. It is easiest to find files if you know the United Nations document number. Each UN document has a unique symbol at the top right of the document. Symbols include both letters and numbers, some of which have meanings while others do not. The bibliography section of each topic brief in this handbook contains references to several United Nations documents and can act as a starting place for your preparations. Using an internet search engine to find United Nations documents using this document number is also often successful. The United Nations Digital Library provides an advanced keyword search for a wide array of official United Nations documents, including final and draft resolutions, reports, and official correspondence.

AMUN Materials

Most Model UN research is accomplished online, and there are a vast number of sources at representatives’ disposal. AMUN’s website offers a good starting point for your research, as it includes links to many United Nations-related sites. This website is updated with United Nations links as they become available and includes a great deal of background information to assist in your preparations for Conference. AMUN also publishes updates, UN-related content, and tips for preparation throughout the year on the conference blog, The AMUN Accords.

AMUN also provides each registered school with a complimentary copy of Model UN in a Box, which is a simulation guide meant for faculty advisors and student club leaders and will assist with in-depth conference preparation. In addition to significant background on teaching Model UN and Model UN research, it also includes a number of hands-on and practical exercises to help students prepare for resolution-writing, caucusing, speaking and consensus building. The guide also includes three simulations for practice sessions. These simulations include everything you need to run a simulation, including topic briefs, country background guides, placards and facilitator notes.

Writing Position Papers

Why Draft a Position Paper?

Well-crafted position papers serve several functions for Model UN participants. Position papers are useful for a delegation’s internal preparation, for signaling a country’s public position on a topic and for gaining insight into other delegations’ positions before the Conference. AMUN strongly encourages all delegations to outline their country’s basic public policy on each issue to be discussed. This public statement is crucial for pre-Conference preparations and is the most important thing delegations can provide to each other in advance. AMUN therefore collects public position papers (submission details follow) and makes them publicly available to all delegations before the Conference. AMUN requests that all delegations submit public position papers and strongly suggests that each delegation prepare internal position papers that more clearly and completely define their country’s perspective and strategy on the topics under discussion.

Internal Position Papers

An internal position paper is primarily a preparatory tool for your individual preparation and for the delegation as a whole. While internal position papers are not required, AMUN believes these to be an excellent exercise for consolidating and communicating your country’s positions on various issues. Internal position papers, often called white papers, are a broad-based statement of a country’s policies on a specific issue. An internal position paper might include a country’s public position on an issue, knowledge of any behind-the-scenes or back-channel diplomatic efforts and agreements (e.g., a deal made informally with a close ally or partner), information about the position of allies and adversaries on each topic, the country’s negotiating position and strategy, a statement of the country’s objectives and a bottom-line negotiating position (e.g., what things the delegation will demand or concede in the course of negotiations or what language must be included—or must not be included—in a draft resolution or report).

Internal position papers force representatives to think about the full complexity of the issues they are confronting from their delegation’s perspective. Also, by asking representatives to put their ideas in writing, an internal position paper can force each representative to condense a large amount of research and ideas into a concise, more comprehensible argument. Internal position papers do not need to be more than one or two pages long and can take any form that seems appropriate. AMUN recommends that delegations share all internal position papers with the entire team, thus providing a well-rounded view of the country’s positions on all topics at the Conference.

Public Position Papers

Public position papers offer public statements on a State’s position on a particular agenda item. At AMUN, delegations write a position paper for each topic on the Conference agenda. When they are published, the papers can be sorted by either country or topic, to aid in final preparations for the Conference. Each paper should include a brief statement about the State’s position on the topic and on its opinions about recent United Nations action on the topic. It should also include some indication as to the State’s public position about how the United Nations should respond moving forward, especially noting proposals that a delegation has (or intends to have) sponsored, supported or not supported and why. Public papers do not need to go into detail about the delegation’s negotiating positions or other behind-the-scenes issues, but they should be seen as something that a diplomat might say in a public speech on the topic.

While a delegation can include anything it deems relevant in its public position papers, AMUN recommends including some key elements in each one. First, each position paper should specifically state the one or two key points that the country believes are the most important on each topic. This exercise will help the delegation to prioritize and to find like-minded countries when it is time to caucus and negotiate. The paper should then offer specific details about why these topics are important and what the country proposes should be done by the United Nations or individual States to improve the situation.

Depending on the agenda item, the available information, and the country’s situation, there are a number of other elements that may be included in a public position paper. Representatives should consider incorporating some or all of these elements in their position papers:

  • References to past United Nations resolutions and international treaties, providing the specific number or name of the document and the year it passed
  • References to the United Nations Charter, as appropriate for the topic
  • Past statements by the Secretary-General, a senior United Nations Secretariat member or by a Representative of a United Nations agency on the topic
  • Reference to the work the United Nations has already done on the topic, whether by specialized agencies, regional bodies or working with non-governmental organizations
  • Past statements relevant to the topic by government representatives
  • Specific suggestions of actions that the representatives’ State will support in solving the issue in question

Finally, public position papers generally do not need to contain extensive background on a particular country or internal factors related to the topic; the public position paper is about how the state positions itself within the international debate on the issue, rather than its internal dynamics. Thus public position papers should generally not talk about the problems facing a specific country but rather the problems facing the international community. If a country is a clear example of a successful United Nations program in action, or if the country is a member of an affected group, representatives may want to include a brief reference to that in their paper; otherwise, there is usually no need to mention specifics about the country in a position paper.

Submission of Position Papers

AMUN requests each delegation submit position papers to the conference, covering each committee on which it is seated, no later than 25 October. These papers should be no more than one-half page on each topic covered in the committee. All delegations should submit a paper covering the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary, each of the three General Assembly Committees and the World Conference on Youth, including both topics for each committee. Delegations represented on the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) should also include the two topics of discussion for the Council. Delegations represented on the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) should also include the two topics of discussion for the Commission. Delegations represented on the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) should also include the two topics of discussion for the Commission. Delegations represented on the Security Council or Historical Security Councils should choose up to three topics they think are the most important for their respective Council to discuss and include these in their position paper. Delegations seated on the Commission of Inquiry should also include the two topics of discussion for the Commission. If a delegation chooses to place a representative on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a section for that committee should also be included.

One comprehensive position paper should be submitted online for each delegation, combining all of the papers for the committees on which that delegation is seated. A sample position paper, along with full submission instructions, is available at AMUN’s website.

The AMUN Secretariat will not judge the position papers other than to check for completeness and general germaneness. Position papers will be collected and organized by the AMUN Secretariat and posted on the AMUN website prior to conference. As public documents, position papers must conform to the standards laid out in AMUN’s policy on plagiarism (see below).

All position papers must be submitted via AMUN’s online web form. Additional submission information will be sent in the fall to all registered schools. AMUN reserves the right to reject any position paper that fails to address one of the topics as stated in this handbook, does not comport to basic standards of diplomatic courtesy or is determined to violate the policy on plagiarism.

Any school with a late fall start date (as may be common for schools on quarter or trimester systems) may request a one week extension to the official due dates listed above by emailing the AMUN Executive Office before 25 October.

Position Paper Awards

AMUN will provide a Position Paper Award for each delegation that submits an approved, complete position paper, including sections for each topic in all assigned simulations, by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on 25 October. Note that this must include sections for the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary, all GA Committees, and any other simulation on which the delegation has a representative seated. Submission of a position paper for the Special Committee (our optional participation simulation) is not required for a Position Paper Award. If a school is representing multiple countries, each delegation will be considered separately for Position Paper Award.

For answers to any questions about writing or submitting position papers or about Position Paper Awards, please email the AMUN Executive Office.

Introduction to the General Assembly

The General Assembly is the central deliberative organ of the United Nations. The General Assembly has been described as the nearest thing to a “parliament of mankind” that exists. All Member States are members of the General Assembly and each delegation has one vote, regardless of size or population. The General Assembly makes recommendations on international issues, oversees all other United Nations bodies that report to the General Assembly, approves the United Nations budget and apportions United Nations funds. On the recommendation of the Security Council, the General Assembly elects the Secretary-General and holds the authority to admit and expel Member States. Voting in the General Assembly is ordinarily by simple majority, but most of the body’s work is adopted by consensus.

The General Assembly at AMUN

The Conference exists to provide a safe and educational environment for both representatives and AMUN Secretariat members to grow and learn. At the root of this is one of AMUN’s founding principles: to create the most realistic simulation possible by mirroring the United Nations’ beliefs and processes.

Due to time limitations on our simulations, AMUN has selected a set of two topics for each General Assembly simulation. We do this to help foster more thorough discussions around each topic.

General Assembly bodies use resolutions to help provide solutions and create pathways forward from the complex international issues under consideration. These are the principal documents produced by the General Assembly and they discuss the history of the topics before the body and suggest ways for the international community to address those issues. Every resolution must have at least one preambular and one operative clause, though most resolutions contain more. In addition to the requisite number of clauses, each resolution must be within the purview of the body. For more information regarding the crafting of resolutions please see the UN Documents section of the AMUN Handbook which can be found here. For more information on the purview of each committee, please reference the specific topic brief.

Research and Resources available

One of the most important resources available is the research and preparation done before conference. This research can greatly affect a representative’s experience in the simulation. AMUN has several suggestions for how to go about researching a State’s position, history and culture. Information to aid in this research can be found here.

While pre-Conference research is one of the most valuable tools available to a representative, AMUN provides several other tools to support the educational experience. These resources are provided by several Secretariat members who will be available both in the simulation rooms as well as on the office level of the conference hotel.

Two types of dais staff are readily available in the simulation rooms: Committee Chairs and Rapporteurs.

The Committee Chairs preside over the room and facilitate debate in all simulations. They are the experts in the room when it comes to AMUN’s Rules of Procedure and are more than willing to help representatives understand and use the rules throughout the simulation. Chairs also observe substantive debate and keep track of the Committee’s proceedings.

Rapporteurs assist with content in each General Assembly simulation. Their role is to work with representatives as they write resolutions and to help ensure that the work of the body meets both AMUN and the United Nations’ standards for resolutions. They also provide guidance on committee purview and will help representatives work resolutions into purview, should it be necessary.

AMUN also provides content experts outside of committee. Home Government is available to help representatives with several tasks. If a representative would like more information on their country’s position or other information related to the simulation, Home Government processes information requests to help them access the information they may need. Home Government also has the ability to furnish committees with Roleplayers who provide information to the entire body as opposed to an individual representative.

Lastly, should representatives like to update the rest of the Conference on how their work is coming along, the International Press Delegation (IPD) is another resource they have for spreading information, be it through inclusion in an article or a Press Conference.

General Assembly Rules of Procedure

1.0 Administrative

1.1 The Secretariat. The Secretariat consists of the volunteer staff members of American Model United Nations (AMUN).

1.2 Rules Committee. The President of the General Assembly, the Senior Vice President(s) of the General Assembly, the Director of Rules and Procedures, and one other person as appointed by the Secretary-General shall compose the membership of the Rules Committee.

1.3 Credentials. All questions concerning the validity of representative credentials shall be submitted in writing to the Secretariat,

  • The Secretariat has sole authority to decide all questions concerning credentials,
  • Representatives must wear approved credentials at all times while on the Conference premises.

1.4 Quorum/Majority. A quorum is one-fourth of the member delegations in attendance for each Committee; a majority is one-half of the member delegations in attendance for each Committee,

  • A quorum must be present at all times during Committee sessions,
  • A majority must be present for a substantive question to be put to a vote,
  • Questions concerning quorum or majority should be directed to the Chair, and
  • It is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that a quorum is present at all times.

1.5 Committee Officers. The Secretariat shall appoint the President/Chairperson, Vice President/Vice Chairperson, and Rapporteur(s) for each Committee, and shall select any other positions necessary to help conduct the sessions of the Committees,

  • Hereafter, in these rules, “Chair” will refer to both “Chairpersons” and “Presidents” and
  • Hereafter, in these rules, “Committee” will refer to any Committee, Council or Commission, unless otherwise stated in the rule.

1.6 General Authority of the Chair. In addition to exercising such authority conferred upon the Chair elsewhere in these rules, the Chair shall,

  • Declare the opening and closing of each session,
  • Ensure the observance of the rules,
  • Facilitate the discussions of the Committee and accord the right to speak,
  • Advise the Committee on methods of procedure that will enable the body to accomplish its goals, and
  • Rule on points and motions, and subject to these rules, have complete control of the proceedings of the Committee and the maintenance of order at its meetings.

During the course of the session the Chair may propose Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), Limits on Debate (rule 7.10), and, in Report-Writing Commissions, Consultative Session (rule 7.7). The Chair is under the direct authority of the Rules Committee and may be directed to inform the body on matters of procedure or the body’s topical competence if such action is deemed necessary by the Rules Committee.

1.7 Absence of Chair. If the Chair is absent during any part of a Committee Session, the Chair will designate an individual, usually the Vice Chair, to chair the session with the same authority.

1.8 Number of Accredited Representatives. Each delegation is allowed two representatives per Committee on which it is a member, plus one Permanent Representative,

  • This excludes the Special Committee to the General Assembly, which only allows one representative plus one Permanent Representative.

1.9 Selection of Agenda Topics. Agenda topics shall be selected by the Secretariat prior to the start of the conference. Once selected, these topics are fixed for the duration of the conference.

1.10 Observer Status. Those delegations recognized as having Observer Status by AMUN shall be accorded all rights in the Committee except the following,

  • They may not vote,
  • They may not make or second the following motions:
  • Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2),
  • Adjournment of Debate (rule 7.3),
  • Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), and
  • Decision of Competence (rule 7.8).

2.0 General Rules

2.1 Statements by the Secretariat. The Secretary-General or any member of the Secretariat may make verbal or written statements to a Committee at any time.

2.2 Diplomatic Courtesy. All participants in the AMUN Conference must accord Diplomatic Courtesy to all credentialed representatives, Secretariat Members, Faculty Advisors, Observers and Hotel staff at all times,

  • Representatives who persist in obvious attempts to disrupt the session shall be subject to expulsion from the Committee by the Chair,
  • The Secretariat reserves the right to expel any representative or delegation from the Conference, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

2.3 Speeches. No representative may address the Committee without obtaining the permission of the Chair,

  • Delegations, not representatives, are recognized to speak; more than one representative from the same delegation may speak when the delegation is recognized,
  • Speakers must keep their remarks germane to the subject under discussion,
  • A time limit may be established for speeches (rule 7.10),
  • At the conclusion of a substantive speech, representatives will be allowed to answer questions concerning their speech,
  • A delegation that desires to ask a question of the speaker should signify by raising a Point of Inquiry (rule 6.3),
  • All questions and replies are made through the Chair,
  • A speaker who desires to make a motion may do so after speaking and accepting Points of Inquiry, but prior to yielding the floor, and
  • By making a motion the speaker yields the floor.

2.4 Recognition of Speakers. Delegations wishing to speak on an item before the body will signify by raising their placards,

  • The exception to this rule occurs on any Point of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2), or Inquiry (rule 6.3), at which time a representative should raise their placard and call out “Point of ___________” to the Chair,
  • Points will be recognized in the order of their priority,
  • Motions may not be made from Points of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2), or Inquiry (rule 6.3), or from any procedural speeches, except,
  • A motion to Appeal the Decision of the Chair (rule 7.6), may be made when recognized for a Point of Order.
  • The Chair shall recognize speakers in a fair and orderly manner,
  • Speakers’ lists will not be used.

2.5 Right of Reply. The Chair may accord a Right of Reply to any representative if a speech by another representative contains unusual or extraordinary language clearly insulting to personal or national dignity,

  • Requests for a Right of Reply shall be made in writing to the Chair,
  • Requests shall contain the specific language which was found to be insulting to personal or national dignity,
  • The Chair may limit the time allowed for a reply,
  • There shall be no reply to a reply, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

2.6 Withdrawal of Motions. A motion may be withdrawn by its proposer at any time before voting on it has begun,

  • Seconds to a motion may also be withdrawn,
  • A withdrawn motion or second may be reintroduced by another delegation.

2.7 Dilatory Motions. The Chair may rule out of order any motion repeating or closely approximating a recent previous motion on which the Committee has already rendered an opinion,

  • This decision is not appealable.

3.0 Rules That Relate to the Rules

3.1 Rule Priority and Procedure. The rules contained in this handbook are the official rules of procedure of the American Model United Nations and will be used for all Committee sessions. These rules take precedence over any other set of rules.

3.2 Precedence of Rules. Proceedings in the Committees and General Assembly sessions of AMUN shall be conducted under the following precedence of rules;

  1. AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  2. AMUN General Assembly (GA) & Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Order of Precedence of the Rules Short Form,
  3. Rulings by the Rules Committee,
  4. Historical usage of the AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  5. Historical usage of the United Nations Rules of Procedure,
  6. The Charter of the United Nations.

3.3 The Order of Precedence of Procedural Motions.The order of precedence of procedural motions is listed in both the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council (GA/ECOSOC) Precedence Short Form and in these rules under Section 7, “Procedural Motions In Order of Priority.”

3.4 Rule Changes. The Rules Committee reserves the right to make changes to these rules at any time. Should a change occur, it will be communicated to the representatives in a timely manner.

4.0 Draft Proposals & Amendments

4.1 Definition of Draft Reports. A draft report is a formal written proposal consisting of sections and paragraphs that detail a committee’s deliberations and recommendations on a particular topic. The report may include resolutions that the reporting body recommends for adoption by the body that receives the report. Reports must include an Executive Summary (rule 4.7).

4.2 Draft Reports. Draft reports may be submitted to the Committee Dais for approval at any time during the Conference,

  • For a draft report to be considered, it must be organized in content and flow, have a minimum of 35 percent of the delegations in attendance listed as sponsors, and the approval of the Special Rapporteur(s),
  • The final required number of sponsors will be determined by the Rules Committee at conference registration and announced at the opening of each committee session,
  • After acceptance by the Special Rapporteur(s), draft reports shall be processed in the order in which they are received,
  • Limited copies of the full text of the draft report shall be issued to the committee, and a copy of the Executive Summary shall be distributed to all delegations as soon as feasible,
  • Only one draft report per topic area shall be accepted for consideration by the Special Rapporteur(s),
  • Once a draft report is on the floor for discussion, additional sponsors may only be added to that draft report with the consent of the original sponsors,
  • Any resolutions adopted by the committee on the topic of the report will be automatically included in Section III of the report, including after the adoption of the report or Executive Summary,
  • Once a vote has been taken on any part of a draft report, including a contested amendment, it becomes the property of the body, and no additional sponsors or friendly amendments may be added or removed,
  • Friendly amendments (rule 4.6) do not limit the addition of sponsors as above,
  • See also Closure of Debate (rule 7.4) and Consideration of Draft Reports (rule 7.14),
  • Objections or reservations to the report shall be included in the text of the report, and
  • Objections to the report must be in writing and may be submitted before or after the final vote on the report, and
  • The default method of voting for reports shall be Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3). If there is any objection, the Committee will proceed with a substantive vote, which requires a simple majority for passage.

4.3 Definition of Draft Resolutions. A draft resolution is a written proposal consisting of at least one preambular and one operative clause.

4.4 Draft Resolutions. Draft resolutions may be submitted to the Committee Secretariat for approval at any time during the Conference,

  • For a draft resolution to be considered, it must be organized in content and flow, in the proper format, have a minimum of 35 percent of the delegations in attendance listed as sponsors, and the signature of the Rapporteur,
  • The final required number of sponsors will be determined by the Rules Committee at conference registration and announced at the opening of each committee session,
  • After acceptance by the Rapporteur(s), draft resolutions shall be processed in the order in which they are received and distributed to all delegations as soon as feasible.

A draft resolution that has been distributed may be proposed when the Committee considers the agenda topic that is the subject of the draft resolution.

  • Only one draft resolution may be considered on the floor at any time during formal debate,
  • Once a draft resolution is on the floor for discussion, additional sponsors may only be added to that draft resolution with the consent of the original sponsors,
  • Once a vote has been taken on a contested amendment to a draft resolution, no sponsors may be added or removed,
  • Friendly amendments (rule 4.6) do not limit the addition of sponsors as noted above, and
  • See also Closure of Debate (rule 7.4) and Consideration of Draft Resolutions (rule 7.15).

4.5 Definition of Amendments. An amendment to a draft resolution or report is a written proposal that adds to, deletes from, or revises any part of a draft proposal.

4.6 Amendments. All amendments must be signed by 15 percent of the delegations in attendance,

  • The final required number of sponsors will be determined by the Rules Committee at conference registration and announced at the opening of each committee session,

An amendment is submitted on an official amendment form to the Rapporteurs for approval.

Amendments will be approved if they are legible, organized in content and flow, and in the proper format,

  • Approved amendments will be assigned an identification letter by the Rapporteurs, and
  • Typographical errors in a resolution or report will be corrected by the Rapporteurs and announced to the body.

One or more amendments may be considered on the floor at any given time (see also Closure of Debate (rule 7.4) and Consideration of Amendments (rule 7.16)).

An amendment will be considered “friendly” if all sponsors of the draft resolution or report are also sponsors of the amendment,

  • A friendly amendment becomes part of a draft proposal upon the announcement that it is accepted,
  • A dais member shall announce the acceptance of a friendly amendment on the first opportunity at which no speaker has the floor, and
  • Friendly amendments cannot be accepted after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment or after closure of debate on the report/resolution has been moved.

4.7 Definition of Executive Summaries. The reporting body must issue an Executive Summary of the finalized report which will briefly summarize the contents of the report.

4.8 Executive Summaries. Executive Summaries are discussed, drafted and accepted outside of formal Committee sessions (during a suspension of the meeting or consultative session),

  • The default method of accepting the Executive Summary is through an informal consensus of the committee during suspension or Consultative Session. If there is objection to consensus the committee will proceed with an informal vote which requires a simple majority for passage.
  • The final Executive Summary must be presented to the dais for inclusion with the Report and distribution to the Committee receiving the Report.

4.9 Withdrawal of Sponsorship. Sponsorship of a resolution, report, or amendment may be withdrawn,

  • Sponsorship of a resolution or report may not be withdrawn after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment,
  • If a draft resolution, report, or amendment falls below the number of sponsors required for consideration, additional sponsors may be added to that proposal with the consent of the original sponsors, and
  • If a draft resolution, report, or amendment falls below the required number of sponsors, it is automatically removed from consideration.

5.0 Voting

5.1 Voting Rights. Each Member State is accorded one vote in each Committee on which it is represented,

  • No representative or Delegation may cast a vote on behalf of another Member State.

5.2 Simple Majority. Unless otherwise specified in these rules, decisions in the Committee shall be made by a majority vote of those Members present and voting. If there is an equal division between yes and no votes, the motion fails.

5.3 Adoption by Consensus. The adoption of draft resolutions, reports and amendments by consensus is desirable when it contributes to the effective and lasting settlement of differences, thus strengthening the authority of the United Nations,

  • Any representative may request the adoption of a report, amendment or draft resolution by consensus at any time after closure of debate has passed,
  • For reports, the default method of voting is adoption by consensus,
  • The Chair then shall ask whether there is any objection to a consensus and then shall ask if any Member States wish to abstain from consensus,
  • Delegations abstaining from consensus will be officially recorded,
  • If there is no objection, the proposal is approved by consensus, and
  • If any representative objects to consensus, voting shall occur as otherwise stated in these rules.

5.4 Method of Voting. The Committee shall normally vote by a show of raised placards,

  • The Chair may grant a request by a delegation for a roll call vote on any substantive matter, and the Chair’s decision on such a request is not subject to appeal,
  • When applicable, roll shall be called in English alphabetical order beginning with a member selected at random by the Vice Chair,
  • Roll Call Votes are not in order during Combined General Assembly Plenary,
  • Representatives shall reply “yes,” “no,” “abstain,” or “abstain from the order of voting” and
  • A member may abstain from the order of voting once during a roll call; a second abstention from the order of voting will be recorded as an abstention.

5.5 Conduct During Voting. Immediately prior to a vote, the Chair shall describe to the Committee the item to be voted on, and shall explain the consequences of a “yes” or a “no” vote. Voting shall begin upon the Chair’s declaration “we are now in voting procedure,” and end when the results of the vote are announced,

  • Following Closure of Debate, and prior to entering voting procedure, the Chair shall pause briefly to allow delegations the opportunity to make any relevant motions,
  • Relevant motions prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3), Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Decision of No Action (rule 7.5) (only available in GA Plenary), Consultative Session (rule 7.7) (only available in ECOSOC and report-writing bodies), Decision of Competence (rule 7.8), Division of the Question (rule 7.11), or Important Question (rule 7.13) (only available in GA Plenary), and
  • Relevant requests prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3), Request for a roll call vote (rule 5.4), and
  • Once in voting procedure, no representative shall interrupt the voting except on a Point of Order or Point of Information concerning the actual conduct of the vote.

5.6 Changes of Votes. At the end of a roll call vote, but before Rights of Explanation (rule 5.7) and the subsequent announcement of the vote, the Vice Chair will ask for any vote changes. Any delegation that desires to change its recorded vote may do so at that time.

5.7 Rights of Explanation. Rights of Explanation are permitted on all substantive votes after voting. The Chair may limit time for Rights of Explanation.

6.0 Points of Procedure in Order of Priority

6.1 Point of Order. During the discussion of any matter, a representative may rise to a Point of Order if the representative believes that the Committee is proceeding in a manner contrary to these rules,

  • The representative must call out their point and will be recognized immediately by the Chair and the point ruled on,
  • A representative rising to a Point of Order may not speak substantively on any matter,
  • If a representative’s ability to participate in the Committee’s deliberations is impaired for any reason, the representative may rise to a Point of Order,
  • A Point of Order may interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

6.2 Point of Information. A Point of Information is raised to the Chair if a representative wishes to obtain a clarification of procedure or a statement of the matters before the Committee,

  • The representative must call out their point to be recognized,
  • A Point of Information may not interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

6.3 Point of Inquiry. During substantive debate, a representative may question a speaker by rising to a Point of Inquiry,

  • Questions must be directed through the Chair and may be made only after the delegation has concluded their remarks, but before the delegation has yielded the floor,
  • The representative must call out their point to be recognized,
  • A Point of Inquiry may not interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

7.0 Procedural Motions in Order of Priority

7.1 Suspension of the Meeting. During the discussion of any matter, a representative may move to suspend the meeting. Suspending a meeting recesses it for the time specified in the motion,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • The Chair may request that the delegation making the motion modify the time of suspension,
  • If the motion passes, upon reconvening the Committee will continue its business from the point at which the suspension was moved.

7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting. The motion of adjournment means that all business of the Committee has been completed for the year, and that the Committee will not reconvene until the next annual session,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • The Chair may refuse to recognize a motion to adjourn the meeting if the Committee still has business before it, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

7.3 Adjournment of Debate. During the discussion of any draft report, draft resolution, or amendment, a representative may move for adjournment of debate,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion, and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • An item upon which debate has been adjourned must pass a vote of Reconsideration before it may be brought back to the floor for consideration (rule 7.12), and
  • The effect of this motion, if passed, removes the item from consideration and allows the Committee to move on to another draft report, resolution or amendment.

7.4 Closure of Debate. A representative may move to close debate on a draft report, draft resolution, or amendment before the Committee at any time during the discussion of item. The effect of this motion, if passed, is to bring a draft report, resolution or amendment that is on the floor to a vote,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak against closure; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • Representatives should specify whether the motion for closure applies to an amendment or a draft report/resolution,
  • If closure passes on a draft report/resolution, all amendments on the floor will be voted on in the reverse order from which they were moved to the floor, and
  • After voting on all amendments is completed, the draft report or resolution shall be voted upon in accordance with these rules.

At the conclusion of voting procedure, the draft report, draft resolution or amendment being voted on is removed from consideration, regardless of whether the proposal passes or fails. Debate then continues on the current agenda topic.

7.5 Decision of No Action. Applicable only in the General Assembly Plenary (rule 8.5).

7.6 Appealing a Decision of the Chair. Rulings of the Chair are appealable unless otherwise specified in these rules,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • An appeal must be made immediately following the ruling in question,
  • This motion may be made by a delegation that has been recognized through a Point of Order,
  • The Chair shall put the question as follows: “Shall the decision of the Chair be upheld?” A “yes” vote supports the Chair’s decision; a “no” signifies objection,
  • The decision of the Chair shall be upheld by a tie, and
  • Rulings by the Chair on the following rules or motions are not appealable: Diplomatic Courtesy (rule 2.2), Right of Reply (rule 2.5), Dilatory Motions (rule 2.7), granting of a roll call vote (rule 5.4), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), and any time a ruling by the Chair is a direct quotation from these Rules of Procedure.

7.7 Consultative Session. Applicable only in the Economic and Social Council and designated reporting bodies (rule 9.4).

7.8 Decision of Competence. A motion calling for a decision on the competence of the Committee to discuss or adopt a draft report, draft resolution or amendment as outlined in the United Nations Charter is in order at any time prior to entering voting procedure,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote, and
  • The effect is the same as Adjournment of Debate (rule 7.3) and requires a motion for Reconsideration of Proposals (rule 7.12) in order to discuss the item again.

7.9 Consideration of Agenda Topics. Agenda topics will be considered in the order in which they appear in the Issues at AMUN handbook, unless that order is altered by the passage of a motion for Consideration of Agenda Topics,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable, and
  • This motion is not in order during the Combined General Assembly Plenary session.

7.10 Limits on Debate. A motion to limit or extend the time allotted to each delegation, or limit the number of times each delegation can speak on a proposal, is in order at any time,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The time allotted for substantive speeches shall be no less than three minutes,
  • The time allotted for procedural speeches shall be no less than one minute,
  • This motion may limit the number of Points of Inquiry a speaker may accept to a minimum of one, and
  • A motion to limit the time of debate on an agenda topic, draft report, draft resolution, or amendment is also in order.

7.11 Division of the Question. A motion to divide the question, proposing that clauses of an amendment or draft resolution or paragraphs of a draft report be voted on separately, is in order at any time prior to entering voting procedure on the amendment, draft resolution, or report,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • After a motion for Division of the Question passes, no other motion for Division of the Question is in order on that amendment, draft resolution or draft report,
  • Those clauses or paragraphs of the amendment, draft resolution, or report which are approved shall then be put to a vote as a whole, and
  • If division causes the draft resolution or report to no longer be in the proper format (rules 4.1 and 4.3), the proposal as a whole is rejected.

7.12 Reconsideration of Proposals.. A motion for Reconsideration of Proposals is in order on a report, amendment, or draft resolution which has passed or failed when put to a final vote. The motion is also in order for proposals on which Adjournment of Debate has passed (rule 7.3), on proposals on which a Decision of No Action was decided (rule 7.5) and on proposals upon which the Committee has decided it was not competent to discuss or adopt (rule 7.8),

  • This motion requires a second and a two-thirds majority vote for passage,
  • Two delegations may speak opposed to the motion, and
  • If the motion passes, the issue is brought back before the body for debate and may be voted on again.

7.13 Important Question. Applicable only in the General Assembly Plenary (rule 8.6).

7.14 Consideration of Draft Reports. Applicable only in the Economic and Social Council and designated reporting bodies (rule 9.3 and rule 9.5).

7.15 Consideration of Draft Resolutions. A draft resolution may be moved to the floor by a motion for Consideration of Draft Resolutions,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • The motion is not debatable,
  • Only one draft resolution may be on the floor at any time,
  • If the motion passes, the delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the draft resolution, if desired, and
  • This motion is not in order during the Combined General Assembly Plenary session.

7.16 Consideration of Amendments. To bring an amendment to the floor for discussion, a delegation must first be recognized by the Chair,

  • No second is required. Upon recognition of this motion by the Chair, the amendment will be under consideration by the body,
  • The Committee Secretariat will present the amendment to the body, and
  • The delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the amendment, if desired.

7.17 Setting the Order of Consideration of Draft Resolutions for Combined GA Plenary Session. This motion is in order at the conclusion of General Assembly Committee sessions, prior to convening the Combined General Assembly Plenary session. Each main General Assembly Committee must set a priority order of consideration of the resolutions which have passed during its sessions for consideration by the Combined Plenary. The Combined Plenary will then consider these resolutions for ratification, as described in rule 8.4,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • This motion may list two resolutions considered by the Committee for consideration by the Combined Plenary, in the order the Committee wishes them to be considered,
  • The first motion to set the order of consideration of draft resolutions to receive a majority vote shall determine the order in which the draft resolutions are considered in the Combined Plenary. After a majority vote is received, no other motion to set the order of consideration of draft resolutions is in order for that Committee,
  • If a Committee session concludes and this motion has not yet passed, the order will be set by the Committee Dais Staff and the President of the General Assembly, and
  • This motion is not in order during the General Assembly Plenary sessions or the Economic and Social Council.

8.0 Rules Relating Only to the General Assembly Plenary Sessions

This section of the rules applies to both the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary session, which will convene at the same time as the main Committees, and to the Combined General Assembly Plenary session. Each rule below identifies the General Assembly session(s) to which it applies.

8.1 Interchangeability of Rules. All Committee rules apply to the conduct of business in the General Assembly Plenary, except where noted below:

  • Motions described under Consideration of Agenda Topics (rule 7.9), Consideration of Draft Resolutions (rule 7.15), and Setting the Order of Consideration of Resolutions for Combined GA Plenary Session (rule 7.17) are not in order during the Combined General Assembly session, and
  • Roll Call votes are not in order during Combined General Assembly Plenary.

8.2 Quorum. The Concurrent General Assembly will observe the quorum requirements of rule 1.4. In the Combined General Assembly Plenary session, a quorum will be one-third of the member delegations in attendance at the conference.

8.3 Officers. The President of the General Assembly shall act as the principal Chair of the Assembly, with the Assembly Vice President, Committee Chairs and Rapporteurs serving as supporting officers during the Combined General Assembly Plenary. The officers shall have all the powers, duties, and responsibilities, as described in Committee Officers (rule 1.5) and General Authority of the Chair (rule 1.6).

8.4 Order of Consideration of Committees in Combined General Assembly Plenary. The Secretary-General will randomly select an order for consideration of Committees in the Combined Plenary session. Each Committee will establish, in advance, the order in which its own passed resolutions are to be considered for ratification (rule 7.17). The Combined Plenary session will begin by considering the first resolution selected by the initial Committee. After considering this resolution, the Combined Plenary will then consider the first resolution selected by the next Committee on the list. Each Committee’s first resolution will be considered in turn. After the last Committee’s first resolution has been considered, the Combined Plenary will consider the second resolution prioritized by the next Committee in the order and move down the Committee list again,

  • Resolutions passed by a Committee are considered in the Combined Plenary with no additional signatures needed,
  • When a Committee resolution is brought to the floor of the Combined Plenary, an automatic limit of debate of 15 minutes is imposed on the discussion; after 15 minutes (including debate and suspension time) have expired, the draft resolution will come to an immediate vote as if Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), had been passed,
  • For the purposes of this rule, a Committee resolution has been considered when the Limit for Debate has expired or when any of the following motions is passed: Adjournment of Debate (rule 7.3), Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), or Decision of No Action (rule 7.5),
  • If a resolution before the Combined Plenary does not pass (either through a failed vote, Adjournment of Debate or a Decision of No Action), the Combined Plenary may move to reconsider that resolution (rule 7.12) when the Committee from which it originated is again under consideration. A successful vote for reconsideration of a resolution would have the effect of deferring all subsequent resolutions selected by that Committee for consideration in the Combined Plenary to the next available time for that Committee, and
  • Combined General Assembly Plenary will hear the reports of and consider resolutions accepting the work of its reporting bodies. The Secretary-General will place the relevant resolution(s) on the agenda for Combined General Assembly Plenary,
  • Combined General Assembly Plenary will also hear a summary of resolutions, and a discussion of work of those bodies that the Secretary-General placed on the agenda.

8.5 Decision of No Action. During the discussion of any draft resolution or amendment, a representative may move that the body take no action on that matter,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The effect is the same as adjourning debate (rule 7.3) and requires a motion for Reconsideration (rule 7.12) in order to discuss the item again, and
  • This motion is in order during the Concurrent and Combined General Assembly Plenary sessions.

8.6 Important Question. An Important Question in the General Assembly requires a two-thirds majority vote of all members present and voting for passage. Amendments to draft resolutions dealing with Important Questions also require a two-thirds majority vote for passage. Decisions on Important Questions are applicable only to the General Assembly. When discussed in committees, these issues are debated and voted upon utilizing normal committee rules. Such questions shall include:

  • This motion requires a second and a simple majority to pass,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • This motion is in order only in the Concurrent and Combined General Assembly Plenary sessions,
  • Recommendations with respect to maintenance of international peace and security (only when the Security Council fails to act),
  • Admission of new members to the United Nation,
  • Suspension of rights and privileges of membership,
  • Expulsion of Member States,
  • Questions in relationship to the Trusteeship system, and
  • Budgetary questions.

Draft resolutions which fall into these categories are automatically Important Questions, and will be designated as such by the President of the General Assembly,

  • Determination of additional categories of Important Questions may be made by a simple majority vote of the Members present and voting, before a vote is taken on any part of a proposal dealing with the subject.

8.7 Security Council Priority Relating to Issues Concerning the Maintenance of International Peace and Security. The Security Council, as established in the United Nations Charter, shall have priority over the General Assembly on issues that pertain to the maintenance of international peace and security. Issues of this type, while under discussion in the Security Council, shall be seized from General Assembly action. Any General Assembly draft resolution pertaining to a seized issue cannot be put to a final vote until the Security Council has completed its deliberations on the subject,

  • General Assembly draft resolutions that deal with a seized issue may be discussed and amended, but no final vote on the draft resolution may be taken,
  • If no resolution has been adopted, the Security Council will be considered to have completed its deliberations on a seized issue once that agenda topic is no longer under discussion,
  • The Council may declare itself actively seized on a topic by stating this in a resolution; this seizure will prevent the General Assembly from taking action until a two-hour time period has elapsed,
  • General Assembly representatives will be kept informed by the Secretary-General of any seized issues, and
  • Note that this rule applies to only the Concurrent and Combined General Assembly Plenary sessions.

8.8 Applications for Admission of New Member States. Any State which desires to become a member shall submit an application to the Secretary-General prior to the start of the Conference and at a date communicated by the AMUN Secretariat. Applications shall contain a declaration, made in a formal instrument, that the State in question accepts the obligations contained in the United Nations Charter,

  • The Secretary-General shall inform the Security Council and the General Assembly of any applications.

8.9 Consideration of Applications and Decisions Thereon. If the Security Council recommends the application of a State for membership, the General Assembly may consider whether the applicant is a peace-loving State and is able and willing to carry out the obligations contained in the United Nations Charter,

  • Any draft resolution on admission is automatically an Important Question,
  • If the Security Council does not recommend the applicant State for membership, or if it postpones consideration of the application, the General Assembly may, after full consideration of the special report of the Security Council, send the application back to the Council, together with a full record of the discussion of the General Assembly, for further consideration and recommendation, and
  • Note that this motion is in order only in the Concurrent and Combined General Assembly Plenary sessions.

8.10 Notification of the Decision and Effective Date of Membership. The Secretary-General shall inform the applicant State of the decision of the General Assembly. If the application is approved, membership shall become effective on the date on which the General Assembly takes its decision on the application.

9.0 Rules Relating to the Economic and Social Council, its Subsidiary Bodies and Special Committees

This section of the rules applies to the Economic and Social Council, its Plenary session, and all meetings of report-writing bodies.

9.1 Interchangeability of the Rules. All committee rules apply to the conduct of business in the Economic and Social Council, its subsidiary bodies, and special committees. The priority of rules for motions specific to the Council shall be the order in which they are listed under Section 9, and they shall follow all other GA/ECOSOC rules in overall precedence.

9.2 Participation of Non-Member States. The Council may invite a non-represented State or intergovernmental organization to participate in its discussions on any item before the body. This includes all United Nations Member States, recognized non-Member States, and any organization or individual recognized by the United Nations whose participation would enhance the proceedings of the Council,

  • Non-Members may be invited into the Council by a request made to the Chair from any Member State,
  • Non-Council United Nations Member States shall have the same rights as observers (rule 1.10) in the General Assembly, and
  • Organizations or individuals may speak and accept points of inquiry, but have no rights to make any motion or vote.

9.3 Consideration of Reports in ECOSOC Plenary Session. The Secretariat will announce an agenda for the ECOSOC Plenary session at the beginning of its meeting,

  • The agenda will establish the order in which Committees’ reports are to be considered, and the agenda will be made available at the dais for review,
  • The agenda order may be altered by a majority vote of the Council (rule 7.15). ECOSOC must consider one report or item from each Committee before considering a second report or item from any Committee,
  • When a draft resolution considering a committee’s report is brought to the floor of ECOSOC Plenary, an automatic limit of debate, as determined by the Secretary-General and announced by the Chair, is imposed on the draft resolution; after this time (including debate and suspension time) has expired, the draft resolution will come to an immediate vote as if Closure of Debate had been passed,
  • This limit may be lengthened, shortened, or repealed through the passage of a motion for Limits on Debate (rule 7.10),
  • For the purposes of this rule, a report has been considered when either Closure of Debate is successfully moved or the automatic limit has expired, and a vote, either passing or failing, has been taken on a draft resolution pertaining to the report, and
  • This motion is only in order during the ECOSOC Plenary Session.

