At AMUN Black Lives Matter

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 2020 Conference. 

2020 Simulations

In 2020, AMUN will simulate three Main GA Committees (GA1, GA2 and GA3), the World Health Organization Executive Board (WHO), the General Council of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the Human Rights Council (HRC), the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization Executive Board (UNESCO), the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). AMUN also simulates three historical bodies: the Historical Security Council of 1967 (HSC67), the Historical Security Council of 1990 (HSC90) and the Historical Commission of Inquiry: Non-Aligned States in Cold War Context (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. These bodies will meet all days of the Conference.

The Contemporary Security Council will be responsible for dealing with international peace and security issues as they stand at the opening of the Conference. Topics for the Contemporary Security Council will be set by 9 October 2020. The Historical Security Councils (1967 and 1990) 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 days of the Conference, including an emergency session on Sunday.

The International Court of Justice and the Historical Commission of Inquiry are unique simulations that will meet all three days of the Conference. Individuals must apply for positions on these simulations on the AMUN website. The International Court of Justice will hear cases brought to the Court by Member States. The Historical Commission of Inquiry: Non-Aligned States in Cold War Context 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

Conference Policies

Minimum and Maximum Delegation Counts

Each delegation should place one representative on any committee to which their country is assigned. There are 10 seats on the Historical Commission of Inquiry: Non-Aligned States in Cold War Context. Four are assigned with a country assignment and six are assigned by application. Seats on the International Court of Justice are assigned by application.

Delegations may also designate a floating permanent representative to assist with coordination across the delegation.

Schools may register up to one faculty advisor at no cost; additional faculty advisors may register for a small fee.

Dress Code and Backgrounds in a Virtual Environment

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 requests that, when a participant has their video feed on, they should present a professional appearance. AMUN recommends wearing Western Business attire, such as a nice shirt and jacket and appropriate accessories, to best emulate the diplomatic environment and tone for the meetings.

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.

All participants should be cognizant of their background when their video feed is on. Participants may display a UN flag or the flag from their assigned country in the background, though such a display is not required. Representatives are expected to adhere to standards of Diplomatic Courtesy. Images or objects in the background that are discriminatory or offensive may not be displayed, and AMUN staff may ask participants to remove such objects. Such a decision is not subject to appeal.

Decisions about appropriate attire, virtual backgrounds 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, 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, 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).

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. 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 entering the Executive Office virtual office, emailing, calling or sending a message through the virtual environment.

Privacy

American Model United Nations (AMUN) will be recording some sessions of the 2020 Conference on Gatherly, Google, and other conference-sponsored platforms for use in future publicity and educational materials. By participating in the AMUN Conference, you consent to digital recording of AMUN sessions, including screenshots and video capture, and their release, publication, or reproduction by AMUN. AMUN will attempt to obscure personally-identifying information before release and will not identify participants by name when such material is used.

AMUN may also conduct interviews (audio, video, or written) with participants for use in publicity or educational materials. In these cases, individuals being interviewed and recorded will be asked for their permission to use the interview material and their name and/or image.

Participants in the AMUN Conference should not record or otherwise capture images, screenshots, video recordings, etc. of the Conference proceedings without the express consent of AMUN.

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 contact us anytime by entering the Executive Office virtual office, emailing, calling or sending a message through virtual environment and a member of the AMUN Secretariat will be happy to assist you.

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 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.

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. 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. The virtual Conference platform will be available for informal caucusing after hours. Standard rules of diplomatic courtesy apply at all times while using the platform, including during informal caucusing.

Security Council Emergency Session

Representatives in each Security Council will work to resolve a simulated crisis during the Conference. This unique simulation occurs Sunday morning. 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, 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 virtual simulation room.

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 to allow the current year’s attendees to select countries for the following year. A deposit for next year’s Conference is required to participate.
  • Permanent representative and faculty advisor meetings: Held daily during Conference, these meetings allow you to share comments and concerns on this year’s Conference and any 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 Agenda for times.

Graduate School and Career Expo

American Model United Nations International (AMUN) will once again be hosting an annual Graduate School and Career Expo to be held during the 31st American Model United Nations Conference. The Graduate School and Career Expo will be held this year on Friday, 23 October 2020 from 2:00 p.m. CT to 5:00 p.m. CT using our virtual meeting platform. The Expo is a great opportunity to meet with representatives from graduate schools and organizations across the country and plan your future. Event exhibitors will be announced in advance.

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.

Presidential statements are similar to resolutions in that they state a United Nations policy or objective, but they have a different purpose and utilize different formatting. Presidential statements 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.

Draft Documents

AMUN simulations will accept draft resolutions 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, 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, ECOSOC, ECOSOC Commissions, or Special Committees 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 on a contested amendment thereto—no new sponsors may be added to or removed from the draft resolution, 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 and special committees to assist with this process.

After a draft resolution or presidential statement receives the requisite sponsorship, representatives submit 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 formal publication to the body. 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 formally published, the Dais Staff will announce that the draft has become available for consideration. Although AMUN strives to publish draft resolutions as quickly as possible, they may be subject to a delay, depending largely on the publishing 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 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 three-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 comply with the following 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.
  • See the Sample Draft Resolution for additional requirements.

In 2020, Dais Staff will have the responsibility for inputting resolutions into the Conference’s DPS system, which produces final versions of resolutions. Representatives can help to speed up the resolution approval and input process by making their draft resolutions conform as closely as possible to the formatting and style of a final draft resolution. Dais Staff may instruct representatives to make certain edits to their draft resolutions to assist with this process. Additionally, Dais Staff are available to assist representatives with any questions you may have about format and grammar.

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 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 entering 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

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 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 and 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 their 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 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 know not only the basic structure of the United Nations but also 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

Representatives should have a good understanding of their state’s history and current affairs; this foundation is 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

Preparing to represent the State’s interests on the issues on the conference agenda is the central point of most Model UN preparation. 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 topics 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 and 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 third topic 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 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 area 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 topics 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. 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, but 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. Given the virtual environment of the 2020 AMUN Conference, it is imperative that representatives familiarize themselves with the AMUN rules, some of which have been modified slightly to accommodate the virtual environment.

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 writing

At AMUN, the main substantive work of the body represented in written documents, namely resolutions. These documents are the work of all the representatives in the body. There are several ways to become familiar with the resolution writing process. To begin we suggest reading the UN Documents chapter of this handbook for guidelines about crafting resolutions. The UN Documents chapter also includes a sample resolution, which can be used as a guide when drafting these documents. Resolutions 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. 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 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—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.

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 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 that outline the agreed-upon 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).

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 1 October 2020; this deadline has moved in 2020 to accommodate the new Conference dates. These papers should be no more than one-half page on each topic covered in the committee. All delegations should submit a paper covering both topics on the three General Assembly committees. Additionally, delegations should submit position papers for each topic on the agenda of a committee on which they are assigned a seat. For delegations with an assignment to the Historical Security Councils or Security Council, delegations should submit a position paper for each of the topics listed in the handbook. Delegations seated on the Commission of Inquiry should also include the two topics of discussion for the Commission.

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.

Given the conference dates in 2020, AMUN is unable to offer a position paper extension this year.

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 1 October 2020. 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 and ECOSOC

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.

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.

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/Presidents and Rapporteurs.

The Committee Chairs/Presidents 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 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 And ECOSOC Rules of Procedure

Please note, the AMUN Executive Committee, in conjunction with the Executive Office, has elected to limit our simulations during the 2020 Conference. All General Assembly and Economic and Social Council simulations will be conducted as resolution-writing bodies. This change is meant to provide a more consistent and higher quality simulation experience for those in attendance. 

In accordance with this decision, the Rules Committee has marked any rules pertaining to report writing bodies or Plenary sessions as [RESERVED]. These rules are not available for use during the 2020 Virtual Conference. For questions about the rules, please approach the dais staff or email mail@amun.org

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 display 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), . 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 one representative per Committee on which it is a member, 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 and Observers 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), The Secretariat may amend this time limit to accommodate technical issues where appropriate. These adjustments are not appealable.
  • 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 (or the virtual equivalent as directed by the Chair),

  • 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 indicate their motion in the manner directed by 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. [RESERVED]

4.2 Draft Reports. [RESERVED]

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 is a written proposal that adds to, deletes from, or revises any part of a draft resolution..

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 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 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 are also sponsors of the amendment,

  • A friendly amendment becomes part of a draft resolution 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 resolution has been moved.

4.7 Definition of Executive Summaries. [RESERVED]

4.8 Executive Summaries. [RESERVED] 

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

  • Sponsorship of a resolution may not be withdrawn after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment,
  • If a draft resolution 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 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 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 an amendment or draft resolution by consensus at any time after closure of debate has passed,
  • 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 or a method otherwise indicated by the Chair,

  • 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,
  • Representatives shall vote by responding with  “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 Competence (rule 7.8), or Division of the Question (rule 7.11), 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 identify their point in the method indicated by the Chair 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 identify their point in the method  indicated by the chair 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 in the manner indicated by the chair 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 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 resolution or amendment.

7.4 Closure of Debate. A representative may move to close debate on a 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 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 resolution,
  • If closure passes on a draft 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 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 the proposal passes or fails. Debate then continues on the current agenda topic.

7.5 Decision of No Action. [RESERVED]

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. [RESERVED] 

7.8 Decision of Competence. A motion calling for a decision on the competence of the Committee to discuss or adopt a 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, and 
  • This motion is not debatable.

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 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 be voted on separately, is in order at any time prior to entering voting procedure on the amendment or draft resolution, 

  • 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 or draft resolution,
  • Those clauses or paragraphs of the amendment or draft resolution which are approved shall then be put to a vote as a whole, and
  • If division causes the draft resolution 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 an 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. [RESERVED]

7.14 Consideration of Draft Reports. [RESERVED] 

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. [RESERVED]

8.0 Rules Relating Only to the General Assembly Plenary Sessions [RESERVED]

8.1 Interchangeability of Rules. [RESERVED]

8.2 Quorum. [RESERVED]

8.3 Officers. [RESERVED]

8.4 Order of Consideration of Committees in Combined General Assembly Plenary. [RESERVED]

8.5 Decision of No Action. [RESERVED] 

8.6 Important Question. [RESERVED] 

8.7 Security Council Priority Relating to Issues Concerning the Maintenance of International Peace and Security. [RESERVED]

8.8 Applications for Admission of New Member States. [RESERVED]

8.9 Consideration of Applications and Decisions Thereon. [RESERVED]

8.10 Notification of the Decision and Effective Date of Membership. [RESERVED]

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

9.1 Interchangeability of the Rules. [RESERVED]

9.2 Participation of Non-Member States. [RESERVED] 

9.3 Consideration of Reports in ECOSOC Plenary Session. [RESERVED]

9.4 Consultative Session. [RESERVED]

9.5 Consideration of Draft Reports. [RESERVED]

9.6 Formation of Committees. [RESERVED]

9.7 Formation of Commissions. [RESERVED]

9.8 Creation of Conventions and Treaties. [RESERVED]

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 Reserved
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 Reserved
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 Reserved
7.14 Consideration of Draft Reports Yes No Simple Majority Reserved
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 Reserved

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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.

National legislation on transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology

The international arms trade, while playing an integral role in States’ rights to self-defense, represents a potential threat to international security. Unregulated transfers of arms can lead to the spread of lethal arms to unstable environments and into the hands of violent non-state actors, inflaming tensions and exacerbating suffering in regions of conflict. However, despite the size of the arms industry and the involved dangers of the international arms trade, before the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty in 2014 there were few regulations on the trade; activists often remarked that bananas were more heavily regulated. International arms transfer has increased since the turn of the century, although it has yet to return to the high levels seen during the Cold War. The two sides of the arms trade—its lucrative nature for exporters and its utility for those States that import them—have made generating political will to expand regulations difficult, however it is necessary to mitigate the damages felt in conflict regions around the world.

International efforts to establish controls on the arms trade date back to the Brussels Conference Act of 1890, which attempted to limit arms exports into Africa as part of ending Western trade in enslaved Africans. After the Second World War, international concern on the arms trade largely centered around the use of arms transfers in the events of the Cold War by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Warsaw Pact countries to spread and establish influence. These arms transfers, often occurring alongside coups and civil wars backed by the Superpowers, wreaked havoc among non-aligned States. The Cold War context overshadowed most international work on regulating the arms trade. Despite progress made in restricting proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, general arms trade agreements were not successful; the modern control mechanisms were all established after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

During the Cold War, regulations on the arms trade began to develop due to the commencement of talks among States. The first of these arms control agreements was the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) in 1949, in which Members of NATO put into place controls over the sale of strategic goods to communist bloc countries. In the late 1970s, the United States and Soviet Union conducted the Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) talks. These talks ultimately failed to bring about an agreement due to rising tensions in the Middle East, and arms transfers continued throughout the end of the Cold War.

Beginning in the 1990s, the international community began designing new mechanisms to regulate the international arms trade. COCOM, made obsolete with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, was replaced in 1996 with the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, the first example of modern export controls on the legal arms trade. Various conventional weapons and armaments were banned, most notably the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention and the 1997 Ottawa Mine-Ban Treaty. These were shortly followed by the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects in 2001, which emphasized the responsibility of Member States to curtail the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Regarding the international arms trade, however, no large international agreements arose, despite the horrific consequences of unregulated arms trade realized in Rwanda and Yugoslavia. In 1996, Nobel Peace Laureate Óscar Arias Sánchez presented an international code of conduct on arms sales at the State of the World Forum, setting guidelines to avoid exacerbating human rights abuses with legal arms sales to violators. Individually, the European Union in 1998 and the United States in 1999 both adopted codes of conduct, and the Organization of American States would follow in 2003. Beginning in 2006, the United Nations began working towards developing an arms trade treaty, deciding in 2009 to convene the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2012. As negotiations progressed, however, it became clear that the Conference, nor the Final Conference the following year, would not be able to reach the necessary consensus to adopt a treaty via conference. Instead, the Arms Trade Treaty was endorsed by the General Assembly in 2013 without consensus, and came into effect the following year.

Nevertheless, the Arms Trade Treaty remains one of the largest achievements in addressing the transfer of arms. The major components of the treaty included the establishment of international standards for the trade of conventional arms that must be incorporated into States’ control systems, enhancement of transparency and accountability of State actions, and the outright ban of arms shipments that would be used to commit the horrors of genocide, war crimes and attacks on civilians. Many of the world’s largest arms producers signed the treaty: the largest which, the United States, withdrew its signature in 2019 while the second largest, China, acceded in 2020.

There are still gaps in the application of proposed solutions and resolutions supporting the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) have failed to achieve consensus at the United Nations. New aspects of the issue have emerged, such as trade to non-state actors (NSA) and the development of new technologies that have the potential to exacerbate the effects of the arms trade, like 3D-printed weapons. Despite failing to reach consensus on specifics, the international community has shown unanimity in their recognition that something must be done, as recent resolutions have passed without any votes against and few abstentions. Concerns over national sovereignty and balancing the rights and desires of various factions have left this issue largely in the domain of national legislation. At the turn of the century, national legislation adopting codes of conduct precipitated international action and the Arms Trade Treaty. Perhaps a new push of national legislation regulating the gaps in the ATT will work again.

Questions to Consider:

  • How can Member States work together to improve regulation on transfer of arms, military equipment, and dual-use goods and technology? How might they improve implementation of current measures?
  • In what ways can new technologies such as 3D-printed weapons be addressed in the context of the arms trade?
  • How should the dangers of arms transfer to non-state actors be balanced with States’ sovereignty and national security interests?
  • How can the disastrous effects of the transfer of arms into conflict zones be mitigated? Why have past strategies not been successful in this regard?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Prevention of an arms race in outer space

The use of space is critical to global society. Modern militaries rely heavily on man-made satellites in orbit around the earth, which are used for communication, targeting and global positioning systems. Satellites are also critical to civilian operations such as telecommunications and scientific research. All countries rely upon space-based technology in some way, even if they are not space-faring themselves. Due to the global vantage point provided simply by being in space and the unique and global dangers space weapons pose, a debate has emerged over the past few decades on whether militaries should be permitted to station weapons in orbit. The fledgling commercial space industry, eager to develop near-earth orbit and mine the asteroid belt for resources, also has a vested interest in keeping space peaceful and developing clear international law governing military use of space.