9.4 Consultative Session. The Council may choose to suspend the rules and enter an informal, consultative session if the Members determine that this process will better facilitate the discussion of a particular issue,

  • The motion should specify a length of time and a moderator for the consultative session,
  • A moderator can be a representative or Secretariat Member,
  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote
  • The Council will move immediately into a formal session at the conclusion of the consultative session, and
  • See also Consultative Session (rule 7.7).

9.5 Consideration of Draft Reports. A draft report may be moved to the floor by a motion for Consideration of Draft Reports,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • Only one draft report may be on the floor at any time,
  • If the motion passes, the delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the draft report, if desired, and
  • See also Consideration of Draft Reports (rule 7.14).

9.6 Formation of Committees. A delegation may propose the formation of a committee to deal with any issue(s). The motion must be submitted in writing to the Chair prior to being made from the floor, and must contain the following:

  1. Membership of the committee,
  2. Issue(s) to be investigated,
  3. Objectives of the committee, and
  4. Duration of the committee’s existence.

A committee, once established, shall elect its own officers and determine its rules of procedure, within the bounds of the Council rules,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote, and
  • Upon the conclusion of the committee’s work, it will report its findings to the Council.

9.7 Formation of Commissions. The Council has the authority to establish commissions on topics that require long-term consideration,

  • A commission may be established to develop a convention or treaty, or to deal with an issue that requires more in-depth deliberation than the Council can provide,
  • The motion to establish a commission should be in the form of a draft resolution, detail the commission’s membership, and establish the mandate for its formation, and
  • Upon the conclusion of the commission’s work, it will report to the Council as a whole for approval on its findings.

9.8 Creation of Conventions and Treaties. The Council may decide to draft a convention or treaty on any given topic. The Council shall determine the format of such a document,

  • Conventions and treaties, upon conclusion, shall be sent to the Combined General Assembly Plenary for approval and ratification by all Member States, and
  • This rule applies only to the Economic and Social Council and not its subsidiary bodies.

General Assembly and Economic and Social Council Short Form

Rule Second? Debatable? Vote Required Description
6.1 Point of Order No No None Point out a misuse of the rules
6.2 Point of Information No No None Ask any question of the Chair, or gain a clarification
6.3 Point of Inquiry No No None Ask a question of a speaker at the end of their speech, prior to the Delegation’s yielding the floor
7.1 Suspension of the Meeting Yes No Simple Majority Recess the meeting for a specific period of time
7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting Yes No Simple Majority End the meeting for the year
7.3 Adjournment of Debate Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Remove from consideration any proposal on the floor without a vote on the content of that proposal
7.4 Closure of Debate Yes 2 Con Simple Majority End debate on any proposal on the floor and bring it to an immediate vote
7.5 Decision of No Action Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Only in GA Plenary sessions; signify that no action will be taken on the matter
7.6 Appealing a Decision of the Chair Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Challenge a ruling made by the Chair
7.7 Consultative Session Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Only in ECOSOC and report writing bodies; suspend rules and move to an informal debate session
7.8 Decision of Competence Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Question whether the UN body is competent to act on a certain issue within the Charter and international law
7.9 Consideration of Agenda Topics Yes No Simple Majority Change the order in which agenda items are discussed
7.10 Limits on Debate Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Impose (or repeal) a limit on the length of any form of debate
7.11 Division of the Question Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Divide a draft resolution or amendment into two or more clauses, or divide a report into two or more paragraphs, each to be voted on separately after Closure of Debate
7.12 Reconsideration of Proposals Yes 2 Con 2 / 3 Majority Reconsider an item on which debate has been adjourned or upon which a vote has been taken
7.13 Important Question Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Only in GA Plenary sessions; requires a 2/3 majority vote to adopt a draft resolution or amendment
7.14 Consideration of Draft Reports Yes No Simple Majority Only in report-writing bodies; bring a draft report to the floor for discussion
7.15 Consideration of Draft Resolutions Yes No Simple Majority Bring a draft resolution to the floor for discussion
7.16 Consideration of Amendments No No None Bring an amendment to the floor for discussion
7.17 Setting the Order of Consideration of Draft Resolutions for the GA Plenary Session Yes No Simple Majority Establish a priority order for draft resolutions passed in GA committees to be considered by the Combined GA Plenary

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General Assembly Plenary

The General Assembly Plenary considers issues that are best addressed in a comprehensive manner or that require coordinating work between many bodies of the United Nations. The Plenary has the widest latitude of the deliberative bodies to discuss and pass resolutions on a wide variety of topics. For example, the 60th General Assembly established a Peacebuilding Commission that oversees the United Nations peacebuilding processes and coordinates the work of the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Secretary-General and Member States emerging from conflict situations. Note: if the Security Council, which is given the primary task of ensuring peace and security by the Charter, is discussing a particular issue, the General Assembly Plenary will cease its own deliberations and defer to the Security Council. Additionally, only the Fifth Committee is able to set or discuss the United Nations budget. No other body, including the Plenary, is able to do so. 

The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Review

Countering terrorism is one of the most complex and multi-faceted issues facing the international community, and the international community continues to struggle with the best way to address the issue. Terrorism is not a new phenomenon; the era of modern terrorism began with the assassination of Tsar Alexander II of Russia in 1881. Yet the last several decades have seen new complexities. First and foremost, the ease of global communication enabled by the Internet and other communication technologies makes it increasingly simple for terrorists to reach larger audiences, communicate with associates around the world and recruit more easily. Second, the globalized trade and transportation systems have enabled terrorists to more easily acquire resources move them. Third, the number and diversity of terrorist attacks have increased significantly. The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism estimates that there were around 650 terrorist incidents in 1970 and nearly 11,000 in 2017. The reasons have also changed: while nationalism was the primary motivator in the 19th century, political ideology, religion and independence movements all emerged as motivating factors in the 20th century. The methodologies employed by terrorists are equally diverse: ranging from fear and coercion through major violent attacks to drug and human trafficking. Individual governments are increasingly struggling with counter-terrorism efforts and are turning to the international community for support and cooperation. The United Nations plays an important role as a key platform for multilateral, systemic approaches to addressing these threats.

The General Assembly has had preventing international terrorism formally on its agenda since 1972. The General Assembly adopted its earliest counter-terrorism conventions in 1973 and 1979: the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons and the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages. These conventions were spurred by the growing trend of terrorists to seize or attack embassies or hijack planes and other vehicles. The conventions were designed to create effective measures to prevent, address and punish the taking of hostages and the targeting of diplomats and government employees. They also made taking hostages and attacks against diplomats an offense for which offenders could be extradited regardless of existing extradition treaties between States Parties. In 1994, the Assembly passed a new Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism, which led to an Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism in 1996. The Declaration was the first to highlight the growing nexus between terrorist networks and organized crime, an important source of sustaining revenue and an avenue for access to weapons. Further work was done on condemning and suppressing terrorists’ bombings, financing and access to nuclear weapons, with conventions passed on each topic through the late 90s. The International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted in 1999, inhibits the ability of terrorists to raise money—targeting charities, individuals, businesses and other organizations that raise, channel or launder money in support of terrorists in other States. Unfortunately, even with the many conventions and an international consensus condemning terrorism, attacks continue.

The terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 in the United States brought the topic of combating terrorism to the forefront of the international agenda. After considerable discussion and debate, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2006. It was the first time the international community agreed to a comprehensive and strategic approach to combating terrorism and was the clearest condemnation to date of terrorism as a legitimate tactic. The Strategy centered on four pillars: measures to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; measures to prevent and combat terrorism; measures to build States’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in that regard; and measures to ensure respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis for the fight against terrorism. This strategy is designed to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), established by the Secretary-General in 2005, is mandated to enhance coordination and coherence of counter-terrorism efforts of the United Nations system. While the primary responsibility for the implementation of the Global Strategy still remains in the hands of Member States, the CTITF helps coordinate the United Nations system with Member State action, providing policy support and helping deliver technical assistance. In 2017, the General Assembly established the United Nations Office for Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), in order to strengthen coordination of counter-terrorism efforts.

Though the General Assembly agreed to and adopted the Strategy, Member States struggled on how to approach implementation, with questions concerning whether prevention of radicalization is more effective than suppression. If terrorism is a symptom and not the disease, then suppression does nothing to correct the underlying causes of the attacks. When an attack occurs, it is much easier to counter-strike, seeking those who are responsible, than to consider serious structural reforms that may be required locally or abroad to address the long-term threat. This debate is further compounded because there is no agreement over what motivates or causes terrorism. Limited economic opportunity, poverty, religious differences, weak governance and social conflict are some of the conditions that can motivate individuals to resort to terrorism, issues that will be unaffected by security measures undertaken domestically by outside States. If the legitimate grievances and underlying socioeconomic weaknesses are allowed to fester, attacks may continue. Economic development and governance reform may be just as important to counter-terrorism as is military force.

The General Assembly conducts biennial reviews of the Global Strategy. In June 2018, the sixth and most recent review reaffirmed the United Nations commitment to the Global Strategy and was adopted unanimously. Renewed interest in strengthening the four pillars, especially countering the appeal of terrorism, will focus on promoting dialogue and understanding as important elements in future efforts. The reaffirmation also emphasized a need for the international community to commit to solidarity with the victims of terrorism, which could help make terrorism less attractive as the victims get the attention, not the attackers or their motives. This furthers the key goal of delegitimizing terrorism, making it morally indefensible and a tactic that will cost groups social and economic support. The UNOCT also continues to issue reports and policy recommendations through its working groups, most recently in assisting Member States expand their capacity to counter and respond to terrorism. In June 2018, the United Nations hosted the first High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts across State governments and civil society.

With the Global Strategy and apparently strong support for countering terrorism, it would seem counter-intuitive that terrorism remains such a scourge. However, the international community remains severely divided over multiple issues. Beset by political divisions and with limited resources, the United Nations has struggled to articulate a vision for its role in the international effort against terrorism. Attacks against United Nations officials have limited the appeal of a large United Nations footprint in combating terrorism. Negotiations on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism remain deadlocked, hampered by disagreements over several basic points. States continue to pursue unilateral military action against perceived threats, including within the sovereign territory of other States, often with little or no accountability. Some governments use the threat of terrorism to justify curbing fundamental human rights or even kill its own citizens. As attacks continue, the international community must continue a multi-faceted approach to delegitimize terrorism while addressing its causes.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective include the following:

  • How can the United Nations further cooperate to fight terrorism? How can Member States work together to support the four pillars of the United Nations’ strategy?
  • What avenues for recourse should States have in response to terrorist incidents that originate in other States?
  • What steps can the international community take to make terrorism a less attractive option, particularly for young people?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations

Humanitarian crises are events that cause significant threats to the health, safety or welfare of large groups of people. Causes of humanitarian crises vary widely but include natural disasters, man-made disasters and armed conflict. The impacts of humanitarian crises range in form: from famines and epidemics to the displacement of large populations as refugees and internally displaced persons. Humanitarian crises are often triggered by events that also weaken governmental institutions, like major natural disasters and civil wars. States are frequently unable to effectively respond on their own and meet the needs of their population. Crisis response can also be hampered by limited resources, inexperience and indifference—particularly to the plight of political, ethnic and religious minorities. 

Since its founding in 1945, the United Nations, its subsidiary bodies and the specialized and technical agencies have provided humanitarian assistance. Generally, the specialized and technical agencies—such as the World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees—provide direct assistance, while the deliberative bodies (the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly) provide a forum for Member States to agree on their approaches and to direct the coordination of efforts among agencies. Improving coordination of response by the United Nations agencies and by Member States has grown increasingly important as the United Nations has played a role in an increasing number of humanitarian crises and as the complexity of these operations has grown. 

Coordinating the international community’s responses to humanitarian disasters is vital in preventing delays, waste and conflict. In 1971 the General Assembly authorized the creation of a Disaster Relief Coordinator. In response to the growth of international humanitarian action and awareness as well as lessons learned from two decades of implementation of the Disaster Relief Coordinator position, the General Assembly requested in 1991 that the Coordinator and related functions be merged into a new Department of Humanitarian Affairs. The United Nations in 1998 further consolidated its humanitarian functions by merging the Department of Humanitarian Affairs and other elements of the Secretariat into a new Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

To this day, OCHA is the primary United Nations entity responsible for coordinating humanitarian assistance. OCHA’s mandate is threefold: the coordination of humanitarian response, policy development and humanitarian advocacy. OCHA also coordinates appeals to Member States and civil society for funding for specific humanitarian events through the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) and receives and manages donations through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). Both CAP and CERF serve these functions across the United Nations system.

In 2005, the Humanitarian Response Review, commissioned by the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator and the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, recommended several actions to improve coordination. Recommendations include increased preparedness and surge capacity, both on the international and national level; greater transparency and accountability to those in affected areas; and increased and more flexible funding from supporting States. Many of the recommendations found in the Review have been topics of discussion in the General Assembly in the past several years, and they continue to be relevant as new and varying disasters arise.

One of the most notable changes in recent years has been the development of the cluster approach to response efforts. Deployed for the first time following the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, clusters are groups of humanitarian organizations in each of the OCHA-designated sectors of humanitarian action, such as food, water, and shelter. Through this designation, each cluster is given clear responsibilities and a structure for coordination. With these clusters in place, the OCHA-designated Humanitarian Coordinator can manage a large-scale response with more precision. Each cluster has a focal point or lead agency that operates at the global and country level. Between 2005 and 2012, the cluster was deployed in 30 countries. The United Nations has evaluated the approach twice, in 2007 and 2010. Both evaluations have found the approach to provide tangible results, while also recommending areas for improvement.

After particularly challenging efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance during the 2010 Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floodings, OCHA and its interagency organizations acknowledged more needed to be done to strengthen coordination and strategic planning. These two disasters revealed several shortcomings in their humanitarian responses, not the least of which was the cholera outbreak in Haiti caused by United Nations peacekeepers. In general, the humanitarian aid response also faced difficulties in responding quickly to these massive disasters. In 2011, the United Nations adopted a new Transformative Agenda in response to weaknesses in multilateral humanitarian response, including unclear or unequal accountability, a lack of adequate leaders being deployed and a lack of appropriate coordination at various levels. The Transformative Agenda focuses on changes in all of these areas, including the simplification of the cluster approach, an inter-agency rapid response mechanism and expanded accountability to affected people. 

Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the United Nations system has become increasingly focused on the concept of disaster risk reduction. This approach focuses on building resilient communities, particularly as climate change increases the likelihood of more and larger climate-related humanitarian disasters. While resilience is important, it is frequently difficult to rally support and funding for these efforts. Additionally, building resilience requires engaging an even larger range of stakeholders, as communities reassess building standards, develop emergency response services and create community organizations to aid in the event of disasters. In most States, these efforts are only beginning. 

In recent years, humanitarian assistance has been strained by the increasing number, complexity, size and length of modern humanitarian emergencies. In 2016, the international community met at the World Humanitarian Summit to discuss the increasing humanitarian crises around the globe. The summit’s Agenda for Humanity describes five core responsibilities of the international community and 24 transformations of the humanitarian assistance process that are needed to reduce the strain of humanitarian crises, framing effective emergency humanitarian assistance as an essential part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Despite these efforts, humanitarian needs have continued to grow. Last year humanitarian needs reached record levels; over 133 million people across 41 countries required assistance. OCHA estimated humanitarian assistance needs would exceed $25 billion. Despite donors’ similarly-record-breaking financing of humanitarian projects that year, the shortfall was about $10 billion. As the financing gap remains large, OCHA is implementing its 2018-2021 Strategic Plan to streamline its operations and build its role as a coordinator within the framework of the Agenda for Humanity. 

Looking ahead, there are a number of issues related to humanitarian assistance that the international community must consider. First, there continue to be instances where Member States are unwilling or unable to work with the United Nations and OCHA, particularly when crises affect disadvantaged minorities or opposition groups. Without this cooperation, it is extremely difficult to implement any sort of assistance. This is seen most clearly in Syria, with 13 million people still within the country who have extremely limited access to humanitarian assistance. Because of the government’s unwillingness to cooperate coupled with an extreme lack of infrastructure and security, it is nearly impossible for the international community to provide assistance to those caught in the conflict. 

Second, funding and donor fatigue are ongoing concerns. Most humanitarian crises are funded through the appeals process that reacts to crises as they occur. OCHA has stated many times that it is difficult to receive funding in a timely manner when a natural disaster occurs, and the fifth responsibility in the Agenda for Humanity emphasizes the importance of ensuring stable financing for projects. While OCHA’s 2019 appeal for funding is still being finalized, it is expected to meet or exceed the record $25 billion required the previous year. In Syria alone, an estimated $9 billion will be required to provide for both humanitarian and refugee response plans. OCHA’s task is made more complicated because donors often tie funds to specific causes or areas. This limits OCHA’s flexibility and the effective deployment of resources. 

Questions to consider from your government’s perspective on this issue include the following:

  • How can the international community ensure that all humanitarian needs are met? 
  • What gaps or weaknesses remain in the OCHA’s coordination and cluster system? How can the international community best address them? 
  • How can the United Nations build more resilient communities that reduce the impact of natural and man-made crises?

Bibliography

 

United Nations Documents

General Assembly First Committee (Disarmament and International Security)

The General Assembly First Committee addresses the disarmament of conventional weapons, weapons of mass destruction and related international security questions. The First Committee makes recommendations on the regulation of these weapons as they relate to international peace and security. The First Committee does not consider legal issues surrounding weapons possession nor does it address complex peace and security issues addressed by the Security Council. The First Committee also adheres to the purview guidelines of the General Assembly as a whole. 

The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects

According to the 2018 Small Arms Survey, over one billion small arms are in circulation around the globe. They make their way around the globe through both the licit (legal) arms trade transfers from authorized arms manufacturers, and illicit (illegal) arms transfers. The economic impact is estimated at 7 billion USD annually, but the humanitarian toll of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons is staggering. Firearms from armed conflict exacerbate violence around the globe when they end up in the hands of criminal and terrorist organizations. States recovering from conflict or that have weak government oversight often lack the resources to prevent the flow of firearms across borders. The United Nations has been committed to aiding states in stemming the flow of firearms in and out of conflict zones. 

The United Nations General Assembly recognized the need to be able to trace the global flow of firearms. In 1991, the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms was the first attempt to trace legal arms sales. By registering legal firearms, Member States believed it would be more difficult for them to be sold on the black market without alerting the international community. Additionally, governments and international organizations would be able to monitor large build ups of light arms. The major issue with the Register is that compliance is voluntary. Without consistent compliance by Member States, tracking light weapons as intended proved difficult. 

Renewed efforts to address illicit arms trade came in 2001 with the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Traffic in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. This conference led to the adoption of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. The Program of Action outlined two action steps for Member States to take to coordinate international efforts. First, Member States were encouraged to actively police unlicensed firearms production within their borders, as this production accounts for a large number of firearms entering the black market. Second, governments were called upon to require serial numbers and country of origin be printed on all legal firearms. These records along with improved international and regional information sharing would facilitate tracing the flow of firearms across the globe.

To build upon the Program of Action’s call for better traceability, the United Nations General Assembly created the International Tracing Instrument in 2005. This Instrument called for Member States to create and monitor records of legal ownership of firearms, starting with manufacturer markings and tracing all changes of ownership. These records were to be maintained over 30 years. In 2013 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that created additional provisions for the International Tracing Instrument to encourage greater compliance among Member States. This resolution. titled The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects, called upon all Member States to submit their implementation progress, including contact information of national points of contact and marking policies for firearms. 

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which entered into force in December 2014. The ATT echoes previous work of the body including stricter marking and tracking practices for firearms. This treaty also recognizes: “sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system.” Even so, the General Assembly also called upon Member States to consider the effects that exported firearms have on international peace and stability. Currently, the ATT has 130 signatories and has been ratified by 104 parties. Many States that are major exporters of firearms have not ratified the ATT, limiting its effectiveness in addressing illicit arms trade and how licit firearms end up in illegal markets. 

The United Nations continues to review the progress of international efforts. In 2016, the General Assembly recognized that one of the biggest roadblocks to addressing the illicit small arms trade is States’ lack of resources to track firearms. Many of these States are rocked by conflicts or political strife. The resolution called for regional partnerships to fill gaps in Member States’ abilities to track firearms being transported across borders, particularly out of conflict zones. In 2018, Member States at the third United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action (RevCon3) conducted a review of the International Tracing Instrument, the Program of Action on Small Arms, and how they relate to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The review laid out the shortcomings of past efforts, and where international efforts are needed going forward. 

At RevCon3, Member States stated that “implementation remains uneven and that challenges and obstacles still stand in the way of the full and effective implementation […], including a lack of resources and differing capacities in many States, and underlined the need for enhanced and effective international cooperation and assistance.” Additionally, efforts need to be made to address ammunition. The illicit trade of ammunition goes hand and hand with firearms, and ensures that the problem will continue if not addressed. States will also need to address new materials such as polymers and 3D printing that have created new firearms that are increasingly hard to trace. Finally, decommissioned firearms are being illicitly traded and reassembled as a means for terrorist organizations to acquire weapons. All of these shortcomings need to be addressed to better manage illicit firearms trade around the globe. 

Questions to consider:

  • How can Member States address the use of new materials and technology being used to create untraceable firearms? 
  • In what ways can ammunition be better tacked and managed?
  • What can Member States do to close the gap of implementation of the International Tracing Instrument and the Program of Action on Small Arms? 
  • Is there more that Member States can do to limit the flow of firearms in and out of conflict zones? How can firearms from conflict zones be kept out of the illicit market?

Bibliography 

  • Small Arms Survey (2019). Small Arms Survey 2013
  • United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (2018). third United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action (RevCon3) Information Bulletin. 
  • Corney, Neil and Nicholas Marsh (2013). Aiming for Control: the need to include ammunition in the Arms Trade Treaty. Oslo, Norway: Omega Research Foundation and Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). 
  • Florquin, Nicolas et al. (2014). Documenting Weapons in Situations of Armed Conflict. Geneva, Switzerland: Small Arms Survey.
  • Malhotra, Aditi (2011). The Illicit Trade of Small Arms. Geopolitical Monitor. 19 January. 
  • Marsh, Nicholas (2007). Taming the Tools of Violence. Journal of Public Health Policy, vol. 28, pp401–409. 

United Nations Documents 

Nuclear disarmament

Nuclear weapons have been a global threat since World War Two, when the United States dropped two nuclear weapons over Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. A nuclear arms race escalated the emerging Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, as both countries built large national stockpiles of nuclear arms. Other states also sought and developed nuclear weapons, so today there are eight declared nuclear powers, including the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Israel is considered an undeclared nuclear power and has signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. These states account for nearly 14,500 nuclear warheads and over 2,000 nuclear tests since the Trinity Test in 1945. Nuclear weapons have remained an important item on the international agenda since 1945, and significant tensions in the contemporary environment mean nuclear weapons remain at the forefront of international concern. 

The United Nations General Assembly first addressed the issue of nuclear weapons in 1946 with the establishment of a Commission to address issues related to atomic energy. This Commission was tasked with two purposes: to establish atomic energy for peaceful purposes and to make proposals to the Security Council for “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.” Though this Commission had admirable goals, its work was limited due to the growing tensions of the Cold War. Nuclear armed States had adopted a doctrine of mutually assured destruction in the 1960s, which led to a nuclear arms race that saw the rapid growth stockpiles and capabilities in the 1970s. 

Over time, the international community saw how these weapons could destroy the entire planet. Member States identified three pillars of action that would be necessary to protect the planet from the threat of nuclear weapons: nonproliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and enshrined these efforts in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1968. Nonproliferation calls on Member States that have nuclear weapons never t0 transfer nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states and not to encourage non-nuclear weapons states to acquire nuclear arms. Non-nuclear weapons states also agree to accept International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards to verify that all atomic activities are for peaceful purposes. Disarmament calls for Member States to begin negotiations on ceasing the nuclear arms race, and to pursue nuclear disarmament with the goal of complete disarmament. Peaceful use of nuclear energy recognizes the rights of all states to pursue nuclear energy programs. These programs must not be used to develop nuclear arms. Although this treaty as garnered 190 signatures to date, not all nuclear states have signed to the treaty. including India, Pakistan and Israel. Additionally, North Korea’s withdrawal from the treaty in 2003 has raised major concerns on the implementation of the treaty. 

Nuclear weapons testing also created major concerns about environmental contamination and long term damage to the atmosphere. The international community addressed these problems in two major treaties. First, the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water of 1963 aimed to limit nuclear testing where it threatened to spread radiation across the globe. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty of 1996 built upon the earlier Test Ban treaty by requiring Member States to commit to a ban on nuclear weapons testing or aiding in a nuclear weapons test. As of 2019, 168 Member States have ratified the treaty, including five nuclear-capable states. This treaty also created a monitoring system through the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). The CTBTO oversees a series of 337 monitoring facilities around the globe. This system has been instrumental and detected tests carried out by India and Pakistan in 1998 and tests carried out by North Korea between 2006 and 2016. This system is used today to ensure that nuclear tests are declared to the international community. However, the Test Ban Treaty has not deterred testing by some states. 

The latest work by the United Nations came in 2017 with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This Treaty calls for the prohibition of “the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as assistance and encouragement to the prohibited activities.” In addition, Member States party to this Treaty must have a time-bound plan for the elimination and verification of the elimination of their nuclear weapons programs. The treaty outlines the legal and technical framework needed to create a nuclear weapons free world. However, it lacks the support needed for implementation. The Treaty was passed by the United Nations General Assembly with 122 votes in favor and one vote against. However, sixty-nine Member States abstained, including all of the nuclear weapons states. Today, only 23 states have ratified the treaty. 

The international community has a great deal of work ahead to make progress on nuclear disarmament. First, states that are actively developing weapons have created tensions, and have made states hesitant to reduce their own arsinals. Additionally, the lack of support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has made its implementation difficult. Member States will need to consider how to encourage more support for this Treaty in order for it to take effect. Non-nuclear states have also largely lacked a voice on this issue. It has been difficult for them to be involved in the disarmament process outside the work of the Treaties. These States may not have their own nuclear arms, but can be greatly affected if nuclear weapons were to be used in a global conflict. Their interest represents a major portion of the global population. By being more involved in the disarmament process, they can potentially mediate growing tensions around the globe.

Questions to Consider:

  • How can the international community address the resurgence of nuclear weapons development and quel growing international tensions?
  • Are their ways that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons can garner more support internationally? 
  • In what ways can non-nuclear states be more involved in the disarmament process? 

Bibliography 

United Nations Documents

General Assembly Second Committee (Economic and Financial)

The General Assembly Second Committee addresses the economic development of Member States and the stability and growth of international financial and trade networks. The Second Committee deals solely with the economic development of Member States and State-to-State assistance. It does not set or discuss the budget of the United Nations, which is addressed only by the Fifth Committee. The Second Committee also does not address social issues that affect development; such issues are considered by the Third Committee. The Second Committee also adheres to the purview guidelines of the General Assembly as a whole.

Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Sustainable Development Goal 7 is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015 and build on the progress of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were designed to promote sustainable development—economic and social progress with minimal long-term negative effects—across the globe. By 2030, SDG7 strives to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services; increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix; double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; enhance international cooperation and promote investment in clean energy research and technology; and expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries. As of 2016, 87 percent of the global population had access to electricity, yet there is a wide divide between regions. For example, North America and Europe have 100 percent access to electricity, while Sub-Saharan Africa averages at 44 percent. Only 59.7 percent of the global population has access to clean cooking fuels and technologies. As of 2015, only 17.5 percent of total final energy consumption globally was produced from renewable energy. Conversely, 70 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s energy consumption comes from renewable energy, while only 12 percent of total energy consumption in North America and Europe is produced by renewable sources. 

Energy use is inextricably linked to development. Member States have long wrestled with the issue of ensuring access to sustainable energy, however historically these efforts were through domestic programs with little regional or global cooperation. Concern over pollution, especially from coal, date as far back as the 13th century. The Industrial Revolution led to the increase of energy resources extraction, usually for heat or electricity, to improve the quality of life and increase economic output. Rural electrification programs have long been a staple of countries’ development plans, ever since the first efforts in the mid-1930s in the United States and Europe. With a rise in environmental activism and a series of oil crises in the 1970s, the international community finally began to work towards improving the energy situation on an international level. In 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment met and agreed upon the Stockholm Declaration, which outlined principles that attempted to balance development with environmental protection. Additionally, on recommendation from the Stockholm Declaration, the General Assembly also established the United Nations Environmental Programme. Shortly afterwards in 1974, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) formed the International Energy Agency to coordinate energy policy among OECD Members. In 1987 the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development released the report Our Common Future, commonly called the Brundtland Report. The report defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” 

Modern international environmental policy largely derives from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, often referred to as the Earth Summit. More than 100 major world leaders recognized the need for sustainable development to be an international priority, and the conference produced five documents: Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the Statement of Forest Principles, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The Rio Declaration includes 27 principles to guide Member States’ thinking about sustainable development and future energy use, while the UNFCCC established non-binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries. In 2000, the MDGs were established and committed to eradicating poverty worldwide by 2015, which included promoting energy access to all. In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development was held in Johannesburg and assessed the progress since the Rio Declaration. The Johannesburg Summit led to commitments on sustainable consumption and production, water and sanitation, and energy.

The United Nations has worked to address the energy crisis in the past through the UNFCCC and the subsequent 2005 Kyoto Protocol. Both documents strive to enable affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, while promoting sustainable development and stopping climate change. The UNFCCC adopted three goals in 2011 to be accomplished by 2030: “ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.” Working toward this goal, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) established the Pathways to Sustainable Energy Project, which took a holistic approach to accomplishing peace and prosperity for the people and planet. The project proposed that UNECE Member States investigate and assess pathways for the region to attain sustainable energy and identify early warning indicators if objectives are not being met. The project has three components: development of sustainable energy policy and technology option, the facilitation of energy expert and policy exchanges, and the development of an early-warning system to alert if the sustainable energy objectives were not on track. In 2018, the General Assembly provided an overview of the progress made towards ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all and highlighted actions undertaken by Member States to accelerate the achievement of that objective. The report also included key messages from the first review of SDG7 in July 2018.

Addressing energy poverty and climate change together is a crucial challenge for the international community. Access to electricity is still far from universal, as about one billion people globally live without electricity, and many more with unstable access. As the world attempts to mitigate the severity of climate change and prepare for fossil fuel shortages, the way energy is produced has become increasingly important. Developing nations face a distinct challenge in choosing between cheaper and more available fossil fuels and renewable energy sources. Currently, 84 percent of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels, with oil as the leading source of global energy consumption, followed by coal, natural gas, hydropower, nuclear, and non-hydroelectric renewable resources. In 2016, 42 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions came from the energy and heating sector. Yet implementing clean energy sources is an expensive task to undertake for many developed and developing nations when there is still the cheaper fossil fuel options readily available. Access to clean cooking fuels and technologies is another large challenge SDG7. To mitigate the adverse impacts, switching to clean cooking technologies and fuels, such as biogas, advanced biomass cookstoves, electricity, LPG and solar cooking, is necessary. Women predominantly do the cooking in the developing world, so clean cooking technologies must be fit to their needs. Quality of energy sources is also a health issue. Over three billion people commonly use wood, coal or other polluting energy sources for domestic heating and cooking, leading to nearly 4 million premature deaths worldwide. This degrades air quality globally, which is why air pollution exposure contributes to one in eight global deaths. Steps to advance clean cooking, energy efficient mass transit, and the electrification of rural clinics all address this global issue. 

Questions to Consider: 

  • How can countries be encouraged to use sustainable energy sources where fossil fuels remain more economically viable?
  • How can clean cooking fuels and technologies be made available in an affordable, reliable, and sustainable way? What innovation is needed to make this happen? 
  • How can Member States improve air quality and combat pollution exposure-related health issues? 
  • What can the international and national civil societies and corporations, do to promote affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy? How can the United Nations empower these organizations?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

International Migration and Development

Migration is as old as humanity itself, forming a notable part of every culture’s history, and in the modern world migrants’ effects are nearly universal. The number of international migrants has been steadily growing in recent years: in 2017, the number of international migrants reached 258 million worldwide, representing a 21 percent increase since the year 2000 as a share of the global population. Today, migration across international borders has taken the center stage in political debates all over the world and its perceived relationship to social and economic development is often skewed and subject to misunderstandings. The causes of international migration can be broadly split into “push” factors—aspects that encourage people to leave, such as conflict, poverty and natural disasters—and “pull” factors that invite people to immigrate, such as high wages, available employment and education opportunities. Migration is an inevitable outcome of economic development. States must decide whether and how to regulate the flow of these movements. Conversely, international migration also impacts development, as migrants often fill jobs and services in their host countries that would otherwise be vacant. Many also send substantial aid to their home countries in remittances. Remittances to developing countries totalled $413 billion in 2016. However, migration is often viewed very negatively among local populations today—a 2017 Ipsos survey of 25 countries reported that over 40 percent of people believe immigration is causing their country to change in ways they do not like.

Migration has long received attention from the United Nations. The Economic and Social Council’s third-ever resolution created the Population Commission in 1946 to advise on migration and related topics. In 1951, the United Nations formed the International Organization for Migration, which remains the leading inter-governmental agency dealing with issues involving migration, but it was not until the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994 that international migration and development were formally discussed together. That same year, the General Assembly renamed the Population Commission to be the Commission on Population and Development, and in 1995 passed its first resolution on this topic, highlighting the boons of orderly migration for development. Despite this, policymakers and conventional wisdom still often considered both immigration and emigration as domestic problems, rather than international development opportunities. In 2006, the international community held the first High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in order to build consensus on the issue and connect policymakers with experts to improve the ability of States to take advantage of international migration. Through this meeting, States founded the Global Forum on Migration and Development as a State-led voluntary effort to connect States at varying levels of development on this issue. The second High-Level Dialogue in 2013 further highlighted the importance of international migration to development by acknowledging the role it played in the progress achieved in the Millenium Development Goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in 2015, reflect the increased attention on international migration by including targets related to migration in nearly two-thirds of the goals. According to the United Nations Development Programme, migrants from low-Human Development Index (HDI) countries often have improved access to health care and factors that influence good health such as potable water and higher wages in their destination country. This is not to say that migrants uniformly have better experiences in their destination countries than in their homelands. In 2016, Member States adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, calling for increased protections for the human rights of refugees and migrants, from the broad threats of sexual and gender-based violence and xenophobia to specific governmental practices, such as detaining children for the purpose of determining their migration status. 

International efforts on international migration and development have been hamstrung by insufficient data acquisition and dissemination from Member States. Additionally, Member States must answer to their citizens. International opinion polls in many host countries have consistently found strong majorities in support of reducing immigration. The New York Declaration called for cooperation in capacity building and technical assistance in order to improve the quality of data. A joint report from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the International Organization for Migration, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recommended several policy changes with respect to migration data, particularly looking towards the national censuses that will take place over the next couple years, and in 2018 held an International Forum on Migration Statistics to help stakeholders realize these goals. Additionally, Member States have shown great interest in regional training programs on how to estimate migration statistics and progress on the Sustainable Development Goals—a 2018 report from the Secretary-General indicated that a global program could be useful in fulfilling demand for training at all levels of governance. While this information will help the international community develop smarter migration policies, Member States also have a responsibility to respect the basic human rights of migrants. Towards this end, while the various conventions and treaties regarding migration have significant support, not all Member States have signed or ratified them. 

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective include:

  • What role does migration play in your country’s development? What factors limit its impact?
  • How effectively do existing migration treaties and conventions address the major issues surrounding migration, and where do existing agreements fall short? How should the international community address these concerns?
  • How can States work to better address migration at the regional level? 
  • How effectively are States working together to track the status of migrants? What circumstances make gathering this information difficult?

Bibliography 

United Nations Documents

General Assembly Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural)

The General Assembly Third Committee focuses its discussions on social, humanitarian and cultural concerns that arise in the General Assembly, although its work often overlaps with that of other United Nations organs, including the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies. Human rights, education and cultural preservation are typical issues for the Third Committee. Notably, the Third Committee would not discuss the legal implications of human rights matters, as those are discussed by the Sixth Committee, nor would it call for special studies or deploy monitors, as those tasks are handled by the Human Rights Council. The Third Committee also adheres to the purview guidelines of the General Assembly as a whole.

Promotion and protection of the rights of children

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes rights for everyone “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” This endows every child with the right to health, education and protection, yet millions of children lack access to these rights for no reason other than the country, gender or circumstances into which they are born. Around the world, children make up nearly half of the almost 900 million people living on less than $1.90 a day. Families struggle to afford basic health care and nutrition needed to provide children with a strong start. These deprivations leave a lasting imprint; in 2014, nearly 160 million children were stunted, which the World Health Organization describes as impaired growth and development from poor nutrition, repeated infection or inadequate psychosocial stimulation.

The promotion and protection of the rights of children has been one of the core values of the United Nations since its founding in 1945. In the aftermath of World War II, the global situation for children was dire. In 1953, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was created as a permanent organization within the United Nations. UNICEF was first tasked with treating yaws, a disease threatening children worldwide. Over time, the scope of UNICEF’s work broadened and focus was placed on promoting education, ending violence against children, the use of children in conflict, eliminating extreme poverty and access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). 

In 1959, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which established a political commitment and support for specific rights of children, but was not binding for Member States. Continuing the work of the Declaration, in 1966 Member States promised to uphold equal rights – including education and protection – for all children. Throughout the 1970s, the General Assembly and other United Nations agencies worked to set standards for children’s rights in labor, conflict zones, and legal representation. After the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations wanted to introduce a Charter of Human Rights which would be enforceable and would oblige states to respect it. The year 1979 was declared the International Year of the Child and led to a renewed interest in codifying the rights of the child. A working group within the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, a precursor to the Human Rights Council, was established to write an international charter on the topic. In 1989, the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which entered into force in 1990. The Convention established legally-binding commitments to uphold specific civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. All Member States of the United Nations except the United States are States Parties to the Convention. The Convention is enforced by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which submits a report every year to the Third Committee on the status of the rights of children. Member States signed two optional protocols in 2000. The first Protocol, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, addresses WASH protection of children in conflict zones and the second Protocol, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, prohibits the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. More recently, Member States signed a third optional protocol in 2014, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure, which created mechanisms for children or their representatives to file complaints about violations of children’s rights.

In 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established specific goals of reducing preventable child deaths, increasing education opportunities, reducing extreme poverty and increasing access to WASH. By the MDG target date of 2015, Member States had made considerable progress. For example, the global under-five mortality rate declined by more than half, dropping from 90 to 43 deaths per 1000 live births from 1990 to 2015. There were also significant areas of remaining concern. Despite increased focus, developing regions and countries affected by conflict still have large percentages of children who disproportionately feel the effects of conflict. Additionally, the MDGs failed to make substantial impacts in maternal mortality, especially in regions with the worst rate. In 2015, the General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which set goals for all Member States to achieve by 2030. The focus is now on building a sustainable world where environmental sustainability, social inclusion and economic development are equally valued. While every SDG impacts children, the goals most applicable to the rights of children are the first five, which respectively are no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, and gender equality. 

The United Nations is taking a comprehensive approach to addressing the rights of children in the SDGs by using trackable human rights indicators so Member States can understand the regional and global progress. This human rights based approach focuses on the most disadvantaged and responds to the call to “leave no child behind,” so that the rights of every child, everywhere, will be fulfilled. The Follow-up to the outcome of the special session of the General Assembly on children Report of the Secretary-General promoted strategic partnerships across the United Nations system, and between the public and private sectors as a means to address some of the issues facing children’s rights. The Secretary-General also noted the need for ambitious action on sustainable development, and reaching the world’s most disadvantaged children, as crucial to achieving success. 

At its 71st session, the Third Committee of the General Assembly discussed how increased migration affects children in vulnerable and minority populations. The General Assembly reaffirmed that Member States are under obligation by international law to promote and protect the human rights of all people, including children, regardless of their migration status. From the Syrian refugee crisis to American detention of migrant minors, the rights of the child migrant continue to be a pressing current issue. The United Nations has addressed violence against children since its founding and has made gains in multiple sectors, yet violence, exploitation and abuse of children has evolved and persisted into the present. Combattants globally still deliberately attack, kill, maim, or force children to fight in armed conflicts. Rape, forced marriage and abduction have become standard tactics in conflicts from Syria to Yemen, and from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, to Nigeria, South Sudan and Myanmar. The United Nations has called on all warring parties to abide by their obligations under international law to protect children in conflicts, yet little has changed. Gender related child rights issues persist both in and out of conflict zones. Unequal responsibility for work in the home socializes children into thinking that these duties are women’s only roles, thereby curtailing generational change and narrowing girls’ ambitions. Issues such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, gender-based violence and gender-based discrepancy in educational opprotunities persist throughout the world. Member States and the international community must adopt solutions that address gender-specific discrimination and disadvantages. 

Questions to consider:

  • What obligations do Member States have to protect refugee and migrant children? How can they best be implemented?
  • How can children best be protected in conflicts? How can Member States influence combattants in their regions to follow international human rights laws protecting children?
  • What role does gender-specific discrimination and disadvantages play in advancing children’s rights? 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Rights of indigenous peoples

Despite being under five percent of the world’s population, indigenous peoples make up fifteen percent of the world’s poorest people, and suffer higher rates of sexual violence, infant mortality and malnutrition than the general population, with an indigenous persons’ life expectancy up to 20 years lower than the life expectancy of non-indigenous person worldwide. 

Indigenous people also have historically faced widespread marginalization and discrimination across continents. The past and present experience of indigenous peoples includes forced assimilation, loss of land, and lack of access to the economic benefits of natural resources from their traditional or ancestral land. Systemic discrimination and lack of self-determination often keeps indigenous peoples from participation in government. In many nations more than 50 percent of their indigenous peoples live in urban areas. While some move to seek education opportunities and employment, many migrate to escape human rights abuses related to land rights and cultural survival. Non-violent human rights abuse protests by indigenous peoples frequently result in criminalization and violence against protesters. The unique relationship between indigenous peoples and the environment also leaves indigenous peoples particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Indigenous peoples have argued against the adoption of a formal definition at the international level, stressing the need for flexibility and for respecting the desire and the right of each indigenous people to define themselves. As a consequence, no formal definition has been adopted in international law. 

Despite the international community’s recognition of the issues faced by indigenous peoples, responses have been inconsistent. In 1982, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) formed the Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) to study international standards for indigenous rights due to concerns of oppression. In 1989, based on the work of the WGIP, the International Labour Organization (ILO) revised a 1957 convention to create the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, which recognized indigenous self-determination and outlined rights pertaining to education, healthcare and equal employment opportunities. However, the binding nature of the Convention and its emphasis on indigenous autonomy made it unpopular; only 21 States have ratified the Convention. In 1993, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action called for the formation of a permanent place for indigenous peoples within the United Nations system. In 2000, the United Nations created the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). This body is comprised entirely of indigenous people who are mandated to study the implementation of programs pertaining to the economic and social development, culture, education, health, environmental concerns and human rights of indigenous peoples.

In 2007, the General Assembly took a significant step forward with the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons (UNDRIP). UNDRIP affirms that indigenous peoples “have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law.” It also declares that indigenous peoples have the right to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development” while recognizing the sovereignty of Member States. UNDRIP goes on to require that any relocation from ancestral lands or extraction of natural resources must be done with the full consent of indigenous peoples and with formal compensation. While UNDRIP was adopted by an overwhelming consensus, it was considered contentious for its recognition of indigenous self-determination and assertions over the control of natural resources on indigenous lands. While indigenous peoples own, occupy or use a quarter of the world’s surface area, they safeguard 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity and 11 percent of its forests. This has made indigenous land a target for resource extraction, which can cause contention in land rights between governments, companies and indigenous peoples. Subsequent work was done at the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, in which the United Nations reaffirmed its commitment to UNDRIP and committed itself to further study and implementation of its goals. Yet a 2014 report by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples identified significant current obstacles to indigenous rights: the lack of recognition of indigenous peoples’ self-determination, inconsistency in application of human rights laws, the continued lack of reconciliation or acknowledgment of atrocities committed against indigenous peoples, negative perceptions of indigenous communities, and the social and economic conditions that result from these injustices.

While multiple gains have been made, issues pertaining to UNDRIP persist. Ethnic and religious discrimination against indigenous peoples continues in multiple countriesaround the world. The General Assembly Third Committee must address how Member States can implement policies and laws to allow indigenous persons the ability to live free from discrimination and the threat of genocide. An expanding number of indigenous peoples are facing criminalization for peaceful protest on ancestral lands and the battle between extractive industries, commercial farming and other corporate interest continues to threaten the existence of indigenous groups. Climate change exacerbates the difficulties already faced by indigenous populations. Indigenous peoples were among the first to face the direct consequences of climate change, due to their close relationship with the environment and its resources. Indigenous peoples are vital to the maintenance of their lands and therefore help enhance the resiliency of the ecosystems. They have reacted to the impacts of climate change in innovative ways that draw from traditional knowledge and technologies that may help society at large cope with changes. 

The case of indigenous peoples remains a key priority for the United Nations under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Many Member States are recognizing and constitutionally passing laws that support indigenous peoples, yet implementation remains difficult globally. While most Member States have adopted UNDRIP, some have not been successful in executing it. Going forward, rights for indigenous peoples must not only be recognized at an international level, but embraced at the national and local level as well. 

Questions to consider:

  • How can Member States utilize UN organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to protect and understand the value of indigenous culture and cultural heritage sites? 
  • How has your Member State addressed the human rights of indigenous persons, including tolerance of native practices and religious freedoms? Are there good practices that could be shared at the regional or international leveL?
  • How does environmental justice intertwine with indigenous peoples rights? Are indigenous peoples disproportionately affected by climate change? 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The World Youth Council (World Summit)

The World Conference on Youth considers global issues that are of particular importance to young people, as well as the role that youth play in global issues. Typical issues for the World Conference include education, health, employment, the environment, and the role of youth in global leadership. Many Member States include youth in their official delegations to the Conference or solicit the views of youth prior to attending the Conference. The goal of this conference is not only to provide for the needs of youth, but to give them the opportunities to be leaders for change.

Promoting healthy lives and access to quality health care

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being.” In 1966, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognized “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” Yet many people, particularly youth, across the world lack access to the means to enjoy a healthy life. Youth are defined by the United Nations as those between 15 and 24. Because youth are still developing mentally and physically, poor health can have lifelong consequences. They are often more vulnerable to disease and may lack access to food, housing and social services needed for a healthy life. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.3 million youth die each year; the majority of these deaths are from preventable or treatable causes. For example diseases including HIV/AIDS heavily affect the youth population. An estimated 2.1 million youth suffer from HIV, with deaths nearly tripping since 2000. Mental heath issues and suicide also are on the rise among youth, and the lack of mental health resources around the globe have made addressing these issues difficult. Member State have committed to addressing youth health issues, but a great deal of work still remains. 

The United Nations first prioritized youth issues when it established the International Youth Year in 1979. The first International Youth Year highlighted the needs of youth and their potential contributions to the international community. In 1985 the United Nations General Assembly expanded its definition of youth by recognizing that youth are far from a homogenous group. The needs of disabled, young women and those in rural and urban environments have a wide range of needs that were not recognized. The United Nations first focused on the specific health needs of youth in 1995, when it created the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY). The Programme identified eight key action items to support youth health. One such area is ‘the provision of basic health services,” as described by the 1986 Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. ‘Elimination of sexual abuse of young people’ also built upon other international declarations to target and eliminate sexual abuse of youth including rape, prostitution and child pornography. This action item also calls for the elimination of female genital mutilation across the globe. Finally, ‘combating malnutrition among young people’ called for the growth of healthy eating practices of youth. It also highlighted the need for school lunch programs to eliminate gaps in nutrition. All of these target action items laid the foundation for international work to address youth health needs going forward. These proposals outlined international efforts, as they gave target areas for Member States to address youth health needs. Where this Programme was successful in creating a conversation around youth health, it lacked input from those who would benefit most from improved services and resources. 

During the 2014 World Conference on Youth, Member States and youth representatives built upon the work of the WPAY with the Colombo Declaration on Youth. Though Member State representative ultimately voted upon the declaration, youth representative provided a great deal of insight and input when determining the target goals of the declaration. This document recognized the work achieved by the WPAY and other international efforts towards youth health. The Declaration also recognized that additional work is needed after the 2015 Development Agenda. The Declaration recognized that there is work yet to be done in several areas. First, access to essential medicines and basic healthcare remains an issue for youth in developing countries and rur al areas around the globe. States recognize the need for access to healthcare but often fail to acquire and mobilize resources needed to address this disparity. Second, mental health has come to the forefront of the discussion as youth struggle with depression, anxiety and other issues. Governments have failed to recognize these issues in youth and need to address how youth can access mental health resources. Finally, the Declaration called for Member States to recognize the harmful effects that political and social determinants of health for young people. This issue particularly arises in conflict zones. The Declaration called for youth to be integrated into the healthcare sector as advisors and be encouraged to seek careers in the medical field. 

Since the World Conference on Youth in 2014, the international community has continued to focus on youth health. Though the 2014 conference targeted many important health goals, a lack of resources and the complexity of some issues have made addressing them difficult. Some of the current challenges include mental health, non communicable diseases and access to healthcare. These have become major targets for international efforts to address youth heath. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes several key targets including access to basic healthcare, addressing the needs of mental health, maternal health (particularly for young mothers) and sexual education. This Agenda provides a foundation for the World Conference on Youth to build upon. 

Several issues still need to be addressed. First, youth still play a minor role in determining healthcare priorities and policy, especially in developing and rural areas. States have struggled to integrate youth input in healthcare development due to a number of challenges. Youth lack education on health topics, voting rights of youth vary across States, and they have a lack of time to be involved in policy making. If States better address these issues, youth could be more involved in the policy making process. Youth continue to deal with health issues including vulnerability to infectious diseases, especially sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and non communicable diseases including obesity, diabetes and asthma. Much of this can be attributed to lack of proper medical care and low access to nutritional meals. Mental health concerns run high in youth and a lack of education and resources have made anxiety and depression a major issue for youth around the globe. By targeting areas such as these, Member States will be able to better address the health of youth. 

Questions to Consider:

  • How can Member States address the different health issues that affect urban and rural youth?
  • How can the United Nations assist Member States in facilitating discussions and involving youth in decision making regarding quality health care and promoting healthy lives?
  • How can the international community better address communicable and noncommunicable diseases and mental health concerns in youth?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Empowering marginalized youth emphasizing the most at risk young people

Today’s youth population—defined as ages 15-24—is the largest ever, and many Member States’ demographic profiles have a “youth bulge,” a significant increase in the proportion of the population that qualify as youth. Youth make up the majority of populations that are affected by armed conflict. Youth are particularly likely to experience marginalizationdefined by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) as being excluded from participating fully in society. 

Marginalization of youth takes three key forms. First, political marginalization is where efforts are made to suppress youth participation in politics. Some ways this occurs include suppression of youth voting or disrupting youth movements. Economic marginalization occurs when youth have their opportunities limited within an economy. This often occurs in the form of limits on access to high-quality jobs. The World Youth Report of 2018 showed that youth unemployment rose to nearly 15 percent around the globe in 2017. Regions such as North Africa saw youth unemployment as high as 30 percent. Finally, social marginalization occurs when youth are limited in social interaction and social capital solely because of their age. These three sources of marginalization can severely limit youth and their capacity within society. Marginalization is also problematic as it undermines the credibility of political and economic systems and threatens social cohesion. Political marginalization often occurs in non-democratic governments because youth are seen as a threat to the ruling power. Youth  are also vulnerable to extremist ideologies and may participate in armed conflicts due to marginalization, so marginalization is linked to radicalization. Marginalization may also heavily restrict economic growth and weaken social safety nets. 

The 1995 World Programme of Action on Youth (WPAY) first sought to empower marginalized and at-risk youth. The WPAY tried to engage marginalized youth by addressing their needs and proposing that all youth be given a direct voice in political, social and economic life. The WPAY argued that, in order to address marginalization, Member States needed to empower youth to address their own basic needs. While the WPAY provided specific actions for other areas like healthcare and education, it did not prescribe steps to address marginalization. During the 2014 World Conference on Youth, Member States and youth representatives build upon the work of the WPAY with the Colombo Declaration on Youth. When it comes to marginalization, the Declaration targeted specific ways to better empower youth. One such target is for Member States to create means for youth to become more involved in local and national policy making. The Declaration also called for youth to create national youth organizations to better organize marginalized groups, particularly those who are also members of minority groups. 

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched the UNDP Youth Strategy 2014-2017 to address youth marginalization politically and socially. The Strategy saw that youth who are not engaged or are actively suppressed, are more likely to engage in extremist behavior. It also recognizes that different demographics within youth face different obstacles. For example, women continue to face gender inequality that limits their capacity to influence social and political change. Traditional gender roles and wage gap marginalize young women at a higher rate than young men. 

The international community saw engagement in global policy as a means to address youth marginalization. The UN Security Council recently passed Resolution 2419 in June 2018 that called on all relevant actors to consider ways of increasing youth representation within negotiations and peacekeeping by recognizing that the marginalization was detrimental in countering violence and creating sustainable peace. The Council also called on Member States to prevent violence within educational institutions and make them accessible to all youth, taking steps to address young women’s equal right to be educated. Further, the Council requested that the Secretary-General report on progress made in increasing youth participation in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. They also called for the Secretary-General to consider mechanisms that would provide more opportunities for youth participation in the work of the United Nations. 

In 2018, The UN set its agenda for 2030, which includes the United Nations Strategy on Youth. The strategy has a vision that human rights for every youth is realized and young people are empowered to achieve their full potential. The objective of the UN Youth Strategy is to increase impact and expand actions to address the needs, provide support agencies, and advance the rights of youth. The role of the United Nations in this plan is to protect and support youth and become a platform to address their needs and allow for them to be engaged and heard. The priorities of the strategy are engagement, participation, and advocacy of youth; informed and healthy foundations; economic empowerment through decent work; youth and human rights; and peace and resilience building. 

Looking forward, a report by the Secretary-General on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2419 is due by May 2020. The Youth2030 initiative plans to accomplish its goals through a number of actions including involving mainstream functions of the United Nations, expanding opportunities for youth, engaging youth in intergovernmental forums, setting standards for youth participation, and amplifying the voices of active youth. The plan is to span twelve years, with an initial plan of action that will last four years. After that it will be reviewed under the supervision of the Senior Management Group. 

Questions to consider:

  • How can Member States actively engage youth in decision making? What steps or policies would prove most effective in ensuring youth voices are incorporated?
  • What steps should Member States take to ensure all youth have rights guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
  • How can the international community work with youth to encourage effective social change without destabilizing peace?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The International Telecommunications Union (Special Committee)

The International Telecommunications Union is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communications technologies. ITU enables the information, communication and technology (ICT) sector to broker agreements on technologies, services, and allocation of global resources to create a seamless global communications system that’s robust, reliable, and constantly evolving. The ITU is governed by the Plenipotentiary Conference, the supreme decision making organ that determines the direction and activities of the ITU. The three main areas of activity in the ITU are radio communications, standardization, and development. 

Telecommunication/information and communication technology accessibility for persons with disabilities and persons with specific needs

Innovations in information and communications technologies (ICTs) facilitate the social, cultural, political and economic integration of individuals living with disabilities into society. Over one billion people live with a disability, and ICTs such as the Internet and mobile phones serve as valuable tools in promoting digital inclusion. They expand access to key public services and connect others in a community. ICTs can enable distance learning for access to education when there may not be local infrastructure to support their development. The advent of mobile phones has promoted the independent living of persons with disabilities. For persons with disabilities, ICT services can be made further accessible through both computer-based and web-based accessibility applications such as screen readers, speech recognition, video communication (for sign language communication and video relay interpretation), voice to text services (open and closed captioning, both realtime and embedded) and visual assistance. 

However, people with disabilities often lack the same ability to access to these technologies as people without disabilities. This can be due to the need for special adaptations to the technology, the relegation of persons with disabilities in some societies and difficulties in accessing persons with disabilities in the global south. Even as technologies like the Internet gain more users, persons with disabilities and special needs are disproportionately left out of the digital revolution. Yet access to ICTs could significantly help them by connecting people to their communities and finding resources and services. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) seeks to ensure that ICTs are equally accessible to all people, regardless of their abilities. 

The United Nations has taken multiple steps to promote access to ICTs for people with disabilities. The 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) pronounces that States Parties shall promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems. Article 9 of the CRPD calls upon Member States to adopt laws, legislation and regulations that support the integration of accessible ICTs into society. Yet, progress has been limited. One of the results of the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on disability and development was the Global Consultation Report on ICTs and Disability. The report highlighted how policies relating to ICTs and accessibility may be present within the legislative frameworks of Member States, but lack strong accompanying regulations to ensure these policies are enforced throughout Member States’ jurisdictions.

Global accessibility to information technology is a topic of increasing importance given ever-advancing technological capabilities. In 2014, the Plenipotentiary Conference of the ITU adopted Resolution 175, which set the Connect 2020 agenda to promote inclusiveness in accessibility to ICTs. Resolution 175 also considered how the United Nations’ approach to rights for persons with special needs has evolved from one focused on health and welfare to an approach based on the promotion of human rights. Embracing this mindset, the Connect 2020 agenda outlined the accessibility goals of the ITU in concurrence with Article 9 of the United Nations Charter and the Sustainable Development Goals, such as quality education for all, reduced inequalities and promoting peace, justice and strong institutions. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly expressed its intention to foster greater accessibility to those with disabilities through international institutions and its Member States. A smooth transition into a world which fully supports those living with disabilities will require collaboration between Member States and international institutions that work on accessibility to ICTs. The General Assembly also encourages Member States to promote self-representation of persons with disabilities when revising internal policies and laws to ensure their experiences and worldview are fully included.

ICT accessibility in educational and developmental environments for persons with disabilities and special needs continues to be an area of policy expansion. The United Nations Secretary-General published a report in October 2018 to revisit previous resolutions on accessibility to information technology and inclusive development for the disabled and other special-needs persons. The report outlines the United Nations’ commitment to disability inclusiveness and pushes for an overall enablement of persons with disabilities to mainstream the rights, needs and participation of persons with disabilities in all areas of development. While the United Nations Secretary-General and the General Assembly have provided thorough thought-leadership on disability inclusiveness, implementation, especially in developing countries, where persons with disabilities are often hidden members of society, can be difficult to enact. 

Looking forward, the 2030 Agenda promotes extended goals and provisions found in the Connect 2020 agenda. Many current efforts focus on expanding accessibility to ICTs for people with special needs and disabilities through broader analysis and information collection on the subject, yet action is needed on implementing the findings of these studies. The United Nations and ITU are currently looking to expand their reach, as well as the participation of Member States, in administering public policy conducive to telecommunication and ICT accessibility in civic and educational development. Rapid technology change can be a hindrance or an opportunity for persons with disabilities, but it depends on how the international community reacts to their implementation. The ITU might consider innovative ways to promote cooperation between governments, the private sector and other relevant organizations to support the proliferation of affordable and accessible ICTs. Certain challenges persist, including a lack of access to ICT accessibility technologies that are both affordable, available in a plethora of languages spoken throughout the world and that can reach persons in rural areas. Many countries lack a dedicated general ICT infrastructure and must consider what resources they can allocate to this issue as part of an overarching strategy to make a population more ICT accessible. 

Questions or Issues to Consider:

  • How might rapid technological innovation hinder accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities and persons with specific needs? How can the ITU mitigate this implication?
  • What role do governments play in facilitating the introduction of accessible ICTs to persons with disabilities? What about the role of the private sector or civil society organizations?
  • How does a lack of dedicated general ICT infrastructure within developing Member States exacerbate the challenges faced by persons with disabilities?

Bibliography

UN Documents

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity aims to strengthen the integrity, confidentiality and accessibility of information systems, ultimately raising public trust in digital systems. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) pursues cybersecurity through a triad of policy, technical and educational measures. As information and communications technologies (ICTs) continue to spread across the globe, preserving digital security is an ever-growing challenge. Globally, 4,000 ransomware attacks occur and 230,000 new malware samples are produced daily, yet only 38 percent of Member States have published a cybersecurity strategy. As of 2018, the global cost of cybercrime has reached as much as $600 billion annually, approximately 0.8 percent of the global GDP. Cyber criminals exploit the privacy and interconnectedness provided by the internet, therefore attacking the foundation of the modern information society and degrading trust in communication systems. The ITU considers cybersecurity an interdisciplinary topic connected to its Telecommunication Standardization Sector, which supports the functioning, interoperability and security of the world’s telecommunications infrastructure.

In December 2001, the United Nations General Assembly recognized how the proliferation of ICTs has amplified the number of ways criminals can commit cybercrimes. This resolution highlighted the need for collaboration in order to address the criminal misuse of ICTs and advanced the conversation between Member States. In 2003, the General Assembly encouraged the creation of global culture of cybersecurity. The General Assembly notes that the provision of essential goods and services, the conduct of business, the exchange of information and the functioning of government all face a growing risk of disruption from malicious actors. While the General Assembly identified several elements encompassing a global culture of cybersecurity, it did not prescribe how to inculcate such a culture. 

In 2003, the inaugural World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) identified cybersecurity as a topic of importance, stressing building confidence in the security and safety of using ICTs. The ITU launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA) in 2007 to promote confidence and security in the information society. GCA identified five pillars that are essential for future cybersecurity development: legal measures, technical measures, organizational structures, capacity building and international cooperation. This included examining how criminal activities against ICTs could be dealt with through legislation in an internationally compatible manner, addressing vulnerabilities in software products, and considering generic frameworks and response strategies to cyberattacks, including the protection of countries’ critical information infrastructure systems. To support these pillars and the GCA, ITU created the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT) initiative in 2011, which aims to provide cybersecurity support and guidance to Member States and the United Nations organs.

In 2009, the General Assembly released a new voluntary self-assessment tool Member States can use to assess national efforts towards protecting critical information infrastructures. At the same time, the General Assembly highlighted how ineffective cybersecurity enables transnational crime and diminishes international cooperation. It also highlighted the need for each country to determine its own critical information infrastructure status and needs. 

More recently, the ITU has created the Child Online Protection platform, Computer Incident Response Team and Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI). Created in 2014, the Index builds on the General Assembly’s self-assessment tool by evaluating each country’s investment in cybersecurity and assessing opportunities for future development. The Index was developed to normalize cybersecurity practices across borders and to foster a global culture of cybersecurity. 

The 2018 ITU Resolution 130 stressed ITU’s unique mandate to strengthen international cybersecurity in the technical and development spheres, while remaining outside of Member States national policies on defense and security. In the future, the ITU will consider what technical steps need to be taken to vigorously implement a robust culture of cybersecurity. Past efforts to promote a global culture of cybersecurity have struggled to bring all relevant stakeholders to the table, including civil society and the private sector. The role of the private sector as the first responders to cyber attacks has led to the need to find dynamic and multifaceted responses to this issue. It also remains unclear the level of international effort the ITU can exert while respecting internal security policies. Transnational crime has embraced the borderless realm of cyberspace, using it to target victims in completely different regions than the actors. The recent increase of cyber attacks against dams, electrical grids and transportation infrastructure must be addressed to empower Member States to strengthen the security and resilience of critical infrastructure. 

Questions or Issues to Consider:

  • What role should private industry and civil society play in establishing cybersecurity regulations?
  • How can developing nations make strides in promoting cybersecurity? What role does the economic disparity existing between nations affect the global risk of cybercrime?
  • What role does the international community have in promoting the protection and resiliency of Member States’ critical infrastructure? How can the ITU help promote a culture of cybersecurity while respecting national policies on defense and security? 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Introduction to ECOSOC and Report Writing Bodies 

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

The Economic and Social Council is the primary body that addresses the economic, social, humanitarian and cultural work of the United Nations system. It also has a mandate to coordinate the activities of United Nations technical and specialized agencies and programs. The Economic and Social Council oversees five regional economic commissions and eight functional, or subject-matter, commissions. The Economic and Social Council is composed of 54 Member States elected by the General Assembly for three-year renewable terms.

ECOSOC at AMUN

AMUN simulates ECOSOC as a Special Committee on a rotating basis. Much like the General Assembly bodies, ECOSOC’s primary initiative is to discuss the designated topics and produce, preferably by consensus, resolutions. A resolution will often provide historical context for a topic or issue as well as present a path forward for Member States and for international institutions. A resolution must be in the purview of the committee that passes it, and it must contain at least one preambular clause and one operative clause. For more information on resolution formatting, requirements and best practices, please reference this handbook or speak with the committee Rapporteur at Conference.

When ECOSOC is simulated at AMUN, it has delegate assigned to it for the duration of the Conference, including the ECOSOC plenary session on Tuesday afternoon. On years when ECOSOC is not a distinct simulation, AMUN still convenes the body for a plenary session on the last day of the Conference, run concurrently with the General Assembly Plenary (Combined) session. In these years, this Plenary session is attended by representatives from ECOSOC Member States that have participated in other simulations throughout Conference. The purpose of the ECOSOC Plenary session is to receive and accept the draft reports presented by representatives from each reporting body in a fashion similar to that of the General Assembly Plenary accepting resolutions. However, given the nature of reports and the relationship between report writing bodies and ECOSOC, voting “yes” on a report in the Plenary session does not signal acceptance of the recommendations contained in the report, but rather is an acknowledgement that work on the report has been completed.

Report Writing Bodies and their Role at AMUN

Each year, AMUN simulates two bodies that write reports rather than resolutions. These bodies, which can can be committees, councils, or commissions and which have various relationships to ECOSOC, are sometimes called “Report Writing Bodies” (RWB). These bodies have a unique function within the United Nations system, and delegates to these bodies are often subject-matter experts on the topics being discussed in the simulation. Their role, rather than to produce resolutions that lay out a course of action, is to collaboratively produce reports on topics in their purview. Reports follow a specified format, but the length, content and complexity of each report varies. Each body produces only one report on each of its topic, so collaboration and consensus-building in these committees is essential. Producing only one report also means that dissenting or minority opinions may be placed within the text of the document. AMUN has adapted the format for annual reports for use in these reporting bodies. The time constraints of the simulation allow for a format that bears many similarities to those of the United Nations, but is not identical. Just as representatives familiarize themselves with their State’s positions, they must also do the same with the AMUN report format.

The main focus of a RWB is to create a report, not write resolutions. While reports can contain resolutions, resolutions are not necessary for the completion of a report or its subsequent adoption in ECOSOC Plenary. The report as a whole functions as a recommendation for actions that ECOSOC can take. Thus, it is of the utmost importance that the report contains a record of how the representatives of the body came to their conclusions. This is the primary function of the report’s Deliberations section, without which a report cannot exist. The nature of a report often leads to a report-building process that is highly collaborative and inclusive of all Members of the body. If a body disagrees on an issue, it is common to include all sides of the discussion and what was considered, thus allowing for consensus on the final report. More information on report components and the report writing process can be found here.

Consultative Session

Both ECOSOC and reporting bodies have available to them a special rule intended to facilitate their work: Consultative Session. Consultative Session is a designated period of time in which the Committee is still in session but the formal rules of debate, with the exception of Rule 2.2 Diplomatic Courtesy, are suspended. It is moderated by whomever the body chooses for the role, with the first Consultative Session usually being moderated by a Rapporteur. Consultative Sessions allow for free and open exchange between representatives in a less-formal setting than is created in formal debate. It is an expedient method of accomplishing many of the report writing processes and is typically also used to pass the Executive Summary, which is the final piece of a report.

A Note About AMUN’s Simulation Philosophy

The Conference exists to provide a safe and educational environment for both representatives and AMUN Secretariat members to grow and learn. At the root of this is one of AMUN’s founding principles – to create the most realistic simulation possible by mirroring the beliefs and processes of the United Nations. Diplomacy is a tool with the power to change lives for the better. Our Report Writing Bodies offer another perspective on diplomacy as Representatives work with a small group throughout Conference to build not a single resolution, but an entire report. Report writing leads to a non-competitive free flowing exchange of ideas that ultimately helps build an intensely collaborative environment and informs ECOSOC on the actions it should take regarding the complex international issues that make up the RWB topics.

Research and Resources Available

One of the most important resources available is the research and preparation done before conference. This research can greatly affect a representative’s experience in the simulation. AMUN has several suggestions for how to go about researching a State’s position, history and culture. Information to aid in this research can be found here.

In order to provide a Conference of the highest quality, AMUN Secretariat members play distinct roles inside and outside of the Committee room. Inside the Committee room, the most recognizable resources available are the dais staff: Committee Presidents and Rapporteurs.

The Committee Presidents are experts on AMUN’s Rules of Procedure. They facilitate debate by helping representatives use the rules correctly to accomplish the work of the body. They answer all questions related to the AMUN rules. Presidents (and Vice Presidents) also observe substantive debate and keep track of the committee’s proceedings.

The Rapporteurs are the experts on content and AMUN’s content philosophy in the committee rooms. If a representative has any questions about the Committee’s purview, Rapporteurs are a go-to source. In the RWBs, they also have an extensive knowledge of reporting procedures. Representatives can also find Rapporteurs in the Delegate Services Lab.

AMUN also provides content experts outside of committee. Home Government is available to help representatives with several tasks. If a representative would like more information on their country’s position or other information related to the simulation, Home Government processes information requests to help representatives access the information they may need. Home Government also has the ability to furnish committees with roleplayers who provide information to the entire body as opposed to an individual representative.

Lastly, should representatives like to update the rest of the Conference on how their work is coming along, the International Press Delegation (IPD) is another resource they have for spreading information, be it through an article or a Press Conference.

ECOSOC Rules of Procedure

1.0 Administrative

1.1 The Secretariat. The Secretariat consists of the volunteer staff members of American Model United Nations (AMUN).

1.2 Rules Committee. The President of the General Assembly, the Senior Vice President(s) of the General Assembly, the Director of Rules and Procedures, and one other person as appointed by the Secretary-General shall compose the membership of the Rules Committee.

1.3 Credentials. All questions concerning the validity of representative credentials shall be submitted in writing to the Secretariat,

  • The Secretariat has sole authority to decide all questions concerning credentials,
  • Representatives must wear approved credentials at all times while on the Conference premises.

1.4 Quorum/Majority. A quorum is one-fourth of the member delegations in attendance for each Committee; a majority is one-half of the member delegations in attendance for each Committee,

  • A quorum must be present at all times during Committee sessions,
  • A majority must be present for a substantive question to be put to a vote,
  • Questions concerning quorum or majority should be directed to the Chair, and
  • It is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that a quorum is present at all times.

1.5 Committee Officers. The Secretariat shall appoint the President/Chairperson, Vice President/Vice Chairperson, and Rapporteur(s) for each Committee, and shall select any other positions necessary to help conduct the sessions of the Committees,

  • Hereafter, in these rules, “Chair” will refer to both “Chairpersons” and “Presidents” and
  • Hereafter, in these rules, “Committee” will refer to any Committee, Council or Commission, unless otherwise stated in the rule.

1.6 General Authority of the Chair. In addition to exercising such authority conferred upon the Chair elsewhere in these rules, the Chair shall,

  • Declare the opening and closing of each session,
  • Ensure the observance of the rules,
  • Facilitate the discussions of the Committee and accord the right to speak,
  • Advise the Committee on methods of procedure that will enable the body to accomplish its goals, and
  • Rule on points and motions, and subject to these rules, have complete control of the proceedings of the Committee and the maintenance of order at its meetings.

During the course of the session the Chair may propose Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), Limits on Debate (rule 7.10), and, in Report-Writing Commissions, Consultative Session (rule 7.7). The Chair is under the direct authority of the Rules Committee and may be directed to inform the body on matters of procedure or the body’s topical competence if such action is deemed necessary by the Rules Committee.

1.7 Absence of Chair. If the Chair is absent during any part of a Committee Session, the Chair will designate an individual, usually the Vice Chair, to chair the session with the same authority.

1.8 Number of Accredited Representatives. Each delegation is allowed two representatives per Committee on which it is a member, plus one Permanent Representative,

  • This excludes the Special Committee to the General Assembly, which only allows one representative plus one Permanent Representative.

1.9 Selection of Agenda Topics. Agenda topics shall be selected by the Secretariat prior to the start of the conference. Once selected, these topics are fixed for the duration of the conference.

1.10 Observer Status. Those delegations recognized as having Observer Status by AMUN shall be accorded all rights in the Committee except the following,

  • They may not vote,
  • They may not make or second the following motions:
  • Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2),
  • Adjournment of Debate (rule 7.3),
  • Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), and
  • Decision of Competence (rule 7.8).

2.0 General Rules

2.1 Statements by the Secretariat. The Secretary-General or any member of the Secretariat may make verbal or written statements to a Committee at any time.

2.2 Diplomatic Courtesy. All participants in the AMUN Conference must accord Diplomatic Courtesy to all credentialed representatives, Secretariat Members, Faculty Advisors, Observers and Hotel staff at all times,

  • Representatives who persist in obvious attempts to disrupt the session shall be subject to expulsion from the Committee by the Chair,
  • The Secretariat reserves the right to expel any representative or delegation from the Conference, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

2.3 Speeches. No representative may address the Committee without obtaining the permission of the Chair,

  • Delegations, not representatives, are recognized to speak; more than one representative from the same delegation may speak when the delegation is recognized,
  • Speakers must keep their remarks germane to the subject under discussion,
  • A time limit may be established for speeches (rule 7.10),
  • At the conclusion of a substantive speech, representatives will be allowed to answer questions concerning their speech,
  • A delegation that desires to ask a question of the speaker should signify by raising a Point of Inquiry (rule 6.3),
  • All questions and replies are made through the Chair,
  • A speaker who desires to make a motion may do so after speaking and accepting Points of Inquiry, but prior to yielding the floor, and
  • By making a motion the speaker yields the floor.

2.4 Recognition of Speakers. Delegations wishing to speak on an item before the body will signify by raising their placards,

  • The exception to this rule occurs on any Point of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2), or Inquiry (rule 6.3), at which time a representative should raise their placard and call out “Point of ___________” to the Chair,
  • Points will be recognized in the order of their priority,
  • Motions may not be made from Points of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2), or Inquiry (rule 6.3), or from any procedural speeches, except,
  • A motion to Appeal the Decision of the Chair (rule 7.6), may be made when recognized for a Point of Order.
  • The Chair shall recognize speakers in a fair and orderly manner,
  • Speakers’ lists will not be used.

2.5 Right of Reply. The Chair may accord a Right of Reply to any representative if a speech by another representative contains unusual or extraordinary language clearly insulting to personal or national dignity,

  • Requests for a Right of Reply shall be made in writing to the Chair,
  • Requests shall contain the specific language which was found to be insulting to personal or national dignity,
  • The Chair may limit the time allowed for a reply,
  • There shall be no reply to a reply, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

2.6 Withdrawal of Motions. A motion may be withdrawn by its proposer at any time before voting on it has begun,

  • Seconds to a motion may also be withdrawn,
  • A withdrawn motion or second may be reintroduced by another delegation.

2.7 Dilatory Motions. The Chair may rule out of order any motion repeating or closely approximating a recent previous motion on which the Committee has already rendered an opinion,

  • This decision is not appealable.

3.0 Rules That Relate to the Rules

3.1 Rule Priority and Procedure. The rules contained in this handbook are the official rules of procedure of the American Model United Nations and will be used for all Committee sessions. These rules take precedence over any other set of rules.

3.2 Precedence of Rules. Proceedings in the Committees and General Assembly sessions of AMUN shall be conducted under the following precedence of rules;

  1. AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  2. AMUN General Assembly (GA) & Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Order of Precedence of the Rules Short Form,
  3. Rulings by the Rules Committee,
  4. Historical usage of the AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  5. Historical usage of the United Nations Rules of Procedure,
  6. The Charter of the United Nations.

3.3 The Order of Precedence of Procedural Motions.The order of precedence of procedural motions is listed in both the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council (GA/ECOSOC) Precedence Short Form and in these rules under Section 7, “Procedural Motions In Order of Priority.”

3.4 Rule Changes. The Rules Committee reserves the right to make changes to these rules at any time. Should a change occur, it will be communicated to the representatives in a timely manner.

4.0 Draft Proposals & Amendments

4.1 Definition of Draft Reports. A draft report is a formal written proposal consisting of sections and paragraphs that detail a committee’s deliberations and recommendations on a particular topic. The report may include resolutions that the reporting body recommends for adoption by the body that receives the report. Reports must include an Executive Summary (rule 4.7).

4.2 Draft Reports. Draft reports may be submitted to the Committee Dais for approval at any time during the Conference,

  • For a draft report to be considered, it must be organized in content and flow, have a minimum of 35 percent of the delegations in attendance listed as sponsors, and the approval of the Special Rapporteur(s),
  • The final required number of sponsors will be determined by the Rules Committee at conference registration and announced at the opening of each committee session,
  • After acceptance by the Special Rapporteur(s), draft reports shall be processed in the order in which they are received,
  • Limited copies of the full text of the draft report shall be issued to the committee, and a copy of the Executive Summary shall be distributed to all delegations as soon as feasible,
  • Only one draft report per topic area shall be accepted for consideration by the Special Rapporteur(s),
  • Once a draft report is on the floor for discussion, additional sponsors may only be added to that draft report with the consent of the original sponsors,
  • Any resolutions adopted by the committee on the topic of the report will be automatically included in Section III of the report, including after the adoption of the report or Executive Summary,
  • Once a vote has been taken on any part of a draft report, including a contested amendment, it becomes the property of the body, and no additional sponsors or friendly amendments may be added or removed,
  • Friendly amendments (rule 4.6) do not limit the addition of sponsors as above,
  • See also Closure of Debate (rule 7.4) and Consideration of Draft Reports (rule 7.14),
  • Objections or reservations to the report shall be included in the text of the report, and
  • Objections to the report must be in writing and may be submitted before or after the final vote on the report, and
  • The default method of voting for reports shall be Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3). If there is any objection, the Committee will proceed with a substantive vote, which requires a simple majority for passage.

4.3 Definition of Draft Resolutions. A draft resolution is a written proposal consisting of at least one preambular and one operative clause.

4.4 Draft Resolutions. Draft resolutions may be submitted to the Committee Secretariat for approval at any time during the Conference,

  • For a draft resolution to be considered, it must be organized in content and flow, in the proper format, have a minimum of 35 percent of the delegations in attendance listed as sponsors, and the signature of the Rapporteur,
  • The final required number of sponsors will be determined by the Rules Committee at conference registration and announced at the opening of each committee session,
  • After acceptance by the Rapporteur(s), draft resolutions shall be processed in the order in which they are received and distributed to all delegations as soon as feasible.

A draft resolution that has been distributed may be proposed when the Committee considers the agenda topic that is the subject of the draft resolution.

  • Only one draft resolution may be considered on the floor at any time during formal debate,
  • Once a draft resolution is on the floor for discussion, additional sponsors may only be added to that draft resolution with the consent of the original sponsors,
  • Once a vote has been taken on a contested amendment to a draft resolution, no sponsors may be added or removed,
  • Friendly amendments (rule 4.6) do not limit the addition of sponsors as noted above, and
  • See also Closure of Debate (rule 7.4) and Consideration of Draft Resolutions (rule 7.15).

4.5 Definition of Amendments. An amendment to a draft resolution or report is a written proposal that adds to, deletes from, or revises any part of a draft proposal.

4.6 Amendments. All amendments must be signed by 15 percent of the delegations in attendance,

  • The final required number of sponsors will be determined by the Rules Committee at conference registration and announced at the opening of each committee session,

An amendment is submitted on an official amendment form to the Rapporteurs for approval.

Amendments will be approved if they are legible, organized in content and flow, and in the proper format,

  • Approved amendments will be assigned an identification letter by the Rapporteurs, and
  • Typographical errors in a resolution or report will be corrected by the Rapporteurs and announced to the body.

One or more amendments may be considered on the floor at any given time (see also Closure of Debate (rule 7.4) and Consideration of Amendments (rule 7.16)).

An amendment will be considered “friendly” if all sponsors of the draft resolution or report are also sponsors of the amendment,

  • A friendly amendment becomes part of a draft proposal upon the announcement that it is accepted,
  • A dais member shall announce the acceptance of a friendly amendment on the first opportunity at which no speaker has the floor, and
  • Friendly amendments cannot be accepted after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment or after closure of debate on the report/resolution has been moved.

4.7 Definition of Executive Summaries. The reporting body must issue an Executive Summary of the finalized report which will briefly summarize the contents of the report.

4.8 Executive Summaries. Executive Summaries are discussed, drafted and accepted outside of formal Committee sessions (during a suspension of the meeting or consultative session),

  • The default method of accepting the Executive Summary is through an informal consensus of the committee during suspension or Consultative Session. If there is objection to consensus the committee will proceed with an informal vote which requires a simple majority for passage.
  • The final Executive Summary must be presented to the dais for inclusion with the Report and distribution to the Committee receiving the Report.