The weaponization of space has long been a concern of the United Nations. In 1963, the General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on all Member States to refrain from placing nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or from installing such weapons on celestial bodies. The General Assembly also noted that the principles of the United Nations Charter, particularly those prohibiting the use or threat of use of force, apply in space as well.

In 1967, the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (commonly known as the “Outer Space Treaty”) entered into force. This treaty is the main instrument of international law governing the use of outer space and tracks the language of the 1963 resolution by banning the stationing of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on any celestial body. It does not ban the stationing of conventional weapons in space or prohibit the use of conventional weapons launched from the surface of the Earth to destroy objects in space. The Outer Space Treaty currently has 104 States Parties, including all Member States with significant space-faring capability. Another 24 Member States have signed but not ratified the treaty.

Subsequent efforts to develop and enforce multilateral treaties regarding this topic have not met with success. In 1979, Member States proposed the adoption of the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (commonly known as the “Moon Treaty”). The treaty never gained significant traction, in part because it would have required Member States to share space-derived resources and the means for extracting such resources. It has been ratified by only 14 Member States, none of which have space-launch capability.

In 1985, the Conference on Disarmament, where this topic has also been debated at length, established the Ad Hoc Committee on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space. The Ad Hoc Committee disbanded in 1994 after failing to generate any formal agreements. Discussion on this topic in the First Committee has continued through the end of the Cold War to the present day. In recent resolutions related to this topic, the First Committee encouraged the adoption of verifiable measures to prevent an arms race in space, including the creation and implementation of better transparency and confidence-building measures among space-faring States.

The first way that an arms race in space could erupt is by deploying existing nuclear weapons such as inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in orbit. The nuclear deterrence that has prevented the use of nuclear weapons in combat since the detonations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki is based on each side’s ability to destroy the other should any nuclear attack take place. Because space-based nuclear weapons would have a much faster response time than even ICBMs, one side’s implementation of such weapons would threaten the balance of power and could potentially lead to an arms race of ever-faster and more responsive nuclear satellites.

However, space weapons could also be something as simple as a satellite that drops rods of concrete rebar. When dropped from 60+ miles up, virtually any object that can survive the heat stress of atmospheric reentry can become a deadly missile. The extent to which conventional weapons in space should be banned is therefore a key part of the global debate on this issue. The destruction of one satellite, whether it is from a space-based weapon or a surface-to-space missile, could create a chain reaction of explosions, filling low-earth orbit with debris and rendering it unusable for any satellites or human and robotic exploration missions. This situation, known as Kessler Syndrome, would have a catastrophic effect on global society. While some global positioning and other highly specialized satellites orbit high enough to be out of reach of such a disaster, the vast majority of currently operating satellites are in low-earth orbit, including most scientific and weather satellites, constellations of communications satellites such as the Iridium satellite telephone system, and the International Space Station. Losing all of these capabilities in short succession would have far-reaching effects such as cutting communications from remote regions of the Earth and a decreased ability to predict natural disasters. Low-earth orbit is also by far the cheapest orbit to launch a satellite in and has a number of advantages, such as a short orbital period to cover more of the Earth with one satellite. The economic cost to shift satellite development and launch to higher orbits would be enormous.

Recently, this debate has become more urgent due to signs that some States are gearing up to wage space-based warfare or to develop the capacity to destroy another State’s assets in space. The United States military has earmarked $2 billion for developing space weapons in 2016, citing concerns that its military has become so dependent on satellites that they are an “Achilles’ heel” that must be better protected. In 2007, the People’s Republic of China destroyed one of their own satellites with a surface-to-space missile, 530 miles above the Earth’s surface. The United States has also destroyed one of its own satellites in similar fashion, and Russia has successfully tested its own anti-satellite missile.

In 2017,  the General Assembly voted for stronger laws to hold violators of the Outer Space Treaty accountable.  The General Assembly identified the possibility of a larger arms race that could occur in Outer Space, particularly given the rising availability of dual-use technologies in space,such as high-energy lasers.  Numerous countries had reservations against the Chinese-Russian draft treaty on the placement of weapons in outer space, especially given the lack  of a clear definition of an outer space weapon and no clear path forward on anti-satellite weapons

The future of Outer Space is still uncertain, with some states calling for greater international regulation.  The Space Preservation Treaty, which would ban all weapons in space, including conventional weapons, was proposed to the General Assembly in the mid-2000s; to date it has not been signed by any Member State. In 2008 and again in 2014, at the Conference for Disarmament, Member States proposed the adoption of a “draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects.” This treaty has yet to come before the General Assembly. Given the lack of a definition of what constitutes an “outer space weapon”, the continued efforts to prevent the militarization of outer space may find it difficult to enforce any resolutions made within the General Assembly First Committee.  The relationship between space-faring nations and non-space-faring nations may also be strained if enforcement of previous treaties fails.

Questions to Consider:

  • What constitutes a “weapon” in space? How can an instrument limiting the use of weapons in space carve out room for civilian, scientific and other benign operations to continue to operate?
  • How successful have the current treaties regarding arms in outer space? What can be done to make up for their shortcomings?
  • Are new multilateral agreements necessary or advisable to incorporate into the framework of agreements banning or otherwise limiting space weaponization? How can the United Nations improve the implementation and integration of existing agreements that deal with space weapons?
  • What lessons can be learned from the failure of the Moon Treaty to gain any significant traction?

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.

Agricultural development, food security and nutrition

Food security—defined as having access to adequate quantity and quality of food for an active and healthy lifestyle—is one of the most severe issues facing the world. Despite historically consistent progress in reducing global undernourishment by about one-third since 1971, recent estimates show the trend reversing since 2015. In 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that the number of undernourished people in the world reached 811 million, an increase over previous years in both absolute and relative terms. More than 70 percent of the world’s food-insecure people live in rural areas of developing countries, many of whom are subsistence farmers who have trouble feeding their own families. Worldwide, the social and economic costs of malnutrition in 2013 totaled approximately US $3.5 trillion. The struggle of ensuring food security is worsened by population growth, increased consumption and climate change, all of which have varied impacts on States. Agricultural development is necessary not only to fill these gaps but also to reduce poverty and expand developing economies. 

Agricultural development has always been linked to food security and nutrition challenges. The United Nations established the FAO in 1945 and tasked it with achieving food security for all and ending hunger. In 1946, the FAO published the first World Food Survey, which was the first data collected to confirm that wide-spread hunger and malnourishment were rampant. The next few decades saw the buildup of United Nations food and agriculture infrastructure with the founding of the World Food Programme in 1963 in the midst of the Green Revolution, which brought high-yielding food varieties to developing countries. After the devastating 1974 Bengal famine, the international community adopted the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition at the first World Food Conference. Through this declaration, governments affirmed freedom from hunger and malnutrition as a fundamental human right, and agreed to ensure this right was realized by all within a decade. This goal, however, was not met, and in 1995 the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) revisited the issue, including the role of sustainable agricultural development for the first time. Through negotiations at the 1996 World Food Summit, the 1997 review of the Earth Summit and finally the Millennium Declaration, the international community set a new goal. Target 1C of the Millennium Development Goals was halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

Despite the global recessions of the 2000s and increased natural and humanitarian disasters, the international community did reduce the number of people suffering from hunger by about 45 percent, just shy of meeting the target. In 2014, the international community reconvened for the Second International Conference on Nutrition. The Conference discussed that 45 percent of all child deaths were caused by undernutrition in 2013. Moreover, representatives at the Conference identified a new nutrition issue: obesity. In 2014 over 500 million adults were obese across both developing and developed countries, a number which would increase to 672 million only three years later. Millions of individuals in many countries are now faced with the double burden of malnutrition and obesity. Through the Rome Declaration on Nutrition, representatives encouraged coordinated action across all actors to create comprehensive food policy and increase investments for achieving food security.

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, the United Nations once again aims to end hunger and achieve food security for all. The interconnected nature of the SDGs, however, reflects the complexity and importance of agricultural development and food security to sustainable development. Woman farmers face larger hurdles in accessing supplies and markets than their male counterparts. Deforestation and desertification both hurt rural communities’ livelihoods while contributing to climate change. Extreme poverty is concentrated in rural areas, which themselves rely on agriculture for their food supply and income. In an attempt to maintain a more holistic view of this issue, recent publications have focused on taking a food system based approach. The food system includes all economic activity related to agriculture and nutrition, including waste management and food processing, and more easily reflects not only the various contexts of different States but also the different options available for development. Under this paradigm, sustainable agricultural development includes reducing food waste, limiting agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and increasing resilience to climate change and natural disasters. 

In 2017, the General Assembly declared 2019-2028 the United Nations Decade of Family Farming. As family farms produce about 80 percent of global food value, international work on food security and nutrition must focus on the role of family farms. If the world is to support billions more people over the coming decades, all States will need to develop sustainable food systems that are both productive and resilient. Doing so will require the advancement and distribution of new technologies and the building of infrastructure to utilize them. Moreover, it has become clear in recent years that ensuring sufficient quantities of food is not enough; the global rise of obesity, even in developed countries, has revealed a nutrition crisis. Recent advancements in genetically modified crops have proved promising to meet food supply and nutrition goals, however their impact on biodiversity and the environment are yet to be fully understood. Furthermore, nutrition-driven policies and environments will be necessary to tackle the double burden of malnutrition and obesity. 

Questions to consider:

  • How can governments increase the nutrition of the food available in their system? 
  • How can governments support the success of family farms, increase their agricultural productivity, and ensure they contribute to food security? Are there downsides to this approach? 
  • What is the relationship between agriculture and obesity? What steps should the international community take to fight rising rates of obesity?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Promotion of sustainable tourism, including ecotourism, for poverty eradication and environmental protection

As global societies and economies have become increasingly interconnected, peoples’ desire and ability to experience other cultures and environments has also grown. Since the founding of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 1975, transportation options and accessibility have grown dramatically, with the number of international tourists increasing more than six-fold between 1975 and 2018. However, as travel and tourism now represent about 10% of global economic output, their impact on global and local environments must also be considered. In 2013, travel and tourism contributed about 8% of global greenhouse emissions, and tourism can negatively impact the quality of local environments through littering and air pollution. Unsustainable tourist industries, moreover, can increase local inequality and inflame tensions with residents. At the same time, the tourism industry is also susceptible to the impacts of climate change, and droughts, heatwaves and sea-level rise reduce the attractiveness of tourist destinations. These effects are exacerbated in small island developing states (SIDS) and developing countries, which furthermore often lack the resources necessary to afford the initial cost of establishing sustainable tourism industries. 

While the World Tourism Organization joined the United Nations system in 1975, international efforts to promote tourism date back to before the founding of the United Nations. The UNWTO traces its origins to the International Union of Official Tourist Propaganda Organizations, which was founded in 1934 and reorganized into the International Union of Official Travel Organisations (IUOTO) in 1947 to oversee the growth of tourism following the end of the Second World War. In the next three decades, IUOTO and United Nations bodies—especially the Economic and Social Council and the International Civil Aviation Organization—oversaw the development of international cooperation for both travel and tourism. The 1963 United Nations Conference on Tourism and International Travel formed the foundation of international work in this area, establishing the commonly used definitions for “visitor” and “tourist,” as well as recommending freedom of movement and simplified international travel formalities. In 1980, the first World Trade Conference highlighted the importance of tourism as a force for global peace.

Two key concepts emerged toward the turn of the century, as the United Nations began to focus on sustainable development: ecotourism and sustainable tourism. The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) introduced the idea of ecotourism to emphasize two pillars of responsible tourism: that it conserve the environment and that it sustains the well-being of local people. In 2015 TIES added a third pillar: that it involve education and interpretation. The adoption of Agenda 21 and the 1997 Agenda 21 for the Travel and Tourism Industry, expanded conversations about tourism to include efforts to make the entire travel and tourism industries more sustainable. Sustainable tourism attempts to minimize the effect of travel on the environment and local cultures of areas that depend on tourism. It seeks to establish a suitable balance between the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development.

With the adoption of the Millenium Development Goals in 2000 and the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, developing countries have looked to sustainable tourism and ecotourism to meet the challenges of ending poverty and spurring economic development. To help coordinate efforts, the United Nations, the Rainforest Alliance and the United Nations Foundation established the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria in 2008. These criteria establish minimum requirements any tourism business should observe in order to sustain the natural resources as well as the cultural resources of a destination, while also ensuring that tourism serves to alleviate poverty and as an overall boon to the local economy and population. Divided into criteria for industries and for destinations, these criteria broadly promote integrating tourism into local communities, respecting the legal rights of visitors, workers and community members and minimizing resource consumption and pollution. The UNWTO Academy has worked since 1998 to provide educational tools and research programs for training and developing the necessary human capital needed for developing countries to expand their tourism industries. Recently, UNWTO Academies have partnered with private organizations to establish tourism education centers in certain Member States. As with many issues, United Nations involvement serves to highlight the importance of an issue and to focus international attention on challenges and solutions. In 2014, for example, it established the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme to coordinate tourism development programs across the world (by 2018 this Programme was involved in over 390 initiatives with over 90 partners) and the year 2017 was the International year of Sustainable Tourism. 

Much progress still remains on expanding the sustainability of tourism. Nearly half of World Heritage sites lack plans to prevent negative effects of tourism. While a developing tourism industry can be a potent source of economic development when managed correctly, improper implementation can exacerbate inequality and harm communities. Economic diversification is still crucial to ensure stable development, and tourism has its own benefits and weaknesses that individual countries will need to take into consideration, not the least of which is the sensitivity of tourism to conflict and pandemic conditions. The tourism industry is also continually evolving and relying on digital technologies, including travel booking, GPS location services, and artificial intelligence —a trend pre-dating but no doubt accelerated by the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As States look to capitalize on tourism for their own development, international cooperation will be needed to ensure they have the resources, capacity and strategy to make the most of it.

Questions to consider:

  • How can States manage the role of technology in tourism, and how can the use of technology increase sustainability?
  • What can States do to avoid the negative impacts of tourism?
  • How can tourism industries be made more robust in the face of armed conflict, crisis (such as a pandemic) and climate change?

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.

The right to privacy in the digital age

The right to privacy has long been recognized in the major international human rights documents. Article 12 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects against “arbitrary interference with [one’s] privacy, family, home [and] correspondence.” This right was also enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Subsequent articles also protect freedom of thought and expression, which were seen as complementary and essential parts of a whole. While these rights are protected under international human rights law, implementation under national law has always been a challenge. With each new technology, governments and citizens are forced to consider how the right of privacy applies to the new medium. The digital age has significantly complicated this discussion. Surveillance and widespread monitoring is far cheaper, easier and more reliable than at any point in history

Increasing availability of digital information communication technologies has radically changed global norms of communication, increased access to information and expanded outlets for free expression around the world. Many of the effects have been good, including dramatic reductions in the cost of doing business around the globe, the development of new tools for human rights activists and increased access to educational opportunities. Yet the widespread adoption of these technologies poses new challenges as well. Governments, individuals and private companies are able to conduct surveillance and to intercept data on a new scale. Governments, in particular, can carry out widespread digital surveillance more effectively, as the cost of communications technologies has plummeted. While some States argue that surveillance is necessary to prevent crime or terrorism, citizens, civil society groups and other governments have raised concerns about just how far a State should be able to reach into the digital transmissions of its citizens or other people and organizations around the world. 

In 2013, the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement expressing grave concerns regarding the impact of these extensive surveillance practices on human rights. The Commissioner pointed out the lack of proper integration, implementation and enforcement of the protections granted by the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The statement went on to encourage Member States to adopt legislation prohibiting State surveillance of communications save for “the most exceptional circumstances” and argued that such surveillance should always be subject to the supervision of an independent judicial body. Following the Commissioner’s report, the General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2014 affirming that the rights citizens hold offline must also apply online. The General Assembly called upon all Member States to review their practices, procedures and legislation regarding communications surveillance to ensure that such measures abide by international human rights law. While the 2014 resolution was a major step in interpreting and codifying the right to privacy in the digital age, it did not fully resolve all of the issues identified in the Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on this right. 

One central issue is how to effectively balance the need to monitor communications for law enforcement and national security while still protecting individual rights. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protects against unlawful and arbitrary invasions of privacy but implies that there are legitimate reasons for surveillance. In most States, legal frameworks provide some check or safeguard to protect against arbitrary surveillance, like requiring a court order for tapping a telephone. As of yet, there are no clear guidelines about what legal standards and safeguards should be used for digital communications and data. The right to privacy also requires protection from the private sector. In 2016, the General Assembly affirmed the need for Member States to put in place or maintain means preventing the private sector from abusing the right to privacy. Moreover, privacy issues disproportionately affect groups including women, children, and vulnerable or marginalised communities. Breaches of privacy relating to an individual’s gender can often lead to a range of responses including discrimination and violence. A 2020 report from the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy highlighted the importance of this issue, calling upon the international community to address this issue by creating international guidelines to protect against gender-based privacy infringements. 

Events of the past few years have made the importance of this topic and the challenges involved all the more clear. A 2014 Reporters Without Borders report identified national digital surveillance programs in State governments across the globe, representing various levels of development, different geographic locations and diverse systems of government. National responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have also experimented with utilizing personal data to protect public health, adding a new dimension to the privacy debate. Alternatively, digital privacy rights received a large boost with the 2018 implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which had wide-reaching impacts for digital privacy in the private sector even outside Europe. Meanwhile, other States have asked a number of corporations to provide greater access to personal data for the purposes of protecting national security. Both events have fueled a global conversation about the appropriate balance between the right to privacy and the needs of States for monitoring and surveillance. 

Questions to consider: 

  • How should States balance their obligation to protect the right to privacy with the use of surveillance tools to protect national security or public health?
  • What safeguards or legal principles should States implement to protect the right to privacy?
  • What sort of protections are appropriate or necessary to keep businesses from infringing upon the right to privacy? 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Protection of Migrants

People move their permanent place of residence for a variety of reasons. Sometimes this movement is voluntary, as in the case of migrant workers who seek better employment opportunities abroad while other movements are involuntary, such as people who choose to leave because they believe their home has become too dangerous, or because of forced expulsion of a population by military forces—a relatively common occurrence. Regardless of whether their movement is voluntary or involuntary, those who leave their home country to seek either permanent or temporary residence elsewhere are referred to under the global term “migrant.” This term thus encompasses a wide range of people in a wide range of circumstances and conditions, which can occasionally complicate policy considerations. Migrants often find themselves in vulnerable situations, as they are not citizens of the receiving countries and subsequently can be subject to human rights violations.

To best address the needs of migrants, it is important to understand the makeup of this population. The growth of the migrant population around the globe highlights the continued need to address this topic. It is estimated that there are 272 million migrants globally as of 2019, compared to 51 million in 2000 and 258 million in 2017. The migrant population increased from 2.3 percent to 3.5 percent of the global population since 1980. Of the 2019 migrant population, 48 percent were women, 38 million were children, and 164 million were workers. While many of these individuals migrate by choice, there are those who are forced to travel out of necessity. War, famine, and economic uncertainty are just a few reasons migrants leave their homes. In 2018, the UNHCR reported that, globally, the number of forcibly displaced persons was over 70 million. This includes 26 million refugees, 3.5 million asylum seekers, and over 41 million internally displaced persons. 

While migration has been common for centuries, it was enshrined as a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Article 13 of the Declaration states that every person has a right to leave his or her own country, as well as to return to that country. However, the Declaration (along with other international human rights law) does not provide an obligation on the part of the receiving State to accept the migrant as a resident, except in narrow cases where asylum is validly sought and granted. Nevertheless, the receiving State does have obligations to protect even an undocumented migrant’s human rights, such as the right to be free from torture or forced labor. Migration affects nearly every country in the world, as a sending, transit, or receiving country, so there is global interest in migrant issues.

Drawing on the guidance from the Population Division, the United Nations developed the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families in 1990. This Convention clarified that international human rights law applies to migrants regardless of whether they are in a transit State or receiving State. The Convention also categorized migrant workers as documented or non-documented. A documented migrant worker is one whom the receiving State has officially authorized to live and work there. The Convention recognizes the need to secure the protection for the rights of every migrant, regardless of their documentation status. However, the Convention grants certain rights—such as the right to form associations and trade unions, and the right to participate in public affairs—only to documented workers.

In 2013, the United Nations built upon its work through the implementation of the Secretary-General’s eight-point plan of action regarding migrants. This plan of action, adopted by the General Assembly, called broadly for the protection of all human rights of migrants. In addition, it aims to improve public perception of migrants, better integrate migration into the United Nations development agenda and adopt a more evidence-based approach to assisting migrants.

In September 2014, the General Assembly adopted the Report of the Open Working Group of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals, which called for the protection of migrants’ labor rights and workplace safety in Goal 8. Additionally, a February 2015 International Migration Meeting brought together high ranking officials within ECOSOC to discuss the position of international migration within the Secretary-General’s eight-point migration plan. These officials indicated that integrating migration into the broader international sustainable development agenda is of critical importance, especially at a time when many countries are having difficulty implementing beneficial migration policies at the national level and coordinating their efforts with those of other countries.

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) defines migrants as persons who are moving or have moved across international borders or within a State away from their habitual place of residence regardless of: the person’s legal status, whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary, what the causes for the movement are, or what the length of stay is. The IOM was established in 1951 and is the leading inter-governmental organization tasked with addressing migration. Its mission is to promote international cooperation on migrant issues, ensure the humane management of migration, assist in the search for solutions to the problems faced by migrants, and to provide assistance to migrants, refugees, and internally displaced persons. In 2016, IOM and the United Nations came to an agreement through Resolution 70/976 making IOM a specialized agency of the United Nations. This agreement made the coordination of IOM’s expertise and the United Nations’s international legislation ability more effective. This move came in conjunction with the United Nations’ updated focus on the need for closer cooperation and responsibility-sharing to address the large-scale movement of refugees and migrants which affect all Member States. 

The General Assembly convened in 2016 to address these concerns. These meeting’s outcomes were highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report: In safety and dignity: addressing large movements of refugees and migrants. This report designated three major pillars on which international cooperation would be needed to address the issues faced by migrants: “to uphold safety and dignity in large movements of both refugees and migrants, global compact on responsibility-sharing for refugees, global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration.” These overarching pillars highlight how international cooperation hinges on Member States not only working together, but accepting responsibility for migrants needs whether they are the country of origin or the receiving country. Building upon this report, Member States recognized the positive contributions of migrants to sustainable and inclusive development and adopted several commitments through the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. These commitments include protecting the safety, dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status. 

Building upon this, Member States convened in 2018 for an international conference on migration in Morocco. The outcome of the conference was the development of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The commitments outlined in the Compact include: strengthening labor rights for migrant workers, improving migration data as a basis for evidence-based policies, saving lives and establishing international efforts to locate missing migrants. 

Questions to consider: 

  • To what extent should receiving countries be obligated to protect the human rights of undocumented migrants? Of temporary labor migrants?
  • What is your country’s role in and position on the Global Compact on Migration? 
  • How can measures to protect migrants be better tailored to their unique vulnerabilities and susceptibility to human rights abuses? 
  • What steps should the United Nations take in order to better integrate protection of migrants into the overall issue of sustainable development?

Bibliography

UN Documents

World Health Organization Executive Board (WHO)

The World Health Organization is the United Nations Agency responsible for combating disease and promoting health worldwide; it directs and coordinates international health initiatives within the United Nations system. It has universal membership in the World Health Assembly. The WHO Executive Board is composed of members technically qualified in health, and gives effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly. Members on the Executive Board serve for three-year terms. The 34 members provide guidance and implementation for World Health Assembly policies. The WHO focuses on public health, medical infrastructure and disease outbreaks worldwide. The WHO is guided by its constitution signed in 1948 and is the successor to the League of Nations’ Health Organization.

Website: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/2018/eb142/en/

Promoting The Health of Migrants

As of 2019, there are an estimated 272 million international migrants annually according to the United Nations World Migration Report. Migrants are persons who travel among locations rather than living stationary lives. Generally, migrants can be categorized into economic migrants who travel for work opportunity and refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) who travel due to persecution and instability. Globalization makes economic opportunity more accessible and the ability to traverse borders easier; as a result, the number of migrants is skyrocketing. There are large numbers of migrants in developed countries, but lack of access to health systems, inability to access previous health records, inconsistent quality of care and inadequate finances prevent many migrants from securing proper healthcare. Major global problems like the European migrant crisis, stemming from long-running wars in the Middle East, continue to compound the vast number of health issues that refugees face. On top of the very basic humanitarian issues that result, the United Nations has committed to Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals: to provide universal healthcare worldwide by 2030. The World Health Organization (WHO) is striving to fulfill the main principle of the SDGs—to leave no one behind—and promoting migrant access to quality health services is essential for global health security and reducing health inequities.

The earliest multilateral actions on migrant health date back to the 1949 International Labor Organization (ILO) Migration for Employment Convention, which required ratifying States to ensure medical attention for newly arrived migrants and their families. The 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, passed by the United Nations, expanded the Convention and significantly broadened the rights of migrants and refugees. The 1990 Convention ensured migrants’ access to emergency medical care regardless of their migrant status, equality of access to social and health services on par with nationals, and protection against working conditions harmful to migrants’ personal health. However, both Conventions have limited health provisions and have suffered from a lack of widespread support. While ratified by a number of migrant-origin States, the largest receiving States in North America and Europe have not signed the Conventions.

Migration received much greater attention in 2003, when the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched the Global Commission on International Migration, the first panel of its kind designed to address migration issues. It reported its findings to the 2006 High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, resulting in the creation of the Global Forum on Migration and Development. The Commission, however, only addressed issues of economics and human rights; it did not address health issues. Migrant health-related work did not begin until 2008, when the World Health Assembly (WHA) passed its first resolution on the health of migrants, which called on Member States to cooperate on health provisions and promote migrant-friendly policies, including a set of four goals: reducing migrant morbidity, establishing equal health treatment, ensuring migrants’ access to health care and minimizing the negative health impacts associated with an individual’s migrant status. The resolution also requested the WHO Director-General to start developing migrant health-related policy through collaboration with other international organizations. The 2008 resolution led directly to the Global Consultation on Migrant Health, held in 2010. Held in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Consultation led to two pivotal outcomes: a lengthy evaluation of migrant-related health needs and the creation of an extensive framework by which Member States ought to develop policy. The framework provides guidance on legal systems, health policy, and data collection and transfer. 

In 2016, the United Nations hosted the Summit for Refugees and Migrants, culminating in the New York Declaration, which commits Member States to the creation of a new Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). The New York Declaration focuses largely on basic access to health systems and reproductive health in particular. In January 2017, out of concern for an inadequate health component in the GCM, the WHO Executive Board requested that the Secretariat develop a framework of priorities and guiding principles for migrant and refugee health. In May 2017, the WHA adopted a resolution that encouraged Member States to make use of the framework to promote migrant health and ensure its inclusion into the GCM discussions. In cooperation with other organizations, the WHO developed the Proposed Health Component in the GCM. It proposes eight major actions and means to implement them, including enhanced commitments to multilateral agreements, greater data collection of migrant health information, improved health and well-being of migrant women, children and elderly people, and a push for rights-based and inclusive universal health coverage.

Despite the progress made, several major challenges remain. Healthcare capacity building takes time, especially in developing States with particularly weak systems. And less obvious health concerns, like mental health problems, are especially high among refugees fleeing conflict. This can put strain on both migrant-receiving and origin States. The reluctance of host States to provide care continues, often attributed to a reluctance to pay for the needs of transient populations, especially when that care may cause additional strain to existing health systems and when those populations are fleeing existing conflict, as in the case of refugees. The Executive Board will need to address continuity of care and health data sharing for people on the move, particularly considering the privacy and medical practices that vary among Member States. Strengthening all States along the chain of migration will help ensure fair and even healthcare.

Questions to consider:

  • What can Member States do to increase migrant access to healthcare systems and to provide relevant healthcare information to migrants who are now seeking healthcare in a different jurisdiction?
  • How can migrant origin-States better equip migrant populations for the health issues that often arise and how can the United Nations support receiving States where additional resources may be needed? 
  • What practical measures can the United Nations take to support data and information sharing among Member States and to strengthen policies that support migrants?

Bibliography

UN Documents

Global vaccine action plan

While vaccines have long been a tool for disease eradication, their impact became most clear in the 1980s and 1990s, when North America and much of Europe eradicated polio. The rest of the world soon followed and had effectively eradicated polio by the mid-2010s. Historically, illnesses like polio and smallpox killed thousands of people annually, with some estimates as high as 500 million people over the course of the past century. The near eradication of smallpox and polio in developed countries through vaccination led to widespread use of the polio vaccine throughout the world. Public health initiatives, both internationally and nationally funded, meant that vaccine use skyrocketed worldwide. No organization has been a more consistent advocate for vaccines than the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO and its primary decision making body, the World Health Assembly (WHA), have committed to eradication of disease by vaccination.

The WHO was instrumental in the eradication of the smallpox virus and the near eradication of the wild poliovirus. It has advocated for the development of vaccination programs against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, Haemophilus influenzae type b disease and epidemic meningococcal A meningitis. Its efforts began in the 1950s and 1960s, when the WHO, at the behest of the WHA, began targeted vaccination campaigns. In 1999, the WHA established the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization. The Advisory Group began a long process of creating the infrastructure and research to effectively administer worldwide vaccination programs. This marked a shift from campaigns focused on just one disease. Building on this work, the WHO released its Global Immunization Vision and Strategy (GIVS) in 2005. GIVS and its successor programs are overseen by the WHA, which manages their policy direction.

GIVS was the first broadly focused global 10-year plan to bring immunization for multiple diseases. Previous global vaccination efforts focused on specific diseases, like the WHO’s campaign to eradicate smallpox. In recognizing the indisputable good done by promoting the use of vaccines, the WHA and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched GIVS with an ambitious set of goals: increasing coverage of immunization on a national level to 90 percent, to reduce childhood morbidity and mortality by two-thirds its 2000 levels, to introduce new vaccines and strengthen existing vaccination systems, among other goals. GIVS worked within four strategic areas: protecting more people in a changing world; introducing new vaccines and technologies; integrating immunization, other linked health interventions and surveillance in the health systems context; and immunizing in the context of global interdependence. Though largely successful, the GIVS struggled with uncooperative policy makers, undefined benchmarks for success, and massive underfunding. The final report on GIVS included new objectives and recommendations for the WHA to consider when drafting a new action plan. 

In 2010, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation called for 2010-2020 to become the Decade of Vaccines. By December of the same year, the WHO, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the National Institutes of Health, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, and many other public health organizations joined them, creating the Decade of Vaccine Collaboration. The Decade seeks to meet vaccination coverage targets universally, reduce child morbidity and create and introduce new and improved vaccinations. As part of the Decade, the World Health Organization and partner institutions and governments have enacted one of the most ambitious global health campaigns, the Global Vaccine Action Plan, which was passed by the WHA and replaced the Decade in 2012.

At the time, the world was reeling from a 2011 revelation that fake vaccination campaigns had been used by intelligence agencies searching for Osama bin Laden. Massive distrust spread and, on top of the political repercussions, people now doubted that the vaccinations were real. By the time it was passed, the Action Plan had brought together more than a thousand individuals from more than 140 countries and 290 health organizations worldwide. It aimed to prioritize immunization worldwide, raise awareness about vaccines, create easily accessible routes for people to become vaccinated and provide consistent and sustainable funding for immunization efforts. The Action Plan established immunization tracking goals and measurable variables for success. It is currently overseen by the Women and Children’s Health Accountability Commission, the Independent Expert Review Group (IERG) and the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts. Both expert groups depend on robust accounting of progress and challenges from Member States, NGOs and regional bodies, then take that information and present their recommendations for changes in vaccination schemes to participating Member States and the World Health Organization governing bodies.