4.9 Withdrawal of Sponsorship. Sponsorship of a resolution, report, or amendment may be withdrawn,

  • Sponsorship of a resolution or report may not be withdrawn after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment,
  • If a draft resolution, report, or amendment falls below the number of sponsors required for consideration, additional sponsors may be added to that proposal with the consent of the original sponsors, and
  • If a draft resolution, report, or amendment falls below the required number of sponsors, it is automatically removed from consideration.

5.0 Voting

5.1 Voting Rights. Each Member State is accorded one vote in each Committee on which it is represented,

  • No representative or Delegation may cast a vote on behalf of another Member State.

5.2 Simple Majority. Unless otherwise specified in these rules, decisions in the Committee shall be made by a majority vote of those Members present and voting. If there is an equal division between yes and no votes, the motion fails.

5.3 Adoption by Consensus. The adoption of draft resolutions, reports and amendments by consensus is desirable when it contributes to the effective and lasting settlement of differences, thus strengthening the authority of the United Nations,

  • Any representative may request the adoption of a report, amendment or draft resolution by consensus at any time after closure of debate has passed,
  • For reports, the default method of voting is adoption by consensus,
  • The Chair then shall ask whether there is any objection to a consensus and then shall ask if any Member States wish to abstain from consensus,
  • Delegations abstaining from consensus will be officially recorded,
  • If there is no objection, the proposal is approved by consensus, and
  • If any representative objects to consensus, voting shall occur as otherwise stated in these rules.

5.4 Method of Voting. The Committee shall normally vote by a show of raised placards,

  • The Chair may grant a request by a delegation for a roll call vote on any substantive matter, and the Chair’s decision on such a request is not subject to appeal,
  • When applicable, roll shall be called in English alphabetical order beginning with a member selected at random by the Vice Chair,
  • Roll Call Votes are not in order during Combined General Assembly Plenary,
  • Representatives shall reply “yes,” “no,” “abstain,” or “abstain from the order of voting” and
  • A member may abstain from the order of voting once during a roll call; a second abstention from the order of voting will be recorded as an abstention.

5.5 Conduct During Voting. Immediately prior to a vote, the Chair shall describe to the Committee the item to be voted on, and shall explain the consequences of a “yes” or a “no” vote. Voting shall begin upon the Chair’s declaration “we are now in voting procedure,” and end when the results of the vote are announced,

  • Following Closure of Debate, and prior to entering voting procedure, the Chair shall pause briefly to allow delegations the opportunity to make any relevant motions,
  • Relevant motions prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3), Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Decision of No Action (rule 7.5) (only available in GA Plenary), Consultative Session (rule 7.7) (only available in ECOSOC and report-writing bodies), Decision of Competence (rule 7.8), Division of the Question (rule 7.11), or Important Question (rule 7.13) (only available in GA Plenary), and
  • Relevant requests prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3), Request for a roll call vote (rule 5.4), and
  • Once in voting procedure, no representative shall interrupt the voting except on a Point of Order or Point of Information concerning the actual conduct of the vote.

5.6 Changes of Votes. At the end of a roll call vote, but before Rights of Explanation (rule 5.7) and the subsequent announcement of the vote, the Vice Chair will ask for any vote changes. Any delegation that desires to change its recorded vote may do so at that time.

5.7 Rights of Explanation. Rights of Explanation are permitted on all substantive votes after voting. The Chair may limit time for Rights of Explanation.

6.0 Points of Procedure in Order of Priority

6.1 Point of Order. During the discussion of any matter, a representative may rise to a Point of Order if the representative believes that the Committee is proceeding in a manner contrary to these rules,

  • The representative must call out their point and will be recognized immediately by the Chair and the point ruled on,
  • A representative rising to a Point of Order may not speak substantively on any matter,
  • If a representative’s ability to participate in the Committee’s deliberations is impaired for any reason, the representative may rise to a Point of Order,
  • A Point of Order may interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

6.2 Point of Information. A Point of Information is raised to the Chair if a representative wishes to obtain a clarification of procedure or a statement of the matters before the Committee,

  • The representative must call out their point to be recognized,
  • A Point of Information may not interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

6.3 Point of Inquiry. During substantive debate, a representative may question a speaker by rising to a Point of Inquiry,

  • Questions must be directed through the Chair and may be made only after the delegation has concluded their remarks, but before the delegation has yielded the floor,
  • The representative must call out their point to be recognized,
  • A Point of Inquiry may not interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

7.0 Procedural Motions in Order of Priority

7.1 Suspension of the Meeting. During the discussion of any matter, a representative may move to suspend the meeting. Suspending a meeting recesses it for the time specified in the motion,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • The Chair may request that the delegation making the motion modify the time of suspension,
  • If the motion passes, upon reconvening the Committee will continue its business from the point at which the suspension was moved.

7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting. The motion of adjournment means that all business of the Committee has been completed for the year, and that the Committee will not reconvene until the next annual session,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • The Chair may refuse to recognize a motion to adjourn the meeting if the Committee still has business before it, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

7.3 Adjournment of Debate. During the discussion of any draft report, draft resolution, or amendment, a representative may move for adjournment of debate,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion, and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • An item upon which debate has been adjourned must pass a vote of Reconsideration before it may be brought back to the floor for consideration (rule 7.12), and
  • The effect of this motion, if passed, removes the item from consideration and allows the Committee to move on to another draft report, resolution or amendment.

7.4 Closure of Debate. A representative may move to close debate on a draft report, draft resolution, or amendment before the Committee at any time during the discussion of item. The effect of this motion, if passed, is to bring a draft report, resolution or amendment that is on the floor to a vote,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak against closure; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • Representatives should specify whether the motion for closure applies to an amendment or a draft report/resolution,
  • If closure passes on a draft report/resolution, all amendments on the floor will be voted on in the reverse order from which they were moved to the floor, and
  • After voting on all amendments is completed, the draft report or resolution shall be voted upon in accordance with these rules.

At the conclusion of voting procedure, the draft report, draft resolution or amendment being voted on is removed from consideration, regardless of whether the proposal passes or fails. Debate then continues on the current agenda topic.

7.5 Decision of No Action. Applicable only in the General Assembly Plenary (rule 8.5).

7.6 Appealing a Decision of the Chair. Rulings of the Chair are appealable unless otherwise specified in these rules,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • An appeal must be made immediately following the ruling in question,
  • This motion may be made by a delegation that has been recognized through a Point of Order,
  • The Chair shall put the question as follows: “Shall the decision of the Chair be upheld?” A “yes” vote supports the Chair’s decision; a “no” signifies objection,
  • The decision of the Chair shall be upheld by a tie, and
  • Rulings by the Chair on the following rules or motions are not appealable: Diplomatic Courtesy (rule 2.2), Right of Reply (rule 2.5), Dilatory Motions (rule 2.7), granting of a roll call vote (rule 5.4), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), and any time a ruling by the Chair is a direct quotation from these Rules of Procedure.

7.7 Consultative Session. Applicable only in the Economic and Social Council and designated reporting bodies (rule 9.4).

7.8 Decision of Competence. A motion calling for a decision on the competence of the Committee to discuss or adopt a draft report, draft resolution or amendment as outlined in the United Nations Charter is in order at any time prior to entering voting procedure,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote, and
  • The effect is the same as Adjournment of Debate (rule 7.3) and requires a motion for Reconsideration of Proposals (rule 7.12) in order to discuss the item again.

7.9 Consideration of Agenda Topics. Agenda topics will be considered in the order in which they appear in the Issues at AMUN handbook, unless that order is altered by the passage of a motion for Consideration of Agenda Topics,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable, and
  • This motion is not in order during the Combined General Assembly Plenary session.

7.10 Limits on Debate. A motion to limit or extend the time allotted to each delegation, or limit the number of times each delegation can speak on a proposal, is in order at any time,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The time allotted for substantive speeches shall be no less than three minutes,
  • The time allotted for procedural speeches shall be no less than one minute,
  • This motion may limit the number of Points of Inquiry a speaker may accept to a minimum of one, and
  • A motion to limit the time of debate on an agenda topic, draft report, draft resolution, or amendment is also in order.

7.11 Division of the Question. A motion to divide the question, proposing that clauses of an amendment or draft resolution or paragraphs of a draft report be voted on separately, is in order at any time prior to entering voting procedure on the amendment, draft resolution, or report,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • After a motion for Division of the Question passes, no other motion for Division of the Question is in order on that amendment, draft resolution or draft report,
  • Those clauses or paragraphs of the amendment, draft resolution, or report which are approved shall then be put to a vote as a whole, and
  • If division causes the draft resolution or report to no longer be in the proper format (rules 4.1 and 4.3), the proposal as a whole is rejected.

7.12 Reconsideration of Proposals.. A motion for Reconsideration of Proposals is in order on a report, amendment, or draft resolution which has passed or failed when put to a final vote. The motion is also in order for proposals on which Adjournment of Debate has passed (rule 7.3), on proposals on which a Decision of No Action was decided (rule 7.5) and on proposals upon which the Committee has decided it was not competent to discuss or adopt (rule 7.8),

  • This motion requires a second and a two-thirds majority vote for passage,
  • Two delegations may speak opposed to the motion, and
  • If the motion passes, the issue is brought back before the body for debate and may be voted on again.

7.13 Important Question. Applicable only in the General Assembly Plenary (rule 8.6).

7.14 Consideration of Draft Reports. Applicable only in the Economic and Social Council and designated reporting bodies (rule 9.3 and rule 9.5).

7.15 Consideration of Draft Resolutions. A draft resolution may be moved to the floor by a motion for Consideration of Draft Resolutions,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • The motion is not debatable,
  • Only one draft resolution may be on the floor at any time,
  • If the motion passes, the delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the draft resolution, if desired, and
  • This motion is not in order during the Combined General Assembly Plenary session.

7.16 Consideration of Amendments. To bring an amendment to the floor for discussion, a delegation must first be recognized by the Chair,

  • No second is required. Upon recognition of this motion by the Chair, the amendment will be under consideration by the body,
  • The Committee Secretariat will present the amendment to the body, and
  • The delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the amendment, if desired.

7.17 Setting the Order of Consideration of Draft Resolutions for Combined GA Plenary Session. This motion is in order at the conclusion of General Assembly Committee sessions, prior to convening the Combined General Assembly Plenary session. Each main General Assembly Committee must set a priority order of consideration of the resolutions which have passed during its sessions for consideration by the Combined Plenary. The Combined Plenary will then consider these resolutions for ratification, as described in rule 8.4,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • This motion may list two resolutions considered by the Committee for consideration by the Combined Plenary, in the order the Committee wishes them to be considered,
  • The first motion to set the order of consideration of draft resolutions to receive a majority vote shall determine the order in which the draft resolutions are considered in the Combined Plenary. After a majority vote is received, no other motion to set the order of consideration of draft resolutions is in order for that Committee,
  • If a Committee session concludes and this motion has not yet passed, the order will be set by the Committee Dais Staff and the President of the General Assembly, and
  • This motion is not in order during the General Assembly Plenary sessions or the Economic and Social Council.

8.0 Rules Relating Only to the General Assembly Plenary Sessions

This section of the rules applies to both the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary session, which will convene at the same time as the main Committees, and to the Combined General Assembly Plenary session. Each rule below identifies the General Assembly session(s) to which it applies.

8.1 Interchangeability of Rules. All Committee rules apply to the conduct of business in the General Assembly Plenary, except where noted below:

  • Motions described under Consideration of Agenda Topics (rule 7.9), Consideration of Draft Resolutions (rule 7.15), and Setting the Order of Consideration of Resolutions for Combined GA Plenary Session (rule 7.17) are not in order during the Combined General Assembly session, and
  • Roll Call votes are not in order during Combined General Assembly Plenary.

8.2 Quorum. The Concurrent General Assembly will observe the quorum requirements of rule 1.4. In the Combined General Assembly Plenary session, a quorum will be one-third of the member delegations in attendance at the conference.

8.3 Officers. The President of the General Assembly shall act as the principal Chair of the Assembly, with the Assembly Vice President, Committee Chairs and Rapporteurs serving as supporting officers during the Combined General Assembly Plenary. The officers shall have all the powers, duties, and responsibilities, as described in Committee Officers (rule 1.5) and General Authority of the Chair (rule 1.6).

8.4 Order of Consideration of Committees in Combined General Assembly Plenary. The Secretary-General will randomly select an order for consideration of Committees in the Combined Plenary session. Each Committee will establish, in advance, the order in which its own passed resolutions are to be considered for ratification (rule 7.17). The Combined Plenary session will begin by considering the first resolution selected by the initial Committee. After considering this resolution, the Combined Plenary will then consider the first resolution selected by the next Committee on the list. Each Committee’s first resolution will be considered in turn. After the last Committee’s first resolution has been considered, the Combined Plenary will consider the second resolution prioritized by the next Committee in the order and move down the Committee list again,

  • Resolutions passed by a Committee are considered in the Combined Plenary with no additional signatures needed,
  • When a Committee resolution is brought to the floor of the Combined Plenary, an automatic limit of debate of 15 minutes is imposed on the discussion; after 15 minutes (including debate and suspension time) have expired, the draft resolution will come to an immediate vote as if Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), had been passed,
  • For the purposes of this rule, a Committee resolution has been considered when the Limit for Debate has expired or when any of the following motions is passed: Adjournment of Debate (rule 7.3), Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), or Decision of No Action (rule 7.5),
  • If a resolution before the Combined Plenary does not pass (either through a failed vote, Adjournment of Debate or a Decision of No Action), the Combined Plenary may move to reconsider that resolution (rule 7.12) when the Committee from which it originated is again under consideration. A successful vote for reconsideration of a resolution would have the effect of deferring all subsequent resolutions selected by that Committee for consideration in the Combined Plenary to the next available time for that Committee, and
  • Combined General Assembly Plenary will hear the reports of and consider resolutions accepting the work of its reporting bodies. The Secretary-General will place the relevant resolution(s) on the agenda for Combined General Assembly Plenary,
  • Combined General Assembly Plenary will also hear a summary of resolutions, and a discussion of work of those bodies that the Secretary-General placed on the agenda.

8.5 Decision of No Action. During the discussion of any draft resolution or amendment, a representative may move that the body take no action on that matter,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The effect is the same as adjourning debate (rule 7.3) and requires a motion for Reconsideration (rule 7.12) in order to discuss the item again, and
  • This motion is in order during the Concurrent and Combined General Assembly Plenary sessions.

8.6 Important Question. An Important Question in the General Assembly requires a two-thirds majority vote of all members present and voting for passage. Amendments to draft resolutions dealing with Important Questions also require a two-thirds majority vote for passage. Decisions on Important Questions are applicable only to the General Assembly. When discussed in committees, these issues are debated and voted upon utilizing normal committee rules. Such questions shall include:

  • This motion requires a second and a simple majority to pass,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • This motion is in order only in the Concurrent and Combined General Assembly Plenary sessions,
  • Recommendations with respect to maintenance of international peace and security (only when the Security Council fails to act),
  • Admission of new members to the United Nation,
  • Suspension of rights and privileges of membership,
  • Expulsion of Member States,
  • Questions in relationship to the Trusteeship system, and
  • Budgetary questions.

Draft resolutions which fall into these categories are automatically Important Questions, and will be designated as such by the President of the General Assembly,

  • Determination of additional categories of Important Questions may be made by a simple majority vote of the Members present and voting, before a vote is taken on any part of a proposal dealing with the subject.

8.7 Security Council Priority Relating to Issues Concerning the Maintenance of International Peace and Security. The Security Council, as established in the United Nations Charter, shall have priority over the General Assembly on issues that pertain to the maintenance of international peace and security. Issues of this type, while under discussion in the Security Council, shall be seized from General Assembly action. Any General Assembly draft resolution pertaining to a seized issue cannot be put to a final vote until the Security Council has completed its deliberations on the subject,

  • General Assembly draft resolutions that deal with a seized issue may be discussed and amended, but no final vote on the draft resolution may be taken,
  • If no resolution has been adopted, the Security Council will be considered to have completed its deliberations on a seized issue once that agenda topic is no longer under discussion,
  • The Council may declare itself actively seized on a topic by stating this in a resolution; this seizure will prevent the General Assembly from taking action until a two-hour time period has elapsed,
  • General Assembly representatives will be kept informed by the Secretary-General of any seized issues, and
  • Note that this rule applies to only the Concurrent and Combined General Assembly Plenary sessions.

8.8 Applications for Admission of New Member States. Any State which desires to become a member shall submit an application to the Secretary-General prior to the start of the Conference and at a date communicated by the AMUN Secretariat. Applications shall contain a declaration, made in a formal instrument, that the State in question accepts the obligations contained in the United Nations Charter,

  • The Secretary-General shall inform the Security Council and the General Assembly of any applications.

8.9 Consideration of Applications and Decisions Thereon. If the Security Council recommends the application of a State for membership, the General Assembly may consider whether the applicant is a peace-loving State and is able and willing to carry out the obligations contained in the United Nations Charter,

  • Any draft resolution on admission is automatically an Important Question,
  • If the Security Council does not recommend the applicant State for membership, or if it postpones consideration of the application, the General Assembly may, after full consideration of the special report of the Security Council, send the application back to the Council, together with a full record of the discussion of the General Assembly, for further consideration and recommendation, and
  • Note that this motion is in order only in the Concurrent and Combined General Assembly Plenary sessions.

8.10 Notification of the Decision and Effective Date of Membership. The Secretary-General shall inform the applicant State of the decision of the General Assembly. If the application is approved, membership shall become effective on the date on which the General Assembly takes its decision on the application.

9.0 Rules Relating to the Economic and Social Council, its Subsidiary Bodies and Special Committees

This section of the rules applies to the Economic and Social Council, its Plenary session, and all meetings of report-writing bodies.

9.1 Interchangeability of the Rules. All committee rules apply to the conduct of business in the Economic and Social Council, its subsidiary bodies, and special committees. The priority of rules for motions specific to the Council shall be the order in which they are listed under Section 9, and they shall follow all other GA/ECOSOC rules in overall precedence.

9.2 Participation of Non-Member States. The Council may invite a non-represented State or intergovernmental organization to participate in its discussions on any item before the body. This includes all United Nations Member States, recognized non-Member States, and any organization or individual recognized by the United Nations whose participation would enhance the proceedings of the Council,

  • Non-Members may be invited into the Council by a request made to the Chair from any Member State,
  • Non-Council United Nations Member States shall have the same rights as observers (rule 1.10) in the General Assembly, and
  • Organizations or individuals may speak and accept points of inquiry, but have no rights to make any motion or vote.

9.3 Consideration of Reports in ECOSOC Plenary Session. The Secretariat will announce an agenda for the ECOSOC Plenary session at the beginning of its meeting,

  • The agenda will establish the order in which Committees’ reports are to be considered, and the agenda will be made available at the dais for review,
  • The agenda order may be altered by a majority vote of the Council (rule 7.15). ECOSOC must consider one report or item from each Committee before considering a second report or item from any Committee,
  • When a draft resolution considering a committee’s report is brought to the floor of ECOSOC Plenary, an automatic limit of debate, as determined by the Secretary-General and announced by the Chair, is imposed on the draft resolution; after this time (including debate and suspension time) has expired, the draft resolution will come to an immediate vote as if Closure of Debate had been passed,
  • This limit may be lengthened, shortened, or repealed through the passage of a motion for Limits on Debate (rule 7.10),
  • For the purposes of this rule, a report has been considered when either Closure of Debate is successfully moved or the automatic limit has expired, and a vote, either passing or failing, has been taken on a draft resolution pertaining to the report, and
  • This motion is only in order during the ECOSOC Plenary Session.

9.4 Consultative Session. The Council may choose to suspend the rules and enter an informal, consultative session if the Members determine that this process will better facilitate the discussion of a particular issue,

  • The motion should specify a length of time and a moderator for the consultative session,
  • A moderator can be a representative or Secretariat Member,
  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote
  • The Council will move immediately into a formal session at the conclusion of the consultative session, and
  • See also Consultative Session (rule 7.7).

9.5 Consideration of Draft Reports. A draft report may be moved to the floor by a motion for Consideration of Draft Reports,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • Only one draft report may be on the floor at any time,
  • If the motion passes, the delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the draft report, if desired, and
  • See also Consideration of Draft Reports (rule 7.14).

9.6 Formation of Committees. A delegation may propose the formation of a committee to deal with any issue(s). The motion must be submitted in writing to the Chair prior to being made from the floor, and must contain the following:

  1. Membership of the committee,
  2. Issue(s) to be investigated,
  3. Objectives of the committee, and
  4. Duration of the committee’s existence.

A committee, once established, shall elect its own officers and determine its rules of procedure, within the bounds of the Council rules,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote, and
  • Upon the conclusion of the committee’s work, it will report its findings to the Council.

9.7 Formation of Commissions. The Council has the authority to establish commissions on topics that require long-term consideration,

  • A commission may be established to develop a convention or treaty, or to deal with an issue that requires more in-depth deliberation than the Council can provide,
  • The motion to establish a commission should be in the form of a draft resolution, detail the commission’s membership, and establish the mandate for its formation, and
  • Upon the conclusion of the commission’s work, it will report to the Council as a whole for approval on its findings.

9.8 Creation of Conventions and Treaties. The Council may decide to draft a convention or treaty on any given topic. The Council shall determine the format of such a document,

  • Conventions and treaties, upon conclusion, shall be sent to the Combined General Assembly Plenary for approval and ratification by all Member States, and
  • This rule applies only to the Economic and Social Council and not its subsidiary bodies.

General Assembly and Economic and Social Council Short Form

Rule Second? Debatable? Vote Required Description
6.1 Point of Order No No None Point out a misuse of the rules
6.2 Point of Information No No None Ask any question of the Chair, or gain a clarification
6.3 Point of Inquiry No No None Ask a question of a speaker at the end of their speech, prior to the Delegation’s yielding the floor
7.1 Suspension of the Meeting Yes No Simple Majority Recess the meeting for a specific period of time
7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting Yes No Simple Majority End the meeting for the year
7.3 Adjournment of Debate Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Remove from consideration any proposal on the floor without a vote on the content of that proposal
7.4 Closure of Debate Yes 2 Con Simple Majority End debate on any proposal on the floor and bring it to an immediate vote
7.5 Decision of No Action Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Only in GA Plenary sessions; signify that no action will be taken on the matter
7.6 Appealing a Decision of the Chair Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Challenge a ruling made by the Chair
7.7 Consultative Session Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Only in ECOSOC and report writing bodies; suspend rules and move to an informal debate session
7.8 Decision of Competence Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Question whether the UN body is competent to act on a certain issue within the Charter and international law
7.9 Consideration of Agenda Topics Yes No Simple Majority Change the order in which agenda items are discussed
7.10 Limits on Debate Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Impose (or repeal) a limit on the length of any form of debate
7.11 Division of the Question Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Divide a draft resolution or amendment into two or more clauses, or divide a report into two or more paragraphs, each to be voted on separately after Closure of Debate
7.12 Reconsideration of Proposals Yes 2 Con 2 / 3 Majority Reconsider an item on which debate has been adjourned or upon which a vote has been taken
7.13 Important Question Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Only in GA Plenary sessions; requires a 2/3 majority vote to adopt a draft resolution or amendment
7.14 Consideration of Draft Reports Yes No Simple Majority Only in report-writing bodies; bring a draft report to the floor for discussion
7.15 Consideration of Draft Resolutions Yes No Simple Majority Bring a draft resolution to the floor for discussion
7.16 Consideration of Amendments No No None Bring an amendment to the floor for discussion
7.17 Setting the Order of Consideration of Draft Resolutions for the GA Plenary Session Yes No Simple Majority Establish a priority order for draft resolutions passed in GA committees to be considered by the Combined GA Plenary

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The Economic and Social Council

Membership of the Economic and Social Council

Membership of the Economic and Social Council includes: Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, China, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran, Islamic Republic of, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Togo, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Yemen.

Introduction

The Economic and Social Council is the principal United Nations organ responsible for coordinating economic, social and related works of 14 specialized agencies, 10 functional commissions and 5 regional commissions. ECOSOC accepts reports and recommendations from other United Nations bodies, including the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Along with its coordinating role, ECOSOC gathers information and advises Member States on economic, social, humanitarian and human rights programs. ECOSOC also coordinates between and collaborates with autonomous specialized agencies that work closely with the United Nations. These organizations include multilateral financial and trade institutions, such as the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.

Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all

Ever since the goal of achieving sustainable development for all was established at the 1992 Earth Summit, eradicating poverty has played an integral role in United Nations actions on this issue. The United Nations definition of poverty is multifaceted and includes more factors than a lack of wealth; it also includes other considerations such as hunger and malnutrition, access to public goods, social discrimination, and a lack of participation in decision-making. Despite progress since the Earth Summit, today about 8 percent of the global population lives in extreme poverty—making less than $1.90 a day—even among those with a job. Poverty is also not distributed equally. Nearly one in five children live in extreme poverty. Women are more likely to be living in poverty than men, and circumstances surrounding poverty impact women and men in different ways. As the Economic and Social Council coordinates economic, social and other related works of several specialized agencies in the United Nations system, the Council is well-suited to address the many facets of poverty. With respect to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Council oversees the results of past conferences and disseminating historical knowledge, particularly lessons learned under the previous Millenium Development Goals.

Since the turn of the century, the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have guided United Nations development strategy. These programs, representing development goals for the 2000-2015 and 2015-2030 time periods respectively, both place the eradication of poverty as their number one priority. However, the MDGs were adopted by the General Assembly in 2000 through a resolution that simply outlined the goals and values driving these goals without explicit directives for implementation. MDG1, “Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger,” included three targets to measure progress: reduce extreme poverty rates to below half of their 1990 levels, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, and reduce hunger rates to below half of their 1990 levels. These targets had varying success—in part because the MDGs outlined goals and values without providing explicit directives for implementation. Member States were successful at reducing global extreme poverty by half by 2010—five years ahead of schedule. Despite this, significant inequality still exists. Poverty remains most pervasive in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, with the latter being the only region to not meet the target. 

Progress on ensuring employment was rather mixed, with large setbacks due to the global economic crisis in 2007. The global employment rate dropped slightly between 1991 and 2015, and developing regions saw a larger drop than developed ones. Global youth have also seen job opportunities diminish, as employment rates for men and women between the ages of 15 and 24 dropped by 20 percent over that time period, although some of this drop can be attributed to more young people deciding to stay in school. Other measures of employment quality—such as reductions in the number of the working poor and prevalence of vulnerable employment—showed a more optimistic picture, however. In the final MDG report, then-Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon reported that climate change and other environmental factors undermined the progress achieved in the global community, with poor people suffering the most, underscoring the fact that poverty and sustainable development are necessarily interlinked. 

In 2012, at the twenty-year follow-up meeting to the Earth Summit, the United Nations set a vision for development after the MDGs in its document “The future we want.” With the conclusion of the MDGs in 2015, the international community agreed to a series of landmark decisions regarding sustainable development: the adoption of the SDGs, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The SDGs were designed to build upon the successes of the MDGs and to address their shortcomings. The MDGs were often criticized for not adequately including the developing world in negotiations and focusing on country, region and global averages. In contrast, the United Nations developed the SDGs in a series of public workshops from 2012 to 2015, and the wording of the goals and targets places much higher focus on the role of communities and governments. For example, the first SDG, “end poverty in all forms everywhere,” targets halving the number—rather than the proportion—of people in poverty, and ensuring that all people have access to national social protection systems.

Current projections show the world is not on track to meet the poverty eradication goals, as the impoverished population continues to stay steady or even grow in dozens of countries. The SDG targets and indicators describe potential strategies going forward. Strong public institutions—and access to them—were shown to be instrumental in poverty reduction during the MDG period.

At their 2018 meeting, the Economic and Social Council discussed the promotion of equal access to public services, such as education and health care, and the importance of public participation in all-levels of government for achieving it. In addition, the Council emphasized the importance of pursuing economic policies that balance job creation, investment and social protection. Job creation is an integral part of ensuring poverty reduction; an estimated 600 million jobs will be needed by 2030 to accommodate the growing global youth population. Further, as climate change intensifies, Member States will face increasingly serious environmental effects with unique consequences based on many factors, from geographic location to economic situation. Global poverty reduction strategies must take all of these factors into account, while further ensuring that national ownership of States’ development is maintained.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective include the following:

  • How can the United Nations facilitate regional cooperation in eradicating poverty?
  • What effects will climate change have on poverty eradication?
  • How can Member States stimulate sufficient job creation in order to achieve SDG 1?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women

The conflict over the Occupied Palestinian Territories disproportionately affects those groups at the margins of society. Women are especially vulnerable to the consequences of conflict, due to decreased access to health services, increased prevalence of gender based violence and lack of opportunities for women in the region to gain social mobility. All of these issues are perpetuated not only by the conflict, but also by societal attitudes towards women and by a lack of basic infrastructure and services. Nearly a quarter of married Palestinian women reported experiencing domestic violence in 2005 and over three in five experienced psychological violence that same year. However, the United Nations has repeatedly cited the Israeli occupation of Palestine as the primary factor in exacerbating the plight of Palestinian women. 10 percent of pregnant women spent 2-4 hours on the road before reaching a medical centre or a hospital, while 6 percent spent more than four hours, delays the Palestinian Ministry of Health attributes at least partially to Israeli checkpoints. This hardship is estimated to have contributed to an 8.2 percent increase of home deliveries. In early 2019, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported that health services in the Gaza Strip were on the verge of collapse due to energy shortages, Palestinian political divides and the Gaza blockade. 

United Nations humanitarian work in Palestine dates back to the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the founding of the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in 1949. The first United Nations response to the status of Palestinian women took place in 1975 at the First World Conference on Women, where States adopted a resolution calling for action to protect the human rights of Palestinian women. While controversial, the issue was considered again at the Second World Conference. Most speakers supported providing special assistance to Palestinian women, but debate devolved into a chaos of condemnations of all parties involved without resolution. However, the international community decided this issue was worth continuing to investigate; in 1984, the year before the Third World Conference on Women, the United Nations Economic and Social Council adopted its first resolution on the subject, requesting the Secretary-General to prepare an updated version of the report that was used at the Second World Conference. In 1989 the Council took further action by strongly condemning Israel’s actions during the First Intifada, including the use of blunt violence against civilians.The Council specifically highlighted the effect on women in the occupied Palestinian territories. Additionally, the United Nations echoed the sentiments of the Forward Looking Strategies adopted at the Third World Conference, which called for an end to Israeli settlements in Palestine and for the creation of special projects to aid Palestinian women. 

The 1990s saw dramatic changes for women in Palestine. In 1993, the Oslo Accords established a framework to end the Palestine-Israel conflict and created the Palestinian National Authority as an interim government over much of the Palestinian territory. This organization would later become the recognized government of the State of Palestine. Women, already strongly organized through their role in the First Intifada and the peace process, developed civil society organizations such as the Women’s Affairs Technical Committee and the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling. The first legislative elections in 1996 saw five women elected to the 88-seat Palestinian Legislative Council, and in the executive race Samiha Khalil ran opposed to Yasser Arafat, winning 11 percent of the vote. However, improvements in general quality of life were unsteady; the standard of living in the Gaza Strip declined by half between 1993 and 1994. The Second Intifada in 2000 and subsequent five-year conflict and the rise of political conflicts between the Palestinian political parties Fatah and Hamas continued to destabilize the status of women through the turn of the century. In 2006, the size of the Legislative Council was expanded with a quota of 10 percent women representatives enacted for the Legislative Council. Despite efforts to elevate the role of women in politics, political representation has stayed near the quota level.

Palestine has lagged in ensuring legal protections for women. In 2018, Palestine repealed its laws allowing rapists to avoid prosecution by marrying their victim. However, Palestine still lacks laws specifically criminalizing domestic violence, even an estimated 30 percent of married women in the West Bank and 51 percent in the Gaza Strip have experienced domestic violence. Ensuring legal justice for honor killings has proven difficult as well, with an attempt in 2011 leaving a loophole that was not closed until 2018. Even enforcing laws is a complex matter, with Israel maintaining criminal authority in rural areas of the West Bank and civil authority in East Jerusalem while Hamas asserts control over the Gaza Strip. Palestinians living in the Israeli-managed areas are often disinclined to report crimes to Israeli authorities. In 2014, Palestine acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, becoming the only State in the region to do so without reservations or declarations.

The United Nations has provided assistance to Palestinian women through several organizations in the United Nations system, although the bulk of work is done through UNRWA. UN-Women and the International Labour Organization have worked with the Palestinian government to enhance equitable legislation, while the United Nations Children’s Fund helps UNRWA provide education and healthcare across the Occupied Palestine Territory. However, the ability to continue such projects is now uncertain due to the 2018 decision of the United States to cease its funding of UNRWA, a $300 million shortfall. 

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective include the following:

  • How can the United Nations support enforcement of existing Palestinian laws protecting women?
  • What role should the United Nations play in supporting political rights and political representation within States?
  • What steps can the United Nations take to support improved maternal health outcomes?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Economic Commission for Africa

Membership of the Economic Commission for Africa

The membership of the Economic Commission for Africa includes: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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Introduction

The Economic Commission for Africa is one of five regional commissions of the Economic and Social Commission and represents countries in Africa. ECA supports the economic development of its member states by reinforcing economic relationships among its members and other countries of the world. It does so by promoting developmental cooperative activities and projects of regional and subregional scope, bringing a regional perspective to global problems and translating global concerns at the regional and subregional levels. ECA also has as one of its primary objectives the promotion of the region’s social development.

Women’s economic empowerment: boosting women’s entrepreneurship in Africa

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) defines Women’s economic empowerment as “a process through which [women’s] capital (human, financial and physical) endowments increase along with their access to and benefit from economic opportunities, leading to improved agency and voice.” The International Labor Organization (ILO) reports that 66 percent of African women are employed, but only 20 percent are in wage employment. The remaining 80 percent of women who hold a job are self-employed. Compared to the rest of the world, African women are underemployed (working less than 30 hours per week) at higher rates than the global average. While African States have been working to close the gap, many challenges remain. 

The ECA first sought to address women’s empowerment in 2009. At the Expert Session of the Eighth Africa Regional Conference on Women, members of the Commission called upon Member States to address economic concerns related to gender through policy and programmes. In turn, States and regional intergovernmental bodies were to enhance the process by reporting data and lessons to the Commission and all African States. Finally, the ECA and regional organizations continued to improve this process by enhancing the capacity of Member States to reduce poverty and sustainable development as it relates to women’s empowerment. States that undertook these efforts were largely successful in creating government policy and establishing goals to address how to improve women’s capacity in employment. However, policy alone did not meet all of the needs related to women’s employment. Both internal and external obstacles made it difficult for governments to meet the goals of their policies. 

Since 2009, the majority of Member States have recognized the need to address women’s economic empowerment as a cornerstone of economic development throughout the continent. Despite the obstacles that hampered progress, the Commission continued to push forward. The New Continent-Wide Initiative for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment was created by the Commission in 2014. This initiative reinvigorated efforts to empower more women through employment. By combining policy with partnerships in the public and private sector, the Commission sought to overcome the shortcomings of policy-only plans. In addition to partnerships, the initiative recognizes the need for data to assess efforts. Data should be shared across all partners, government agencies and intergovernmental organizations. Finally, the initiative recognized the importance of women’s entrepreneurship. Industries such as agriculture and mining were seen as areas that could be improved by bringing women out of undervalued and largely invisible positions. This move would not only strengthen these important industries, but also empower women by bringing them into leadership positions. These efforts would “recognize and scale up [women’s] contributions as key economic agents.” This focus on entrepreneurship was also seen as a way to build womens’ autonomy and address other issues such as women’s rights. 

In 2017, the Commission released the policy report titled Women’s Economic Empowerment: Boosting Women’s Entrepreneurship in Africa which outlined the work and successes since the Initiative of 2014. The successes the report outlined included the growth of womens’ entrepreneurship. Women had seen a growth in employment across many industries, and a growth in leadership positions. Additionally, the report pointed to the participation of many of the Member States governments in growing women’s entrepreneurship as encouraging. Yet, there was still much work to be done. The report also showed that growth was still overall slow for women. Underemployment continues to restrict mobility and autonomy of women. The report also indicates that insufficient access to financing, electricity and other resources is an obstacle to women’s entrepreneurship. 

To address these issues, the report made several recommendations to Member States. First, states will need to consider how to incentivise financial institutions to encourage women’s entrepreneurship, particularly for the lower classes who have the lowest access to credit. Second, womens’ access to legal advice needs to be strengthened as lack of legal advice can be a major hurdle for entrepreneurship. Finally, Member States must consider how their legal frameworks create obstacles for womens’ entrepreneurship. Many Member States have frameworks that create disparities for married women and unmarried women. Custom also plays a crucial role, and is a powerful force across Africa, especially in rural areas. By encouraging gender equality and women leaders in all parts of the judiciary would ease the obstacles that the legal system creates for women’s entrepreneurship. 

One difficulty the Commission will need to consider is meeting the needs of both rural and urban areas within Member States. While women in more rural areas are still striving to establish a voice for themselves and gain the infrastructure to make working possible, Member States with more urban populations may seek policies that will assist with the services and private sector support to allow women more freedom and security in their entrepreneurship. The Commission estimates that investment in Africa would need to get to 1.2 trillion USD per year to get to the goal in Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, and the African Union Agenda 2063 for the inclusive growth of Africa. The ECA is optimistic that development can continue to empower women on a larger scale. 

Questions to consider

  • What can Member States do to improve women’s access to education, entrepreneurship and stable employment opportunities?
  • Using data, what practical measures can Member States take to promote women’s rights across socioeconomic and cultural barriers?
  • How can Member States incorporate gender equality goals in the development of human capital through investments in education, science, technology, and research?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Enhancing the climate resilience of Africa’s infrastructure

Despite the need for infrastructure development throughout Africa, only 4 percent of the continent’s GDP has been invested in infrastructure annually since 2016 according the African Development Bank (AfDB). Half of the people have access to paved roads, and sewers are only available to one in three people. Rural citizens have a much larger gap. On average, less than one half of citizens have access to basic utilities and in some countries the gap can be as great at 90 percent. The AfDB notes that “Bridging the infrastructure gap could increase GDP growth by an estimated two percentage points.”. In addition to the need for increased investment, African infastructure must now meet the challenges of a changing climate. The successful development of climate-resilient infrastructure throughout Africa will have far-reaching consequences for generations to come. Pan-African infrastructure consists of the physical and institutional means by which the continent conducts its most central operations, from transportation and communication to production of heat and electrical power. As such, the everyday lives and well-being of all Africans depend on a reliable infrastructure that will facilitate economic growth and security. With a wide range of climate conditions across the continent, from coastal cities and floodplains to arid drylands, designing cohesive plans that allow for efficient and effective responses to adverse weather and natural disasters is a complex task with high stakes. The African continent sees a wide range of climates, where landlocked and island nations see unique challenges when it comes to climate. Island and coastal countries have seen increased effects from major storms and rising sea levels. Landlocked nations have seen an increase in long lasting droughts, which have taxed water and hydropower systems. Developers must be able to retrofit existing infrastructure to allow for adaptation to future climate conditions, while also designing new structures and facilities that proactively anticipate the needs of a climate-resilient system. As the understanding of the scope of global climate change continues to grow, so does the substantial financial and humanitarian implications for future development in Africa.

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has prioritized the capacity of the research community to effectively gather and share information regarding climate change. The relatively unpredictable nature of climate change elevates the importance of sound data collection and multi-field collaboration to a critical level. Development strategies for infrastructure must consider how to adapt and respond to a future climate. In 2006, the Commission, in partnership with the African Union Commission and the AfDB, formed the ClimDev Africa Programme to address the specific impact that climate change will have on infrastructural development in Africa. 

In 2010, the Commission launched the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) to provide an open-data platform for multi-field information sharing, focusing specifically on the development of hydropower, irrigation systems and electric power in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2015, the Commission launched the Climate Research for Development in Africa initiative (CR4D) to close the information gap between climate science research and infrastructure development planning throughout Africa. In 2017, the Commission sought to integrate investors by developing the Africa Climate Resilient Investment Facility (AFRI-RES) in 2017. AFRI-RES was created with the mission to combine the work of African government and civil institutions with those of the private sector. By pooling resources, funds and expertise, infrastructure projects can meet their goals in a timely fashion with increased integrity against a changing climate. These efforts showed how collaboration plays a pivotal role in developing an infrastructure plan that will meet the needs of a changing climate across the continent. Collaboration and data sharing is necessary for businesses, governments and civil society organizations to meet the needs of a resilient infrastructure program. 