In 2017, the world saw renewed outbreaks of preventable diseases due to undervaccination and refusal to vaccinate children. Two separate polio outbreaks—in addition to highly contagious outbreaks of rotavirus, Hepatitis A and other preventable diseases—demonstrated the importance of vaccination. Simultaneously, political support for many vaccination campaigns has been waning. Though their effectiveness was indisputable, their success meant many Member States no longer saw the need for continuation. Member States were beginning to push for large funding cuts and roll backs in vaccinations for diseases seen as eradicated. When combined with distrust of outside medical professionals , especially in those areas like conflict zones where access is already difficult; a growing level of skepticism about the efficacy of vaccines; and anti-vaccination campaigns, particularly in inner cities and targeting poor populations, the lack of funding and continued efforts may mean massive regression and disease resurgence. In 2017, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts recommendations included stronger leadership and governance of national immunization programs, improved funding for polio vaccination programs, strengthened monitoring of global and regional vaccine plan programs, increased support for vaccine research and development, and achieving elimination targets for maternal and neonatal tetanus, measles and rubella. 

Looking ahead, Member States have a number of issues to consider. Member States need to focus on making immunization programs national priorities. Though expensive, especially in areas with poor infrastructure, violent conflict and unstable political regimes, immunization programs and the educational campaigns that support them are the most effective way to prevent disease. Support for further research—like those done for oral diseases in the early 2000s—can aid in this process. In addition, the ebola and zika outbreaks emphasize the need more expansive vaccinations. Without new research, the world cannot prevent these diseases. The massive distrust of foreign health workers in developing areas and the spread of anti-vaccination campaigns in the west are both major challenges. 

Questions to Consider:

  • How can the WHO create successful vaccination programs for unstable regions, especially those plagued by violence and disrupted by poor infrastructure? What changes to vaccinations and vaccination program structures are needed to facilitate successful programs?
  • What educational campaigns have been successful and how can the UN leverage existing or new educational campaigns to compensate for the distrust and misinformation around vaccines?
  • What research is still needed to combat communicable diseases and how can the UN use that research to further its goals for maternal and neonatal vaccinations, tetanus, measles and rubella?

Bibliography

UN Documents

General Council of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency and addresses issues relating to agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development. The FAO’s mandate includes supporting sustainable agriculture and rural development, addressing food scarcity and the environmental sustainability of agricultural systems. 

Website: www.fao.org/home/en

Sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture

An expanding global population increases the importance of sustainable plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA). Homogeneity among PGRFA threatens worldwide consumption patterns and agricultural practices. According to The State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture report, genetic vulnerability results “when a widely-planted crop is uniformly susceptible to a pest, pathogen or environmental hazard as a result of genetic constitution.” New crops able to withstand unavoidable climate change and other threats are essential for combating poverty and reducing food insecurity. Maintaining a variety of genetically diverse plants and genetic resources is key to preventing food loss and developing new crops. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) offer opportunities to maximize efficiency in food production systems that contribute to ending hunger, but they could put delicate ecosystems at risk if improperly used.The FAO must balance these needs.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) created the Ad Hoc Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity in November 1988, which later became an independent organization. The Convention on Biological Diversity still represents the main international instrument for addressing biodiversity issues. The Conference of Parties negotiated  the Nairobi Final Act, which solidified the conservation of biodiversity, including all ecosystems and living species, as a common concern of humankind. In 2000, the Conference of Parties adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The Protocol provides an international regulatory framework for protecting both the agricultural industry and its advances as well as the environment.. The protocol defines a “living modified organism” as any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material that can be obtained through the use of modern biotechnology; these are more commonly known as GMOs. 

The FAO has expanded on these actions. After almost a decade of debate, the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture mandate was expanded in 1995 to include biodiversity as a major issue, and in 2001, the FAO adopted the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The treaty ensured farmers have access to a variety of genetic strains for their crops and formalized the right of Member States to access genetic information sourced from or developed within the State’s borders. This information has helped create drought-resistant crops that can be grown in food scarce areas like Africa. Protecting rights to genetic research has created a better financial incentive for countries like the United States and China to contribute to seed banks. The treaty came into effect in 2004.

Intellectual property rights are key barriers  to sharing genetic resources. Currently, States disagree about  whether the genetic blueprints resulting from PGRFA and physical specimens are separate forms of legal property. In one country, a corporation may own the genetic information while an agricultural seed company pays it rights, while in other places, production companies and researchers function independently from one another, and development rights are only paid when new technology is created using research. These different systems create international trade barriers. In 2010, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization was established. The protocol guarantees that innovations in new genetic resources must be shared, while also addressing sovereignty and information sharing issues. The protocol came into effect in 2014. The Convention on Biological Diversity has 196 States Parties. Its one subsidiary body, the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), recommends specific actions and regulations for protecting biodiversity. The protocol has helped establish some standards, but has not fully resolved the intellectual property issues.

Currently, the FAO is developing the Global Information System (GLIS) on PGRFA. Once completed, the system will provide warnings of threats to genetic resources, provide access to genetic information, encourage data collection, and support the main uses of genetic resources. The information technology infrastructures required in GLIS are currently being developed. Options are being explored to expand the accessibility of  GLIS in developing countries. The development of  GLIS still requires a solid definition of user rights and obligations. Guidelines must cover intellectual property laws, private law instruments and confidentially. 

Moreover, PGRFA’s failsafe, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, opened in 2008 and designed for long-term storage of physical seed specimens, may be threatened. Its protection, a thick barrier of permafrost, is melting, and the bank flooded in May 2017. No samples were lost and the structure is sound, but the vault is the only one of its kind. The vault protects existing samples of genetically diverse plants important to crop production and development. It maintains a comprehensive set of samples from across the world’s plant banks meant to help researchers and plant developers in the case of widespread sample loss, massive crop failure or natural disasters. Without it, the backup system for the world’s agricultural reserves may be lost. 

PGRFA has promising implications for agriculture, environmental preservation and nutrition worldwide. Sharing plant genomes has helped create drought-resistant crops and protect endangered plant species. In the event of mass plant illness or infestation, genetic differences between plants that survive and those that die can reveal ways to protect crops from widespread failure. Plant genetic resources are one of the brightest hopes we have for preventing worldwide starvation and for protecting our environment from climate change and species loss. High-risk crops like the California orange are dependent upon genetic preservation methods; without sampling and study, there is little hope they will survive our volatile climate.

The United Nations needs to decide legal limitations on information shared through GLIS, including use restrictions. Non-normative incentives for research and collaboration, such as monetary gain from genetically modified plants and trade agreements that incorporate modern intellectual property protections, will also need to be considered. The FAO has a number of frameworks to use in addressing PGRFA. To ensure that these frameworks are effective, the FAO needs to address concerns about legal mandates and information sharing and to create standards for domestic laws that will facilitate information sharing. The FAO must also consider how the organization can continue to encourage growth in research of PGRFA to ensure the technology is used to meet international development goals. 

Questions to consider:

  • What role do intellectual property laws, private law instruments and confidentially play PGRFA development and how must those laws change in order to support wider research and economic growth?
  • How can the FAO incentivize the development of plant genetic resource systems and their use?
  • What current information systems are most important to PGRFA and its growth? How can countries better use these information systems and how can they be protected?

Bibliography 

UN Documents

Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial resistant strains of fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites are microorganisms that have become partially or completely resistant to treatment by antimicrobials, also referred to as “superbugs.” They are a growing global threat that directly impacts public health and global economic stability. It is estimated that antimicrobial resistance contributes to 10 million human fatalities and has the potential to cause an economic collapse more extreme than the 2008 recession. While experts have long understood that antimicrobial resistance is the predictable result of the long-term use of overuse of antimicrobial drugs in the agriculture and health industries, the ability to develop new antimicrobial drugs has not kept up with demand and has been more difficult in practice than anticipated. Antibiotics in particular have become more and more difficult to develop. Increasing human populations, urbanization and the intense use of antimicrobials in agriculture are linked to increased antimicrobial resistance. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and its Member States are working to establish best practices for combating the rise of antimicrobial resistance in both the developed and developing world.

A major cause of the emergence of new strains of antimicrobial resistant bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites is the extensive use of antimicrobial drugs in agriculture. More than 63,000 tons of antimicrobials are used in livestock production alone, but only 42 States worldwide have systems in place to collect data on the usage of antimicrobials in livestock. Antimicrobial drugs are almost universally used in everyday livestock feed, fisheries and other agricultural production. While large agricultural facilities are responsible for the bulk of antimicrobial drug use, small-scale farmers often do so unregulated or without adhering to regulations. Large and small-scale operations alike often use antimicrobial drugs in lieu of proper hygiene practices. Large amounts of antimicrobials are leached into waste and groundwater from aquaculture; lack of reporting means that the exact amount being leached is unknown, but antimicrobial drugs have been found in the bodies of shrimp gathered miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Antimicrobial resistance has been a topic in the United Nations since the Biological Weapons Convention was established in 1972, but it stayed largely in the realm of weapons talks for the first two decades. 

In 1963, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint group of the FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO), was formed. This marked the first significant recognition of the link between industrial agriculture and world health. Prior to 2000, international efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance were focused on drug-resistant HIV/AIDS and similar highly-adaptive viruses like Malaria, Tuberculosis, and Hepatitis with a consistent focus on drug development and outbreak management. The United Nations and WHO were focused on reactive policies rather than sourcing the problem. It wasn’t until 2007 that the Codex Alimentarius Commission convened the Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance. Even then, its primary mission was to evaluate agricultural and aquacultural impacts on antimicrobial resistance and was not a prescriptive meeting.

In 2007 and 2008, the FAO hosted a number of stakeholder meetings. The first meetings outlined potential actions for the FAO, WHO and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and compiled the organizations’ previous research and antimicrobial practices. This coordination allowed the FAO, WHO and OIE to identify areas where information was lacking, especially noting the overuse and underreporting of antimicrobial drugs in livestock and aquaculture which contributes to high levels of antimicrobial drugs in water runoff, feed storage and general misuse of the drugs that can lead to the creation of superbugs. 

In both 2015 and 2016 annual reports, the FAO has promoted public awareness and animal husbandry best practices. It has also created regional action plans for Member States struggling to increase compliance with those best practices and helps to fund them, in collaboration with WHO. In 2016, the FAO announced its Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. Starting by recognizing that the health of humans, animals and the ecosystem are interdependent, the FAO identified four areas within which to focus work. Those focus areas are: raising awareness, developing monitoring capacity, strengthening governance and promoting good practices within agricultural systems. The FAO’s Action Plan complements the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan on AMR, which focuses on medical and health systems.

The FAO still suffers from a lack of proper reporting, poor public awareness and noncompliance with best practices. Health organizations agree that actions taken need to be immediate, innovative and with cooperation between States. Such actions can include: governmental regulations, subsidies and aid for rural farmers, improving farm hygiene and cleanliness, focusing on preventing the spread of infections, increased veterinary oversight, accurate and affordable disease diagnostics and AMR education programs. Most importantly, filling the knowledge gap on antimicrobial drug use and environmental contamination is one of the FAO’s highest priorities. Many countries still do not have concrete numbers on the amount of antimicrobials used in agriculture and lack the regulations to appropriately monitor and gather that information. The stakes are high. Without action now, antimicrobial resistance may increase rapidly, leading to a scenario where we have no effective antimicrobial treatments for malaria, tuberculosis, Staphylococcus aureus and other common infections. 

Questions to consider:

  • What role do antimicrobials play in your country’s food and agriculture production? How does antimicrobial resistance impact the public food supply and international trade?
  •  What level of monitoring of antimicrobial use is appropriate? What domestic and international regulations on antimicrobial use need to be made?
  • How does AMR affect research allocations? Does the international community have the economic and regulatory tools to combat AMR and how can those tools be used most effectively?

Bibliography

UN Documents

Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND)

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is the central policy making body of the United Nations on drug-related matters. As a functional Commission of the Economic and Social Council, CND monitors the implementation of the three international drug control conventions and is empowered to consider all matters pertaining to the aim of the conventions, including the scheduling of substances to be brought under international control. It also advises on all matters pertaining to the control of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors. CND submits reports to the Economic and Social Council on its proposals to strengthen the international drug control system.

Website: www.unodc.org

Promoting alternative development as a development-oriented drug control strategy

For nearly forty years, the international community has made many efforts to address the international drug trade.Globally, the illicit drug industry accounts for an estimated $320 billion USD annually and is the primary source of revenue for organized crime. Additionally, the drug trade has  a large economic impact in developing nations that cultivate elicit crops. The United Nations International Drug Control Program estimates that this impact accounts for 3 to 4 billion USD annually. Traditional efforts to curb the illegal drug trade have often been stymied by the sheer economics of the issue, and even where efforts have been successful in curbing the drug trade, in many cases a “balloon effect” sees the production of drugs simply shifted to another country. From cultivation to distribution, illegal drugs provide a livelihood for many people. This greatly complicates enforcement of laws concerning illicit drugs, as communities have an incentive to work against law enforcement to preserve their source of income. In order to mitigate these economic pressures, modern drug control strategies incorporate alternative development strategies that attempt to guide populations involved in the drug trade to non-drug related livelihoods.

The illicit drug trade has had greater affects outside of its economic impact. In 2015, over 450,000 people died as the result of drug use, including both those deaths directly associated with drug use, such as overdoses, and those indirectly attributable to drug use, such as those related to HIV and hepatitis C acquired through unsafe injecting practices. Additionally, people who inject drugs, which numbered some 10.6 million people in 2016, are particularly at risk of serious medical complications and health risks. This can exacerbate limited medical resources in developing regions and those lacking access to needed medical treatments. Drug cultivation also results in environmental issues, including toxification of the environment, habitat destruction, watershed depletion and carbon emissions. These impacts not only affect the health of the environment in many regions, it can alter the overall health of the society there. When addressing the illicit drug trade, it is imperative that solutions consider how widespread the problem actually is. 

The United Nations first addressed the concerns surrounding the illicit drug trade in 1961 through the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. This document set the stance for international efforts to address drugs through targeted legislation to eliminate the production of opium and coca ultimately for their complete elimination around the globe. Despite these efforts, the target goals of 15 years for opium and 25 years for coca were not met. In 1998, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) introduced the alternative development as a way forward to address the shortcomings of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The General Assembly adopted the Action Plan on International Cooperation on the Eradication of Illicit Drug Crops and on Alternative Development, which introduced alternative development as a process to prevent and eliminate the cultivation of plants associated with illicit drugs by targeting regions producing these plants and providing alternative means to provide for their economic needs. Alternative development initiatives have mainly focused on cultivation aspects, particularly opium, cannabis and coca, as the rural communities where many plant-based drugs originate are often particularly isolated and lacking in other economic opportunities. The Action Plan also recognized that alternative development needs to be combined with law enforcement and eradication efforts to be most effective. The UNGASS extended the initial target to 2008 to eliminate the illicit cultivation of cocoa, cannabis and opium. 

Pushback to this approach came from the international community at the Feldafing conference in 2002, where critics called the balance between alternative development and enforcement of the elimination of illicit drugs an ineffective use of the carrot and the stick method. It was argued that this balance only aided in alienating growers, creating mistrust toward any effort from governments to address drug production. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) built upon these findings in 2002, by calling all partner agencies and governments to “respect the balance and necessary effective coordination of law enforcement and interdiction measures, eradication efforts and alternative development.” Instead of the ‘carrot and the stick’ method of the past, CND stressed the need that programs should complement development with repressive measures. Repressive measures are often punitive and can include laws that implement physical and financial punishments.  A balance was needed in order to combat mistrust among the populous where these programs were to be implemented. 

At first, this approach toward alternative development was limited in scope and aimed at addressing the cultivation of opium and poppy only, locking its implementation to Southeast Asia and South America. Additionally, the approach was regularly questioned and plagued by misinterpretation, and with the failure to meet the 2008 deadline to eradicate opium and poppy, the approach lacked the endorsement needed to be effective. The CND saw the need to change strategies, and in 2009 passed the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation Towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem which introduced the concept of development-oriented drug control. This concept broadened alternative development to include a wider range of socio-economic interventions that address larger drug-related problems outside of the scope focusing on drug crops. By UNGASS 2016, this evolved to emphasizing development-oriented thinking of international drug policy, which called for a prominent role for alternative development and broadened the scope of the sustainable development model for addressing the global drug trade. Through these shifts, alternative development more naturally fits within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

While alternative development projects have reduced cultivation of narcotic drugs in many regions, drug cultivation remains endemic elsewhere and represents a threat to health, the environment and the rule of law. The Global Commission on Drug Policy identifies four main areas to better expand the efforts set out in the alternative development efforts: ending poverty among the vulnerable within the drug trade, reforming punitive policies to promote accountability and fair access to justice, addressing the health needs of those who use drugs, and improving global partnerships for drug policy reform. Over the past few decades, alternative development has evolved to broaden its scope and attempt to overcome its limitations and failings, and yet challenges remain. Regions where croplands are ill-suited for the production of non-drug crops, where poor infrastructure limits alternative economic activities or where active conflict supports the drug trade and inhibits the rule of law remain challenging. Creativity and sensitivity to local conditions are both essential for alternative development in these regions.