The efforts of these groups highlight the importance of enabling the collection of accurate, beneficial information regarding climate change, and providing researchers, engineers and investors with the tools to most effectively anticipate infrastructure needs under future climate conditions. Information about these tools, such as the Climate Safeguard System (CSS) and the AfDB, were exhibited at the first Africa Climate-Resilient Infrastructure Summit (ACRIS I) held in April of 2015. In line with the goals of retrofitting existing structures and building adaptable components in the future, the Summit highlighted a Ten Year Strategy (2013-2022) and a World Bank report titled ‘Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Africa’s Infrastructure: the Power and Water Sectors.’ Using the CSS to facilitate fund allocation, the Summit reviewed approaches to hydropower, irrigation and electricity while minimizing risks. The lessons gained from this summit aid other infrastructure plans across the continent. Some of these lessons include better coordination between governments and private organizations and assessing current materials and construction methods to meet climate challenges. Funding allocation continues to be a crucial point of discussion. Governments, civil organizations and private companies have been and continue to provide money and resources to meet the goals of these programs. 

As the ECA looks toward the future, events are focused on green economy and structural transformation. There have been successes such as how Member States have used dams to provide over 6,000 MW of energy annually while reducing emissions from other sources such as coal. However, there is much work to be done. In addition to quality, environmentally responsible development, Member States debated funding through public-private cooperation, preventing excessive emissions, and further sharing of technologies. Data continues to play an important role in implementation of development plans, and sharing data across partner organizations needs to be a major consideration. This is especially important for addressing regional problems such as long term droughts or seasonal flooding. Finally, external and internal conflicts such as corruption, civil strife and armed conflict act as roadblocks for infrastructure development. Member States will need to consider how to best address these issues when implementing development plans. 

Questions to consider:

  • In what ways will other issues such as corruption and armed conflict affect the implementation of infrastructure plans? How can Member States overcome these challenges? 
  • What strategies can be utilized to incorporate private sector funding into public sector projects?
  • How can data collection and interpretation about infrastructure needs in Africa at the local, national, regional and international levels help Member States meet their goals?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Membership of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Membership of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice includes: Afghanistan, Algeria, Austria, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt (UAR in ‘61), Eritrea, Eswatini, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Islamic Republic of, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Uruguay.

Introduction

The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is an ancillary body of the Economic and Social Council, and primarily responsible for the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice program. The Commission is charged with coordinating international efforts to combat national and transnational crime and utilizing criminal law to address such problems as threats to the environment, youth crime and urban violence. Additionally, the Commission is responsible for promoting the efficiency, integrity and impartiality of criminal justice systems. The Commission meets on an annual basis to discuss these areas of concern and reports its findings and recommendations. 

Preventing and combating trafficking in persons facilitated by ICT

The Currently affecting over 40 million individuals, the International Labour Organization estimates that human trafficking affects over 40 million individuals and is to be valued at 150 billion dollars annually. Although human trafficking has been a pervasive issue, recent developments in information and communication technologies (ICT) have empowered human traffickers and law enforcement alike, complicating prevention. The issue is further complicated because the same ICT infrastructure that enables global commerce, facilitates financial transactions, and drives the global economy is also used to traffick persons and to conduct other illicit activity. States must balance the benefits of ICT on one hand and the risks on the other.

ICT has great potential and power in preventing trafficking in humans through monitoring and investigative capabilities. It can facilitate rapid and efficient information sharing among numerous stakeholders regionally and internationally, including credit card companies, banks and internet service providers, police forces, emergency responders, and governmental and non-governmental agencies. 

However, traffickers also benefit from the rapid and efficient spread of information enabled by ICT. Through this misuse of ICT, traffickers broaden the size of the human trafficking marketplace, with facilitated recruitment of both victims and customers due to varied means of advertisement, the ability to hide identities and to finance the illicit transactions. As such, States are working to develop effective, applicable prevention strategies and improved prosecution methods locally, nationally and internationally. 

The main international agreement against trafficking in persons is the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Adopted by the General Assembly on 15 November 2000 and entering into force in 2003, this Convention detailed the legal obligations for Member States to combat and prevent transnational crime. The Trafficking Protocol, approved at the same time, represented the first definition for “trafficking in persons” under international law. Previous attempts to address human trafficking at the international level were stymied by a lack of consensus on this definition. Under this protocol, human trafficking is defined as a combination of actions that transport, coerce and exploit its victims, representing the many manners of human trafficking that exist. The protocol also identified a three Ps framework to combat human trafficking: protection of victims, prevention, and prosecution of traffickers. Other groups have added a fourth P—partnerships or policy and cooperation—to emphasize the importance of a multilateral approach among the various stakeholders. However, the Trafficking Protocol does not give any specific guidance on countering the use of ICT for human trafficking. 

Following the adoption of the Trafficking Protocol, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released its first Report on Trafficking in Persons in 2006, providing the first global overview of the trends and statistics of human trafficking. However, gathering accurate information proved difficult due to inadequate reporting from Member States. With high cooperation from Member States, the 2009 Global Report was able to present a more comprehensive description of the issue. Following the passage of the Trafficking Protocol, States were quick to adopt laws specifically criminalizing human trafficking—increasing from only a third of the 155 Member States surveyed to four-fifths between 2003 and 2008 and reaching 90 percent by 2014. However in terms of population, the remaining 10 percent represents over 2 billion people. Additionally, even among States that have enacted special legislation, convictions of human trafficking are often very low—only about two-fifths of the countries surveyed reported more than 10 convictions per year between 2010 and 2012—although the overall numbers have been steadily increasing.

While the CCPCJ and other United Nations bodies have addressed combating human trafficking and criminal misuse of ICT separately, this joint approach is a new development in the CCPCJ. Similarly, many national and international anti-trafficking instruments have yet to truly incorporate ICT into their strategies. This hesitation may be due to the problem that many immediate avenues for combatting the use of ICT in human trafficking have undesired side-effects. Shutting down online platforms used in human trafficking makes it more difficult to find and identify victims; in sex trafficking, victims who seek work “on the street” rather than online experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence, and a 2019 study suggested that the availability of an “erotic services” section in a region’s Craigslist reduced female homicide rates by at least ten percent. Efforts to combat cybercrime, including human trafficking, have also historically raised concerns over privacy rights and internet freedom, from the 2006 Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, adopted by the Council of Europe and several other States, to the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA) passed in the United States. FOSTA, in particular, remains controversial among internet freedom activists due to the risks that vague wording in the law allow prosecution and censorship of legitimate—although possibly unsavory or unpopular—acts. Even if governments do not abuse these statutes for the purposes of censorship, the possibility of prosecution may also lead to websites to self-censor material in order to protect themselves.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective include:

  • How can Member States strike a balance between allowing the use of ICT for legitimate commerce and preventing the use of ICT for trafficking in persons?
  • How should considerations about ICT be incorporated into national and international anti-trafficking policies and strategies? 
  • What effects do efforts to combat trafficking in persons have on the victims of human trafficking? How can States mitigate the potentially negative follow-on effects of limiting and restricting ICT that may facilitate trafficking?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

 

Taking action against gender-related killing of women and girls

Gender-related killing of women and girls is a serious problem in all regions of the world. It comes in a number of forms, ranging from fatal domestic violence to killing of family members in the name of “honor” to violence directed towards women and girls in a conflict setting. Additionally, there are numerous gender-related killings of a more indirect nature, such as maternal mortality caused by denial of proper medical care or deaths of girls due to neglect by responsible parties. Intimate partner homicide, the most common form of gender-related killing representing over a third of all cases of female murder victims, claimed 50,000 lives in 2017. The unifying theme in these instances is that the motive or nature of the killing is gendered, and rooted in unequal power relations between men and women. In accordance with the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, States are obligated to “exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women,” especially the most heinous forms of violence that lead to death. However, violence against women is severely under-reported, and in many cases it is difficult to bring the perpetrators of gender-related killing to justice due to the same unequal power relations of which the crime was itself a manifestation. These can take the form of unwillingness of the legal system to believe women and girls as witnesses, delays in investigations, and the use of shaming and gaslighting tactics to discourage the families of victims from participating in the investigation. 

United Nations efforts on women’s rights began with a more general scope, not focused on gender-related killings. The United Nations established the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in 1946, which—until the creation of UN Women in 2010—was the premier United Nations body responsible for promoting women’s rights, researching the state of women’s rights worldwide and establishing policy standards on gender equality. In 1979, the General Assembly adopted the CSW draft Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which included calls to abolish customs and laws that perpetuate discrimination against women. The Convention took effect on 3 September, 1981, and today has been ratified by 189 States. 

Between 1975 and 1995, the United Nations also organized four World Conferences on Women; the last, in Beijing, marked a significant change in the global strategy for gender equality. The unanimously-adopted Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action set strategic objectives and targets to achieve gender equality worldwide, making it the key global policy document in this area. The agenda in the Platform for Action is notable for its very progressive goals, which remain relevant—and unmet—today as States and organizations measure progress and craft policies on gender equality using the Platform as guidance.

Due to the seriousness of gender-related violence in general, and gender-related killing in particular, multiple UN bodies have taken action on the issue. The General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1993, which stated, among other things, that “States should condemn violence against women and should not invoke any custom, tradition, or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with regard to its elimination.” The CCPCJ has acted on this issue since 2008, when it decided to convene an expert group on the matter and drew special attention to migrant women. 

While present across all States, the prevalence and types of gender-related killing vary. “Femicide,” as it is sometimes called, is most prevalent in Africa, with 3.1 deaths per 100,000 women in 2017, and the Americas, with 1.9 deaths per 100,000. Regional organizations have taken large strides to address the problem of gender-based violence across the globe. In Central America, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights developed the Latin American Model Protocol for the investigation of gender-related killings of women in 2014. This Model Protocol is meant to act as a guide for those working in the justice system to better investigate and prosecute crimes involving gender-based violence. In 2017, the European Union and the United Nations launched the Spotlight Initiative, which works in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific to eliminate violence against women and girls. 

However, despite the attention paid to this issue at the international and regional levels, action against gender-based killings must be taken at the State and local levels. UN Women has worked to increase the legal instruments against femicide, however enforcement of those laws still lags behind. For example, while many countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean region have laws explicitly against femicide, around 98 percent of femicide and other cases of violence against women were left unpunished in 2016. Statistics on this issue can also be difficult to interpret, due to differing legal definitions and priorities among Member States. In many cases, homicide data do not include crosstabs on the sex of the victims, impeding the ability to measure progress. The International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS) program, established in 2015, aims to set uniform reporting rules to allow for easier comparisons among Member States. However, while the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has run several trainings to increase implementation of the ICCS among Member States, only 48 countries have implemented it

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective include the following:

  • What types of femicide are common in your country? What conditions make combating gender-based violence difficult in your country?
  • How might existing laws against murder fail to adequately protect women? How should laws be updated to fix these weaknesses?
  • How can the international community work with States and regional organizations to ensure perpetrators of gender-based killings are brought to justice?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Introduction to the Security Councils

The Security Council’s primary responsibility is maintaining international peace and security. It has the power to employ United Nations peacekeepers and direct action against threats to the peace. Fifteen Members sit on the Security Council, including five Permanent Members (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) and 10 at-large Member States which the General Assembly elects for rotating two-year terms. A majority in the Security Council consists of nine Members voting “yes” (except in Historical Security Councils before 1965, where a majority consists of seven Members voting “yes”); however, a “no” vote by any of the Permanent Members has the effect of vetoing or blocking actions.

As the Security Council only meets to discuss topics concerning international peace and security, representatives of the Security Councils at AMUN (both Contemporary and Historical) should note that the agenda provided is only provisional and represents a fraction of the issues the Security Council discusses. Unlike other Committees and Councils at AMUN, the topics presented do not constitute a complete list of topics the Security Councils can discuss. Any issue regarding international peace and security for that time may be brought before the Councils.

Therefore, representatives on the Contemporary Security Council must have a broad knowledge regarding current events in the international community. Periodicals and online sources are some of the best sources available for day-to-day updates. Recommended sources include: The New York Times, United Nations Chronicle, The Times of London, Al Jazeera, the Mail & Guardian, Foreign Policy and The Economist. The UN Wire is an excellent resource for timely information, and one good way for representatives to stay abreast of the most recent reports published by the Security Council and other relevant United Nations bodies.

Historical Security Council (HSC) representatives should approach their Council’s issues based on events up to the start date of the simulation and should do their research accordingly. It is strongly recommended that research be done using historical materials whenever possible. The world has changed dramatically over the years, but none of these changes will be evident within the chambers of the HSC. While histories of the subject will be fine for a general overview, representatives should peruse periodicals and other primary sources from three to five  years before the year in question to most accurately reflect the worldview at that time. Periodicals contemporary to the period, which can be easily referenced in a Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature or the New York Times Index, will provide a much better historical perspective and feel for the times than later historical texts.

AMUN’s Security Council simulation philosophy

One of the core principles of AMUN is to mirror the practice and dynamics of the United Nations as much as possible. To that end, AMUN strives to create and conduct simulations that are a realistic representation of diplomacy at the United Nations and the broader international system. We believe this commitment furthers AMUN’s aims to create a fair and fun experience for all representatives and that it enhances the educational mission of the organization.

This commitment to realism is especially important in Security Council simulations where representatives respond to an alternate timeline, and reality shifts depending on the Council’s actions. Representatives are therefore asked to act within the realm of the possible.

Simulation Staff are always available to consult with representatives as they work through their diplomatic options. Representatives are encouraged to seek out Simulation Staff to act in the home office capacity when they need to supplement their research on a situation. Simulation Staff wear many hats, including acting as an in-house resource for representatives about their countries and the topics at hand.

All actions (as opposed to statements) proposed by Council Members must be approved by AMUN’s Simulation Staff, who are charged with managing each simulation’s timeline and alternate reality. As a rule, the Simulation Staff will give representatives a wide latitude in decision making. However, the Simulation Staff may deny a certain action if it falls outside of the bounds of reality or would negatively impact the realism of the simulation for all participants.

For every issue before the Council, each Member is faced with a variety of options of how to react and what policy line to take. A realistic simulation will consider only those options that would have reasonably been on the table for a State at a particular moment in time. In other words, there will always be options States do not consider or dismiss out of hand because they have limited capabilities or due to historical, cultural or political constraints; in a realistic simulation, these options are not appropriate. These unrealistic approaches will not be permitted at AMUN.

This commitment to realism does not mean that simulations have a set trajectory they must follow. In the HSCs there will certainly be many deviations from historical timelines, and re-thinking the way diplomacy played out in the past is encouraged. The same is encouraged in the Contemporary Security Council. As situations change, so do the options and attitudes of the Council Members and other countries. There are near-infinite possibilities within the bounds of realism, and our Simulation Staff will help representatives work through their options.

Declarative Statements and Operational Decisions

Security Council Members are able to make declarative statements and operational decisions that will affect the course of the simulation; this ability to change reality makes these simulations different from other simulations at AMUN. Council representatives must actively bring their State’s policies and capabilities into the simulation. Representatives are welcome and encouraged to make declarative statements—including real or implied threats and deals—that do not carry operational implications outside of the United Nations; however, representatives must always consult with the Simulation Staff before making any operational decisions.

Operational decisions include any actions that would have a real-world effect outside of the United Nations, including, for example, the announcement of movements of, or actions by, national military forces. In these cases, the Simulation Staff act as the home office or government of the involved Member States(s).

Parties to the Dispute

Sometimes other States and organizations will be involved in the deliberations of the Council as Parties to the Dispute. Delegations representing these States, if present at AMUN, will be asked to participate in deliberations by the Council. If they are not present, or cannot provide a representative to address the Council, a member of the AMUN Secretariat will represent them as necessary. It is customary for the Council to request the presence of relevant Member States during discussion of a topic relevant to that State’s interests, however it is not required. Any State mentioned in the background research for a specific Security Council has the potential to be called as a Party to the Dispute in the Council as well as any State related to a topic relevant to international peace and security. The Secretariat will notify in advance States likely to be asked to appear before one of the Security Councils. Those delegations should have one or more representatives prepared to come before the Council at any time. Because these States will not be involved in all issues, the representative(s) responsible for the Party to the Dispute must be assigned to another Committee, preferably with a second representative who can cover that Committee while they are away. A floating Permanent Representative would also be ideal for this assignment.

Roleplaying in Historical Security Councils

AMUN’s HSCs are unique not only in their topics, but also in their treatment of those topics. History and time are the HSC’s media, and they are flexible. History will be as it was written until the moment the Council convenes; the start date for the historical simulations is provided later in this chapter. From the start date forward what transpires will be dependent upon both Council Members’ actions and Simulation Staff decisions. Council Members are encouraged to exercise free will based on the range of all the choices within their national character, upon the capabilities of their governments and within the bounds of realistic diplomacy.

Effective roleplaying for an HSC Member State will not just be a routine replay of national decisions as they evolved in that year. Indeed, the problems of the era may not transpire as they once did, and this will force active evaluations—and reevaluations—of national policies. Thus, it cannot be said that the policy course a government took in that year will necessarily be the wisest. Even were circumstances the same, it is not a sure thing that any given government would do things exactly the same way given a second opportunity to look at events. History is replete with the musings of foreign ministers and heads of state pining for second chances.

Both HSC simulations will follow a flexible timeline based on events as they occurred and as modified by the representatives’ policy decisions in the Council. The Secretariat will be responsible for tracking the simulation and keeping it as realistic as possible. In maintaining realism representatives must remember that they are roleplaying the individual assigned as their State’s representative to the United Nations. They may have access to the up-to-the-minute policy decisions of their States, or they may be relatively in the dark on their State’s moment-to-moment actions in the world.

Open Agenda

A unique feature of each Security Council simulation at AMUN is the Council’s ability to set its own agenda. The situations outlined in the council-specific topic briefs on the following pages are only a few of those facing the world at the time and each Security Council can discuss any topic that the body wishes. For the Contemporary Security Council this includes any real-world event up until the day the simulation convenes. For the Historical Security Councils, representatives should have a working knowledge of the events prior to and including the start date for their respective simulation. For the Historical Security Council of 1961, the start date is 1 January 1961. For the Historical Security Council of 2003, the start date is 20 January 2003.

For the time periods in question, open issues could include any active United Nations peacekeeping operations, the work of any United Nations body active at the time, and any social or economic issue of the day. It is strongly recommended that all representatives be well versed on current and historical global events relevant to their simulation.

Other Aspects to Consider

  • Council Representatives must actively bring their country’s policies and capabilities into the simulation when discussing problems and issues before the Council.
  • Representatives should consider the cost of involvement by the United Nations. An increase in costs often causes the Security Council to re-prioritize its efforts.
  • Sovereignty and the role of the Council and the United Nations are also key points to consider. While state governments often do not want international meddling in what they feel are national policies or disputes, this in no way lessens the responsibility of Council Members to make the effort and find ways to actively involve themselves in crisis solutions. This task must, however, be accomplished without violating the bounds of the Member States’ national characters.

Background Research

The following sections offer brief synopses of the main international situations facing the Security Councils. For the Contemporary Security Council these briefs are current as of summer 2019. Information for the Historical Security Councils covers information available up until the respective start dates of each simulation. AMUN recommends that representatives have a solid foundational knowledge of the background of major international issues. The topics laid out in this handbook are provided as a starting point for further research.

 

 

Security Council Rules of Procedure

1.0 Administrative

1.1 The Secretariat. The Secretariat consists of the volunteer staff members of American Model United Nations (AMUN).

1.2 Rules Committee. The President of the General Assembly, the Director of Rules and Procedures, the Director of Security Council Procedures, and one other person as appointed by the Secretary-General shall compose the membership of the Rules Committee.

1.3 Credentials. All questions concerning the validity of representative credentials shall be submitted in writing to the Secretariat,

  • The Secretariat has sole authority to decide all questions concerning credentials, and
  • Representatives must wear approved credentials at all times while on the Conference premises.

1.4 Quorum. A quorum is made up of all Member States; to begin a Council session all Members must be present,

  • The Rules Committee reserves the right to adjust quorum as it deems necessary.

1.5 Security Council Officers. The Secretariat shall appoint the President and Vice President of the Security Council and shall select any other positions necessary to help conduct the sessions of the Council.

1.6 General Authority of the Security Council President. In addition to exercising such authority conferred upon the President elsewhere in these rules, the President shall:

  • Declare the opening and closing of each session,
  • Ensure the observance of the rules,
  • Facilitate the discussions of the Council and accord the right to speak,
  • Advise the Council on methods of procedure that will enable the body to accomplish its goals, and
  • Rule on points and motions and, subject to these rules, have complete control of the proceedings of the Council and the maintenance of order at its meetings.
  • During the course of the session the President may propose Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Closure of Debate (rule 7.5), Consultative Session (rule 7.7), and Limits on Debate (rule 7.11). The President is under the direct authority of the Rules Committee and may be directed to inform the Council on matters of procedure if such action is deemed necessary by the Rules Committee.

1.7 Absence of Council President. If the Council President should find it necessary to be absent during any part of a Council session, the President shall  designate an individual, normally the Vice President, to chair the Council session with the same authority.

1.8 Attendance at Security Council Sessions. Each Security Council Member delegation assumes the responsibility to have present a minimum of one accredited representative at each Council session.

1.9 Emergency Council Sessions. Emergency Security Council Sessions may be called by the Secretary-General at any time international conflicts require immediate Council attention, as established in the Charter of the United Nations.

1.10 Provisional Agenda. The Secretariat shall distribute a provisional agenda to all delegations prior to the start of the Conference,

  • This agenda in no way limits the Council’s topics.

1.11 Daily Order of Consideration of Agenda Topics. The Council will establish the daily order of consideration of agenda topics at the start of each daily session. Once established, this will become the working agenda for the duration of that day,

  • Agenda topics will be discussed in the order in which they appear on the working agenda (rule 7.10), and
  • A delegation wishing to change this order may move to add an agenda topic (rule 7.8) and change the order of consideration of the working agenda (rule 7.9).

1.12 Participation by Non-Council Member States and International Organizations. When an issue before the Security Council involves a non-Council United Nations Member State or Observer, the Council may request that the delegation be represented during Council sessions in which the issue is being discussed,

  • To do this a Council Member must move that the Member or Observer be brought as a Party to the Dispute (rule 7.15).
  • A non-Council United Nations Member or Observer that has been requested to attend Council sessions will usually be given debating privileges, allowing the delegation to be recognized by the President during debate,
  • A non-Council United Nations Member State or Observer may submit draft resolutions or amendments, but may not move these to the floor or vote at any time, and
  • A non-Council Member requested to attend a Council session, but not given debating privileges, will be subject to a question and answer period.

When discussing any issue, if the Security Council finds it necessary to have present a representative of a non-United Nations Member State, an international organization or any other persons it considers competent for the purpose, the Council may request one by means of Party to the Dispute (rule 7.15). A representative will be made available to the Council in a timely fashion,

  • These representatives may not be given debating privileges, but will be subject to a question and answer period, and
  • The Secretariat will assume full responsibility to certify representatives’ credentials prior to their appearance before the Council.

If it is determined that many Member or Observers outside of the Contemporary Security Council have an interest in a specific issue, the Council may declare an Open Meeting on any issue being discussed,

  • In order to allow all delegations time to prepare their comments, an open meeting in the Council should be announced at least two hours in advance of the open debate session (rule 7.15), and
  • Any United Nations Member State or Observer may participate in an open meeting.

1.13 Security Council Priority Relating to Issues Concerning the Maintenance of International Peace and Security. The Security Council, as established in the United Nations Charter, shall have priority over the General Assembly on issues that pertain to the maintenance of international peace and security,

  • Issues of this type, while under discussion in the Security Council, shall be seized from General Assembly action,
  • General Assembly draft resolutions that deal with a seized issue may be discussed and amended, but no final vote on the draft resolution may be taken, and
  • Accordingly, any General Assembly draft resolution pertaining to a seized issue may be discussed and amended but cannot be put to a final vote in the General Assembly until the Security Council has completed its deliberations on the issue.

If no resolution has been adopted, the Security Council will be considered to have completed its deliberations on a seized issue once that agenda topic is no longer under discussion. The Council may declare itself actively seized on a topic by stating this in a resolution; this seizure will prevent the General Assembly from taking action until a two-hour time period has elapsed. Throughout the General Assembly, representatives will be kept informed by the Secretary-General of any seized issues.

2.0 General Rules

2.1 Statements by the Secretariat. The Secretary-General or any member of the Secretariat may make verbal or written statements to the Security Council at any time.

2.2 Diplomatic Courtesy. All participants in the AMUN Conference must accord Diplomatic Courtesy to all credentialed representatives, Secretariat Members, Faculty Advisors, Observers and Hotel staff at all times,

  • Representatives who persist in obvious attempts to disrupt the session shall be subject to expulsion from the Council by the President,
  • The Secretariat reserves the right to expel any representative or delegation from the Conference, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

2.3 Speeches. No representative may address the Council without obtaining the permission of the President,

  • Delegations, not representatives, are recognized to speak; more than one representative from the same delegation may speak when the delegation is recognized,
  • Speakers must keep their remarks germane to the subject under discussion,
  • A time limit may be established for speeches (rule 7.11),
  • At the conclusion of a substantive speech, representatives will be allowed to answer questions concerning their speech,
  • A delegation that desires to ask a question of the speaker should signify by raising a Point of Inquiry (rule 6.3),
  • All questions and replies are made through the President,
  • A speaker who desires to make a motion may do so after speaking and accepting points of inquiry, but prior to yielding the floor, and
  • By making a motion the speaker yields the floor.

2.4 Recognition of Speakers. Delegations wishing to speak on an item before the body will signify by raising their placards,

  • The exception to this rule occurs on any Point of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2), or Inquiry (rule 6.3), at which time a representative should raise their placard and call out “Point of ___________” to the President,
  • Points will be recognized in the order of their priority,
  • Motions may not be made from Points of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2) or Inquiry (rule 6.3), except
    • A motion to Appeal the Decision of the President (rule 7.6), may be made when recognized for a Point of Order.
  • The President shall recognize speakers in a fair and orderly manner, and
  • Speakers’ lists will not be used, except during an open meeting (rule 1.12).

2.5 Right of Reply. The President may accord a Right of Reply to any representative if a speech by another representative contains unusual or extraordinary language clearly insulting to personal or national dignity,

  • Requests for a Right of Reply shall be made in writing to the President,
  • Requests shall contain the specific language which was found to be insulting to personal or national dignity,
  • The President may limit the time for reply,
  • There shall be no reply to a reply, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

2.6 Withdrawal of Motions. A motion may be withdrawn by its proposer at any time before voting on it has begun,

  • A withdrawn motion may be reintroduced by any other delegation.

2.7 Dilatory Motions. The President may rule out of order any motion repeating or closely approximating a recent previous motion on which the Council has already rendered an opinion,

  • This decision is not appealable.

2.8 Open Debate on Motions. Representatives wishing to speak to a motion may do so for any motions which are subject to open debate,

  • The President shall declare the opening and closing of debate on motions,
  • Points of Inquiry are not in order during this debate,
  • Motions of higher priority than the one being debated may be made from the floor during open debate,
  • The President will declare debate closed when no other delegation raises its placard to signify desire to speak,
  • Closure of open debate may not be moved by a delegation from the floor, and
  • The body will move to an immediate vote on the motion following the President’s declaration of closure.

2.9 Consultative Session. The Council may choose to suspend its rules and enter an informal, consultative session moderated by the Council President if the Members determine that this process will better facilitate the discussion of a particular issue,

  • The Council will move immediately into a formal session once the time period or topic set for the Consultative Session has expired (rule 7.7).

3.0 Rules That Relate to the Rules

3.1 Rule Priority and Procedure. The rules contained in this handbook are the official rules of procedure of American Model United Nations and will be used for all Council sessions. These rules take precedence over any other set of rules.

3.2 Precedence of Rules. Proceedings in the Security Council of AMUN shall be conducted under the following precedence of rules

  1. AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  2. AMUN Security Council Order of Precedence of the Rules Short Form,
  3. Rulings by the Rules Committee,
  4. Historical usage of the AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  5. Historical usage of the United Nations Rules of Procedure,
  6. The Charter of the United Nations.

3.3 The Order of Precedence of Motions. The order of precedence of motions is listed in order of priority in both the Security Council Precedence Short Form and in these rules under Section 7, Motions in Order of Priority. These motions, in the order given, have precedence over all other proposals or motions before the Security Council.

3.4 Rule Changes. The Rules Committee reserves the right to make changes to these rules at any time. Should a change occur, it will be communicated to the representatives in a timely manner.

4.0 Draft Resolutions, Amendments & Statements

4.1 Definition of Draft Resolutions. A draft resolution is a written proposal consisting of at least one preambular and one operative clause.

4.2 Draft Resolutions. Draft resolutions may be submitted to the Security Council President/Vice President for approval at any time during the Conference,

  • For a draft resolution to be considered it must be organized in content and flow, in the proper format and approved by the Council Dais, and
  • After acceptance, draft resolutions shall be processed in the order in which they are received and distributed to all delegations as soon as feasible.

A draft resolution that has been distributed may be proposed when the Council considers the agenda topic that is the subject of the draft resolution,

  • Only one draft resolution may be considered at any time during formal debate,
  • Once a draft resolution is on the floor for discussion, additional sponsors may only be added to that draft resolution with the consent of the original sponsor(s),
  • Once a vote has been taken on a contested amendment to a draft resolution, no additional sponsors may be added, and
  • Friendly amendments (rule 4.4) do not limit the addition of sponsors as noted above,
  • See also Closure of Debate on an Agenda Topic (rule 7.4), Closure of Debate (rule 7.5), and Consideration of Amendments (rule 7.14).

4.3 Definition of Amendments. An amendment to a draft resolution is a written proposal that adds to, deletes from, or revises any part of a draft resolution.

4.4 Amendments. All amendments must be submitted on an official amendment form to the President/Vice President for approval,

  • For an amendment to be considered it must be organized in content and flow, be in the proper format, and be approved by the Council Dais,
  • Approved amendments will be assigned an identification letter by the Vice President, and
  • Typographical errors in a draft resolution will be corrected by the President/Vice President and announced to the body.

One or more amendments may be considered on the floor at any given time (see also Closure of Debate on an Agenda Topic (rule 7.4), Closure of Debate (rule 7.5), and Consideration of Amendments (rule 7.14)).

An amendment will be considered “friendly” if all sponsors of the draft resolution are also sponsors of the amendment,

  • A friendly amendment becomes part of a draft resolution upon the announcement that it is accepted by the dais,
    • No vote is required to add a friendly amendment to a draft resolution,
  • The President shall announce the acceptance of a friendly amendment on the first opportunity at which no speaker has the floor, and
  • Friendly amendments cannot be accepted after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment, or after closure of debate on the resolution has been moved.

4.5 Withdrawal of Sponsorship. Sponsorship of a resolution or amendment may be withdrawn at any time before entering into voting procedure on the item,

  • Sponsorship of a resolution may not be withdrawn after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment,
  • If a draft resolution or amendment has all sponsorship withdrawn, any delegation may take up sponsorship of that draft resolution or amendment by informing the President,
  • If all sponsors withdraw from a draft resolution or amendment, it is automatically removed from consideration.

4.6 Definition of Presidential Statements. The Security Council may choose to issue a Presidential Statement on issues which do not warrant a resolution. This statement is formally issued by the President of the Council, but is drafted by the body, or its designees.

4.7 Presidential Statements. Presidential Statements are discussed, drafted and accepted in informal debate or outside of a formal Council session,

  • This statement must be accepted by a consensus of the Council,
  • As this type of statement does not represent a formal decision of the Council, no formal vote is recorded on a Presidential Statement, and
  • Unlike resolutions, Presidential Statements are not binding on Member States.
  • A Presidential Statement may be submitted to the Security Council President/Vice President for approval at any time during the Conference,
  • For a Presidential Statement to be considered it must be organized in content and flow, be in the proper format, and be approved by the Council Secretariat.

5.0 Voting

5.1 Voting Rights. Each Security Council Member is accorded one vote,

  • No delegation may cast a vote on behalf of another Member State.

5.2 Votes Required for Passage. Unless otherwise specified in these rules, decisions in the Council require nine affirmative votes for passage,

  • Historical Security Councils occurring prior to 1966, consisting of eleven members, require seven affirmative votes for passage of decisions.

5.3 Adoption by Consensus. The adoption of amendments and draft resolutions by consensus is desirable when it contributes to the effective and lasting settlement of differences, thus strengthening the authority of the United Nations,

  • Any representative may request the adoption of an amendment or draft resolution by consensus at any time after closure of debate has passed,
  • The President shall then ask whether there is any objection to consensus,
  • If there is no objection, the proposal is approved by consensus,
  • If any representative objects to consensus, voting shall occur as otherwise stated in these rules.

5.4 Method of Voting. The Council shall normally vote on motions by a show of raised placards,

  • The votes of Council Members on all substantive matters shall be officially recorded, and all substantive matters are subject to the Consent of the Permanent Members, regardless of the means by which they are voted upon (rule 5.8),
  • Any delegation may request a roll call vote on substantive matters, unless adopted by consensus; this request shall then automatically be granted by the President,
  • When applicable, roll shall be called in English alphabetical order beginning with a Member selected at random by the Vice President,
  • Representatives shall reply “yes,” “no,” “abstain” or “abstain from the order of voting,”
  • A Member may abstain from the order of voting once during a roll call; a second abstention from the order of voting will be recorded as an abstention.

5.5 Conduct During Voting. Immediately prior to a vote, the President shall describe to the Council the proposal to be voted on, and shall explain the consequences of a “yes” or a “no” vote. Voting shall begin upon the President’s declaration “we are now in voting procedure,” and end when the results of the vote are announced,

  • Following Closure of Debate, and prior to entering voting procedure, the President shall pause briefly to allow delegations the opportunity to make any relevant motions,
  • Relevant motions prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3) Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Consultative Session (rule 7.7) and Division of the Question (rule 7.12), and
  • Once in voting procedure, no representative shall interrupt the voting except on a Point of Order or Point of Information concerning the actual conduct of the vote.

5.6 Changes of Votes. At the end of roll call, but before Rights of Explanation (rule 5.7) are granted and the subsequent announcement of the vote, the Vice President will ask for any vote changes. Any delegation that desires to change its recorded vote may do so at that time.

5.7 Rights of Explanation. Rights of Explanation are permitted on all substantive votes after voting. The President may limit the time for Rights of Explanation.

5.8 Consent of the Five Permanent Members. As established in the Charter of the United Nations, each of the five Permanent Members (China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) shall have the right to veto any substantive matter which comes to a vote before the Security Council,

  • A substantive matter which has a majority of votes in favor but receives a “no” by any Permanent Member fails due to lack of consent of the Permanent Members.

6.0 Points of Procedure in Order of Priority

6.1 Point of Order. During the discussion of any matter, a representative may rise to a Point of Order if the representative believes that the Council is proceeding in a manner contrary to these rules,

  • The representative must call out their point and will be recognized immediately by the President and the point ruled on,
  • A representative rising to a Point of Order may not speak substantively on any matter,
  • If a representative’s ability to participate in the Council’s deliberations is impaired for any reason, the representative may rise to a Point of Order,
  • A Point of Order may interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

6.2 Point of Information. A Point of Information is raised to the President if a representative wishes to obtain a clarification of procedure or a statement of the matters before the Council,

  • The representative must call out their point to be recognized,
  • A Point of Information may not interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

6.3 Point of Inquiry. During substantive debate, a representative may question a speaker by rising to a Point of Inquiry,

  • Questions must be directed through the President and may be made only after the speaker has concluded his/her remarks, but before he/she has yielded the floor,
  • The representative must call out their point to be recognized,
  • A Point of Inquiry may not interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

7.0 Motions in Order of Priority

7.1 Suspension of the Meeting. During the discussion of any matter, a representative may move to suspend the meeting. Suspending a meeting recesses it for the time specified in the motion,

  • The motion is not debatable,
  • The President may request that the delegation making the motion modify the time of suspension,
  • If the motion passes, upon reconvening the Council will continue its business from the point at which suspension was moved, unless otherwise stated in these rules.

7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting. The motion of adjournment means that all business of the Council has been completed, and that the Council will not reconvene until the next annual session,

  • The motion is not debatable,
  • The President may refuse to recognize a motion to adjourn the meeting if the Council still has business before it,
  • This decision is not appealable.

7.3 Adjournment of Debate. During the discussion of any draft resolution, amendment or agenda topic before the Council, a representative may move for adjournment of debate.

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall be put to a vote,
  • Adjournment of debate on a draft resolution or amendment has the effect of removing that item from consideration and allows the committee to move on to another draft resolution or amendment,
  • An adjourned draft resolution can be resubmitted to the floor by any delegation, at the discretion of the President as to the dilatory nature of such a motion,
  • Adjourning debate on an agenda topic has the effect of postponing debate on the topic and allowing the Council to move on to consideration of other topics or issues, and
  • The Council may return to discussion of an agenda topic by changing the order of consideration of the working agenda (Rule 7.9).

7.4 Closure of Debate on an Agenda Topic. A representative may move to close debate on an agenda topic at any time during the discussion of that topic. The effect of this motion, if passed, is to bring the draft resolution that is on the floor to a vote,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote, and
  • If no draft resolution is on the floor, the effect of this motion is to end debate on this topic, removing it from the working agenda and moving to the next topic on the working agenda.

7.5 Closure of Debate. A representative may move to close debate on a draft resolution or amendment at any time during the discussion of that item. The effect of this motion is to bring the issue under discussion to an immediate vote,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • Representatives should specify whether the motion for closure applies to an amendment or a draft resolution,
  • If closure passes on a draft resolution or agenda topic, all amendments on the floor will be voted upon in the reverse order from which they were moved to the floor,  and
  • After voting on all amendments is completed, the draft resolution shall be voted upon in accordance with these rules.

At the conclusion of voting procedure, the draft resolution or amendment being voted on is removed from consideration, regardless of whether it passes or fails. Debate then continues on the current topic.

7.6 Appealing a Decision of the President. Rulings of the President are appealable unless otherwise specified in these rules,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • An appeal must be made immediately following the ruling in question,
  • This motion may be made by a delegation that has been recognized through a Point of Order,
  • The President shall put the question as follows: “Shall the decision of the President be upheld?” A “yes” vote supports the President’s decision; a “no” vote signifies objection,
  • The decision of the President shall be upheld by a tie, and
  • Rulings by the President on the following rules or motions are not appealable: Diplomatic Courtesy (rule 2.2), Right of Reply (rule 2.5), Dilatory Motions (rule 2.7), granting of a roll call vote (rule 5.4), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), and any time a ruling by the President is a direct quotation from these Rules of Procedure.

7.7 Consultative Session. A motion to enter consultative session is in order at any time,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The motion should specify a length of time or topic for the consultative session, and
  • This can be set to a specific time, or based on the discussion of a specific amendment, draft resolution or agenda topic (rule 2.9).

7.8 Add an Agenda Topic. A motion to add an agenda topic to the working agenda is in order during any Council session,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote, and
  • Once an issue is added as an agenda topic, it is placed as the last topic on the working agenda.

7.9 Change the Order of Consideration of the Working Agenda. A motion to change the order of consideration of topics on the working agenda is in order during any Council session. The effect of this motion is to change the order in which agenda topics are to be discussed by the Council,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote, and
  • The delegation making this motion must state, in the motion, the new order in which the agenda topics are to be considered.

7.10 Set Working Agenda. At the start of each daily session the Security Council shall establish a working agenda (rule 1.11). A delegation may move to set the working agenda,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The motion must include the order in which agenda topics are to be considered, and
  • A working agenda does not have to contain all agenda topics.

7.11 Limits on Debate. A motion to limit or extend the time allotted to each delegation, or limit the number of times each delegation can speak on any matter, is in order at any time,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The time allotted for speakers on amendments, draft resolutions and agenda topics shall be no less than three minutes,
  • The time allotted for non-substantive speeches shall be no less than one minute,
  • This motion may limit the number of Points of Inquiry a speaker may accept to a minimum of one, and
  • A motion to limit the time of debate on an agenda topic, draft resolution, or amendment is also in order.

7.12 Division of the Question. A motion to divide the question, proposing that clauses of an amendment or draft resolution be voted on separately, is in order at any time prior to entering voting procedure on the amendment or draft resolution,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • No debate or vote is necessary if the sponsor(s) of the draft resolution does not object to the division,
  • If a vote has previously been taken on a contested amendment to the draft resolution, any Council Member may object to division and require a vote,
  • After a motion for Division of the Question passes, no other motion for Division of the Question is in order on that amendment or draft resolution,
  • Those clauses of the amendment or draft resolution which are approved shall then be put to a vote as a whole, and
  • If division causes a draft resolution to no longer be in proper format (rule 4.1), the proposal as a whole is rejected.

7.13 Consideration of Draft Resolutions. A draft resolution may be moved to the floor by any delegation that receives recognition by the President,

  • This motion is not subject to debate. Upon recognition of this motion by the President, the resolution will be under consideration by the body,
  • Only one draft resolution may be on the floor at any time, and
  • The delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the draft resolution, if desired.

7.14 Consideration of Amendments. To bring an amendment to the floor for discussion, a delegation must first be recognized by the President,

  • This motion is not subject to debate. Upon recognition of this motion by the President, the amendment will be under consideration by the body,
  • The Vice President will present the amendment to the body, and
  • The delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the amendment, if desired.

7.15 Party to the Dispute. When the Security Council discusses a topic/issue that involves a nation or international organization not represented on the Council, it may request a representative by moving for a Party to the Dispute,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The motion must state the United Nations Member State(s), Observer(s) or organization(s) whose representative is desired and the length of time requested and, if a Member State or Observer, whether debating privileges are to be granted,
  • If debating privileges are not granted, a formal “question and answer” period shall be instituted by the President, for the purposes of questioning the representative on the issue(s) at hand,
  • If it is determined that many  Members or Observers outside of the Contemporary Security Council have an interest in a specific issue, the Council may declare an “open meeting” on any issue being discussed, and
  • See also Participation by Non-Council Member States and International Organizations (rule 1.12).

Security Council Rules Short Form

Rule Debatable? Vote Required Description
6.1 Point of Order No None Point out a misuse of the rules
6.2 Point of Information No None Ask any question of the President, or gain a clarification
6.3 Point of Inquiry No None Ask a question of a speaker at the end of their  speech, prior to the Delegation’s yielding the floor
7.1 Suspension of the Meeting No Majority Recess the meeting for a specific period of time
7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting No Majority End the meeting for the year
7.3 Adjournment of Debate Yes Majority Remove from consideration any substantive issue open to debate without a vote on the content of that proposal
7.4 Closure of Debate on an Agenda Topic Yes Majority End debate on an agenda topic, bringing any draft resolution and amendments on the floor to an immediate vote
7.5 Closure of Debate Yes Majority End debate on any substantive issue open to debate and bring it to an immediate vote
7.6 Appealing a Decision of the President Yes Majority Challenge a ruling made by the President
7.7 Consultative Session Yes Majority Suspend rules and move to an informal debate session
7.8 Add an Agenda Topic Yes Majority Add an agenda topic to the working agenda
7.9 Change the Order of Consideration of the Working Agenda Yes Majority Change the order in which agenda items are set on the working agenda
7.10 Set Working Agenda Yes Majority Set the daily order for the working agenda
7.11 Limits on Debate Yes Majority Impose (or repeal) a limit on the length of debate
7.12 Division of the Question Yes Majority Divide a draft resolution or amendment into two or more clauses, each to be voted on separately after Closure of Debate
7.13 Consideration of Draft Resolutions No None Bring a draft resolution to the floor for discussion
7.14 Consideration of Amendments No None Bring an amendment to the floor for discussion
7.15 Party to the Dispute Yes Majority Request a non-Security Council member be invited to the session

Notes:

  1. A majority in the Security Council shall always be 9 votes.
  2. Historical Security Councils set before 1965 will require a 7 vote majority for passage.
  3. Any motion may be seconded, but no seconds are required in the Security Council.

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The Security Council

Membership of the Security Council

  • Belgium
  • China
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Dominican Republic
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • France
  • Germany
  • Indonesia
  • Kuwait
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Russian Federation
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

Introduction

For each topic area, Representatives should consider the following questions, which should assist them in gaining a better understanding of the issues at hand, particularly from their country’s perspective:The Contemporary Security Council topics below are current as of July 2019 and may not include all topics that the Council might discuss at Conference. With the ever-changing nature of international peace and security, these topics are a guide to help direct your research on your State’s position. Updates on likely topics for the Contemporary Security Council will be posted online throughout the fall. These updates will be available on the AMUN website and the AMUN Accords. Introduction

  • How did this conflict begin?
  • Is this a new conflict or a re-ignition of a previous conflict?
  • How have similar situations and conflicts been peacefully resolved? What State and regional actors are involved in this conflict?
  • If there are non-State actors involved in a conflict, are there any States supporting them? If so, which ones?

The Situation in Myanmar

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (formerly Burma) has a history fraught with political turmoil and widespread violence, which has recently led to ethnic tensions. After more than a century of British rule, Burma became independent in 1948 under the leadership of U Nu, who became the first Prime Minister. U Nu served as Prime Minister for ten years, until a split in the State’s main party, the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL), prompted a military takeover in October 1958 under the direction of General Ne Win. Less than two years later, on 6 February 1960, Burma held general elections and restored parliamentary government, with U Nu as prime minister again. On 2 March 1962, General Ne Win staged a military coup that ousted U Nu and his “Clean AFPFL” party, which marked the beginning of totalitarian rule in the State.

After 26 years of totalitarianism, civil unrest over economic mismanagement and political oppression by the government led to widespread protests, and thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were killed on 8 August 1988, in what became known as the 8888 Uprising. On 18 September 1988, General Saw Maung seized control of the government, establishing the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). Under Saw Maung’s direction, the State was renamed the “Union of Myanmar,” which later became the “Republic of the Union of Myanmar.” The State held general elections in 1990, the first elections in 30 years; the military ignored the results, to the dismay of individuals and organizations with democratic aspirations. The lack of initiative on the part of the government of Myanmar to honor the results of the 1990 election led many States to issue sanctions against Myanmar in the coming years. These sanctions prompted the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) (renamed from SLORC in 1997) to develop a seven-step roadmap to democracy in 2003.

In what was perceived to be a major step toward democracy, the SPDC ratified a new constitution for Myanmar in late May of 2008. Unfortunately for pro-democratic groups, the new constitution notably included provisions for the military to maintain a leading role in the government, sparking fears that totalitarianism would persist. Rising from the ratification of the new constitution, elections were held in 2010. Many former SPDC officials were elected to Parliament, prompting more questions as to the legitimacy of the State’s first elections in nearly 20 years. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed that the elections were “insufficiently inclusive, participatory and transparent.” Despite the concern from the United Nations and the greater international community, on 4 February 2011, a former general named Thein Sein was elected as President of Myanmar. The SPDC was later dissolved, thus formally relinquishing control of the State to the new “civilian” government.

Myanmar’s transition to civilian rule has not put an end to the political turmoil and violence within the State. Elected government officials and military leaders continue to clash, with the primary concerns being civilian vs. military rule, and Buddhism vs. other religions, such as Islam. While the constitution does not establish an official state religion, the Myanmar government has been accused of actively promoting Theravada Buddhism over other religions, and is also accused of utilizing military influence to intimidate non-Buddhists, particularly young people, into conversion. One method the government has used to promote Buddhism is the exclusion of the Rohingya (a Muslim minority in the predominantly Buddhist State) from citizenship, despite their primary residence on the west coast of Myanmar, known as Rakhine state. Previously, the Rohingya have been regarded as the nomads of the region, but their communities were relatively stable within the Rakhine state from the early 1990s to 2014. In the 2014 census, however, the Rohingya were excluded from the count and not considered inhabitants of Myanmar. They were instead classified as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Considered “stateless” and given no protection under the law, the Rohingya suffered human rights abuses by Myanmar’s military, prompting an investigation from the United Nations Human Rights Council. Myanmar’s government has and continues to deny any wrong-doing on behalf of the military. 

As a result of the human rights abuses committed by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya, on 25 August 2017, a group of militants known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked military and police outposts on the Myanmar-Bangladeshi border, killing 12. In retaliation for the 25 August attack, Myanmar’s military began swiftly targeting the Rohingya community, killing thousands, destroying homes and committing widespread sexual violence. Top Myanmar officials, such as army chief General Min Aung Hlaing, claim these were “clearance operations.” More than 530,000 Rohingya refugees fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in a single month. Bangladesh does have refugee camps set-up, but they are poorly resourced, overcrowded, and many Rohingya experience health issues such as food and water-borne illnesses in these camps. These camps are also easy targets for continued violence, primarily sexual violence. The United Nations Human Rights Council has estimated that over one million Rohingya have fled Myanmar since August 2017, and the vast majority of these refugees are women, children and the elderly. In June 2018, the World Bank announced a grant worth nearly half a billion dollars to help Bangladesh address the Rohingya refugees’ needs.

After an extensive investigation, in August 2018, one of the investigators of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM), Christopher Sidoti, found that “genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes” had been perpetrated by Myanmar’s military forces and released an over 400 page report on the atrocities taking place. Two months later in October 2018, the Chair of the FFM, Marzuki Darusman, called upon the Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court, or to establish an ad hoc international criminal tribunal to hold the perpetrators of the rights violations accountable. On 26 June 2019, the International Criminal Court announced that Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda would request that the court’s judges open an investigation into the crimes perpetrated against the Rohingya. Despite two years of escalating international attention, the violence persists. 

On the evening of 3 April 2019, two military helicopters flew over a village of Rohingya and fired on civilians tending to their fields and cattle. Seven civilians were killed, and 18 others were injured. The escalation of violence has worsened the humanitarian crisis, as more flee into already overcrowded and unsecured refugee camps, and members of the international community have called for “unimpeded” humanitarian access to the region, particularly due to severe water shortages in Bangladesh. In a later statement, FFM Chairperson Darusman stated that, “the situation is at a total standstill.”

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in Venezuela

The economic, political and refugee crisis in Venezuela, an oil-rich country and OPEC member in South America, continues unabated and threatens to destabilize the region.

From 1999 to 2013, Venezuela was governed by President Hugo Chavez, whose time as leader was characterized by nationalization of the oil industry and lavish spending on public health, infrastructure and jobs. Under his administration, per capita income doubled, and unemployment and poverty were cut in half.

Although the transition of power from President Chavez was peaceful, his successor had to manage increasingly difficult economic conditions. On 5 March 2013, President Chavez died from cancer. His designated successor, Nicolas Maduro, was duly elected a few months later. Maduro took power soon before the price of oil, on which most of Venezuela’s economy depends, began decreasing rapidly. Without the oil wealth coming in, Venezuela’s unfettered spending began to cause economic problems. On 30 December 2014, the Venezuelan Central Bank confirmed that the country had entered a recession, and the year-over-year inflation rate hit 68 percent by the end of the year. By the end of 2018, the Central Bank claimed its data showed a 130,060 percent year-over-year inflation rate for the Venezuelan bolivar. The International Monetary Fund believes the Central Bank is understating the data and estimates the 2018 rate at 929,797 percent. As a result of the inflation, ordinary Venezuelans have great difficulty buying food and paying for their day-to-day living expenses, and there is a thriving black market for US dollars. 

The political situation in Venezuela also deteriorated. With the economy failing, the opposition party increased its political attacks on Maduro and gained a two-thirds supermajority in Venezuela’s National Assembly in 2015. Maduro responded by adding justices loyal to him to the country’s Supreme Court. In 2017, the Supreme Court effectively annulled the National Assembly and banned an opposition candidate from running for election. Mass protests erupted the next day, and while the Supreme Court walked back its decision, months of protests resulted in more than 100 deaths. Maduro’s next plan to consolidate power was to create a new parallel legislature called the Constituent Assembly in July 2017 with the mandate of drafting a new Venezuelan constitution. The Democratic Unity Roundtable, the opposition party, boycotted the election of the Constituent Assembly. Opposition members’ fears materialized the following month when the Constituent Assembly voted to give itself supreme legislative power and strip the National Assembly of its legislative powers. Over 40 countries as well as the European Union and the Organization of American States did not recognize the election of the Constituent Assembly. 

Maduro was elected to a second six-year term in May 2018 in an election criticized as a “sham” by the United States and denounced by the Lima Group of 14 countries in North and South America. On 10 January 2019, shortly after Maduro’s inauguration, Juan Guaidó, president of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president of Venezuela and called for Maduro’s removal. Many countries quickly declared their support for Guaidó, including the United States and most of Venezuela’s neighbors. The United States applied sanctions to Venezuela’s oil exports after Venezuela cut diplomatic ties in January 2019, and President Donald Trump has occasionally threatened military action against the Maduro regime. Russia has intermittently supplied Venezuela with military equipment and advisers.

The additional sanctions, combined with Guaidó’s proclamation, set off a new round of widespread protests. According to the United Nations Human Rights Office, at least 40 people have been killed and 696 have been arrested since the latest wave of protests began. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that over 4 million Venezuelans have fled the country, mostly to Colombia and Peru, due to the ongoing food insecurity and poverty. The course of this crisis depends much on Venezuela’s military which, despite pleas by the United States to change its mind, continues to back Maduro. 

The Security Council has met several times in 2019 to discuss the issue, each time failing to pass a resolution. A meeting on 28 February saw debate on two competing draft resolutions. Russia and China vetoed the United States-led resolution expressing concern over the economic collapse and refugee crisis, and calling for the “peaceful restoration of democracy and the rule of law.” Russia’s competing draft resolution, which denounced all threats of force against Venezuela as well as interventions in what Russia claims to be domestic matters, failed to receive enough votes to pass. The Security Council has been briefed on the situation throughout the summer, and tensions between Council members who support Maduro and those who support Guaidó remain high, with the future government of Venezuela and the fate of millions of displaced and starving Venezuelans at stake.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in the Middle East

The situation in the Middle East is multifaceted. Due to pressing threats to international peace and security, the Security Council’s primary concerns in the region are the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars and humanitarian and security concerns in the states of Iran and Iraq. While efforts to address these concerns share a number of geopolitical priorities, each situation remains unique.

Syria

Although less intense than it was through 2018, the civil war in the Syrian Arab Republic is still devastating the country after eight years of heavy fighting. The war has its roots in 2011, when the Arab Spring movement spawned local movements in Syria calling for a series of reforms, such as social and democratic reform, investigation of violence perpetrated by police and military forces and the release of political prisoners. Following Arab Spring-affiliated protests, President Bashar al-Assad, who also serves as commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces, ordered a severe crackdown on all protesters and suspected dissidents. A series of state-sanctioned military strikes against rebel militants and civilians followed. The Assad regime made some minor conciliatory gestures in the spring of 2011, but protesters were unsatisfied, violence continued to spread, and the United States and European Union increased economic pressure by tightening sanctions on the Assad regime. Syrian government forces continue to battle rebel groups across Syria, even employing banned chemical weapons against military and civilian targets in April and July 2018. Violence and political upheaval continues to run rampant in Syria, which has led to one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern times.

Further complicating the situation in Syria is the presence of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). From 2013 to 2017, Syria served as a stronghold for ISIL, as it exploited vacuums in governance and political stability. ISIL controlled several major cities, including Raqqa, which served as their de facto capital in the country. The al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of the terrorist organization Al-Qaida, also operates in Syria against the Syrian government. The United States and its coalition partners—mainly the United Kingdom, France, Jordan and Turkey—have been conducting air and missile strikes on ISIL and some rebel targets in Syria since 2014 and against Syrian government targets since early 2017. In 2015, Russia also joined in providing aerial support against ISIL. While they are both opposed to ISIL and the various Al-Qaida affiliates, the United States-led coalition and Russia have different allies and military objectives in the region. Unlike the United States, Russia intervenes in the country with the blessing of the Syrian government, and intends to maintain a permanent military presence there. It has also struck anti-Assad rebel groups that the United States considers to be allies. The Kurdish population that controls northeastern Syria has assisted both the coalition and Russia in fighting against ISIL, but also demands recognition as their own independent state, which Turkey opposes. United States and Russian airstrikes, while helpful in decimating ISIL-held targets, have also killed and injured thousands of Syrian citizens. 

To date, action in the Security Council has been limited mainly because Syria’s military ally, Russia, vetoes any resolutions that take significant action against the Syrian government. Through April 2018, Russia has used its veto power twelve times to block resolutions taking humanitarian, investigative or other action in Syria. In February 2017, Russia and China vetoed sanctions against Syria for human rights violations and use of chemical weapons. In April 2018, the Security Council failed to adopt a resolution on chemical weapons use by the Assad regime due to Russian veto. This resolution would have established an official United Nations-led investigation to identify who used chemical weapons. In a statement to the Security Council in April 2018, Chinese Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu expressed support for Russian military intervention in Syria, and encouraged the Council to focus on humanitarian aid rather than punitive measures against the Syrian regime. 

Outside of the Security Council, many states have taken action in response to the rising death tolls and humanitarian crisis: Turkey has accepted and is housing millions of refugees; the Russian Federation has provided financial and military aid to the Assad regime; and France, the United Kingdom and the United States carried out a wave of punitive airstrikes against Syrian regime targets following chemical attacks against civilians in April 2018. Because the Syrian government permits few foreign aid programs to formally intervene in the Syrian humanitarian crisis, the rest of the international community has primarily assisted via unilateral actions such as monetary aid for displaced peoples and counter-cyber-terrorism efforts to limit ISIL’s recruitment efforts. The number of deaths and displaced peoples in this crisis continues to rise, but political concerns as well as the conditions on the ground have prevented humanitarian aid and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from successfully operating in Syria.

In September 2018, Russia, Iran and Turkey brokered a short-lived ceasefire. It did not hold for long, as fighting continued and the Assad Regime prepared additional assaults on Idlib province. Rebel factions still control Idlib, although government forces have increased attacks on the region in recent months. Turkey has supplied weapons to Syrian rebels’ remaining holdouts in the region, and Syrian government forces make their attacks on the remaining rebel strongholds with Russian air support.

The Assad regime appears determined to retake Idlib at any cost, a position which has drawn criticism because many of the rebels who surrendered elsewhere in the country were allowed to travel to Idlib, in some cases even provided transport by the Syrian government. Of the three million people in Ilib, one million are children, and 1.3 million fled to Idlib from elsewhere in Syria. On 3 June 2019, Russia reportedly blocked a statement at the Security Council that would have called on all combatants to protect civilians in Idlib.

In May 2019, all members of the Security Council except for Russia, China, South Africa and Indonesia made a public statement expressing concern about the fighting in Idlib and the potential for the situation to become a more significant humanitarian catastrophe, after meeting in consultation with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This statement did not get the unanimous support it would have needed to be issued formally.

Yemen

The situation in Yemen has been unstable since the Arab Spring movement in 2011 and the onset of civil war in 2014. In response to protests during the Arab Spring, state-sanctioned violence against civilians escalated to the point that hundreds were killed and thousands were injured in a few short months. In October 2011, the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2014, calling on President Ali Abdullah Salih to step down from his position and for all parties to cease fighting. Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, the former president’s second in command, assumed power in early 2012 when former President Salih agreed to vacate his office. However, President Hadi’s term was plagued with instability, political upheaval and violence. Hadi’s government was overthrown by Houthi rebels (Shia political insurgents) in 2014, and parliament was dissolved. President Hadi was moved out of the country in 2015, and, as of July 2019, he is living in exile in Saudi Arabia, although he has traveled to the United States for medical treatment and did make a visit to appear before the divided parliament in the loyalist province of Hadramout. Since the Houthi coup in 2014, Yemen has been plagued by constant violence and humanitarian crisis. The instability in Yemen has encouraged many militant groups such as Al-Qaida, Al Dahle and ISIL to gather and operate in the region.

Indiscriminate artillery attacks by a coalition of nine African and Middle Eastern countries (led by Saudi Arabia) against Houthi rebels and other militant groups to regain control of the country on behalf of President Hadi and his government continue to kill civilians and further destabilize the country. The coalition received at various times both logistical and military support from the United States.

In February 2014, the Security Council passed Resolution 2140, establishing sanctions against Yemen in response to the rampant violence and egregious human rights violations. In February 2015, the Security Council passed Resolution 2201, deploring the Houthi action to dissolve parliament and calling upon all armed actors in Yemen to impose a ceasefire and arms embargo. In February 2019, the Security Council renewed the asset freeze, arms embargo and travel ban associated with the 2014 sanctions. In December 2018, negotiators from all sides met in Stockholm, Sweden to work out a ceasefire under the auspices of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths. These negotiations resulted in a ceasefire: now known as the Hodeidah Agreement, also known as the Stockholm Agreement. As part of the agreement, the Council passed Resolutions 2451 and 2452, creating the United Nations Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNHMA) and the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) to oversee implementation of the agreement and withdrawal of forces from both sides from certain port cities.

A large component of the humanitarian crisis is the inability for aid workers to get into the country and distribute medical treatment and food due to ongoing fighting, especially in the port city of Hodeidah. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 24 million Yemeni citizens are categorized as in need of aid, with more than 7.4 million at acute risk of famine. Since the start of the crisis, over 4.3 million people have fled their homes, and only 1 million have been able to return. 

From 11 to 14 May 2019, the Houthi rebels unilaterally withdrew their forces from Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa, monitored and verified by UNHMA. The head of UNMHA and Griffiths explained that they accepted the Houthi offer to withdraw unilaterally because negotiations on the second phase of withdrawals were proving to take more time than expected, and the quick withdrawal would allow United Nations aid teams to enter the ports, distribute aid and assist the Yemeni port authority.

The Yemeni government criticized the withdrawals because they were not allowed to verify the withdrawals and were not included in the monitoring process conducted by the RCC. They also pointed out that on the same day the United Nations confirmed the redeployments, the Houthis attacked two Saudi oil-pumping stations with drones. Fighting continues in the south of Saudi Arabia and several regions of Yemen, including the capital, Sana’a; the al-Dhale governorate in the south; and the Abs district of the Hajjah governorate.

The Security Council is currently focused on implementing the Hodeidah Agreement, especially planning the second phase of redeployments and deciding on who will be allowed to contribute to the standing security forces in Hodeidah. In June and July of 2019, Griffiths briefed the Council on the ongoing implementation of Resolutions 2451 and 2452. He noted that while violence in Hodeidah and elsewhere in Yemen has continued to decrease since the agreement was concluded, disagreement between the Yemeni government and the Houthis remains on other aspects of the agreement, such as the exchange of prisoners and the division of revenue from the port. Additionally, Griffiths stated that the attacks on civilian targets in southern Saudi Arabia threaten to derail the entire process, as “war can take peace off the table.”

Iran

Tensions between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United Nations over its nuclear program are nothing new. However, in the three years since 2015, tensions were at their lowest point in decades after a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program was concluded.

After many years of negotiation, on 14 July 2015, Iran, along with the United States, the Peoples’ Republic of China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Union signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In exchange for relief from economic and trade sanctions from the United States, the European Union and the Security Council, Iran agreed to significantly reduce or eliminate its stockpiles of enriched uranium and centrifuges, refrain from building any new heavy-water nuclear facilities for 15 years, and impose a limit on uranium enrichment of 3.67 percent for 15 years. Iran also agreed to allow the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA. The Council unanimously passed Resolution 2231 on 20 July 2015, which endorsed the completed deal but contained some restrictions on arms sales and ballistic missile testing and launches.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been a vocal critic of the JCPOA. On 8 May 2018, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the agreement, claiming violations by Iran. The IAEA maintained at the time that Iran was abiding by its commitments under the JCPOA. The United States also claimed that the deal did not do enough to limit Iran’s ballistic missile activity or its support of destabilizing regional militias such as the Houthis in Yemen. The western European signatories to the dealFrance, the United Kingdom and Germanyagree with these complaints but continue to support the JCPOA as the best way to limit Iran’s nuclear program.

In November 2018, United States President Donald Trump reimposed oil and financial sanctions against the Iranian regime, citing alleged missile and nuclear programs. Germany, France, Russia and China opposed this action. The IAEA assured States that Iran was not undertaking such programs. Iran has stated it will continue to comply with the 2015 agreement and work with the other signatories, despite the United States abandonment of the deal and imposition of sanctions.

Despite these statements, increasing tensions jeopardize both Iranian compliance and international acceptance that Iran is complying. France, Germany and the United Kingdom sent a letter in February 2019 to the Security Council claiming that Iran had pushed the boundaries of Resolution 2231 by conducting a series of ballistic missile and satellite launch vehicle tests in January 2019. In April 2019, for the first time, the United States designated a branch of a foreign government’s military as a terrorist organizationIran’s Revolutionary Guard Corpswhich the United States accuses of supplying arms and financial support to terrorist groups such as the Houthis in Yemen and Shia militias in Iraq. This designation allows the United States to target members of this group in ways that are normally forbidden by international humanitarian law. Iran immediately responded by designating the United States armed forces deployed in the Middle East as terrorists.

On 8 May 2019, one year to the date from its withdrawal from the JCPOA, the United States imposed another round of sanctions against Iran’s aluminum, copper, iron and steel sectors. Iran responded with a 60-day ultimatum to the remaining parties to the JCPOA: Lift sanctions on its oil and financial sectors, or it will resume enriching uranium beyond the JCPOA limits and building its Arak nuclear reactor, which would also be a direct violation. This ultimatum was rejected by the remaining parties to the JCPOA who called on Iran to abide by its commitments. Iran claims that this latest round of sanctions shows that the United States is not negotiating in good faith.

On 12 May 2019, four oil tankers at anchor at the port of Fujairah near the Strait of Hormuz were sabotaged. The Strait of Hormuz is a sole and narrow passage between the Persian Gulf and the open ocean. Initial findings presented to the Security Council on 7 June 2019 by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Norway claimed a state actor was behind the attack but stopped short of directly blaming Iran. The United States publicly stated that it believes Iranian actors carried out the attack.

The United States’ allies in the region that are directly opposed to Iran include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Israel. On 24 May, President Trump invoked an emergency powers provision of arms sale legislation to approve an $8.3-billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan over the objections of the United States Congress, citing an Iranian threat. In May 2019, citing an unidentified but credible threat, the United States deployed a carrier group to the Persian Gulf and increased its troop deployment in the area by 1,500 soldiers, including 600 troops that were scheduled to return home but have had their deployments extended.

Countries in Europe are attempting to design an alternative to the dollar-based payment system for Iran to use if it is frozen out of the United States-led international payments system. The United States has become isolated from the other Council members who are parties to the agreementChina, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Russiawho maintain that the JCPOA is still valid and frequently call on all parties to refrain from escalating.

In June 2019, the Council received the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of resolution 2231 as well as reports from the JCPOA’s Joint Commission and the Council’s Resolution 2231 facilitator. The Secretary-General’s report focused on the components of the resolution dealing with nuclear materials and noted Member States’ conflicting viewpoints on whether Iran’s ballistic missile tests which occurred in late 2018 and early 2019 violate provisions of the JCPOA. Debate within the Council is ongoing as the remaining parties to the agreement attempt to find some way in which it can be saved.

Bibliography

UN Documents

The Situation in Africa

Sudan

In February 2003, intense violence broke out in the western Darfur region of Sudan between Sudanese armed forces, local militia and other armed rebel groups. The violence forced hundreds of thousands to flee west to Chad. As the violence escalated and the refugee crisis deepened, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1547 in June 2004, which approved a special Political Mission, the United Nations Advance Mission in the Sudan (UNAMIS). UNAMIS was to facilitate contacts between the concerned parties and prepare for the introduction of an official peace support operation. As the crisis in Darfur escalated, including concerns of forced female genital mutilation, rape as a tool of war, ethnic cleansing and the use of child soldiers, the Security Council expanded the mandate of UNAMIS to include effective public information capacity through radio, television and print media in an attempt to curb the violence and promote the peace process.

After continued clashes over southern autonomy, the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) reached a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005. Two months later, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1590, which officially established the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). The UNMIS mandate was to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, along with facilitating the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons; provide humanitarian and development assistance; and contribute to international efforts to protect and promote human rights in the Sudan. Resolution 1706 expanded the mandate of UNMIS in 2006 to include a peacekeeping force of up to 17,300 troops to protect civilians in Darfur; the Sudanese government strongly opposed this expansion.

On 31 July 2007, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1769, which augmented the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and established a joint peacekeeping operation in Darfur: the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Following South Sudan’s independence in 2011, the Sudanese government terminated the presence of UNMIS. Currently, UNAMID deployment is as follows: 5,591 military personnel, 728 police advisers, 1,615 formed police unit officers, 580 international civilian staff, 102 United Nations volunteers, and 1,516 national civilian staff.

Beginning in 2003, high level Sudanese officials began to face accusations that they played in a role in widespread ethnic cleansing and systematic rape in Darfur. The International Criminal Court (ICC) alleged that then-Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, ordered the ethnic cleansing of non-Arab individuals in Darfur (including ethnic groups such as the Fur, the Masalit and the Zaghawa). The ICC issued an arrest warrant for President al-Bashir in 2009. In December 2018, a weak economy led to nationwide protests, which quickly turned into renewed calls for President al-Bashir to step down. In response, the Sudanese military began a security crackdown that left an estimated 57 protestors dead.

Later, in February 2019, al-Bashir announced a one-year state of emergency. Al-Bashir announced that he would dissolve the State’s central government, and he appointed a new prime minister and new state governors, all of whom were from the military. On 26 March 2019, a Sudanese representative called upon the Security Council to lift sanctions on the state to improve the economic situation in Sudan, citing that the State is “completely different” from 2005 when the sanctions were imposed. About two weeks later, on 11 April 2019, President al-Bashir was ousted from power and arrested by the Sudanese military. Then-Defense Minister, Awad Ibn Auf, stated that following the coup, a three-month state of emergency was being put in place, and the army would oversee a two-year transitional period, followed by elections. Despite the implementation of a curfew, hundreds of protestors remained vigilant, calling for a civilian transitional council, instead of one headed by the military.

On 12 April, Awad Ibn Auf stepped down as the head of the country’s transitional military council, and Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan took over. Akin to ousted leader al-Bashir, Lt. Gen. Burhan has also been accused of involvement in the atrocities against non-Arab civilians in Darfur since 2003, when he was chief of ground forces. Thousands of protestors have gathered in opposition to Burhan and the transitional military rule, calling for an inclusive, democratic transitional period. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stated that the “democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people” needed to be realized. In response to the change in the political situation in Sudan, the Joint Special Representative and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Jeremiah Nyamane Kingsley Mamabolo, told the Security Council that the implementation of UNAMID’s mandate could be affected dramatically, particularly since the Council had planned to withdraw the mission by 30 June 2020.

On 3 June 2019, Sudanese military carried out a deadly raid on a camp of protesters in Khartoum, with the number of reported fatalities ranging from 35 to 120. The Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA) issued a statement that the raid was a “bloody massacre” and the violence continues. Videos surfacing from the protestors appear to display bodies being thrown into the Nile River in an attempt to hide the true number of dead; it is currently estimated that 40 bodies have been found in the Nile. The government imposed an internet blackout to prevent more of these videos from reaching social media and other media sources. Reports are that Sudanese forces are using tear gas and live ammunition to disperse barricades set up in Khartoum, the capital, by protestors. In response to the violence by Sudanese forces, the African Union has suspended the membership of Sudan, and the future of the hybrid UNAMID mission is unclear.

Mali

Since the Republic of Mali gained independence from France on 20 June 1960, the State has seen four separate periods of rebellion from the Tuareg people: 1963-64, 1990-96, 2006-09, and 2012-present. The Tuareg were considered to be nomads of the Sahara desert, previously inhabiting northern countries of Africa including Niger, Libya, Algeria, Burkina Faso, and Mali. As colonialism in northern Africa came to an end, the Tuareg found themselves separated by geographic borders and in turn, marginalized by newly independent State governments due to their now split-populace. Throughout each of the four rebellion periods, the Tuareg have demanded political autonomy and the establishment of their own State. 

After a 1991 coup led by Amadou Toumani Touré, and until 2012, Mali was stable in its democracy. Amadou Touré led Mali until democratic elections in 1992, and after his predecessor Alpha Konare served two consecutive terms, Touré was democratically elected in 2002. Unfortunately, the desire of the Tuareg to establish political autonomy was not accepted by the Malian government. From 1992 on, the northern part of Mali was considered to be less developed than the southern region, and this led to a significant disparity between the two regions as to the level of political autonomy vs. the government’s level of investment. The Tuareg did not have adequate representation to make advancements in the development of their communities. This came to a head in May 2006, when Tuareg unrest once again brought violence to the northern region of Mali

During the summer of 2006, the Malian military withdrew from the northern region inhabited by the Tuareg, and Algeria offered to lead a mediation process between the Malian government and the Tuareg. This process culminated in an agreement signed 4 July 2006 called the Algiers Accord, which granted the northern region of Mali further political autonomy and allocated “development” funds. Unfortunately, the Algiers Accord was rejected by several Malian political parties, and the lack of implementation of the Accord resulted in continued violence despite the ceasefire between Mali and the Tuareg. After three years of fighting, hundreds of Tuareg lay down their weapons in 2009, under increased pressure from the Malian military and after greater focus was placed on Algerian mediation. Many Tuareg fighters then went to Libya to pursue their autonomous aspirations alongside pro-Muammar al-Qaddafi forces, but returned to Mali in 2011 after Qaddafi’s death on 20 October. The Tuareg expressed the desire to establish an independent state called Azawad, in the northern region of Mali.

In January 2012, the fourth Tuareg rebellion began in Northern Mali, led by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (Mouvement national de libération de l’Azawad, or MNLA). The Malian government could do little to stop the advancement of the Tuareg fighters, heavily armed after returning from Libya. In turn, some of the Malian military led a coup against the government due to the government’s inability to quell the violence. On 21 March 2012, power was seized from Amadou Toumani Touré and his party, and the constitution of Mali was thrown out. The Security Council issued a statement the next day, condemning the “forcible seizure of power from the democratically-elected Government of Mali” and calling for the “preservation of the electoral process” as elections were scheduled to be held in April 2012. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decided to attempt to broker an agreement between the Malian government and the MNLA fighters, but imposed sanctions on the junta in the interim in the hopes of de-escalating the conflict. The Security Council authorized an Africa-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) through Resolution 2085, adopted 20 December 2012

Unfortunately, other groups aside from the Tuareg were also interested in seizing the territory in northern Mali, and the MNLA were quickly driven out by Al-Qaida. The Malian government called upon France for military assistance, and after the French helped regain control of seized northern-cities, the Security Council authorized the establishment of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) through Resolution 2100, adopted on 25 April 2013. Backed by the African Union and the United Nations, the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement, brokered between the authorities of Mali, the MNLA and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA), was finalized as of 18 June 2013. The members of the Security Council stated that the Agreement “reaffirms the sovereignty, territorial integrity, national unity and secular nature” of Mali.

While the peace talks in the northern region of Mali continued, the head of MINUSMA, Albert Gerard Koenders, expressed that MINUSMA had faced challenges in reaching its full operational capacity. As a result of these challenges, Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop requested a more robust mandate for MINUSMA. On 25 June 2014, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2164 which established benchmarks for MINUSMA and renewed the mission for a year. To the dismay of members of the Security Council, terror attacks from groups such as Mouvement pour l’Unicité et le Jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest, Al-Qaida and al-Mourabitoun, have been carried out against MINUSMA facilities and personnel from the mission’s onset through the present day. The mandate has been renewed six times, the most recent renewal adopted on 28 June 2019 and extending through 30 June 2020

Despite the 2014 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali resulting from the Algiers Process, which was signed on 24 July 2014, the ceasefire in northern Mali has been continually violated, and terror attacks have only gotten more widespread. In January 2019, Security Council members issued a press statement expressing “a significant sense of impatience with parties over the persistent delays in the full implementation of key provisions of the agreement.” The 28 June 2019 extension of MINUSMA, through Resolution 2480, named two strategic priorities in Mali going forward: (1) utilizing all 13,289 military personnel and 1,920 police personnel to support the implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali; and (2) facilitating the “implementation of a comprehensive politically-led Malian strategy to protect civilians, reduce intercommunal violence, and re-establish State authority, State presence and basic social services in Central Mali.” While MINUSMA personnel struggle to thwart the effects of terrorism in the region, the Tuareg remain without political autonomy and have been targeted by terror attacks in retaliation for their military action in northern Mali, particularly near the border of Niger. 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Historical Security Council of 1961

Membership of the Historical Security Council of 1961

  • Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
  • Chile
  • China
  • Ecuador
  • France
  • Liberia
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Republic (Egypt)
  • United Kingdom
  • Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Russian Federation)
  • United States of America

Introduction

The 2019 American Model United Nations Historical Security Council (HSC) will simulate world events beginning beginning on 1 January 1961. Historically, the key international security concerns at this time revolve around the continuing hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union, the civil war in the Congo and the rise of hostilities in Latin America and the Caribbean. Another key issue confronting the Security Council is the emerging role of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, whose actions challenged the authority of the Security Council on several occasions.

In early 1961, colonialism was collapsing while changing political and social climates forced governments to make drastic changes to deal with new pressures. Cold War tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States were high and played out on all levels of foreign policy and diplomacy. The internal political landscape of many developing and newly independent countries was influenced by this struggle for global ideological dominance. Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld continued his efforts to energetically use the Secretariat to fulfill the roles of the United Nations Charter as he saw fit, pursuing peace actively, sometimes at odds with the Security Council’s Member States.

The brief synopses presented here offer merely introductory coverage of prominent international issues that can direct representatives’ continued research and preparation. For each topic area, representatives should consider the following questions, which should assist them in gaining a better understanding of the issues at hand, particularly from their country’s perspective:

How did this conflict begin?

  • Is this a new conflict or a re-ignition of a previous conflict?
  • How have similar situations and conflicts been peacefully resolved?
  • What State and regional actors are involved in this conflict? If there are non-State actors involved in a conflict, are there any States supporting them? If so, which ones?

The Situation in the Congo

Throughout the 1950s, Belgium faced increasing pressure to grant independence to the Belgian Congo. In an effort to avoid fighting a prolonged insurgency, such as had been encountered by other colonial powers that sought to maintain their colonial holdings, Belgium agreed to grant independence to the Congo on 30 June 1960. 

As the agreed-upon date for independence approached, Congo found itself ill-prepared for self-governance. Its great size, coveted natural resources, fractured political leadership, tribal loyalties and dependence on the 10,000-strong Belgian colonial civil service contributed to an extremely precarious situation. Although a Treaty of Friendship, Assistance, and Cooperation with Belgium was signed by the first government on the eve of independence, it was never ratified and was quickly disregarded.

The first government of the newly independent Republic of the Congo (also called Congo-Leopoldville; note this is not the same as the current day Republic of the Congo) was a coalition formed between the leaders of two opposing political factions, President Joseph Kasa-Vubu and Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. The power-sharing structure of national government created by the newly minted constitution proved to be problematic, though, as two powerful and opposing factions, each vying for dominance and control, quickly led to instability. 

Problems in the Congo began just five days after independence. A series of mutinies swept through the Congolese army, as Congolese troops removed the European officer commanders and installed native Congolese commanders between 5-9 July 1960. Mutineers roamed the capital city of Leopoldville and attacked Europeans. The new, all-Congolese military created a terrifying environment for Europeans living and working in the Congo, causing thousands of Belgians to flee to Congo-Brazzaville, Rhodesia and Belgium. On 10 July 1960, the Belgian military intervened unilaterally, sending 1,200 troops to supplement the force of 2,500 already in Congo under the Treaty of Friendship. By 12 July 1960, the Belgian troops had reestablished order in Leopoldville as well as other cities.

Neither Kasa-Vubu or Lumumba were backed by Belgium and Belgians living in the Congo, and power struggles between Belgian influencers and the new Congolese government intensified. Belgium found an ally in Moise Tshombe, the President of the Katanga Province. Under Belgian rule, the Katanga Province was administered separately from the rest of the Congo; it was mineral rich and economically vital. The provisional constitution called for a unitary system, joining the Congo’s provinces together in one government. Because of Katanga’s economic strength and close ties to Belgium, Tshombe and his political faction supported a federated system and he was unable to reach an agreement with Kasa-Vubu and Lumumba. With Belgian political, civilian and military support, on 11 July 1960, President of the Katanga Province Moise Tshombe declared Katanga Province independent from Congo. 

The severity of the conflict and violence drew the attention of United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, who actively campaigned for United Nations involvement in establishing peace in the region. Ralph Bunche, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, kept Hammarskjöld apprised of the evolving situation. On 10 July 1960, the Congolese Cabinet formally requested United Nations help in the form of “technical assistance in the military field.” 

On 13 July 1960, Hammarskjöld invoked Article 99 of the Charter, requesting an immediate meeting of the Security Council to discuss the situation. The Security Council passed Resolution 143 (with abstentions by China, France and the United Kingdom) which called for the withdrawal of Belgian troops and the establishment of a United Nations force providing “military assistance as necessary,” per the Congolese request. On 18 July, the first 3,500 United Nations troops, composed mainly of African regiments, entered the Congo.

United Nations forces faced many challenges in the initial months of the mission. Resolution 143 had several problems: first, the Secretary-General’s responsibilities were not clear; second, there was no timetable for action; third, there was no description of the military assistance required; fourth, there was no mention of territorial integrity or direction with regard to the Katanga situation; and fifth, United Nations troops were authorized to use force only in self defense and were not to become a party to any internal conflicts.