Questions to Consider:

  • What balance should be struck between having a common set of principles for alternative development and tailoring alternative development projects to regional conditions?
  • How should alternative development projects be conducted where conflict, corruption, or distrust of authorities hamper anti-drug efforts?
  • How can alternative development mitigate the effects of the illegal drug trade beyond its cultivation?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Promoting measures to prevent transmission of HIV attributable to drug use among women and for women who are exposed to risk factors associated with drug use, including by improving access to post-exposure prophylaxis

Since the start of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in 1981 an estimated 75 million people have been infected with HIV and 32 million have died of subsequent acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). This makes HIV/AIDS the sixth most deadliest diseases globally. HIV disproportionately affects certain key populations as described by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Among these include people who inject drugs (PWID) and sex workers, both of which have risks of infection more than 20 times higher than the general population and are particularly dangerous for women. Focusing on preventing HIV infections among women also pays dividends in reducing mother-to-child transmission. As HIV is a bloodborne pathogen, injection using contaminated needles is another vector: there are an estimated 3 million injecting drug users worldwide living with HIV. HIV can spread rapidly when introduced to a drug injecting population from the use of needles and unsafe sexual practices. 

Women are particularly at risk of acquiring HIV through drug use; in 2013 women who inject drugs had an HIV prevalence about 50 percent higher than the rate among men who inject drugs, even though women only make up a slim majority of people living with HIV globally. Moreover, in 2019, UNAIDS estimates provided that young women between the age of 15 to 24 accounted for 5,500 new infections each week. While progress has been made to reduce the number of new infections among adolescent girls and young women by 25 percent between 2010 and 2018, this still leaves 6,000 new HIV infections every week worldwide. The sexual and reproductive health rights of women are still often denied, exacerbating this issue. Women are more susceptible to HIV infection because of gender based violence (GBV). They are also more likely to conceal drug use because of societal discrimination and the potential of losing custody of children. Due to stigma against people who inject drugs or people with HIV, women in particular face violence in obtaining treatment, whether it is from members of wider society or from families and intimate partners. Fear of discrimination also reduces the likelihood of women accessing needed medical care including access to post-exposure prophylaxis and other HIV treatments. It is also important to consider the potential transmission of HIV from mother to child. It is transmissible during pregnancy, labor, delivery and breastfeeding. In the absence of any intervention, transmission rates range from 15 percent to 45 percent. This rate can be reduced to below 5 percent with effective interventions. 

The global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic was initially led by Western health organizations, particularly the United States Center for Disease Control(CDC), which first discovered the virus. In 1985, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC organized the first International Conference on AIDS, United Nations work, first centered within the WHO, evolved over the following decade and eventually became established as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Unfortunately, national and international action to combat HIV early on was slow, both due to administrative failings and due to prejudice against the peoples and regions most heavily afflicted with the virus. As science and politics progressed over the following decades, the prospect of managing the HIV/AIDS epidemic has become more realistic; the Sustainable Development Goals include a target of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, although as of 2020 the world is not on track to meet this target.  

The first work of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on the issue of gender and drug abuse was in 1995, followed in 2006 by its first resolution on drug use and the spread of HIV. In 2012, this work was further expanded to recognize the need of addressing women who are affected by drugs and HIV. Finally, in 2018 the CND addressed the three facets of this issue, albeit in the context of mother-to-child transmission, and in 2019 passed a resolution on this topic specifically. This slow evolution to addressing this issue reflects the progression in how the international community as a whole approached each of its constituent parts. Drug use and abuse has historically been considered an issue of law enforcement rather than public health, hamstringing policymakers’ ability to ameliorate issues concentrated among drug users. However, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2014 changed their approach to the world drug problem to put people first, representing a shift to prioritize the human rights of drug users. The tools available to fight HIV have also grown over time, to the point where contracting HIV has stopped being a death sentence in areas with appropriate access to modern medicines. The biggest contributor has been the availability of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)—antiviral medications that when taken shortly after HIV exposure significantly reduce the chance of infection—and other medications allow individuals infected with HIV to avoid developing AIDS. While PEP medicines for HIV have existed since 1987, it was only in 2014 that treatments were cheap, effective and understood well enough that the WHO recommended PEP for all types of exposures and for all people. 

Gender-nonspecific methods to reduce HIV risk are important to support as well. Needle exchange programs and evidence-based drug dependence treatments, like opioid substitution therapy, are among the most effective interventions for reducing the spread of HIV. However, only one percent of all PWID live in States with high availability of these interventions. Moreover, as part of a broad trend of States to treat drug use as a criminal issue, rather than a public health issue, many States criminalize possession of equipment used to inject illegal drugs. This not only hinders the ability of organizations to establish needle exchange programs, but also disincentivizes drug users to seek help from social workers. These gender-nonspecific methods, however, are largely designed by and for men. Female drug users, wary of harassment from male drug users, are less likely to utilize mixed-gender treatment centers. Lack of access to childcare, limited economic independence and fear of losing custody of children all further limit women’s ability to access treatment. Further, many women-oriented support services, such as women’s shelters, exclude women who inject drugs; female sex workers who inject drugs are more likely to work on the street, where they are at a higher risk of violence. Efforts to reduce the spread of HIV among women who use drugs are also hampered by the lack of clear gender-specific data. Where national data on HIV/AIDS or drug use is available, data is often not disaggregated for by gender, occupation, risk factors or other important facets.

The international community has lost sight of the importance of HIV/AIDS over recent years. In 2014, UNAIDS launched the ambitious 90-90-90 target, in which by 2020 90 percent of all people with HIV/AIDS would know their status, 90 percent of those would be on antiretroviral therapy and further 90 percent of those would have viral suppression. The Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in 2015, aimed to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. In support of those goals, the United Nations established the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS with intermediate targets for 2020. None of these are on track to being met. Globally, progress has been deeply uneven, a trend exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Only a small minority of States provide harm reduction services, like needle exchanges, and many regulations are in legal systems that discourage their use. Prophylactic treatments, both pre- and post-exposure, have shown great potential in reducing the spread of HIV, however they remain underutilized by vulnerable populations, including women who inject drugs, due both to cost and to practical inaccessibility. 

Questions To Consider

  • What can States do to combat the stigma women who inject drugs face when seeking preventative care for HIV?
  • How can States increase the utilization of harm reduction services by women who inject drugs?
  • How should efforts to reduce HIV infections relating to drug use fit into national drug legislation and enforcement?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Human Rights Council (HRC)

The Council serves two primary functions: it sets human rights standards and it attempts to bring non-compliant countries into compliance through persuasion, capacity building and—if necessary—highlighting human rights abuses on the world stage. The Council also deploys Special Rapporteurs to monitor human rights and study topics of interest. While the Security Council, General Assembly and HRC often address similar issues, the HRC is limited to address the human rights aspect of the problem, not broader security and development issues.

Website: www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/HRCIndex.aspx

Consequences of child, early and forced marriage

Although long prohibited by international law and policy, the practice of child, early and forced marriage remains common worldwide. This practice results from a structurally violent system perpetuated by economic insecurity, gender inequality and disrupted social networks. Early and forced marriage violates the rights of children to education, freedom from violence, access to reproductive and sexual health care, employment, freedom of movement, and the right to consensual marriage. Most common among girls, child marriages are especially common in developing countries: 40 percent of young women aged 20-24 in least developed countries were married before the age of 18. Child, early and forced marriage compromises the development of children and leaves them vulnerable to domestic violence.

Since the founding of the United Nations, its human rights agenda has strived to uphold the rights of children. Starting from the assurance in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that men and women of full age have the right to marry, and that marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses, the United Nations developed a trio of conventions that addressed various aspects of the problem of child, early and forced marriage: the 1964 Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages, the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child. Unfortunately, despite widespread adoption of these conventions, they were insufficient to fully resolve these challenges. Exceptions to prohibitions against child marriage in law allow girls to be married before 18 if parents or judicial bodies give their consent, undermining legal protections. Although national and international law prohibit child marriage, legal systems based around religious or customary practices have not followed suit. International conventions often defer to custom and religion, creating exemptions which have slowed the movement to eradicate child, early and forced marriage worldwide. For example,  In 2007, the Secretary-General issued a report with recommendations concerning forced marriage, noting how enforcement remained a challenge even after many States enacted laws prohibiting child, early and forced marriage. The report elaborated how States lacked the resources necessary to adequately monitor and enforce their laws and procedures. More broadly, a lack of knowledge about the scope and prevalence of the practice at the national and international levels undermined efforts to monitor progress in addressing the issue.

The United Nations and the Human Rights Council recognize that child, early and forced marriages prevent people from living their lives free from all forms of violence and from accessing the right to education and the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health. The Human Rights Council adopted its first resolution to strengthen efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage in 2013. While the resolution called for a panel discussion with a focus on challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps, it failed to provide Member States with clear, actionable and immediate solutions. In 2015, the Human Rights Council approved a resolution promoting urgency in strengthening efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage and detailed substantive measures to address the human rights violation. Shortly thereafter, UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund in 2016 launched the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage. As the most recent initiative by the United Nations to address child, early and forced marriage, the Global Programme works with governments to uphold the rights of adolscent girls in the 12 Member States that exhibit the highest prevalence of child marriage. By mid-2018, the programme successfully delivered training and resources to over 5.5 million girls, exceeding the programme’s original objective to reach 2.5 million girls by the end of the decade. The Human Rights Council continues to push for solutions to child, early and forced marriage, adopting a resolution in 2019 that calls upon Member States to strengthen family responsive legislation at the national level, such as policies that provide for parental leave and increased flexibility in working arrangements, which aim to create an environment that enables women’s full economic empowerment. 

Looking ahead, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to leverage momentum accumulated from years of capacity building by intergovernmental bodies like the Human Rights Council, specifically includes the elimination of the practice of child, early and forced marriage in Goal 5.3 Despite efforts to eliminate child, early and forced marriage, the implementation of international laws and policies has remained slow at the national and international levels. Approximately 650 million girls and women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. Even so, the United Nations and Member States achieved some progress. In the last decade, the proportion of young women who were married as children decreased by 15 percent, from one-in-four to nearly one-in-five. The combination of social upheavals and economic insecurities make for the elimination of child, early and forced marriage a challenging global issue, but one that requires urgency to ensure the protection of children. The Human Rights Council must address how Member States can implement policies and laws that protect children against early and forced marriages to allow children to live without the fear of maternal death, social isolation and domestic violence. 

Questions to consider:

  • How can the United Nations facilitate the implementation of existing laws in Member States that prohibit child, early and forced marriage? 
  • How can the Human Rights Council balance protecting human rights with respecting the culture and national sovereignty of Member States?
  • What role does the eradication of poverty play in eliminating child, early and forced marriage? 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Human Rights and Climate Change

Climate change ranks among the greatest of threats to human rights. The environmental and economic consequences of climate change create a hazardous combination of threats that may enact an unfathomable toll on life and compromise human rights, especially for already vulnerable groups. The World Health Organization estimates that malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress—exacerbated by climate change—will cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year between 2030 and 2050. Furthermore, weather-related disasters, which will increase in frequency and severity if climate change remains unchecked, have displaced 21.7 million people internally each year since 2008. Climate change directly affects the social and economic determinants of health, reducing accessibility to clean air, safe drinking water, food and other necessities described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human rights and climate change as a combined topic has only recently been addressed by the United Nations. The General Assembly convened the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. Known as the Earth Summit, the Conference brought together scientists and representatives from countries from around the world to discuss the impact of climate change on the environment for one of the first times at the United Nations. One tangible outcome from the Summit that still greatly influences today’s discussions on the subject is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which urged Member States to adopt national legislation that protects vulnerable areas from climate change and pollution. The UNFCCC established the main framework for negotiating international treaties limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC convened its third meeting in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 to operationalize the framework. This led to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, which entered into force in 2005 and for the first time set legally binding emissions reduction targets for those Member States that ratified the treaty. While neither of these measures explicitly called out the connection between human rights and climate change, they recognized that changes to the environment will ultimately impact the general welfare of humanity.

After its founding in 2006, the Human Rights Council began tackling the increasingly important topics of human rights and climate change. In 2008, the Human Rights Council requested a study analyzing the nexus between human rights and climate change from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The subsequent report, published in 2009, shaped the foundation for the international consideration of human rights and climate change. The report illustrated that climate change threatens the fulfillment of a wide range of human rights, such as the rights to life, health, water and adequate food. Furthermore, the report reemphasized the specific threat climate change poses to the rights of vulnerable individuals and groups such as women, children and indigenous peoples. Early strategies to counter climate change centered on the principles of adaptation and mitigation, and in light of the OHCHR report, it became evident that human rights must remain a central topic in addressing climate change. In February 2012, the OHCHR convened a seminar to address the impacts of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights. The Human Rights Council sought to strengthen the cooperation between human rights experts and climate change experts as a cohesive unit to build a foundation for approaching climate change action through the lens of human rights.

In recent years, the United Nations has continued its work to emphasize the threat posed by climate change to human rights, although obstacles remain evident. The General Assembly adopted the Paris Agreement by consensus in 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, which set goals for the international community to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 degree Celsius. While the 2015 Paris Agreement demonstrated the international community’s continued concern about climate change, in many cases, current State policies are insufficient to meet these goals. Despite the landmark Paris Agreement, there is limited work being done to address human rights under climate change. For instance, while the 2015 Human Rights Council full-day panel discussion on climate change recommended the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change, this has not yet come to fruition. In 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Special Procedures Safe Climate Report outlined the current status of efforts to meet the goals set in the 2016 Paris Agreement. Climate change poses a major threat to Small Island State populations, as well as indigenous populations within Member States. Small Island States are disproportionately affected by rising sea levels, which threaten their very habitability. Indigenous populations are particularly vulnerable due to their connections with the environment regarding food, culture and water sources. Moreover, the report noted the connections between poverty and climate conditions, specifically that the decline of natural resources that support food sustainability, clean water access and energy access create conditions that fail to provide a high quality of life. 

Unfortunately, those States and peoples who will be the most vulnerable to these environmental changes are among those with the smallest role in polluting greenhouse gases. Similarly, many of those most responsible for environmental degradation will, through wealth and fortunate geography, be insulated from the worst effects from climate change. A major challenge moving forward is motivating the wealthiest States to move toward achieving their greenhouse gas reduction targets to prevent the worst of the harms from befalling more vulnerable groups. While threats to human rights within the jurisdiction of a single state should be addressed by the individual State, with the international community playing a support role, climate change is a global problem that requires coordinated international action to address. Furthermore, Member States should consider how to involve indigenous communities whose rights are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate in the problem-solving process. Without the immediate implementation of widespread climate-focused policies that reduce carbon emissions and resource depletion, the effects of climate change and inaction to combat climate change on the part of Member States will continue to infringe upon the human rights of those who are most vulnerable.

Questions to consider:

  • How can the Human Rights Council address the disproportionate effects of climate change, specifically with respect to its impacts on human rights, across regions and peoples?
  • What recourse should Member States have regarding the effects of climate change from other Member States?
  • When considering climate change as an issue of human rights, how can vulnerable groups of people be represented in the decision-making process? 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization Executive Board (UNESCO)

UNESCO was established on 16 November 1945. It is the specialized UN agency responsible for promoting global collaboration through programs that promote education, science and culture. The five major programme areas addressed by UNESCO are education, natural sciences, social and humanitarian science, culture, and communication and information. UNESCO acts as a clearing house for information and assists Member States in developing human and institutional capacity. UNESCO reports to the Economic and Social Council; it also coordinates with several other UN specialized agencies as well as many intergovernmental organizations outside the UN system. The General Conference meets every two years to determine the policies and the main lines of work of the organization.

Website: http://en.unesco.org/

Strategy for youth and adult literacy (2020-2025)

There are currently 750 million illiterate people in the world; two-thirds of these are women and almost half live in Asia. Literacy is an essential component of the right to education and a prerequisite for accessing other human rights. In addition, literacy underpins other United Nations goals, including reducing child mortality, eradicating poverty and promoting gender equality. Despite the efforts of the United Nations and UNESCO, there are more illiterate adults today than 50 years ago. Illiteracy disproportionately affects women, rural populations, indigenous peoples, minorities, people with disabilities, and refugees and migrants. As part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations has vowed to achieve literacy and numeracy for all youth and a substantial number of adults by 2030.

Since its founding, the United Nations has recognized the importance of advancing global literacy. In the 1950s, UNESCO conducted research to define the scope of the problem, learning that 44% of people worldwide aged 15 or older were illiterate and that a majority of adults in almost half of all countries were illiterate. In 1965, UNESCO convened the World Conference of Ministers on the Eradication of Illiteracy, which described literacy as the most significant cause of human progress and fulfillment. The Declaration also sought to achieve global literacy by 2000. Despite the international community’s earnest efforts, the prevalence of illiteracy persisted. During 1990’s International Literacy Year, the International Literacy Conference convened literacy providers and educators from governments, nongovernmental agencies and financing organizations. Subsequently, significantly more attention was paid to global literacy efforts. By the turn of the century, global illiteracy rates declined to about one in every five people

The United Nations has historically served as a platform for setting international development goals in literacy and education. Millennium Development Goal Two mobilized States to develop the capacity to ensure all children could receive a full course of schooling by 2015. Through UNESCO and the Education for All (EFA) goals, States committed to reduce illiteracy 50 percent by 2015. To advance these ambitious goals, in 2003, the General Assembly declared 2003-2012 to be the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD). The UNLD sought to raise public awareness and to make literacy a political priority on both the national and international levels. To complement the UNLD, UNESCO and its specialized organization for adult literacy—the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL)—created the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) as a 10-year (2006-2015) strategic framework for the international community to collectively focus on the spread of literacy in the 35 countries that accounted for 85-percent of the world’s illiterate population, the majority of which were women. While the international community achieved some success during the lifespan of the Millennium Development Goals and the UNLD, adult illiteracy only declined 26 percent since 2000, significantly short of the ambitious 50 percent target set at the start of the century. Even so, learnings from the initiatives offered insights for the next international framework to combat illiteracy.

In 2019, UNESCO’s 40th General Conference adopted the Strategy for Youth and Adult Literacy (2020-2025) to stress the crucial role of literacy and education in executing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. While similar past initiatives from UNESCO sought to spread literacy broadly, the Strategy aims to provide global support to the countries and populations that face the world’s most significant literacy challenges. In particular, UNESCO will focus on the 29 countries in the Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning (GAL), which advocates for policies in favor of youth and adult literacy locally and globally. The GAL includes 20 countries with a literacy rate below 50 percent, as well as the E9 countries, which represent over half of earth’s population and 70 percent of the world’s illiterate adults. Four strategic priority areas underpin the Strategy for Youth and Adult Literacy: supporting Member States in developing national literacy policies and strategies, addressing the learning needs of disadvantaged groups—particularly women and girls, leveraging digital technologies to expand access and improve learning outcomes and monitoring progress and assessing literacy skills and programs. As momentum around the Strategy continues to generate, UNESCO and Member States should consider what measures must be taken to provide children and adolescents with access to quality education. Furthermore, the Strategy emphasizes the need to provide young people and adults who are out of school with alternative learning opportunities. States should foster enriched literate environments to promote literacy as a lifelong endeavor.

Since the launch of the 2030 Agenda, the international community has made little progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goal for education. The economic fallout from the 2008 global recession continues to impact the amount of international resources given to support literacy programs. Moreover, in countries with lower levels of literacy, the percentage of teachers with basic training has fallen since the start of the century. Continued conflict within and among States may create unsafe environments for learning and displace educators. Some countries are using technology in innovative ways to maintain educational services during times of conflict. Even though progress toward basic literacy remains an ongoing challenge, UNESCO hopes to give increased attention to advancing digital literacy skills, employing native or mother language-based literacy practices and providing competency training for educators and administrators. Understanding the scope of the challenge ahead, UNESCO must employ tactics to secure the financial, human and technical resources needed—and the strong political commitment of Member States—to achieve these ambitious goals.

Questions to consider:

  • How can Member States leverage technology to provide education to children living in countries experiencing conflict?
  • What measures should be enacted to combat the disparity between the number of literate men and literate women?
  • How can UNESCO and Member States generate momentum to support literacy in the 29 countries with highest numbers of illiterate adults?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change

Climate change poses an ethical dilemma. The significant time delays associated with climate change mean that most of the worst effects perpetuated by yesterday’s pollution will not arise for decades. Some effects cannot be stopped because of the accumulation of past carbon emissions or future, inevitable emissions. A 2019 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that sea levels have risen 15 centimeters during the 20th century. Today, they are rising more than twice as fast—8.6 millimeters per year—and this rate is accelerating, placing 680 million people in low-lying coastal areas and 65 million people in Small Island Developing States in harm’s way. Furthermore, the ocean has absorbed between 20 and 30 percent of human made carbon dioxide emissions since the 1980s, causing ocean acidification that impacts fisheries, aquaculture and tourism. By displacing populations and stressing natural resources, the effects of climate change could lead to international conflict. By altering the world’s physical landscape, climate change has already amplified interstate tensions. While climate inaction will certainly yield catastrophic effects, climate adaptation also presents ethical considerations. For example, while a wealthy country may be able to mitigate climate change by fitting structures with air conditioning or building levees and seawalls to control flooding, if they fail to implement policies that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, impoverished countries who cannot finance expensive infrastructure projects will still bear the brunt of the full force of climate change. Responses to climate change that fail to consider their full ethical ramifications can devastate entire countries and exacerbate systems of inequity.

In 1987, the international community adopted the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Ratified by all 197 Member States today, the Montreal Protocol is considered to be one of the most effective environmental agreements in history, with near-universal ratification resulting in the almost complete elimination of the use of ozone-depleting substances. Because it was created to prevent future calamity, the Montreal Protocol serves as a case example of the precautionary principle in practice, which reasons that scientific or factual certainty is not necessary to take actions that reduce risk. At the time of its ratification, science had not proven that substances like chlorofluorocarbons contributed to ozone depletion; however, waiting for scientific certainty may have perpetuated additional harms to the earth’s ozone. This work continued in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where Member States began to sign the new United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC aims to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to limit the most catastrophic effects of climate change. Its preamble declares that Member States have an ethical duty not to harm others outside of their borders, a constant principle among modern ethical norms.

Although climate change became a topic of more frequent discussion at the United Nations, a specific focus on climate change and ethics is a relatively recent development. Recognizing the compounding scientific, social and humanitarian challenges posed by climate change and the necessity for thoughtful solutions, UNESCO adopted Resolution 36 at its 35th General Conference in Paris in 2009. The resolution called upon the UNESCO Director-General to prepare a report on the merits of and desire for a declaration of ethical principles in relation to climate change. While the General Conference chose not to immediately pursue the creation of a declaration, UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) developed and adopted a Framework of Ethical Principles and Responsibilities for Climate Change Adaptation in 2011. While the Framework highlights principles that will become the cornerstone of the final Declaration, it also details stakeholder responsibilities relevant to climate adaptation. States should include the knowledge of local and indigenous peoples in climate adaptation, empower the victims of climate change and encourage their active participation in the implementation of adaptation efforts, and assist those more vulnerable to the immediate effects of climate change. 

At the United Nations, the General Assembly in 2015 adopted the Paris Agreement, which established emission reduction targets and stipulates that States shall collaborate to enhance climate change education, training, and public awareness and participation, supporting a goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. While the Paris Agreement makes reference to some ethical principles—like the principles of equity and sustainable development—it is a political declaration rather than an ethical declaration, using political pressure to mobilize States toward addressing climate change. In 2017, UNESCO adopted the Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change. The Declaration details the moral premises underlying six ethical principles for responding and adapting to climate change: prevention of harm, the precautionary principle, equity and justice, sustainable development, solidarity, and scientific knowledge and integrity in decision making. The Declaration further explains that unless ethical principles become the guiding lens for climate action, climate change and adaptation measures could create irreparable damage and injustice, especially in vulnerable countries that are already enduring the effects of climate change. In contrast to other conventions created by the United Nations, such as the Montreal Protocol or the UNFCCC, the Declaration is designed to be a framework for behavior by both State and non-State actors. Consequently, the Declaration may advance coordinated action among civil society organizations, academics and local communities as they seek to raise educational awareness and international cooperation on climate change.

Addressing climate change through the lens of ethics is a crucial challenge for the international community. Even so, four years after the signing of the Paris Agreement, only two countries are meeting their climate pledges, and the Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change has struggled to gain traction as well. UNESCO convened a panel in 2019 at the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Madrid, Spain, where participants highlighted that Member States and nongovernmental organizations have failed to identify or apply ethical principles when evaluating policies that bear environmental implications, resorting instead to economic arguments. The 2018–2021 Strategy for Action on Climate Change directs UNESCO to support Member States with developing and implementing climate change education and public awareness programs to empower people and States to adopt sustainable lifestyles. Furthermore, work remains to include promoting interdisciplinary and scientific knowledge on issues associated with climate mitigation and adaptation, and recognizing the role that cultural knowledge and diversity play as crucial social drivers for implementing the resilience measures required in order to respond to climate change. In 2018, UNESCO published its Report on Water Ethics: Ocean, Freshwater Coastal Areas, which recommends the creation of guiding principles to ethically manage earth’s water resources. Adapting to climate change in an ethical and just manner will prove demanding, but the consequences of failure are dire, making the work of UNESCO ever more important in securing international cooperation to build a more sustainable and prosperous future.

Questions to Consider:

  • How can States incorporate the Declaration’s six ethical principles into policy at the national level?
  • What should UNESCO do to instill ethical principles in nongovernmental and civil society organizations and the private sector?
  • What measures can UNESCO take to support the inclusion of ethics, as well as scientific and cultural knowledge, in global efforts to address climate change?

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;” however, a “no” vote by any of the Permanent Members has the effect of vetoing or blocking actions.

While the Security Council only meets to discuss topics concerning international peace and security, there is a set agenda in each of the Councils for the 2020 Conference. The available agenda topics have been established by the Simulation Directors and are listed in the AMUN Handbook and on the AMUN Website. The Agenda for the Contemporary Security Council will be finalized as of 9 October 2020, and all schools on the Contemporary Security Council will be notified of the final agenda topics. Only the topics covered in the AMUN Handbook and in subsequent fall updates for the Contemporary Security Council may be discussed at the 2020 Conference.

Nevertheless, 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 aim 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.  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. During the 2020 Conference, most Parties to the Dispute will be supplied by the AMUN Secretariat in the Home Government Department. There may be some limited opportunities for AMUN delegations to participate in the Security Councils as Parties to the Dispute; these will likely be arranged in advance with the AMUN Secretariat.

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.

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 2020. 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 create and distribute credentials,
  • The Secretariat has sole authority to decide all questions concerning credentials, and
  • Representatives must display 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 Secretariat reserves the right to adjust quorum as it deems necessary.

1.5 Security Council Officers. The Secretariat shall appoint the Presidents and Vice Presidents 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 as 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, 
  • 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, and
  • 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 a minimum of one accredited representative at each Council session.

1.9 Emergency Council Sessions. Emergency Security Council Sessions may be called by the Secretariat 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, and
  • This agenda in no way confirms the inclusion of topics during the Council’s deliberations.

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 a representative of a non-United Nations Member State, an international organization or any other persons it considers competent for the purpose present, 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.

Due to technical and logistical limitations the Contemporary Security Council will not be able to declare an “open meeting” during the AMUN 2020 session.

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 and Observers 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),
  • Representatives, at the conclusion of a substantive speech, will be allowed, if they are willing, 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 (or the virtual equivalent as directed by the President),

  • 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 indicate their motion to the President in the manner directed by 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 signifies its 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 formal 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 AMUN 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 (see page 40),
  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 of the Rules 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, 
  • Approved resolutions will be assigned an identifying number by the Vice President,
  • 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 Council Secretariat 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 during a Consultative Session (rule 7.7) ,
  • 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 or by the Rules Committee, 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,
  • The President shall then ask whether there are any delegations wishing to abstain from consensus,
  • 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 Council shall normally vote on motions by a show of raised placards or other method as indicated by the President,

  • 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 respond with “yes,” “no,” “abstain” or “abstain from the order,”
  • 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), Enter 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 identify their point in the method indicated by the President 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 identify their point in the method indicated by the President,
  • 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 identify their point in the method indicated by the President,
  • 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 of the meeting 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 as amended, 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,

  • The motion should specify a length of time or topic for the consultative session,
  • 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), and
  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote.

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, 
  • For the purposes of virtual conferences, the agenda topics available to the body may be limited by the Simulation Staff, andand
  • 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 formal 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 debatable,
  • 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 debatable,
  • 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,
  • Due to technical and logistical limitations the Contemporary Security Council will not be able to declare an “open meeting” during the AMUN 2020 session, and
  • See also Participation by Non-Council Member States and International Organizations (rule 1.12).

The Security Council

Membership of the Security Council

  • Belgium
  • China
  • Dominican Republic
  • Estonia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Indonesia
  • Niger
  • Russian Federation
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • South Africa
  • Tunisia
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Viet Nam

Due to the nature of this year’s virtual conference the AMUN Secretariat has decided to limit topics for our Security Council simulations. The topics presented in this briefing are the topics that your simulation directors have decided are the most pressing to maintaining international peace and security

Introduction

The topics covered in this chapter 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. Due to the nature of this year’s virtual conference the AMUN Secretariat will limit topics for our Security Council simulations. The topics presented in this briefing are the topics that the Simulation Directors have decided are the most pressing to maintaining international peace and security as of August 2020. With the ever-changing nature of international peace and security, what is important to the Council may change between now and the start of Conference. As such, we will communicate a final list of available topics to each school on 9 October 2020. Any topics not covered here that become pertinent will be covered through our Contemporary Security Council updates. 

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?
  • Who does this conflict indirectly affect my country? (regionally, alliances, economically, etc)

Maintenance of International Peace and Security (COVID-19)

The global community has been shaken in recent months as the COVID-19 pandemic, a health situation caused by a deadly infectious disease, has spread the world over. As of May 2020, there have been at least 17 million reported cases and 600,000 deaths worldwide– doubling between May and July. 

Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, along with other United Nations leaders and bodies, have been keeping the Council appraised of the COVID-19 virus and its effects on peace, security, and health across the globe. Between April and June 2020 the Council considered, but ultimately did not act on, two possible resolutions on the subject: one related to ceasing worldwide hostilities in the face of the unprecedented health crisis, and one related to abandoning trade wars and unilateral sanctions. 

Following months of illness, death, and the further exacerbation of humanitarian crises across the globe, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2532 on 1 July 2020. This resolution calls for “a general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations, on its agenda”, calling on all parties in armed conflict across the globe to engage in a “humanitarian pause” for a minimum of 90 days to enable access to medical and other humanitarian aid. Many organs of the United Nations are currently engaged with efforts to address concerns related to COVID-19. No one entity bears the total responsibility for the crisis and inter-agency along with international cooperation is essential for understanding and progress on this issue. For the purposes of this simulation, Representatives should focus their efforts on the Maintenance of International Peace and Security within the global experience of COVID-19 and how COVID -9 may impact other ongoing and future efforts by the Security Council.

Bibliography

UN Document

The Situation in the Middle East

The Security Council has been engaged with the work of maintaining peace and security within the Middle East since the United Nations was established. While there are a number of issues within the Middle East that present clear domestic and international threats, the Council has been focusing its recent efforts on the situations in Syria, Yemen, and Israel and Palestine due to rapidly escalating security concerns and worsening humanitarian crises in all three places. 

The Israeli and Palestinian Questions

Following the United Nations vote in 1947 to partition Palestine into two separate states (one Jewish, one Arab) in Resolution 181 and Israel’s subsequent declaration of independence and establishment of the Israeli State, instability, violence and unrest have plagued the Middle East. The military and humanitarian situations in the region have led to numerous civil wars and precarious humanitarian circumstances for Palestinians within the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and a global diaspora. Despite dozens of attempts between Israeli and Palestinian officials, and effforts by allies across the globe, tension between Israel and Palestine over territory and soverignty continues to lead to outbreaks of violence and civil unrest. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in the conflict, with at least 5,000 killed since the year 2000. 