The entry of United Nations forces into Katanga exacerbated problems in the Congo and the United Nations and were resolved only by a personal visit from Hammarskjöld to Katanga on 12 August. Prime Minister Lumumba grew extremely critical and distrustful of United Nations aid, issuing several ultimatums for the United Nations to conform to his policies and provide United Nations military force against Tshombe in Katanga or withdraw.

Hammarskjöld was deeply and personally involved in the handling of the Congo crisis, repeatedly appearing before the Council seeking endorsement of his actions. On 8 August, the Council passed Resolution 146, backing Hammarskjöld’s plan and actions, clarifying the territorial integrity issue by calling upon all States to refrain from any action that might undermine the territorial integrity of the Congo, and, again, demanding the departure of Belgian troops. Although the first United Nations troops entered Katanga in mid-August, the Belgians did not fully withdraw until mid-October.

In early September, Kasa-Vubu dismissed Lumumba and declared a new government with the support of the Army Chief of Staff, Colonel Joseph Mobutu. Lumumba, in turn, announced that President Kasa-Vubu was no longer Head of State and called upon the people, workers and the army to rise. The Council of Ministers published a communiqué depriving Kasa-Vubu of his power, nullifying his ordinances, revoking the government and accusing him of high treason. Both houses of the Congolese parliament voted to support Lumumba. With the opening of the United Nations General Assembly that fall, both factions vied for the Congo’s seat. The Kasa-Vubu delegate was seated after a long, drawn out political battle.

The interplay of Cold War politics was an underlying factor in the Congo crisis. While western-bloc countries like the United States supported Kasa-Vubu and Mobutu, the Soviet Union supported the legitimacy of the Lumumba government and the Congolese Parliament by providing military aid to Lumumba and several factions. The Soviet Union also used the crisis as an opportunity to attack Hammarskjöld’s leadership. Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev addressed Hammarskjöld specifically in his remarks at the opening of the General Assembly in 1960, accusing Hammarskjold and the United Nations forces of conspiring with the United States and Belgium against Lumumba.

Other African States also played a major role in influencing the political situation of the Congo. Seventeen African States were admitted to the United Nations General Assembly in the fall 1960 session, immediately becoming a bloc influencing negotiations and actions. While they joined the West in isolating the Soviet bloc, they were not united and often disagreed with the West on specifics in the Congo. Three major African groups arose: those which backed Lumumba, those which backed the actions of the United Nations, and those which backed Mobutu and Kasa-Vubu.

Near the end of 1960, events again moved toward an imminent crisis. On 28 November, Lumumba was arrested by forces loyal to Mobutu and jailed, and he currently remains a captive as 1961 dawns. Katanga is independent, with a strong Belgian infrastructure still in place, and both the Belgians and the Soviets are supplying various factions in bids to establish new independent territories.

Bibliography 

  • Cordier, A.W. and Wilder Foote (1967). The Quest for Peace: The Dag Hammarskjöld Memorial Lectures
  • Heinz, G. and H. Donnay. (1970). Lumumba: The Last Fifty Days.
  • Hoskyns, Catherine (1965). The Congo Since Independence: January 1960 – December 1961.
  • Hofmann, Paul (1960). Congo is Alerted to Fight the U.N.: Army Regime Sees Threat of ‘Occupation’ and Attack by World Body’s Troops.
  • House, Arthur H. (1978). The U.N. in the Congo: The Political and Civilian Efforts
  • LeFever, Ernest W. (1967). Uncertain Mandate: Politics of the United Nations Congo Operation
  • O’Brien, Conor Cruise (1968). The Rise and Fall of Moise Tshombe: A Biography
  • Rosenthal, A.M. (1960). New U.N. Policy to Use Force Tests Soldiers on Duty in Congo
  • Text of Premier Khrushchev’s Speech Before United Nations General Assembly (24 September 1960). The New York Times. 
  • United Nations (1996). The Blue Helmets: A Review of United Nations Peace-Keeping, 3rd 
  • Edition
  • Urquhart, Brian (1994). Hammarskjöld
  • Urquhart, Brian (1991). A Life in Peace and War
  • Young, Crawford (1965). Politics in the Congo: Decolonization and Independence. 

United Nations Documents 

The Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean

Many Latin American and Caribbean countries were dealing with severe and mounting problems in the first years of the 1960s. Countries in this region often faced challenges in their attempts to develop an industrialized economy, enact land reform and establish stronger civilian control over the military. The rapidly changing domestic political, social and economic climate in Latin American and Caribbean countries, coupled with the growing importance of the Cold War in international affairs, led to significant instability throughout the region. 

For example, in Argentina, after a series of military coups in the 1950s a civilian government was elected in 1958. Among the many challenges facing the new civilian government, mass strikes and rapid inflation were two of the most pressing issues. Brazil, attempting to achieve decades of economic growth and reform in a few years, was facing pressure from international creditors and growing military unrest. Civil unrest and economic instability were also prevalent in Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

The seizure of power in Cuba by Fidel Castro in early 1959 shocked the region and international community—especially the United States. While Castro did not consider himself a Marxist, the growing mistrust between the Cuban government and the United States heightened Cold War tensions in the region. Castro increasingly relied on assistance from the Cuban Communist Party for organizational and political support in pursuing a populist economic agenda and a clamp down on unsympathetic organizations and press. Further, Castro began developing stronger political, economic and military ties with the Soviet Union. These developments meant the United States and its Latin American allies were concerned about the possibility of a Marxist state in the Caribbean coupled with the potential for a Soviet military presence close to the US mainland. The political developments in Cuba added to the global tension concerning the spread of communism, further heightening the conflict between communist and democratic states. The Cold War, and its attendant military, political and economic implications, threatened to destabilize the system of alliances and economic relations in the region. 

Cuba accused the United States of seeking to destabilize and overthrow the Cuban government. Cuba claimed the United States was arming and protecting Cuban war criminals and counter-revolutionary elements, and cited multiple violations of Cuban airspace in 1960. In July 1960, the Cuban government requested to be heard before the Security Council to discuss “repeated threats, reprisals and aggressive acts” by the United States against Cuba. On 19 July, 1960, the Security Council responded with Resolution 144, which deferred the issue until a report was received from the Organization of American States (OAS) on the issue. In addition, the Security Council called for all parties to reduce tensions in the region.

Current issues facing the Council include the possibility of increased tension between Cuba and other States in the region and the likelihood of new political instability caused by economic and social turmoil.

Bibliography

Security Council / Secretariat Cooperation

During its early years, the United Nations was generally allowed only those duties and roles the great powers were willing to extend to it. As a result, the relationship between the Security Council and the Secretary-General and the Secretariat was rarely acrimonious. Furthermore, the United Nations as an organization rarely took an active role in international crisis. After Dag Hammarskjöld took over the role of Secretary-General from Trygvie Lie in 1953, the Secretariat took on a more activist role. Compared to his predecessor, Hammarskjöld demonstrated an increased willingness to take independent action in international affairs to promote the ideals of the United Nations. As Secretary-General, he expanded the influence of the United Nations and the role of peacekeeping efforts, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.

Hammarskjöld promoted the use of the good offices of the United Nations in a number of situations around the world to attempt to prevent war and further the ideals of the United Nations Charter. Though rebuffed by the great powers, Hammarskjöld attempted to intercede during the Suez Crisis and other conflicts in the Middle East. Hammarskjöld was also active in Africa, as decolonization issues came to prominence in the late 1950s. In addition to providing the good offices of the United Nations, Hammarskjöld promoted the role of the United Nations as a peacekeeping force.

Under Hammarskjöld, United Nations peacekeeping forces were deployed to more areas of dispute than any time before, and were deployed the Republic of Congo in one of the largest peacekeeping operations in history. Hammarskjöld’s activist approach to his role as Secretary-General and the Secretariat often lead to tensions both within the United Nations bureaucracy and between the Secretariat and Member States. Hammarskjöld was willing to take actions without having first gained what others considered to be full approval for those actions, or to take a particularly broad interpretation of the approval. Hammarskjöld’s role in interpreting the orders of peacekeeping forces, and reporting back to the Security Council, is one such example. Hammarskjöld often defended his actions on the principles of working toward the maintenance of international peace and stability, or on expansive views of General Assembly actions and authority.

Irrespective of the source of his authority, the activist nature in which the office of the Secretary-General was viewed (both by Hammarskjöld and his Secretariat support staff) led to many disagreements. Several Member States publicly expressed disapproval with what they viewed as the Secretary-General’s meddling in what were otherwise sovereign affairs or policies.

Bibliography

  • Bloomfield, Lincoln P (1963). Headquarters-Field Relations: Some Notes on the Beginning and End of ONUC.
  • Cool Under Fire: Dag Hammarskjold (27 September 1960). The New York Times.
  • Othen, Christopher (2015). Katanga 1960-63: Mercenaries, Spies, and the African Nation that Waged War on the World.

Relations Between the Great Powers

Cold War tensions affected international relations throughout the middle of the 20th Century. Most political thinkers viewed the international situation as a zero-sum game for virtually every decision made by the United States, the Soviet Union and both countries’ allies. It was increasingly accepted by politicians and decision makers that any success by an ‘enemy’ country meant a loss for their country, and that the ‘enemy’ needed to be confronted around the globe. In 1960, tensions were reaching the highest levels since the start of the Cold War. 

While many minor events occurred during the period, the most significant issue occurred on 1 May 1960 when Soviet missiles shot down a United States U-2 spy plane in Soviet airspace. The incident took place just prior to a major East-West Summit in Paris, significantly increasing the tense setting for the meeting. The Security Council took up the discussion under the heading “The Question of Relations Between the Great Powers,” and discussions were held in several meetings from May through July 1960. A draft resolution concerning the violations of Soviet airspace failed to gain a majority on 26 May. A more acceptable and neutrally phrased resolution, Resolution 135, passed on 27 May. This resolution appealed to United Nations Member States to refrain from the threat or use of force in international relations, called for continued disarmament talks between the major powers (especially on nuclear issues) and urged the four nuclear powers (France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States) to continue discussions in order to reduce tensions. 

The Soviet Union again complained to the council of continuing aggressive acts and overflights of Soviet territory by the U.S. Air Force, which was met with repeated denials from the United States. This led to three additional draft resolutions in July, but each failed due to vetoes by Permanent Members of the Security Council. It is in the context of Cold War relationships and tensions that the Security Council must address the issues of 1961. The Council’s ability to act, and the efficacy of such action, could be predicated on overall United Nations activity and on the actions of its Member States.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Historical Security Council of 2003

Membership of the Historical Security Council of 2003

  • Angola
  • Bulgaria
  • Cameroon
  • China
  • Chile
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guinea
  • Mexico
  • Pakistan
  • Russian Federation
  • Spain
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

Introduction

The Historical Security Council (HSC) of 2003 will simulate events beginning on 20 January 2003. The Secretary-General of the United Nations is Kofi Annan. Foremost on the minds of the Council Members is determining whether Iraq is complying fully with Security Council mandates. The breakdown in peace and security in many African countries and the continuing Israeli-Palestinian peace process also hold the Council’s attention. In addition, the Council continues to monitor Afghanistan’s recovery and political reorganization. 

The brief synopsis presented here offers introductory coverage of prominent international issues that can direct representatives’ continued research and preparation.

For each topic area, representatives should consider the following questions, which should assist them in gaining a better understanding of the issues at hand, particularly from their country’s perspective:

  • How did this conflict begin?
  • Is this a new conflict or a reignition of a previous conflict?
  • How have similar situations and conflicts been peacefully resolved?
  • What State and regional actors are involved in this conflict? If there are non-State actors involved in a conflict, are there any States supporting them? If so, which ones?

The Situation in Afghanistan

The Soviet Union’s intervention in Afghanistan began in 1979 and lasted for almost ten years, until the last Soviet troops left in early 1989. In the aftermath of this conflict, a civil war broke out between the government, which had been installed and backed by the Soviets, and various anti-Soviet guerilla armies, known as mujahideen. This civil war, which went through several phases, lasted from 1989 until 1996, when a mujahideen group called the Taliban captured the capital city of Kabul and declared the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Portions of the country remained outside Taliban control, governed by a coalition of groups opposed to the Taliban known as the Northern Alliance.

The Taliban formed a close relationship with Al-Qaida, a radical Sunni Muslim organization. After Al-Qaida bombed the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1193 which reiterated concern about the continued and growing presence of terrorists in Afghanistan. The Security Council also passed resolutions demanding that the Taliban cease providing sanctuary and training for international terrorist organizations and calling for multilateral peace negotiations to form a representative Afghan government. 

After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush delivered an ultimatum to the Taliban government demanding that the Taliban hand over all terrorists in Afghanistan and close all terrorist training camps, or risk war. When the Taliban rejected this ultimatum, the United States began a large-scale military operation to depose the Taliban and root out Al-Qaida. The Northern Alliance, supported by American airstrikes and special forces, defeated the Taliban and established a new government, but neither the Taliban nor Al-Qaida was destroyed. Following the Bonn Conference and Resolution 1386 in December 2001, the United Nations Special Mission for Afghanistan (UNSMA) helped facilitate the agreement that created the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA). The Security Council authorized the creation of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2001to help the Afghan government provide effective security in the capital. The ISAF was created to act as a transitionary force, which would eventually shift from combat to a supporting role as Afghan security forces grew in size and capability. The ISAF deployed its first round of foreign peacekeepers in January 2002. In April 2002, Turkey assumed control of the mission, increasing Turkish forces from roughly 100 to approximately 1,300 troops. By November 2002, ISAF consisted of over 4,500 troops from more than 20 countries. After the AIA mandate expired in July 2002, an emergency Loya Jirga (Grand Council) met and formed the Transitional Administration (TA), led by Hamid Karzai as Interim President. The administration has a mandate to remain in place until 2004.

The TA has been effective at establishing control in the major cities of the central part of the country. In other parts, warlords compete for authority and power. Finally, within the territories the TA does control, security has been incomplete and ineffective. In addition to the continuing security concerns brought by the Taliban and Al-Qaida, internal power struggles among various Afghan factions have made governing outside of the capital difficult. In November 2002, the TA began coordinating with the United States to develop a robust civil affairs framework to work toward reconstruction of Kabul and the surrounding regions, with assistance from the United Nations and regional and international non-governmental organizations.

The United Nations’ efforts in Afghanistan have focused primarily on three areas: rebuilding government capacity, security issues and humanitarian endeavors. The United Nations has also been very active in humanitarian and development issues, led by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). UNAMA and associated efforts are all taking place in a very difficult security environment. While ISAF has done a reasonably good job of keeping the peace inside of Kabul, it does not have the resources to provide broader security support across the country.

Funding for United Nations activities is another overarching concern for the TA and ISAF personnel. The needs of the ISAF mission continue to grow, with an ever-expanding mandate. International financial support has waned following the fall of the Taliban. Without renewed international support, Afghanistan is unlikely to move forward from its current situation.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in Iraq and Kuwait

In 1990, Iraq invaded its neighbor Kuwait. During this conflict, the Security Council imposed a series of sanctions (a near complete trade and finance embargo) on Iraq in Resolution 661, intended to prevent the redevelopment of its military capabilities. An international coalition, led by the United States and operating under a United Nations mandate, defeated the Iraqi military and ejected Iraq from Kuwait in 1991. After the conflict ended, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 687, which required Iraq to agree to the unconditional destruction or disarmament of its chemical and biological weapons program and its ballistic missile arsenal, and called for Iraq to admit weapons inspectors unimpeded access within the country to ensure compliance. Resolution 687 also established the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) in Iraq, which was set up to implement the non-nuclear provisions of the resolution and to assist the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the nuclear areas which was set up to implement the non-nuclear provisions of the resolution and to assist the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the nuclear areas. In 1991, the United States, United Kingdom and France established no-fly zones over the northern and southern regions of Iraq to protect Kurdish and Shiite Muslim minority populations from government attacks. 

Security Council sanctions against Iraq continued throughout the 1990s, as UNSCOM reported Iraq’s continued failures to both disclose and destroy its chemical and biological weapons. At the same time, Security Council Resolution 986 established the Oil-for-Food Programme in April 1995. The Programme was designed to prevent a humanitarian crisis by allowing Iraq to sell its oil on the global market, provided the money generated by the sales went towards the purchase of food, medicine and other humanitarian necessities. In 1995 and 1997, United Nations inspectors uncovered weapons and technology which violated the restrictions set by Security Council resolutions. Following a breakdown in diplomatic efforts between Iraq and United Nations inspectors, UNSCOM withdrew all but a few personnel by late 1997. United Nations inspectors continued to flow in and out of Iraq with little cooperation until late 1998, when inspection teams were withdrawn entirely due to lack of cooperation. 

Following Iraqi violations of no-fly zones and concerns about Iraq developing prohibited weapons in 1998, the United States performed a series of airstrikes on Iraqi military installations; these airstrikes resulted in Iraq suspending access of United Nations weapons inspectors to its facilities. In November 2002 the Security Council passed Resolution 1441, which offered Iraq a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations and re-admit inspectors. Iraq accepted this offer and announced it would allow weapons inspectors access to the country this same year.

Under the new inspection regime, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would have “immediate, unimpeded, unconditional and unrestricted access” to any sites and buildings in Iraq. They would also have the right to remove or destroy any weapons or related items that they found.

The Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, Dr. Hans Blix, is required by Resolution 1441 to provide the Security Council with an update on Iraq’s compliance with the weapons inspection regime and its disarmament obligations on 27 January 2003, sixty days after the adoption of Resolution 1441.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in the Middle East

The First Intifada, which began in 1987 and ended in 1993, brought the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians back to the attention of the international community. On 28 September 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the Haram al Sharif, also known as the Temple Mount, and made remarks which offended many Palestinians and resulted in protests. The protests and subsequent Israeli response quickly turned into a Second Intifada. Since September 2000, more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed and over 25,000 have been injured. On the Israeli side, more than 600 people have been killed and over 4,000 injured. Responding to the violence, the Security Council passed Resolution 1322 in October 2000, which not only condemned acts of violence, particularly those against Palestinians, but also called for negotiations to resume.

In March 2002, a suicide bombing struck a large Passover seder in the city of Netanya, killing 30 and injuring 140 people. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. In response, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched Operation “Defensive Shield.” The IDF launched incursions into the six largest cities in the West Bank, temporarily reoccupying areas that had been ceded to Palestinian control. The 36-day operation was the largest military operation in the West Bank since the 1967 Six Day War. A total of 497 Palestinians and 30 Israeli soldiers were killed in the conflict. Most notably, the Israeli incursion into the Jenin refugee camp led to allegations of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. Throughout the past year, the number of Palestinian terrorist attacks has increased, particularly suicide bombings targeting Israli civilians. In June, Israel began construction of a 440-mile security barrier along the boundary between the West Bank and Israel proper.

The conflict has led to the international community and the Security Council renewing its calls for Israelis and Palestinians to ensure the safety of civilians and work towards a political settlement. Since January 2002, eight new resolutions have been adopted by the Security Council on this situation. The United Nations, the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union came together to form a new coordinating mechanism for international peace efforts known as “the Quartet.” The Quartet’s proposed “Roadmap for Peace” is still in the draft stage. There is growing concern for the escalating violence and the declining humanitarian situation.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has suffered from decades of political instability and violence. Conflict over control of resource-rich regions of the DRC has been exacerbated by wars in neighboring nations; large numbers of Hutus fled the 1994 Rwandan genocide into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was then known as Zaire. Fighting broke out in 1996, primarily between forces led by prominent Tutsi General Laurent Kabila and Congolese President Mobutu Sese Seko. With assistance from Rwanda and Uganda, Kabila’s forces regained control over the government in Kinshasa in 1997 and renamed the county the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 1998, Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) launched a rebellion against the Kabila government. The Kabila government found support from Angola, Chad, Namibia and Zimbabwe, but the RCD was able to hold Kivu and other eastern areas with Rwandan and Ugandan support. Internal conflict however soon led the RDC to split into different factions. The Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, signed in 1999 by the DRC, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, attempted to bring stability to the region. Despite this, continued fighting between different factions of rebel groups resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians from violence, disease and starvation. 

The Security Council authorized the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), a United Nations force of 5,500 troops and 500 observers, to monitor the Lusaka Ceasefire as well as humanitarian conditions, human rights, child protection and medical support issues. In February 2000, MONUC’s size and mandate were further expanded to over 5,000 military personnel, and in June 2002 MONUC’s mandate was extended to run through June 2003. MONUC’s work has been largely unfulfilled in much of the country, as the United Nations forces have met significant resistance from rebel groups and have been unable to deploy to many areas. Additionally, United Nations Members have not contributed enough support to reach the full authorized strength of MONUC (5,537 troops, including observers). 

The continued rebel activity in many rural areas, along with the presence of some foreign troops from neighboring Uganda and Rwanda, has kept the situation contentious. Reports of human rights violations in the eastern part of the country, including the systematic rape of women and girls, mass killings and the destruction of property are also still a grave concern to the international community. Humanitarian groups estimate that, since 1999, the fighting and conflict have displaced over half a million people and resulted in the deaths of approximately 50,000 people. Despite numerous Security Council resolutions, violence (based on nationality, ethnicity and access to valuable regional resources) and the droves of civilians deaths continue.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in West Africa

Several West African nations are currently embroiled in interconnected conflicts. Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia are both undergoing active conflicts, while Sierra Leone has only recently seen the end of conflict and continues to recover.

Sierra Leone was in a state of civil war between the government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) from 1991 until 2002. Beginning in 1999, United Nations peacekeepers were involved in the conflict. More than 10,000 peacekeepers remain present as part of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), helping maintain security and overseeing the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former rebels. Foday Sankoh, the RUF leader, is currently awaiting trial for war crimes before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The conflict in Liberia began in 1989, when Charles Taylor and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) invaded from neighboring Côte d’Ivoire to overthrow President Samuel Doe. Liberia split along ethnic lines and civil war erupted. A series of negotiated settlements resulted in elections being held in 1997, which Taylor won amid widespread reports of voter intimidation. In 1999, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) began a campaign against Taylor’s government with support from neighboring Guinea. As the fighting amplifies, the international community faces a full-blown humanitarian crisis.

In July 2000, the Security Council passed Resolution 1306, creating a panel of experts to study the export of illegal diamonds and the funding of the illegal arms trade between Liberia and Sierra Leone. The panel’s report found that there was overwhelming evidence that Liberia was actively supporting the RUF in order to destabilize the government of Sierra Leone and acquire diamonds for export. The Security Council passed Resolution 1343 enacting a new arms embargo. On 19 September 2002, simultaneous attacks were conducted by rebel forces in most major cities of Côte d’Ivoire. Fighting continues to intensify.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Introduction to Historical Commissions of Inquiry

Commissions of Inquiry conduct in-depth investigations into conflicts and disputes. The United Nations Security Council establishes each Commission of Inquiry individually via a resolution. Commissions of inquiry are tasked with providing reports that clarify the issues involved in the dispute and, if necessary, identify which party or parties involved in the dispute bear responsibility for particular facets of the issue (e.g., the breaking of a ceasefire or violation of a border). Often, Commissions are also tasked with providing “good offices” to the parties in dispute by acting as a mediator in negotiations.

Each Commission is unique and created to address a specific conflict or dispute. While Commissions’ reports and recommendations are not binding, they often form the basis for actions by the United Nations Security Council and the parties involved in the dispute.

The Historical Commission of Inquiry (COI) simulates two Commissions in a given year. The same group of representatives will form both of the separate Commissions, although this would be unlikely in practice at the United Nations in New York. The COI will operate primarily as an investigative body, with a mandate from the Security Council to provide clarity on the nature, causes and events within the disputes it has been asked to investigate; keep the Security Council apprised of new developments; and provide the Security Council with recommendations for a path toward a peaceful and final resolution of the dispute. These experts will include representatives from states which were seated on the historical Commissions and representatives from states which applied for placement on the AMUN Commission. If the Commission sees fit and the Parties to the Dispute agree, the Commission may act as a mediator to help peaceably resolve the conflict.

Historical Commission of Inquiry Membership

The Historical Commission of Inquiry is limited to 10 participants. These positions are for the duration of the Conference, and representatives serving as experts shall not be assigned to other simulations. Only one student per school may be seated on the Commission.

The delegations eligible to appoint an expert to the Commission are additionally limited by several elements specific to the inquiries before the Commission in a given year. Additional background about this year’s simulation is available in the topic review following this section.

The Commission is a historical simulation. Only States that were Members of the United Nations at the time of the simulated year may apply for a position on the Commission. Successor States will be identified for historical Member States that are no longer recognized as United Nations Members. This limitation is to preserve the integrity of the simulation and to encourage realistic historical research and simulation dynamics.

Several seats are determined by the States involved in the inquiries before the Commission. Each Party to the Dispute of each inquiry has the opportunity to nominate a Commission representative from another Member State. Because these positions are essential to the simulation and are also limited, a Commission seat designated for the nominated Member States will be assigned as part of the Delegation Lottery in the preceding year. For more information about the unique role of the nominated experts, please see the “Duties of Commissioners” section later in this chapter.

The remaining positions are assigned by application on a first-come, first-served basis until the 10 seats on the Commission are filled.

Some States may not seat an expert on the Commission. In addition to those who were not Member States of the United Nations in the simulation year, any State involved in the conflicts being discussed by the Commission may not seat a representative; in 2019 this will be Lebanon, Pakistan and Syria. However, these delegations should anticipate having to represent their interests as Parties to the Dispute should the Commission wish to speak with them and should prepare accordingly. Finally, the Permanent Five or P5 (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States) may not appoint an expert to the Commission. This limitation is to provide expanded opportunities for non-P5 countries to participate in a premier simulation and to limit the size of the delegation required to represent a P5 State.

Structure of AMUN’s Commission of Inquiry

As a historical simulation, many facts are known now that were not available at the time to anyone outside of the immediate dispute. To maintain the historical accuracy of the simulation, we strive to use only the material which would have reasonably been known to participants at the time. A start date, as well as a general overview of the dispute to that point, is provided for each inquiry. Events, up to the start date, are static, though events may not be widely known or their import understood by all parties as of the start date. After the start date, all historical events may be preempted by the actions of the Commission and the responses thereto. This element of change and contingency separates the Commission’s work from a simple historical research project.

COIs are fact-finding instruments of the Security Council, established to deliver timely analysis of highly volatile situations. How the Commission chooses to conduct itself, the conclusions it draws and what it chooses to report back to the Security Council all will have a direct impact on current events and subsequent lines of inquiry. Immediate and direct reactions will be observable throughout the work of the body, from particulars like the amenability of a witness, to more sweeping changes such as the Security Council expanding or curtailing the Commission’s mandate.

At AMUN, members of the Secretariat called Simulation Staff are responsible for moderating how the world responds to the Commission’s actions, tracking the simulation, guiding the report-writing process and keeping the simulation as realistic as possible. Simulation Staff will play many roles throughout the simulation. They function as the Security Council receiving the COI’s reports and requesting more information from the Commission; they act as each expert’s home office, providing, upon request, supplemental research and general information to representatives; they are the clearinghouse for Commissioners to call Parties to the Dispute and witnesses before the COI; and they are general Secretariat members who can speak to the simulation and AMUN in general.

Commissions of Inquiry at AMUN simulate two historical inquiries established by the Security Council, which are addressed sequentially during Conference by the COI’s Commissioners. The Simulation Staff sets the order in which the inquiries are to be addressed; this order will be the order the topics are presented below. At AMUN, the members of the COI remain the same for both inquiries.

Throughout each inquiry, the Commission can make periodic reports back to the Security Council, and the Security Council may ask for additional information or focus on particular elements of the dispute. The Commission will also be able to take testimony of representatives of the Parties to the Dispute, as well as take testimony from additional witnesses such as inhabitants of the region, nongovernmental organizations on the ground, and other United Nations bodies and States. For each inquiry, the Commission will elect a President and Vice President to help conduct its business. Each inquiry will conclude with a final, written report of the Commission’s findings to the Security Council.

The final Commission session (Tuesday afternoon) will be a debrief by the Simulation Staff. This is a unique opportunity for Simulation Staff and Commissioners to discuss how and why the simulation differed from historical events, the behind-the-scenes consequences of the Commission’s actions, which may have been only indirectly visible to the COI as a whole, and the historical diplomatic themes of the inquiries and how those themes wound through the simulation.

Duties of the Commissioners At Conference

The first task of the Commission will be to elect a President and Vice President of each inquiry from among its members. The President and Vice President will help facilitate discussion, coordinate oral and written reporting requirements and moderate the Commission’s experts taking testimony for the duration of the inquiry. Elections are by secret written ballot at the beginning of each inquiry. Commissioners may self-nominate for these positions, and the Commission will be encouraged to discuss the decision before balloting takes place. Commissioners’ pre-conference Preparatory Statements (see below) outline thoughts on the initial direction of the inquiry and may be especially useful in this discussion.

By its mandate, the Commission is authorized to take its decisions by majority vote and otherwise determine its own procedures. General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and Security Council rules of procedure do not apply to Commissions. The Commission will need to informally adopt procedures that it feels best facilitate its work. That said, Rule 2.2, Diplomatic Courtesy, applies at all times at AMUN.

The Commission will gather information primarily by taking testimony from the Parties to the Dispute and other witnesses. The Commission, through its own processes, will decide who to call to give testimony. However, there will be time between the formal request of testimony and the arrival of the Party to the Dispute or witness. Commissioners will need to consider the criticality and urgency of testimony against the volatile dispute it is investigating, as they decide which Parties to the Dispute or witnesses they call and in what order.

Before the final report of an inquiry is submitted, the Commission will make interim reports to the Security Council. Interim reports provide more frequent updates on the status of the Commission’s work and can be especially useful diplomatic tools to open previously closed lines of inquiry or to ensure access and talks continue unimpeded. The Security Council may also request interim reports on specific elements of the dispute or in response to prior interim reports or events. These less formal reports are drafted as short letters to the Secretary-General and adopted by majority vote.

Throughout each inquiry, the Commission will compile a report on the dispute. While taking testimony, and throughout the evolving dispute, the report will be a living document. The Commission will need to establish the processes and responsibilities of its members for recording testimony and general note-taking. Commissioners are given wide latitude on the format of the report; however, to be accepted by the Secretariat each report must contain the following elements:

  • An overview of the work and actions of the Commission.
  • Analysis of the dispute, including a judgment of fault or an explanation of its absence.
  • Recommendations to the Security Council to move forward.

The inquiry will conclude upon the formal adoption by majority vote of the final report.

Preparing for the Historical Commission of Inquiry at AMUN

Commissioners will need to read the topic review section following this one, as well as conduct their own research on the background of each of the disputes. This research should focus on acquiring a working knowledge of the historical context of the Commissions that will be simulated by the Commission at Conference.

The Commission is a historical simulation, similar in some respects to the Historical Security Council simulations. History will be as written until the indicated start date for each Commission. Once the simulation for each Commission begins, events that transpire will be affected by the decisions and actions of the Commission, as well as those of the Simulation Staff. Critically for the Commission, many of the facts which we know today about the disputes may not have been known or were understood differently at the time of the Commission’s operations. First and foremost, Commissioners will need to identify which facts were known at the time and which facts were not. Representatives should also endeavor to find timely materials in order to learn not just about the events themselves but also about the worldview of that time. First and foremost, Commissioners will need to understand what facts were known or not known by the Commission at the time of its actual proceedings, not just the facts of the dispute as they are understood now.

While Commissioners are intended to render to the Security Council objective reporting and are expected to act as unbiased observers and mediators, they often come to the Commission with inherent biases based on their home country’s history, culture, religion and laws. Specifically, experts should understand whether their State historically preferred a particular outcome over another. Representatives from certain States, particularly those chosen by a Party to the Dispute to serve on the Commission, may be expected by their State or other actors to advocate certain courses of action or lines of inquiry. Clear understanding of these expectations as they were known and understood historically is critical for effective roleplayers. Regardless of State motives or expectations, experts should keep in mind that they are independent actors and not officials representing their respective States. As such, they are free to take positions which are merited by their own understanding of the inquiry.

Preparatory Statements

Commissioners will need to submit Preparatory Statements prior to Conference. These Statements will differ substantially from a conventional Position Paper and from a Memorial prepared for the International Court of Justice.

The purpose of the Commission is to act in an investigative and mediating role in a dispute rather than in a legislative capacity (such as in the General Assembly) or as an operational body (such as in the Security Council). The role of the Commission is more aligned with other report-writing bodies, such as the regional or functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council. Thus, Preparatory Statements should be seen as an opportunity to develop lines of inquiry and identify areas of interest to the Commission as a whole prior to Conference, rather than as declarations of intent or policy preference.

Preparatory Statements are a vital element of preparation for Conference. The potential witnesses, areas of interest and key questions identified by Commissioners in their Preparatory Statements will play a critical role in shaping the direction, and ultimately the success, of the Commission of Inquiry. The quality of Preparatory Statements will likely be taken into account by the Commission when deciding who to choose as the President and Vice President. These statements must be submitted by 25 October. Preparatory Statements will be considered when determining Position Paper awards: any delegation seating an expert on the Commission must submit a Preparatory Statement for each inquiry in order for the delegation to receive a Position Paper Award.

When preparing Preparatory Statements, consider the following questions:

  • What are the major unanswered questions in the dispute? How would the answers to these questions affect the resolution of the dispute?
  • Are there any major obstacles to the Commission fulfilling its mandate? Are there any steps the Commission can take or recommend to the Security Council to address those obstacles?
  • What witnesses, experts or representatives could be called to address the Commission and answer questions to best assist the Commission in fulfilling its mandate? What information can those persons provide to best assist the Commission in fulfilling its mandate?

The Historical Commission of Inquiry

United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed on 14 February 2005 by a massive explosion that tore through his motorcade near the St. George Hotel in Beirut. The blast killed 22 others and wounded more than 100. Investigations to date by Lebanese authorities and an independent, international task force established by the United Nations have found that the explosion was most likely a truck bomb consisting of approximately 1,000 kg of TNT. Shortly after the attack, Al Jazerra received a video from the “Nasra and Jihad Group in Greater Syria” claiming responsibility. The man in the video has been identified as Ahmed Abu Adass and is currently Lebanon’s primary suspect. The group was not known before the attack and evidence of any other activity by the group has yet to be uncovered in ongoing investigations. Lebanon’s history and current relationships with neighboring Israel and Syria, and recent resurgent sectarian tensions are widely reported to be the underlying forces leading to Hariri’s assassination. 

Lebanon and Syria are founding Member States of the United Nations. Both nations gained independence in 1943 during World War II. Upon independence, Lebanon established an unwritten National Pact that dictated various heads of state functions would be split amongst members of specified faiths, such that no sect would have complete rule over Lebanon’s government. Within this multi-confessional arrangement, most power was vested in members of the minority Maronite Catholic faith, both in the Presidency and through maintaining a permanent fifty percent of seats in Parliament. 

Sectarian violence in the 1970s, largely born out of minority rule, grew into the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. By 1976, Syria occupied Lebanon ostensibly in support of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), also operating within Lebanon, in a bid to keep Lebanon from disentigrating completely into sectarian factions. In 1982, after clashes between Israel and the PLO in southern Lebanon, Israel invaded. In coordination with local Christian and Druze militias, Israel occupied a southern strip of Lebanon as a “security buffer” throughout the civil war. Hezbollah, funded by Syria and bolstered by the Iranian Repulican Guard, coalesced out of various regional Shia militias to specifically fight Israel and its allies within Lebanon, and soon became a separate entity under Ayatollah Khomeini, distinct from its initial foreign sponsors. 

Upon the conclusion of the Lebanese Civil War, the Taif Agreement of 1989 transformed the permanent Christian majority in Parliament to reflect a 1:1 ratio of sectarian votes, significantly shifted power from the President to the Prime Minister and his ministers and established Lebanon as “a country with an Arab identity.” Rafik Hariri, a former Saudi Ariabian diplomat, was instrumental in brokering the agreement. After the withdrawal of Israeli forces in 2000, Hezbollah remains an armed militia, has near complete control over Southern Lebanon and, now also a recognized political entity, holds seats in Parliament. Even after the conclusion of the civil war, Syria continued to occupy Lebanon, and the intelligence apparatuses of both States remained closely intertwined. Many in Damascus still see Lebanon as part of “Greater Syria.” 

After the civil war, between 1990 and 2004, Rafik Hariri served as Prime Minister for a combined 10 years across five cabinets. In 2004, as President Emile Lahoud’s six year term was drawing to a close, Syria, seeing Lahoud as their key to controlling Lebanon, began to pressure then-Prime Minister Hariri and the Parliament to extend Lahoud’s Presidency through constitutional amendment. The Parliament eventually approved a three year extension on 3 September 2004. Amongst several ministers resigning his cabinet in protest, Hariri resigned on 20 October 2004. Pro-Syrian Prime Minister Omar Karami was immediately appointed as his replacement, and Hariri soon became the predominant political figure in opposition to the continued Syrian occupation of Lebanon.

International outcry at Hariri’s assassination on 14 February 2005 was swift, including condemnation by the United Nations Security Council, as well as by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Within twenty-four hours, the Security Council requested the Secretary-General to “follow closely the situation in Lebanon and to report urgently on the circumstances, causes and consequences of this terrorist act.” By 25 February, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan had appointed Peter FitzGerald to lead a fact-finding mission to Lebanon to investigate the assassination of Hariri. FitzGerald conducted his inquiry until 24 March, at which time the Mission’s report was delivered to the Secretary-General. 

The FitzGerald Report identified major deficiencies in the Lebanese-led investigation, a lack of cooperation between the inquiry and the government and its investigators, and many loose threads in current investigations that were not being given enough attention.

[I]t is the Mission’s conclusion that there was a distinct lack of commitment to investigating the crime effectively, and that the investigation was not carried out in accordance with acceptable international standards. The Mission is also of the view that the local investigation has neither the capacity nor the commitment to succeed. It also lacks the confidence of the population necessary for its results to be accepted.

It is the lack of “the confidence of the population” that has created the greatest changes in Lebanon in recent months. The assissination of Hariri has sparked a unifying anti-Syrian movement within Lebanon, which has come to be known as the Cedar Revolution or Independence Intifada. On 28 February, facing an impending no confidence vote, Prime Minister Karami resigned. Daily demonstrations—peaceful, non-sectarian and with protestors numbering in the tens of thousands—began to take place immediately after Hariri’s funeral. International pressure for Syrian withdrawal also began to increase, with United States President George W. Bush and French President Jacques Chirac calling for the enforcement of S/RES/1559 (2004). Facing international and regional pressure, Syria agreed to withdraw all forces. The last Syrian troops left on 10 April, and Syria has reported that the last of its intelligence agents has left as of 26 April. 

Lebanon, in a letter to the Secretary-General on 29 March, indicated they would fully cooperate with an international, independent investigation. On 7 April 2005, fourteen days after the FitzGerald Report, the Security Council unanimously passed resolution 1595 (2005) establishing the creation of the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission. The Commission has been charged with establishing an independent investigation based in Lebanon to “assist the Lebanese authorities in their investigation of all aspects of this terrorist act, including to help identify its perpetrators, sponsors, organizers and accomplices.” The commission has been given three months since the commencement of full operations to complete its work, and the Secretary-General is authorized to continue to extend operations at intervals of up to three months. The commission is requested to report back to the Security Council at least once every two months. 

The Commission is expected to commence full operations 16 June 2005. 

Questions to Consider:

  • Was there a conspiracy to assassinate Rafik Hariri?
  • Why would someone or some-group want Rafik Hariri killed?
  • Who can you question to find out information about the assassination?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Commission of Inquiry into the facts and circumstances of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto

Former Prime Minister Mohtarma (“respected lady” or “madam”) Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on 27 December 2007. In 1999, three years after her second dismissal as Prime Minister of Pakistan, Bhutto, while in London, was charged with corruption by a Punjabi court. Fearing for her life if she returned to Pakistan, Bhutto and her children moved to Dubai, India. With help from the United States and the United Kingdom, Bhutto was able to negotiate with President Musharraf on a plan to let her and her family return home to Pakistan. At Bhutto’s homecoming rally in October 2007, two bombs went off in an assassination attempt. While she was unharmed. more than one hundred people were killed and hundreds more were injured. After the attempt, Bhutto requested that Musharraf increase her security or allow her to hire private security personnel. Musharraf denied her request for foreign security. In the afternoon of 27 December 2007, only hours after a morning meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Bhutto was giving a speech at a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) rally in Rawalpindi Liaquat National Bagh. After getting in her bulletproof vehicle when the speech was over, Bhutto opened and stood in the vehicle’s roof escape hatch to wave at her supporters for the upcoming elections on 2 January 2008. Three shots were taken at Bhutto before a man detonated suicide vest packed with ball bearings. 