The Security Council has debated and passed dozens of resolutions related to the Israel-Palestine conflict, but none have led to an agreement regarding territory, sovereignty or lasting peace in the region. While there have not been any additional resolutions created by the Security Council regarding the Israel Palestine question since 2016, there is a long history of discourse on the matter and previous resolutions on the matter. On June 24, 2020, Secretary-General Antoni Gutierres urged Israel to cease plans to annex areas of the West Bank territory. 

The United Nations and the Security Council remain abreast of the Israeli and Palestinian Questions. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has sent letters to the members of the Security Council regarding the Israeli Annexation Plan, in reference to their resolution from 10 June 2020. On July 14, 2020, the EU Minister of Foreign Affaris and Expatriates has requested European Union Member States to act against the Israeli action to annex Palestinian territory and return to a peaceful two state solution approach, though Hungary has notably been closely in support of the Israeli state

Syria

Civil war began in the Syrian Arab Republic in March 2011 when government security forces began using deadly force on pro-democracy protests emboldened by the Arab Spring movement. Nationwide resistance against President Bashar al-Assad, his regime and the nation’s military forces sprang up in response. Violence between anti-regime groups and the Syrian Armed Forces, along with international military allies assisting the Assad government, raged for years before beginning to slow in 2018.

Since the onset of the Syrian Civil War, there have been at least 300 instances of chemical warfare employed by both the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition, claiming thousands of lives and causing countless injuries. Dozens of peace talks and numerous attempts at ceasefire agreements did little to stem the violence until the Syrian Regime—with the help of allied military forces—recaptured the majority of the country in 2018. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has estimated that the war has claimed at least 500,000 lives, left more than 6 million Syrians internally displaced and forced at least 5.5 million Syrian refugees out of the country. While most large-scale fighting in Syria has ebbed, at least 400 civilians have already been killed thus far in 2020, and the humanitarian crisis within the country and for Syrian refugees around the Middle East and Europe remains dire.

Further complicating the security situation in Syria, forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) began swelling into the country during the conflict in 2013, fighting with rebels, Syrian military forces, and other extremist groups operating in the region. ISIL controlled several major cities, including Raqqa, which served as the ISIL de facto capital in the region until 2017. The United States and its coalition partners—mainly the United Kingdom, France, Jordan and Turkey—conducted air and missile strikes on ISIL and some rebel targets in Syria beginning in 2014, and against Syrian government targets since early 2017. In 2015, Russia also joined in providing aerial support against ISIL, with full support from the Assad regime. Following several years of air strikes, United States President Donald Trump ordered the abrupt withdrawl of United States troops from Syria in late 2019, giving way for Turkish troops to swiftly launch attacks against Kurdish forces, long time United States allies, operating in Northern Syria. As of 2020, ISIL activity is all but eradicated within Syria; however, as of May 2020, both Russia and Turkey still maintain a significant military presence within Syria. 

To date, action in the Security Council has been limited. In early 2012, the Council passed Resolution 2042, establishing an observer force to ensure compliance with a tentative ceasefire agreement and Resolution 2043, establishing the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria, (UNSMIS). However, due to escalating violence and lack of cooperation with the Syrian regime, the UNSMIS mandate was not renewed after the original 90 day period, and all personnel were pulled from the region. Other efforts to stymie violence in the country have had little effect on the actions of either rebel or government forces, though several Member States have adopted unilateral sanctions against Syria outside of the Council in retaliation for government attacks on civilians. Since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, Russia (often supported by fellow permanent five member, China) has used its veto power numerous times to block resolutions taking humanitarian, investigative or other action in Syria. While much of the violence in the region has stagnated, Russia’s veto has severely hadicapped the Council’s ability to respond to the devastating humanitarian fallout of the war, along with mounting concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The United Nations and the Security Council continue to monitor the situation in Syria as closely as possible, despite little cooperation from the Syrian regime. A tentative truce reached in March 2020 between Russia, Turkey and the Syrian Armed Forces have led many refugees to begin returning to what remains—if anything—of their homes, despite continued incidents of violence. The looming threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a nation whose infrastructure has been decimated by war, with hundreds of medical facilities destroyed and aid often refused or misappropriated. COVID-19 lockdowns within Syria and in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey have further exacerbated the dire economic and humanitarian needs for Syrians affected by the past decade of fighting and subsequent fallout. United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Geir O. Peterson, on 29 April 2020 called for “a nationwide ceasefire and an all-out effort to ensure that Syrians across the country will have access to the equipment and resources needed to combat and treat COVID-19”. 

Yemen

The situation in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation, has been unstable since 2011. In the wake of the Arab Spring, the Yemeni Revolution resulted in widespread violence between citizen militias and the Armed Forces of Yemen. The country has been in a constant state of civil war in the intervening years. In addition to civil unrest and violence, Yemen experienced the world’s largest cholera outbreak in 2016, killing thousands and overloading an already threadbare medical infrastructure.

Currently, Yemen continues to be plagued with political instability, violence and rampant humanitarian crises. At least 100,000 Yemeni citizens have died since the country’s 2011 descent into war, and the United Nations reports that at least 8.4 million people are on the brink of starvation and 22.2 million are in need of dire humanitarian assistance within the poverty-stricken county. 

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 or 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. As detailed in Resolution 2511, the previously established economic sanctions, asset freeze, and a travel ban on Yemen remain in effect until at least early 2021. 

Concern over the situation in Yemen has only increased with the continued global spread of the deadly virus COVID-19. In March 2020, SecretaryGeneral António Guterres urged warring parties across the globe to engage in a worldwide ceasefire, as the people of the world deal with the unprecedented global pandemic. Martin Griffiths has also expressed grave concern regarding the spread of the virus as fighting appears to be increasing in the region, stating “At a time when the world is struggling to fight a pandemic, the focus of the parties must shift away from fighting one another to ensuring that the population will not face even graver risks.” The health system in Yemen has all but collapsed in the wake of the ongoing civil war, with few resources to meet the population’s basic health needs much less a deadly, infectious virus. Yemeni health officials report that as of May 2020, hundreds are dying each week as a result of the virus. 

Bibliography

UN Documents

The Situation in Libya

Since Muammar Gaddafi’s death in 2011, Libya has had no stable leadership, and multiple military groups and political factions are competing for control. Some key leaders vying for control include Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads Libya’s internally-recognized Government of National Accord, operating out of Tripoli; Aguila Saleh Issa, speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives, governing out of Tobruk; and Field Marshall Khalifa Kaftar, commander of the Libyan National Army. Instability within the country following the outbreak of the Second Libyan Civil War drew the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to the region in 2014, and while their numbers have dwindled considerably, ISIL still retains a hold on much of the country’s interior. The ongoing conflict between the current leadership of the Government of National Accord and the Libyan House of Representatives, supported by Commander Kaftar and the Libyan National Army still rages today despite the 2015 Skhirat Agreement in which all factions agreed to unite under the Government of National Accord. Furthermore, a January 2020 United Nations-sponsored three-point peace plan established at the Berlin Conference and February 2020 demands for a nationwide ceasefire continue to be broken. 

Following the outbreak of the First Libyan Civil War in 2011, the Security Council passed Resolution 1973 condemning acts of violence by Libyan authorities against civilians and demanding an immediate ceasefire, establishing a no-fly zone, and establishing the legal basis for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military intervention within Libya. Later that year, the Council passed Resolution 2009, establishing the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), which is a political mission still active as of August 2020. Resolution 2016 lifted many international sanctions following Colonel Gaddafi’s death.

While the Second Libyan Civil War has been raging since 2014, other than reauthorizing the UNSMIL mandate annually and reexamining existing arms embargoes, the Security Council took little new action on the situation in Libya until early this year. Citing the deteriorating military and humanitarian crisis in the nation, the Council passed Resolution 2509 on 11 February 2020, which calls for harsher enforcement of the Libya arms embargo and a nationwide ceasefire within the country. On 12 February 2020, the Council passed Resolution 2510, endorsing the Berlin Conference peace talks and tentative 55-point peace plan

The political, military and humanitarian crises in Libya have all been exacerbated by the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) warns that the ongoing violence has already severely impacted the country’s limited health care system. UNSMIL leader Stephanie Turco Williams has stated that “the virus risk[s] overwhelming an already ‘decimated’ health system.” 

Bibliography

UN Documents

The Situation in Kashmir

The right of rule over the region of Kashmir has been a point of contention for decades between the Republic of India, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and those native to Kashmir and Jammu. The partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 resulted in the first Indo-Pakistani war over the region, with a ceasefire established in 1949. Following a period of relative peace, the second Indo-Pakistani War erupted in 1965, and rapidly increased violence across the region for 17 days, killing thousands before a Security Council-mandated ceasefire agreement was implemented and military personnel were ordered to withdraw from the area. Despite some armed skirmishes and a rise in Kashmiri resistance to Indian rule, the region remained in a state of tense stability until violent incidents between India-aligned Hindus and Pakistani-aligned Muslims began to mount in 2015 following increased Indian political influence in the region. This violence has continued to escalate in the area, and along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, since India revoked Kashmir’s status as a semi-autonomous region under the Indian Constitution on 5 August, 2019. 

The United Nations and the Security Council have been involved in the Kashmir dispute since its inception. Security Council Resolution 39 established a three party commission — an Indian ally, a Pakisani ally, and a neutral third party to advise on a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The United Nations remained involved in the region up to and especially following the outbreak of the second Indo-Pakistani War in 1965, resulting in the Council demanding a ceasefire in Resolution 211, and requiring the withdrawal of both Indian and Pakistani troops in Resolution 215. The Kashmir issue has been brought before the Council many times over the years. Following India’s revocation of the region’s status in August 2019, the Council has received numerous updates from the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations regarding mounting tension and violence in the region. In March 2020, Secretary-General António Guterres urged warring parties across the globe to engage in a worldwide ceasefire, as the people of the world deal with the unprecedented global pandemic from the COVID-19 virus; on 2 May 2020, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson said this ceasefire should pertain to Kashmir and violence currently breaking out along the Line of Control within the region.

Despite mounting pressure from the United Nations and the international community to maintain peace within the region, violence continues to break out along the Line of Control, with at least 70 already killed in 2020. Tensions have been further exacerbated by the spread of COVID-19, which has resulted in curfews, lockdowns and blockades, which are trapping civilians in areas with rampant militant activity. 

Bibliography

UN Documents

The Historical Security Council of 1967

Membership of the Historical Security Council of 1967

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • China
  • Denmark
  • Ethiopia
  • France
  • India
  • Japan
  • Mali
  • Nigeria
  • USSR
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Due to the nature of this year’s virtual conference the AMUN Secretariat has decided to limit topics for our Security Council simulations. The topics presented in this briefing are the topics that your simulation directors have decided are the most pressing to maintaining international peace and security as of the simulation start date of 4 January 1967. 

Introduction

Key international security concerns at the beginning of 1967 revolve around the situations in Africa, including Southern Rhodesia, the Congo and South Africa. Peacekeeping questions are a major concern; the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) operation between

Egypt and Israel and the Soviet Union’s unwillingness to pay for certain peacekeeping operations, have both been subjects of Council discussion. The war in Viet-Nam is also a significant underlying factor in world politics, although it has received limited formal attention in the Security Council. Continued disputes over recognition issues between the two Chinas is also an issue. Additionally, the Cold War struggles between the United States and the Soviet Union are a constant undercurrent in the world of international politics, with many developing States stressing their non-aligned status and forming a power bloc within the United Nations to combat the increasingly polarized world around them.

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 Southern Rhodesia

On 11 November 1965, the territorial government of Southern Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence from the United Kingdom, sparking intense political conflict. Ian Smith, a white former fighter pilot of British descent, was the driving force behind the declaration of independence and took control of the government as Prime Minister. The declaration directly violated the 1961 decolonization agreement signed by the United Kingdom and Southern Rhodesia, which required that the territory achieve majority rule prior to independence. 

Southern Rhodesia had been a self-governing territory of the United Kingdom for over 40 years. Despite never comprising more than three percent of the population, white Europeans dominated the government and would have had to relinquish power under a legally-independent Rhodesia. On 12 November 1965, the Security Council passed Resolution 216, condemning Southern Rhodesia’s unilateral declaration of independence, calling on all Member States to refrain from recognizing the regime in Southern Rhodesia and from providing it with any assistance. One month later, in Resolution 232, the Council imposed mandatory economic sanctions against Rhodesia.

In April 1966, following months of failed diplomatic efforts, the United Kingdom requested a Council meeting to approve its blockade of the Joanna V, a Portuguese oil tanker attempting to make a delivery to the Rhodesian government via the port of Beira in Mozambique. In response the Council passed Resolution 221 on 9 April, allowing the United Kingdom to use force if necessary to prevent the delivery of the oil. The resolution also granted the United Kingdom the right to detain the Joanna V, should delivery succeed. Before the oil tanker incident, the Council had granted broad latitude to the United Kingdom in attempting to find a diplomatic solution to the problems caused by its former colony; bringing this issue before the Council marked a new escalation in the conflict.

Several African governments requested that the Council take much stronger steps to remove the Smith government from power, up to and including the authorization of the use of force under the terms of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Extending the use of force beyond embargo enforcement was not supported by the United States, France or the United Kingdom, which instead stood behind the continued use of sanctions, political pressure and negotiations. 

On 10 May 1966, 32 African States requested a Council meeting to renew discussion on Rhodesia, noting that Council actions had been ineffective in removing the minority government and again asking that the Council consider authorizing a use of force intervention. The request stated that economic sanctions were clearly failing; not all States were enforcing the sanctions, and some States were still investing in Rhodesia. In discussions on the issue, the Soviet Union specifically accused the United Kingdom of trying to reach an agreement with the Smith regime at the expense of the black Rhodesians. A resolution sponsored by the African bloc and reflecting its concerns failed by a vote of six in favor, one opposed and eight abstentions. Similar discussions continued throughout the year on these issues, leading up to an eventual request by the United Kingdom for another Council meeting in December. The United Kingdom was prepared to call for additional measures against Southern Rhodesia, including stronger economic sanctions.

During the debate, other States criticized the United Kingdom’s enforcement efforts. Further, a number of speakers criticized the United Kingdom’s refusal to use force, as it had been partially authorized to do at its own request. Significantly, the western powers were also beginning to realize that the situation was becoming more intractable as time went on. The African States on the Council sponsored an amendment to the draft resolution being debated at the Council’s December session, which noted that the situation constituted a threat to international peace and security. This direct quotation of Chapter VII was included in the text of the final resolution. Referencing Chapter VII had been staunchly opposed by the United Kingdom and its allies in past discussions but gained more traction here, with those formerly opposed agreeing to abstain. On 16 December 1966, the Council passed Resolution 232, which increased sanctions on the Smith Government. Although language was included in Resolution 232 defining the situation as a threat to international peace and security, no official authorization of force has been granted, leaving the situation in an uneasy status-quo.

Bibliography

UN Documents

The Question of Palestine

Throughout 1966 the Security Council discussed actions taken by Israel, Syria and Jordan since the 1949 General Armistice Agreements. Repeated border incursions and military incidents led to heightened tensions in the region throughout the year. Syria and Jordan frequently accused Israel of violating the Armistice Agreements by attacking their territories. Israel accused Syria of continued attacks from the Golan Heights and both Syria and Jordan of conducting military activities across various border regions. Israel also accused both countries of harboring and supporting pro-Palestinian terrorists, who frequently conducted terrorist activities across the borders into Israel.

On 25 February 1966, a military coup in Syria returned Nureddin al-Atassi to power. From February to October, Israel alleged that Syria had attacked Israeli settlements from fortified positions in the Golan Heights. In response Israel conducted military reprisals, while Syria argued that the original attacks were fabrications and that subsequent Israeli attacks were clear violations of the 1949 Armistice Agreements.