Bhutto arrived at Rawalpindi General Hospital at 1735 local time. Doctors attempted resuscitation but all attempts failed. Bhutto was declared dead at 1816 local time. No autopsy was conducted due to the request of Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari. Bhutto was buried the following day at her family’s mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh surrounded by family, friends, and hundreds of thousands of supporters. The United Nations Security Council went into an emergency session following the report of Bhutto’s death. They released a Presidential Statement condemning the terrorist suicide attack and underlining the need to bring those responsible for the attack to justice. In Pakistan, President Musharraf announced three days of mourning in Bhutto’s honor and that the elections would be postponed six weeks. 

The cause of Bhutto’s death is one of speculation. On the day of her death, the Pakistani Interior Ministry reported the Bhutto was killed by a gunshot wound to the neck. The security advisor for the PPP, Rehman Malik, agreed with this statement in that she was shot in the neck and also the chest before the explosion. On 28 December, the Interior Ministry changed their report and announced that they believe that Bhutto’s death was a result of a neck fracture of when she either ducked or fell into her vehicle and hit the edge of the hatch. The PPP and Bhutto’s lawyer, Farooq Naik, denied their report and believe the cause of death to be two gunshot wounds to the head and abdomen. On 1 January 2008, the Interior Ministry backtracked on its death report again and stated that they would wait for forensic investigations before concluding on Bhutto’s cause of death. 

President Musharraf asked Britain’s Scotland Yard to assist in the investigations on Bhutto’s killing. The forensic team had a difficult time coming to conclusions. The crime scene was cleared before any forensic examination could be completed and no formal autopsy was performed on the body before the burial. Bhutto’s family agreed to an exhumation only if Musharraf would allow the United Nations to lead an inquiry into her assassination. Musharraf rejected the idea, and no autopsy was carried out. On 8 February, Scotland Yard stated that Bhutto died after hitting her head when she was thrown by the force of the bomb-blast. The findings agreed with the Pakistani nation’s explanation of death. Many of Bhutto’s supporters still disbelieve that she was killed by a skull fracture preferring to believe that Bhutto died due to the assassin’s gunshots. 

There is also speculation about who carried out the assassination. Pakistani authorities claimed that it was the Taliban faction in Pakistan that killed Bhutto. This explanation is plausible considering the terrorists group’s effect on the nation and specifically South Waziristan. Furthermore, before Bhutto returned home, there were multiple assassination attempts on President Musharraf by Islamic extremists. Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, denied that he killed Bhutto even if he did have a motive. Al-Qaida leader Mustafa Abu al-Yazid claimed responsibility for killing Bhutto. 

However, the PPP and its supporters do not believe that Bhutto’s assassination was a terrorist attack. Rather, they believe that Al-Qaida taking responsibility for the assassination was a part of a cover-up by the government of Pakistan. Before she died, Bhutto was very pessimistic about her safety and security in Pakistan. On 16 October 2007, Bhutto wrote to President Musharraf naming four people in his government plotting to kill her, and that if he did not provide adequate security for her that she would blame her death on him. Furthermore, weeks before her death, Bhutto emailed United Kingdom Foreign Secretary David Miliband that senior allies of President Musharraf were planning to kill her. It is primarily for these reasons that the PPP and Bhutto’s supporters believe that her assassination was plotted and covered-up by the Pakistani government. 

In August of 2008, Pervez Musharraf resigned as President of Pakistan to avoid impeachment. In the September 2008 elections, Bhutto’s widowed husband, Asif Ali Zardari was elected President. President Zardari called for the United Nations to investigate the death of Benazir Bhutto. On 3 February 2009 the UN Secretary-General presented the request to the Security Council to create an international commission to look into the facts and circumstances of the assassination and not to undertake a criminal investigation, which remained the responsibility of the Pakistani authorities. The commission would have six months from the start of its activities to look into the facts and circumstances and have the full support of the Government of Pakistan to do so. Later, on 3 February, the Security Council confirmed the creation of commission of inquiry into Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

Questions to Consider:

  • What was the cause of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s death?
  • Who was behind the bombing?
  • Why would someone or some-group want Benazir Bhutto killed?
  • Who can you question to find out information about the assassination?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), sometimes referred to as the World Court, is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It sits in The Hague, Netherlands and is composed of fifteen independent Justices from around the world. The ICJ is the only court in the world with general and near-universal jurisdiction; countries may bring cases before the Court even without becoming United Nations Member States, as long as both countries have consented to be subject to the Court’s jurisdiction. It may entertain any question of international law, subject to the provisions of its founding statutes.

The Court’s role is to examine international law and to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states. It also dispenses advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies. Since 1946, the Court has heard more than 160 cases, including more than 25 advisory proceedings. ICJ opinions, unlike most national legal systems, do not create binding legal requirements on other United Nations Member States, and cases are generally treated independently of one another.

The Justices are nominated by regional groups and elected by the General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms. Justices must receive a majority vote in each body to be named to the Court, and one third of the Court is elected every three years. When a state is party to a case before the ICJ, it enjoys the right to appoint an ad hoc justice. The ad hoc Justice does not need to be from that State. The ad hoc Justice enjoys the same privileges and responsibilities as the other Justices, but his or her obligation is limited to proceedings in that case.

Unlike most other international organizations, the members of the Court are not representatives of governments; they are independent judges whose first duty is to exercise their powers impartially and conscientiously in the Court.

Proceedings before the Court can last for years, involving complex issues of international law as well as difficult political questions. The States party to the case submit pleadings, or memorials, in writing along with extensive records supporting their cases. The States also participate in oral arguments, which allow States to explore the case and respond to questions from the Justices. The Justices deliberate in private, then read the judgment in an open forum.

Common Types of Cases

The Court hears two types of cases, all involving countries rather than individuals. First, there are contentious cases between two States where there is a legal dispute and the States parties are bound to the Court’s decision. States may institute proceedings by mutual agreement or by unilateral application against a respondent State. This is different from the International Criminal Court, which hears cases against individuals for crimes such as genocide.

Many of the Court’s cases—historical and contemporary—are border or territorial disputes, where two States agree to let the ICJ decide where the border should be. Other cases are highly charged and quite political in nature—it is rare that the interpretation and application of the law operates entirely outside of the realm of political discourse, and in the international arena, this is especially true.

Second, the Court can issue advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by other agencies, such as the Security Council or the General Assembly. This opportunity is open to the five major organs of the United Nations and 16 other specialized agencies. Unlike the rulings in contentious cases, advisory opinions are not binding on the parties that request the opinion; the organization is under no legal obligation to follow the Court’s recommendation. The Court requests written and oral proceedings for the case, although these processes may be truncated when compared to the process used for contentious cases.

Structure of the AMUN ICJ

In keeping with AMUN’s philosophy of simulating United Nations bodies as closely as possible, the AMUN ICJ closely resembles the ICJ in the Hague. The ICJ at AMUN is composed of student Justices who hear oral arguments, deliberate on the cases before them and collaboratively develop opinions of the Court. Students also participate as Advocates, presenting their case first in a written memorial and then in oral arguments, where they present their case in person and respond to questions from the Justices.

AMUN Registrars assist the Justices with any additional legal research the body may require and help facilitate the work of the Court through each of the three cases. Secretariat responsibilities also include researching cases for inclusion on the Court’s docket, reviewing memorials submitted to the Court, assisting in the preparation of the Court’s docket and providing any other assistance needed by ICJ Justices and Advocates.

The cases preselected by the AMUN Secretariat form the Court’s docket. This year the Court is deliberating three cases:

  • Passage through the Great Belt (Finland v. Denmark)
  • Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia v. Singapore)
  • Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. The United States of America)

Additionally, the General Assembly or the Security Council may submit a request to the Court for an Advisory Opinion on a topic of international law. The Secretary-General, with the advice of the Director of the ICJ, will decide whether to include additional cases on the Court’s docket. The Court is in session to hear arguments and develop opinions throughout the Conference.

The Justices should expect to spend the first evening setting the docket, electing officers, determining the final procedures of the Court and reviewing the substantive issues in each case before the Court. The rest of Conference will be spent hearing cases, deliberating and rendering opinions on those cases.

Although the Secretariat strives to give the Justices as much freedom as possible in setting the docket, some restraints do exist in the interest of promoting a fair and equal experience for the advocates as well as the Justices. All advocates will receive an equal amount of time in the docket to present their arguments, respond to questioning and for deliberation among the Justices. Although advocates will not know the order of the cases and arguments prior to the first evening of the simulation, the Secretariat, in conjunction with the Justices, will strive to communicate the order as soon as it is set to the advocates. The docket is also published in the AMUN Chronicle. After the docket is set, the Court elects a President and Vice President by secret ballot. Their duties are to moderate and time the oral arguments and facilitate the closed deliberations.

Joining the International Court of Justice

Permanent Justices

Justice positions are assigned by application on a first-come, first-served basis until the fifteen seats on the Court are filled. Note that no school will be allowed more than one Justice on the Court unless additional seats are open just prior to the Conference. It is not a requirement for Justices to be a member of a delegation. Permanent Justices are full time Conference assignments, and representatives serving as Justices shall not be assigned to another simulation.

Ad Hoc Justice Application and Role at Conference

States involved in a case before the Court are strongly encouraged to place an Ad Hoc Justice on the Court if they do not already have a Permanent Justice. States wishing to do this may do so in two ways: (1) they may apply to be a permanent Justice (see above); or (2) they may appoint an ad hoc Justice. Ad hoc Justices sit on the Court only for the case in which their country is involved and must be assigned to another simulation. If States wish to appoint an ad hoc justice they must contact the Secretary-General and the Director of the International Court of Justice by 1 October by e-mailing icj@amun.org. Ad hoc Justices should, whenever possible, be paired with another representative in committee, so the State is fully represented in the committee while the ad hoc Justice participates in the Court’s proceedings.

Advocates

Advocate positions are not full-time Conference assignments. ICJ Advocates are assigned as members of the delegations who have cases before the court. Generally, Advocates should expect to spend two to three hours presenting their case and hearing the Court’s opinion during the Conference. Advocates must also serve as representatives in another AMUN simulation or as a delegation’s permanent representative. ICJ Advocate teams are limited to two people. ICJ Advocates should, whenever possible, be paired with another representative in committee, so the State is fully represented in the committee while the Advocate participates in the Court’s proceedings.

Preparation

Preparing as a Justice

Familiarizing yourself with the information provided in this handbook and on AMUN’s website is a key starting point to your preparations. Justices should familiarize themselves with the factual and legal disputes at hand, as well as the international treaties involved. Another helpful resource is previous ICJ opinions that are similar. While reading opinions, note the tone and style used by the Justices. Pay special attention to the way the Court addresses questions of jurisdiction; often this is the crux of the winning argument for the Court. Memorials written by the Advocates will be made available on the AMUN website in November as soon as memorials from all sides of a case are received by AMUN staff. Reviewing these resources is key to a successful experience.

Each Justice, while independent, will still have a roleplaying function. ICJ Justices retain their citizenship with the state their school represents at the Conference. Justices not affiliated with a delegation will be assigned citizenship with a state; while ICJ Justices are supposed to be independent advocates for the law, they often come to the Court with inherent biases based on their home country’s history, culture, religion and laws. Similar to the ICJ in The Hague, a Justice’s citizenship is important as it can sometimes cause a Justice to favor or side with the position advocated by their country of origin when that State comes before the Court.

All Justices will be expected to hear arguments and question the Advocates in all cases on the docket. Any Justice not present during the Court’s Oral Arguments may not participate in the subsequent deliberations and opinion writing for that case. After each case is argued, the Justices retire behind closed doors to deliberate and to draft the opinion of the Court. Justices discuss the case in depth, pulling from their research prior to the Conference, the Advocates’ memorials and the points raised during oral argument. If the Justices require any additional information, they are welcome to request that from the Registrars. Justices collaborate to write a majority opinion and as many concurring and dissenting opinions as the body requires. Justices use their persuasive writing and speaking skills to sway additional Justices to their position throughout the drafting process.

Preparing as an Advocate

Advocates’ opportunity to present their case is twofold: written memorials and oral arguments. Advocates must thoroughly understand the legal principles that support, and those that oppose, their position, and be able to articulate them in the face of strict scrutiny from the Justices. The research and creation of an Advocate’s Memorial is one of the most important parts of preparation for an Advocate’s at-Conference role. Time spent thoroughly researching the Advocate’s State’s positions and arguments provides Advocates with the vital information necessary to respond to questions at Conference and helps them effectively craft a memorial to present their arguments to the court before the Conference.

Prior to oral arguments, Advocates have the opportunity to consult with an ICJ Registrar about their oral argument. To take advantage of the opportunity, Advocates should attend the Advocate meeting on the first evening of Conference, where the Registrars will share information about the simulation timeline and give Advocates the opportunity to set up a practice session.

Written Memorials

ICJ memorials should contain:

  • Jurisdictional statement and arguments (outlining whether your country recognizes the Court’s jurisdiction in this case)
  • Statement of facts (what are the relevant facts in the case?)
  • Statement of law (what treaties, customs or laws apply?)
  • Argument section (detailing how the law and facts apply to the merits of the case – how do the laws and facts support your case?)
  • Summary and prayer for relief (what do you want the Court to do?)

The Court does not require these sections to be in any particular order, although they are typically laid out in the order shown. As you draft your memorial, think carefully about how best to use these sections to your advantage to advocate your position.

The plaintiff, or party bringing the case, is called the Applicant. The defendant is called the Respondent. In an Advisory Opinion, each country is known as a Party. Due to time constraints, all Parties in any AMUN ICJ case must prepare their memorials without seeing the memorial of their opponent. However, each side should anticipate and seek to counter the arguments opposing Advocates might make. All memorials must be submitted by 25 October to the AMUN Secretariat at icj@amun.org.

Oral Arguments

Oral arguments provide Advocates with an opportunity to explain to the Justices the factual and legal merits of their case. In adversarial cases, the Applicant will argue first. The Respondent will then have the same amount of time to reply. Finally, the Applicant will have the opportunity to present a brief rebuttal. In Advisory Opinion cases, each Party will have a set amount of time to present their argument to the Court and for rebuttal, the order for which will be determined by the Justices on the first evening. Advocates presenting amicus curiae arguments will then be accorded no more than five minutes each to speak. The Justices will create the docket and define the amount of time for oral arguments. Advocates, with the exception of amicus curiae, should prepare between 10 to 20 minutes for arguments. The oral argument is not simply an opportunity to give a prepared speech; Justices often interject with multiple questions throughout the presentation. At least the first five minutes of each Advocate’s presentation will be uninterrupted, to allow each side the opportunity to freely present the key issues of their arguments. After the initial five minutes, the Advocates may continue with their presentations, but the Justices may also interject and question the Advocates on the merits of their case. Therefore, Advocates must be prepared to both answer questions and defend their positions. The following steps should be taken to prepare for oral arguments:

  1. Identify the critical issues in the case. You should try to have at least three main points to your argument.
  2. Develop a theme which incorporates your best arguments on the critical issues. Keep it simple. Remember, the best arguments are structured around a story that has a unified theme, which explains why your country has been wronged, and what the Court can do to provide a fair and just solution.
  3. Prepare an outline. The outline should include your theme, your best arguments on the critical issues, your responses to your opponent’s best arguments and ideas about answers to any other questions you think the Justices might ask. Try to make your memorial and oral argument outline consistent, so the first issue addressed in the memorial is the first issue addressed in the oral argument.
  4. Practice, practice, practice! There is no substitute for practicing oral arguments: your presentation is likely to be smoother and more persuasive. Have your Faculty Advisor or other students fire questions at you. Learn to field those questions and then transition back to the point you were making prior to the question.
  5. Learn proper courtroom demeanor. Remember to be polite and deferential to the Justices at all times. While argument is the method, persuasion is the goal.

Though each Advocate will have more than five minutes to present oral arguments, keep in mind that only the first five minutes of the presentations will be uninterrupted. Focus on the main points and key issues during the first five minutes. AMUN suggests that you follow a pyramid format; present the crux of the argument first and then use the remainder of the allotted time to expand on those issues in a more thorough and complete manner. This format can also allow for a quick means of referencing issues during the remaining period of presentation and questions. It is also wise to conclude the presentation by again summing up the key points.

Try to anticipate questions the Justices might ask and develop answers. Do not write out answers verbatim. Do, however, write out catch phrases or legal terms you will want to remember precisely. Simple, concise answers that repeatedly stress the same points are persuasive and will be remembered by the Justices. Oral arguments will involve extemporaneous speaking and responses, not the presentation of a memorized speech.

Outline the specific names of conventions, treaties and cases in your memorial and your outline. Your oral argument requires these citations to maintain your credibility with the Justices, and articulate the reasons your side of the case is stronger.

Note: Remember that the AMUN ICJ is a simulation. No one expects participants, who are not lawyers or Justices, to make presentations, decisions or render opinions with the same level of sophistication as actual ICJ Justices or Advocates. The participants’ job is to gain a basic understanding of what considerations are taken into account when presenting or presiding over a case and to prepare to argue their cases before the Court.

 

Passage through the Great Belt (Finland v. Denmark)

This is a historical case. In accordance with AMUN rules and procedures, please note that the historical timeline for this case will stop on 1 June 1992. Any and all updates to this case after that date will not be relevant to the AMUN simulation nor considered in hearing the case.

The government of Finland, on 17 May 1991, filed a grievance against Denmark in the International Court of Justice under Article 40(1) of the ICJ Statute and Articles 38 and 40 of the Rules of Court regarding Denmark’s planned construction of a bridge over the Great Belt (Storebælt), which is a prominent shipping canal between the two States. Both Denmark and Finland have previously universally accepted the jurisdiction of the Court. Denmark declared acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction on 10 December 1956, and Finland did the same on 25 June 1958; as a result, jurisdiction is not at issue for the Court for the purposes of this case.

On the same date of filing its application, Finland additionally requested the Court grant provisional measures preserving Finland’s right to continue utilizing the Great Belt for its ships to pass between the Baltic and North Seas. If granted, the provisional measures would halt any further construction on the bridge Denmark wants to construct over the Great Belt until the Court decides this case on its merits.

The Great Belt, a strait of water that passes through Danish territory, is one of the few passages between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. This strait allows for the most direct route of passage between Finland’s territorial waters, through the Baltic Sea, out to international waters, which allow Finland to provide international transport and shipping. As the largest of these passages, it is an important shipping route for the region. The strait also is one of the deepest of the Danish straits, and because of its depth, it is ideal for larger cargo vessels and oil rigs. Denmark’s proposed bridge is planned to be a height of 65 meters, which will allow smaller vessels to pass through without issue but would inhibit the movement of larger ships, particularly the drill ships and oil rigs that Finland utilizes. 

Historically, the Danish Crown had charged dues for ships passing through their waterways, but with the 1857 Treaty of Copenhagen on the Abolition of the Sound Dues, these dues were abolished, and the straits of Denmark were labeled as international waterways. In the Court’s first decision for a contentious case, the Court permitted travel through “straits used for international navigation between two parts of the high seas” in The Corfu Channel Case (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland v. Albania). This decision became a part of the norms in international waters in Part III of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which establishes a legal regime of free passage through territorial waters. A century after the Treaty of Copenhagen, the Geneva Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone entered into force on 10 September 1964, which establishes the rights of a State in relation to its territorial sea. More specifically, Article 16, Paragraph 4 of this Convention does not allow for a State to suspend innocent use of straits used for international passage between high seas.

However, the right of passage Article 16 refers to is not an absolute right, as it permits coastal States to take steps to prevent passage that is not innocent and temporarily suspend use in specific areas of its territorial sea in the name of security of the State. Additionally, the UNCLOS establishes the concept of transit passage, which allows freedom of passage through a strait for vessels to move between different parts of the high seas. UNCLOS is generally accepted as providing customary rules for navigating on international bodies of water.

There is an established right in international law permitting freedom of innocent passage through straits used for international navigation. Because of this, if the Great Belt is established as a strait for international navigation, there is a high hurdle to reach in order to permit action in opposition to the freedom of innocent passage. Finland relies heavily on the Great Belt for its maritime shipping industry, including movement of oil rigs and drill ships, for which other passages between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea are inadequate. Finland asserts there is no explicit international law that permits Denmark to exclude foreseeable ships with a height of 65 meters or more. Also, Finland acknowledges that Denmark has a territorial right to improve its sovereign waterways, but this right is limited by other States’ right to free passage in the strait.

Generally, the bridge Denmark is proposing to build is of a sufficient height to allow for the average use of most nautical vessels, which would not prevent free innocent passage entirely. This bridge would connect two portions of the country of Denmark, facilitating the ease of transportation between the two land masses. Denmark asserts that this bridge will not substantially impede other states’ right of free passage, because there are other alternate options. For example, traffic in the Little Belt, an alternative strait, is roughly 4.5 times greater than traffic in the Great Belt, so it may be considered a viable alternative as a shipping passage. Denmark asserts State sovereignty must be considered in any case when the rights of States are considered in relation to rights in international law wherein there may be variance in interpreting the applicable law. In 1927, the Permanent Court of Justice discussed this intersection of a State’s sovereign rights with international law in the Lotus case. States have sovereignty over their territorial waters, but that sovereignty reaches its limits at the rights of other States as well as the rights guaranteed in agreements between States. Denmark asserts that there are alternative options for ships too tall for the bridge as well, including partial deconstruction to pass under the bridge. Additionally, Denmark asserts that the structures in question are so large they are not technically ships.

The Court must consider the extent of a State’s sovereignty in comparison to a State’s right of innocent passage under Article 16 of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone. In determining this, the Court must decide whether there is a right of free passage for all ships or whether passage is limited to a particular designation of ships. If the court determines that there is freedom of passage through the Great Belt, the Court must determine whether construction of the bridge as proposed by Denmark would be compatible with that passage.

Questions to Consider

  • How much emphasis should the Court put on the importance of State sovereignty in questions involving rights to territorial seas?
  • How can the Court balance the right to navigate international waters and the right of State sovereignty over a State’s territorial waters?
  • What obligations does a State have to observe in preserving the rights of another State traveling through their territorial waters?
  • Does a State’s purpose in its use of international waters affect what rights should be afforded to it?

Bibliography

Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia v. Singapore)

This is a historical case. In accordance with AMUN rules and procedures, please note that the historical timeline for this case will stop on 1 January 2006. Any and all updates to this case after that date will not be relevant to the AMUN simulation nor considered in hearing the case.

Malaysia and the Republic of Singapore (Singapore) entered into a Special Agreement on 24 July 2003, which requested the Court to determine whether the sovereignty of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge belong to Malaysia or Singapore. As part of the Special Agreement, the States have agreed to treat the Judgment of the Court as final and binding upon them.

Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge are maritime features located approximately eight nautical miles from Malaysia and roughly 25 nautical miles from Singapore in the Singapore Straits. Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh is a small white island known as Pedra Branca in Singapore, which translates from Portuguese as “white rock,” and Pulau Batu Puteh in Malaysia, which translates from Malay as “white rock island.” Middle Rocks and South Ledge are smaller land masses located south of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, with Middle Rocks visible at high and low tides and South Ledge completely submerged at high tide. The Horsburgh Lighthouse was built on Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh after construction was first considered in 1844 when the island was under the sovereignty of the Sultanate of Johor. In order to commence construction of the lighthouse, Britain requested permission of the Sultan and principal official of Johor to build the lighthouse, which was granted. The construction was completed in 1851, and the lighthouse was named for James Horsburgh of the East India Company. Following construction, the Horsburgh lighthouse was maintained and governed by British entities, and these duties were later passed on to Singapore.

In 1979, Malaysia distributed a map of the State’s territories, which showed Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh as within Malaysia’s territorial waters. Singapore objected to this map as being incorrect, and the two States entered into negotiations. When they determined that these bilateral talks were not going to result in agreement, the States entered into the Special Agreement to bring the question of ownership of these maritime features to the Court.

In order to determine sovereignty, the Court must determine the date that the dispute crystallized and the status of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh and both States at the time the dispute ripened. Malaysia and Singapore were previously governed by the colonial powers in the area, so in order to fully understand the significance of this case, it is imperative to understand the history of sovereignty in the region.

Additionally, the Court must define Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South ledge as either a single group of maritime features or three separate land masses. The Court must determine sovereignty over Middle Rocks and South Ledge, depending on the sovereignty of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh and delimitation of territorial waters of the two States. If the three formations are a single group of maritime features, the sovereignty of Middle Rocks and South Ledge would belong with Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh. Conversely, if the three are not a single group of maritime features, sovereignty over these lands could be divided. Whether or not these features form a single group will have a great impact on their treatment by the Court in forming a decision over sovereignty. 

In the Island of Palmas case, the Permanent Court of Arbitration established an international legal norm for territorial conflicts. When sovereignty is exercised without contest from the State that discovered the territory, the State exercising sovereignty has a greater claim. While this sets a precedent for the Permanent Court of Arbitration, it is not binding on the International Court of Justice as they are two separate judicial organs. The Permanent Court of Arbitration encourages dispute resolution among a range of international entities through arbitration and the International Court of Justice settles international legal disputes between states and gives advisory opinions on legal questions from United Nations organs.

Further international legal norms from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea are relied upon to determine issues between States at high sea, including issues such as the question of ownership of land masses here. Additionally, the Court must consider the implications of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 in the transfer of sovereignty of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh from the old Johor Sultanate to the new Johor Sultanate as well as the subsequent Crawford Treaty. The Crawford Treaty granted Britain sovereignty over Singapore and the islands within ten miles of its coast.

Malaysia is the successor state of the Sultanate of Johor, which is the governing body that gave the East India Company permission, as an organ of Britain, to build a lighthouse on Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh in 1844. This permission would not have been needed if Britain believed or was treating Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh as under its sovereignty, and the Sultanate granted nothing further than permission to construct and operate the lighthouse. The dispute before the Court arises because Malaysia continues to assert ownership over the island of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh despite Singapore’s claim over the island as a result of the construction of the lighthouse and the treatment of both countries of the lighthouse and island in the following years.

In maps made by Singapore until the mid-1990s, Singapore did not include Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, while conversely, the Sultanate of Johor and Malaysia alike always included the island as part of its sovereign lands.

According to Singapore, Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh has been previously treated as terra nullis, nobody’s land, including that the land did not belong to the Johor Sultanate. Because of this, the aforementioned acts of building, maintenance and governance of the Horsburgh lighthouse were actions made as if Singapore owned the territory, which could rise to taking lawful possession of the island. Additionally, Singapore has exercised acts of State in respect to the island of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh with no opposition from Malaysia. These types of actions over time would grant sovereign authority over a land mass. Malaysia has recognized Singapore’s sovereignty through both explicit official acts and implicitly by maintaining silence in response to Singapore’s actions towards Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, which show a failure to claim or act as if the territories were their own. More explicitly, Malaysia’s predecessor, the Sultanate of Johor, wrote stating that it did not claim ownership over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh in a letter to Singapore in 1953.

The overarching question for the Court’s consideration is the sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge. As preliminary issues, the Court must determine the status of the ownership over these features at the time the dispute crystallized as well as whether the three land masses should be treated individually or separately.

Questions to Consider

  • What actions constitute exercising sovereignty?
  • What actions or inactions constitute acknowledgment of another party’s sovereignty?
  • How do the arguments put forth by Malaysia and Singapore relate to the legal principle of adverse possession?

Bibliography

Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. The United States of America)

This is a historical case. In accordance with AMUN rules and procedures, please note that the historical timeline for this case will stop on 1 December 2003. Any and all updates to this case after that date will not be relevant to the AMUN simulation nor considered in hearing the case.

Mexico brought its application to the International Court of Justice for its case against the United States of America on 9 January 2003, claiming that the United States breached Articles 5 and 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 24 April 1963. Mexico requested the Court find the United States in violation of the Vienna Convention for convicting and sentencing 54 Mexican nationals to capital punishment without access, as prescribed in the Convention, to the Mexican consulate. Additionally, Mexico requested that the Court indicate provisional measures which would require the United States to guarantee that no Mexican nationals are executed while the final decision of the Court is pending.

Prior to the Vienna Convention, Mexico and the United States entered into the Consular Convention between the United States and Mexico dated August 12, 1942, which provided guidance to consular relations, more specifically, between the two States. The language of this Consular Convention is similar to the language of the Vienna Convention in relation to consular relations. Both the United States and Mexico are States Parties to the Vienna Convention.

The Mexican citizens in this case were tried, convicted and sentenced to capital punishment under criminal law of the United States. Of issue is the United States’ use of procedural default rules, which preclude a defendant from raising new claims in federal court that were not previously raised in state court proceedings. In response to the United States’ continued detainment of Mexican nationals on death row, Mexico sought relief to prevent their execution in United States federal court in the case of United Mexican States v. Woods, 126 F.3d 1220 (1997). The case resulted in the 9th Circuit affirming the district court’s dismissal, citing the 11th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which does not permit a foreign government to bring suit against a state in federal court.

In additional prior proceedings, Mexico requested an Advisory Opinion from the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) on the issue of consular assistance under due process of law. The request focused on the issues at hand here, which include a Mexican national’s right to communicate with the Mexican consulate when the national has been tried, convicted and sentenced to capital punishment in the United States.

Before addressing the merits of the case, the Court must address the question of the nationality of the individuals whose rights are at issue here. Along with their nationality, the Court must determine the importance and impact that the nationality of the individuals will have on further determinations in the case.

Additionally, the Court must find it has jurisdiction to hear the case. Under Article 36 of the Statute of the Court, the Court’s jurisdiction includes cases that States refer to it as well as matters provided for in treaties that are in force. Article 1 of the Optional Protocol of the Vienna Convention concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes grants the Court compulsory jurisdiction over the interpretation and application of disputes arising out of the Convention. Both Mexico and the United States have signed on to the Optional Protocol, so they are bound to the Protocol’s jurisdictional requirements; however, the issue of jurisdiction is not settled. In order for the Court to find it has jurisdiction, the issues brought by Mexico for the Court to decide must require the interpretation or application of the Vienna Convention, and the Court cannot make decisions that would infringe on the sovereignty of a State.

If the Court determines it has jurisdiction, the primary dispute revolves around the interpretation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 24 April 1963. Articles 5 and 36, in particular, form the basis of the conflict. Article 5 establishes the fundamental Consular functions covered under the Convention, including protecting the sending State’s interests according to international law as well as helping develop relationships between States. Article 36 establishes the scope of communications permitted between Consular officers of a sending State and the nationals of the same sending State. The freedom to communicate is established by Article 36(1)(a). Under Article 36(1)(b), these communication freedoms include that foreign nationals who are arrested must be given notice of their rights “without delay” to have their State’s embassy or consulate notified that they were arrested. Additionally, under Article 36(1)(c), consular officers have the right to visit nationals of their State who are under arrest or further detained by the receiving State as well as the ability to arrange for legal assistance. The second paragraph under Article 36 provides clarification that the Article must conform with the laws of the receiving state, with the rights of Article 36 still being given full effect.

In LaGrand (Germany v. United States of America), the Court found that the rights under the Vienna Convention must be given full effect within a State, which means that domestic law should not hinder these rights. Additionally, the Court ruled that orders made under Article 41 of the Convention, which gives the Court power to indicate provisional measures, do have binding effect. As a result, the Court’s remedy was for the United States to review and reconsider cases at issue under these circumstances. Although the considerations of the Vienna Convention under LaGrand may seem similar to the facts at hand, the Court’s decisions in prior cases do not represent binding precedent.

Failing to notify Mexican nationals of their right to communicate with the Mexican consulate in the United States would constitute a violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention. In order for this notification to be considered proper, it must have been given in line with the Convention, including being given to the detainee without delay.

On the other hand, actions made in good faith that are in conformity with the LaGrand decision should be considered as in compliance with Article 36 of the Vienna Convention. In addition to this, the definition of “without delay” in subsection (b) of Article 36 is open to interpretation, but it can be understood as being done within the ordinary course of business and without procrastination or deliberate inaction. In order to establish a breach of Article 36, the petitioner must prove the elements within the Article for each of the defendants at issue.

Brought before the Court is the issue of whether or not the United States breached Articles 5 and 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 24 April 1963, by convicting 54 Mexican nationals and subsequently sentencing them to capital punishment. If the Court does find the United States in violation of the Vienna Convention, they must also consider what would be the proper remedy in this case. 

Questions to Consider

  • How is the nationality of a citizen determined, and how does the State where they are physically located affect that?
  • How is the term “without delay” defined?
  • How should the interpretation of subsections of a treaty depend on whether they are considered independently or in conjunction with each other?
  • How should procedural default rules within a State’s judicial system interact with international treaties?
  • When the International Court of Justice was created, along with the United Nations Charter, to what extent did the founding Member States intend for provisional International Court of Justice rulings to be binding?

Bibliography

The International Press Delegation

The International Press Delegation (IPD) is a unique simulation that allows students to fill the role of reporters as they work to produce AMUN’s Conference newspaper, the AMUN Chronicle, and keep participants informed about the functions of the United Nations.

While at AMUN, the International Press Delegation is reflective of the work of hundreds of reporters from news agencies around the world. Even though IPD does not exist at the United Nations in New York, there are reporters, who cover the work of the United Nations, publishing essays, opinion pieces, articles and videos on the debates and activities of the United Nations, which reach people around the world. By doing so, the members of the International Press Corps assist the United Nations in fulfilling one of its fundamental objectives: the dissemination of information about the United Nations and world events to all people.

Recognizing the critical role the press plays at the United Nations, AMUN’s IPD simulation has three major goals

  • To expand the educational experience for students with an interest or background in strategic communications and journalism by simulating the public affairs environment at the United Nations.
  • To keep all AMUN participants informed about newsworthy events from each simulation with social media and a high-quality newspaper (the AMUN Chronicle) each day of Conference.
  • To provide representatives the opportunity to present their country’s positions through press releases and press conferences and to gain familiarity with the challenges of strategic communications.

 

AMUN Secretariat Members will serve in the following roles:

  • The Director of the International Press Delegation, who is responsible for overseeing all IPD activities and for the content of the published AMUN Chronicle.
  • The Publisher, who is responsible for taking the articles and laying them out into the template for the AMUN Chronicle.
  • Editors who are responsible for helping reporters plan each issue of the AMUN Chronicle and write their articles, lead press conferences, assist representatives with submitting press releases and press conference requests, and manage IPD’s social media networks.

 

What do IPD Reporters do?

Participants will be issued specific press credentials that will identify them as IPD reporters to the AMUN Secretariat and representatives. Each IPD reporter will be assigned to at least one beat, which is a specific simulation (e.g., Security Council, ICJ, General Assembly Third Committee) that they will have primary responsibility for reporting on throughout the Conference. Reporters are assigned to beats to ensure consistent and thorough reporting of how each committee functions. All IPD reporters will submit content covering their assigned beats for each issue of the AMUN Chronicle.

Reporter content will include a short ticker story for their beat and, depending on the newsworthy events in a simulation, reporters may also submit a committee feature (100-125 words) or a general feature (200 words). Reporters will create their own content, review their peer’s content and assist with the production and distribution of the paper as needed. Additionally, reporters will be asked to schedule tweets via the @AmunIPD Twitter handle and be assigned to cover press conferences and other Conference events, such as interviews with guest speakers.

Ticker stories will offer brief coverage of high-level events in a simulation. Each simulation should have a ticker story in every edition of the AMUN Chronicle. Tickers should be no more than 50 words and must be tightly constructed and edited to briefly convey the main point. A ticker story for General Assembly Second Committee might read as follows:

Although GA 2nd continues debate concerning revised guidelines for alleviating sovereign debt crises, several representatives from Latin America seek more impactful regulation to mitigate capital flows to violent extremists.

General features will cover the primary, newsworthy events that occurred on a reporter’s beat. When drafting features, reporters should investigate the motivations for and representatives involved in the notable event. By conducting thorough interviews and seeking accurate primary and secondary sources, features can clarify the various activities of the United Nations. Reporters are advised to build in-depth relationships with representatives on their beat. Reporters should strive to feature two to three quotations from different representatives. To assist in planning and drafting articles, fellow reporters and editors will provide feedback on reporters’ content.

The content of each edition of the AMUN Chronicle is set in a budget meeting that reporters attend in their assigned work space. At each budget meeting, in consultation with IPD Secretariat staff, reporters assess the type and length of article(s) they will draft for the next edition of the AMUN Chronicle. Reporters’ content will be published to all participants at Conference; therefore accurate reporting is critical to ensure unbiased information is disseminated.

Publishing the AMUN Chronicle

Reporters are allotted at least two and half hours to draft, edit and submit content for each edition of the AMUN Chronicle. An example of how time is allocated is provided below. This example timeline is based on the production schedule for the Sunday evening Chronicle, usually the third issue of the Conference.

  • 5:30 p.m. Reporters will submit a word-processed, preliminary copy of content (including tickers, features and tweets as needed) for the third issue.
  • 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. Reporters receive edits from peers and editors, investigate his or her beat in anticipation of their articles for the fourth issue, and revise content.
  • 8:00 p.m. Reporters submit final copy of content and attend the budget meeting to discuss their assignment with AMUN Secretariat for the fourth issue, share ideas for feature articles and review notable events on their beats.
  • 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. IPD Secretariat will commence final review of content and Publisher will lay out copy of the AMUN Chronicle for duplication by Delegate Services.
  • 9:45 p.m. Once duplication has been completed, IPD personnel and any other available Secretariat members will collate and distribute the Chronicle.

Joining the International Press Delegation

Any interested student can join the IPD. However, IPD reporters cannot also be members of their school’s delegation(s). In other words, participation in the IPD as a reporter is a mutually exclusive, duration-of-the-Conference assignment. Up to two students from any school may become IPD reporters. Students from schools that are not sending a delegation to AMUN are also welcome to apply to participate in the IPD. Students not attending with a school delegation must pay only the AMUN delegate fee.

Due to the resource-intensive and specialized nature of this simulation, AMUN will accept up to 14 IPD reporters. Positions will go to applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. The application is available on the AMUN website; please contact the AMUN Executive Office (mail@amun.org) for more information. For the best chance of being accepted as a reporter, apply by mid-October.

IPD will also accept qualified applications to fill one position as a photojournalist. This position will be evaluated based on the applicant’s background and experience in photography. Applicants may apply for a reporter position as well as the photojournalist position.

Pre-Conference Preparation

To prepare for conference, reporters will be provided with an IPD Procedures and Style Guide. The guide will include sample interview questions, sample tweets, committee hashtags and guidelines for journalistic writing (e.g. “the 5 W’s & H,” the Inverted Pyramid, beat reporting and tips on brevity). In advance of conference, reporters will submit a draft article in accordance with the IPD Procedures and Style Guide. The due date and subject of the articles will be provided in the IPD welcome letter that reporters will receive between late-October and early-November. At conference, AMUN Secretariat will provide feedback and training before publishing the revised copies in the AMUN Chronicle.

Connect with IPD at Conference

All AMUN representatives and delegations are encouraged to explore the news-coverage possibilities offered by the IPD. In particular, representatives should get to know the reporter(s) covering their simulations, make themselves available for interviews and provide background information when it is requested or when it is in their country’s interest to seek press coverage. Also, representatives and delegations are strongly encouraged to call press conferences and to submit press releases, personal ads and letters to the editor.

Press conferences allow representatives a chance to give an oral statement and to answer questions from reporters and other conference participants. Representatives request press conferences using the IPD Request Form. They are asked to provide three specific pieces of information: (1) the requested time for the press conference, (2) the first and last names and countries of the participating representatives and (3) the topic(s) that will be discussed. Representatives have a maximum of 20 minutes to complete the press conference, including the question-and-answer session. Time slots are made available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Press Releases are official statements from a representative’s country that explain a country’s stance on one of the topics under debate at AMUN. Press releases are a maximum of 150 words and are included in every edition of the AMUN Chronicle, contingent upon available space. Press releases must be typed and submitted in the IPD Office. Press releases are edited by IPD Secretariat members for content and clarity.

Personal Ads are informal messages that can be submitted by any individual attending the AMUN Conference. Personal ads must be no longer than 30 words and are included in the AMUN Chronicle contingent upon available space. Personal ads must be submitted in writing (forms are available at the documents table in each simulation) or emailed to personals@amun.org after the Opening Plenary Session has ended.

Letters to the Editor may be submitted by any attendee and can be on any topic germane to the Conference. Letters to the editor are limited to 250 words. Letters to the editor must be typed and submitted in the IPD Office.

Social Media offers an opportunity to concisely communicate a country’s position in a more interactive manner. All IPD reporters will have the ability to tweet newsworthy updates via the AMUN official Twitter account. Each committee will have a designated hashtag, so all representatives can participate in the online conversation by commenting on AMUN’s official Twitter account, @AmunIPD.

The decision to include material submitted to the IPD office in the AMUN Chronicle is left to the discretion of the Director of the IPD and the AMUN Executive Committee. AMUN Secretariat will screen and edit all content submitted to the IPD for clarity and adherence to rules for diplomatic courtesy.

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