On the Israeli-Jordanian border, a number of smaller border incursions culminated in a 13 November invasion of southern Hebron by Israeli forces. Israeli forces attacked a number of villages in this region in what Israeli officials called reprisals for Jordanian cross-border incursions and sponsorship of pro-Palestinian Fatah forces.Jordan called the invasion an unprovoked attack. Resolution 228, passed on 28 November, criticized the large scale and carefully planned military action into Jordanian territory by Israeli armed forces and censured Israel for its actions. It was the only formal Council action on the region during 1966, though the Council called Israel, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to speak several times as hostilities occurred throughout 1966.

Several other issues contributed to the heightening of tensions surrounding the Palestine issue. On 19 May a sale of military jet fighters and bombers by the United States to Israel was, for the first time ever, publicly disclosed. Additionally, on 4 November, Syria and Egypt concluded a mutual defense treaty, which also provided for joint control of armed forces in case of war or aggression against either party. Furthermore, the Soviet Union, aligned with Syria since the 1956 Suez Crisis, has maintained an active political presence in the region. Most of their political pressure has been focused on aligning the other Arab states to act against Israel, including Jordan, since they have a significant Palestinian-Arab population. However, Arab unity was shaken by a 7 December call by Syria—to Jordanians and Palestinian Arabs within Jordan—for the ouster of King Hussein of Jordan. This call was accompanied by an offer to provide arms to any parties involved in the uprising.

Bibliography

UN Documents

The Situation in Cyprus

The United Nations Security Council first became involved in Cyprus in 1964 with the establishment of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) on 4 March. The United Nations sent Peacekeeping troops to Cyprus in response to escalating violence between Greek and Turkish factions, which began on  21 December 1963. These factions had been fighting over Cyprus since it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1959. Compromises in the development of the constitution angered both Greek Cypriots, who were in favor of reuniting with Greece, and Turkish Cypriots, who were in favor of dividing the island between the two groups. In addition to establishing UNFICYP peacekeeping efforts, Security Council Resolution 186 recommended that the Secretary-General appoint a mediator to aid and oversee formal peacekeeping efforts. However, the chaotic situation in Cyprus has prevented any substantive talks from happening between the factions. In December of 1966, the Security Council passed Resolution 231 extending the UN peacekeeping force until June 1967. 

Bibliography 

  • Ehrlich, Thomas (1974). Cyprus: 1958-1967.
  • Nicolet, Claude (2001). United States Policy Towards Cyprus, 1954- 1974: Removing the Greek-Turkish Bone of Contention.
  • Richmond, Oliver, and James Ker-Lindsay (2001). The Work of the UN in Cyprus: Promoting Peace and Development.
  • Solsten, Eric (1993). Cyprus: A Country Study.

UN Documents

The Historical Security Council of 1990

Membership of the Historical Security Council of 1990

  • Canada
  • China
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Colombia
  • Cuba
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Malaysia
  • Romania
  • Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Yemen
  • Zaire


Due to the nature of this year’s virtual conference we have decided to limit topics for our Security Council simulations. The topics presented in this briefing are the topics that your Simulation Directors have decided are the most pressing to the maintenance of international peace and security as of 10 March 1990.

Introduction

In March 1990 the Secretary-General of the United Nations is Javier Pèrez de Cuèllar. The defining conflict since the end of the Second World War has been the Cold War, a state of political and military tension between the Western and Eastern blocs, particularly the United States of America and Union of Soviet Social Republics. While direct tensions between the two States began decreasing during the 1960s and 1970s, indirect tension through third-party conflicts increased and human rights issues, particularly human rights violations, have remained a point of conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States.

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 Lebanon

The Lebanese Civil War began in 1975, when changing demographics and Cold War polarization disrupted the delicate balance of power between Muslims and Christians which had been in place since the end of French colonial rule. The conflict began as sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims, particularly Palestinians, but over the course of fifteen years the conflict has pitted a variety of political and religious groups against each other in rapidly shifting alliances. It has also resulted in a number of international interventions. The longest intervention has been by neighboring Syria, which sent troops into Lebanon in 1976. They operated under Arab League authorization until 1982, when the mandate lapsed without renewal, but Syria did not withdraw. Syria currently maintains forty thousand troops in Lebanon. Israel was drawn into the conflict through a desire to end attacks launched by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) from Lebanon. Israel has invaded Lebanon twice: a short incursion in 1978, and then a much longer intervention which began in 1982. The 1982 invasion resulted in the withdrawal of the PLO from Lebanon. Today the Israel Defense Force continues to occupy a “Security Zone” several kilometers wide in the south of Lebanon. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been active since 1978, with a mandate to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli forces behind the internationally recognized border between Israel and Lebanon, and to provide humanitarian aid for the area under Israeli occupation.

The current phase of the civil war began when Prime Minister Rashid Karami, head of a government of national unity, was assassinated on 1 June 1987. President Amin Gemayel appointed Lebanese Armed Forces Commanding General Michel Aoun, a fellow Maronite Christian (the most populous Christian denomination in Lebanon), as acting Prime Minister, violating a longstanding unwritten agreement that the Prime Minister always be a Sunni Muslim. Muslim groups instead pledged support to Selim al-Hoss as Karami’s successor. Lebanon became divided between a Maronite military government in East Beirut and a Muslim civilian government in West Beirut. 

Prime Minister General Michel Aoun declared war against Syrian army forces on 13 March 1989. Syria declared the military government illegitimate and continues to support militias opposing General Aoun. Lebanese politicians agreed to a national reconciliation accord that provided a large role for Syria in Lebanese affairs, the Taif Agreement, on 4 November 1989. Rene Mouawad was elected as the new President. Aoun refused to accept Mouawad and denounced the Taif Agreement. Mouawad was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut on 22 November and was succeeded by Elias Hrawi, a Maronite Christian. Aoun again refused to accept the election, and dissolved Parliament. Fighting continues in East Beirut. The United Nations Security Council most recently passed Resolution 648 on 31 January 1990, extending the mandate of UNIFIL for a further six months.

Bibliography

UN Documents

The Situation in Central America

The governments of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all signed on to the Esquipulas I and II Agreements, which aimed to bring lasting peace to Central America, in 1986 and 1987. The agreements formalized a commitment to peace through dialogue and national reconciliation, and requested the assistance of the United Nations to facilitate the agreements’ terms. In response, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 637 commending the Esquipulas Agreements, and Resolution 644 establishing the United Nations Observer Group in Central America (ONUCA), which began its mission of verification in December 1989.

In El Salvador, the Esquipulas Agreements have brought progress toward political reunification between the Salvadoran government and Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), a coalition of five guerrilla groups, after decades of fighting and civil war. However, violence escalated toward the end of 1989. On 11 November 1989 the FMLN launched a major attack in San Salvador, taking more than 100 hostages and inflicting many casualties. In response, the government declared a state of siege and began an intense military response, including numerous air attacks on rebel-held areas. The worsening humanitarian situation, and the continuing violence perpetrated by government-backed “death squads,” has led to increased calls for international pressure to bring about a permanent peace agreement.

In Nicaragua, results have been more promising. The government moved its elections up by several months and requested that the United Nations send observers to monitor the proceedings, the first time that the United Nations served in this capacity in a sovereign state. This mission was carried out by the United Nations Observer Mission for the Verification of the Elections in Nicaragua (ONUVEN). The elections were held on 25 February 1990, and were won by the candidate of the United Nicaraguan Opposition, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro. Initial accounts are that the election met ONUVEN’s standards. However, the process of demobilizing the Contra guerillas has been slowed by a reluctance among some Contras to disarm, for fear of reprisals by the Nicaraguan military. There are concerns that ONUCA in its current form is insufficient to either compel the Contras to disarm or provide the security guarantees they need to demobilize voluntarily. The Secretary-General is expected to call for an expansion of ONUCA in the near future.

Bibliography

UN Documents

The Situation in Cambodia

The ongoing wars in Viet Nam during the Cold War challenged the stability of neighboring countries, notably Cambodia. Tensions between communists in Cambodia, who supported North Viet Nam, and the authoritarian leader of Cambodia, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, led to Sihanouk’s overthrow in 1970. After further conflict, the communist Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975, renaming Cambodia to Democratic Kampuchea.The country suffered greatly under forced labor and re-education camps orchestrated by the Khmer Rouge, together resulting in the death of over one million Cambodians. Border clashes between Democratic Kampuchea and Viet Nam led to a Vietnamese invasion of Democratic Kampuchea in December 1978 and a swift Vietnamese victory, with the Vietnamese establishing the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) in early January 1979. The PRK government was never secure and was backed by Vietnamese troops in the country. Removed from power, the Khmer Rouge entered into a coalition with anti-Vietnamese Cambodian factions to conduct a guerilla war against Viet Nam and the PRK and adopted Prince Sihanouk as their leader. The Vietnamese-backed PRK was not widely recognized internationally, and the country’s seat at the United Nations was held by the anti-Vietnamese Cambodian factions.

Following a reduction of support from the Soviet Union and economic problems deriving in part from the long-running occupation of Cambodia, in April 1989 Viet Nam announced it would unconditionally withdraw all Vietnamese forces from Cambodia by September 1989. At the request of France, representatives from 18 countries, including the Permanent Five members of the Security Council along with Canada, Malaysia, and Vietnam; the primary Cambodian parties; and the United Nations Secretary-General met to discuss a comprehensive settlement.

The primary Cambodian parties are the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, which is supported by Viet Nam and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and controls the capital of Phnom Penh; and the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK), which retains Cambodia’s seat in the United Nations and is supported by the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America. The CDGK is a coalition of three anti-Vietnamese parties: Prince Sihanouk’s National Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC); the nationalist Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (KPNFL); and the Party of Democratic Kampuchea (PDK), composed of former Khmer Rouge members. In late August, Prince Sihanouk stepped down from leadership of FUNCINPEC in hope of easing tensions with Vietnam, but remained a member of the party and retains a prominent role in the talks.

During the French-sponsored talks, concerns emerged over instability and a potential return to civil war between the Cambodian parties in 1990 once the Vietnamese withdrawal is complete and the rainy season ends. To avoid a return to conflict, discussion has focused on the formation of a United Nations body to oversee and assist the transition of Cambodia into a democratic government and integration of the various armed forces into a unified Cambodian government. With little progress in negotiations and the potential for renewed conflict, Prince Sihanouk has suggested the United Nations take a greater role in establishing a democratic government in Cambodia and potentially replacing the current PRK government, despite the legal and technical problems that would confront the United Nations in such an action.

Bibliography

UN Documents

The Situation in Iran and Iraq

In August 1988, the Islamic Republic of Iran accepted the terms of Security Council Resolution 598 bringing a ceasefire to the Iran-Iraq War. During the eight years of war, over a million soldiers and civilians were killed, leaving both Iran and Iraq devastated. Although neither Iran nor Iraq won the war, neither side viewed themselves as having lost the war, as the underlying causes of the war remained unresolved. To help implement the ceasefire, Security Council Resolution 619 established the United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG) to verify, confirm, and supervise both the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of all troops to internationally recognized boundaries. In September 1989, the Security Council passed Resolution 642, extending UNIIMOG’s mandate until 31 March 1990.

Despite surviving the war, Iraq was burdened with a massive national debt, having financed the war largely through loans from Gulf Arab states. President Saddam Hussein asked the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait to cancel Iraq’s war debt, claiming the loans enabled Iraq to protect those states in the Arabian Peninsula from Iran. Iraq’s economic position worsened as Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates increased oil production, driving down the price of oil on the global market. In the face of declining oil prices, depleted financial reserves, serious domestic economic problems, and a refusal by the Gulf Arab states to offer debt relief, President Hussein reasserted Iraq’s claim of ownership over two oil-rich regions of Kuwait, Warbah and Bubiyan.

Despite implementation of the ceasefire and troop withdrawals, tensions and instability continue. One of the conflict’s underlying disputes, the territorial status of the Shatt al-Arab river near the Persian Gulf remained unresolved. The status of prisoners of war and their repatriation remains unresolved. On 3 June 1989, the Iranian President and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini died; succeeded as President by Hashemi Rafsanjani, who adopted a less conciliatory tone to negotiations with Iraq. Both Iran and Iraq have accused the other of numerous serious ceasefire violations; including military engineering projects near the border, the intentional flooding of low lying areas for a military purpose, and exchanges of artillery fire. In December of 1989, Iraq announced it had tested new rockets that were capable of carrying satellites. With UNIIMOG’s mandate set to expire on 31 March 1990, the Council must decide how best to reduce tensions between Iran and Iraq and address outstanding issues.

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 2020 these delegations include Israel, Palestine, Seychelles, and South Africa. 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 will include 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 role playing. 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 1 October 2020 to sim@amun.org. 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

Commission of Inquiry under resolution 496 (1981) in connection with the Republic of the Seychelles

On 25 Nov 1981, a chartered Royal Swazi National Airways plane landed in Pointe La Rue, Mahé at the Seychelles International Airport. Forty-four men carrying bags of toys disembarked. They purported to be members of a rugby drinking club–the Ancient Order of Foam Blowers (AOFB)—traveling to deliver the toys they had purchased through the charitable giving of their club. During a routine baggage check at customs, a security guard noticed the barrel of a rifle sticking out from one of the bags of toys. Now discovered, the men armed themselves with additional munitions hidden within the toys. They took control of the air control tower and took hostage all persons in the airport. Within six hours, however, Seychelles defence forces had repelled the apparent organized attack. Four of the “AOFB members” were captured, but forty escaped by way of a hijacked Air-India aircraft headed to Bombay, instead rerouting the plane to Durban, South Africa. 

The archipelago is strategically located in the Indian Ocean, approximately 1,800 kilometers from the shores of Tanzania, 1,400 km from Mogadishu, Somalia, and 1,000 km from Madagascar. Though its existence was known for centuries, and it was claimed by France in 1756, the 115 islands of Seychelles remained entirely uninhabited until the first ship of colonists landed on 27 August 1770. England in particular desired the Seychelles for the role it could play in Indian trade routes. In 1794, England annexed Seychelles and managed the island from Mauritius (1,700 km to the south). In 1903 Seychelles became a separate British colony, and in 1948, amidst a worldwide movement of decolonization, Seychelles held its first elections for a legislative council. 

Seychelles became an independent republic within the British Commonwealth on 26 June 1976. The first independent government was formed with power shared between two parties. James Mancham’s pro-business Seychelles Democratic Party held the Presidency; France-Albert Rene’s socialist Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP) held the Prime Minister’s post. The Republic of Seychelles became a United Nations Member State on 21 September 1976.

On 4 June 1977, dozens of SPUP-party supporters took over the government while President Mancham was attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. Several party supporters had recently been trained in military tactics in Tanzania, indicating possible outside influence. The coup was nearly bloodless (one casualty on each side) and various officials advising the Seychelles government who were “on loan” from other countries to fulfill key positions (for example, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Adrien O’Brien Queen, from Ireland) were flown back to their home countries. 

Rene denied all knowledge of the coup. Nevertheless, after holding control of the government for 30 hours, he was sworn in as President. Rene formed a new government consisting entirely of SPUP-party members. Elections have been held since, but only officials within Rene’s party have run. Mancham remains in exile, living in London and traveling abroad to build international support against Rene’s government. 

The decidedly more socialist government has caused some friction domestically, but the country and government has remained stable since the 1977 coup, with quality of life improving and income inequality falling. The Seychelles government protected political opponents during and after the coup and kept international agreements in force. Internationally, Seychelles continues to be in good standing

Nearly a month has passed since the airport incursion on 24 November 1981. In that time, the insurgents were identified by Seychelles’ authorities as an international force of mercenaries, led by the internationally famous Michael “Mad Mike” Hoare. Hoare achieved the rank of Major in the British Army, fighting in World War II and India. When he began leading a band of white mercenaries throughout Africa, he self-styled as a Lieutenant Colonel. Hoare is most well known for leading mercenary units in the newly independent Republic of the Congo in the early 1960s. His exploits there involved crushing under-equipped rebellions with extensive western media coverage. A rabid anti-communist, Hoare insisted his men were not mercensaries (paid $1,100 U.S. dollars monthly) but rather “volunteers” waging an idealistic struggle against Communism in the Congo. 

In 1981, Hoare, now in his sixties, was last known as a technical advisor to The Wild Geese movie, loosely based on events his five Commando unit participated in, after which he retired to the small South African town of Hilton, where he worked as a stock broker and investment manager. 

Based on interrogations of the four mercenaries captured, Seychelles quickly accused South Africa of organizing the mercenary force as an attempted coup of Rene’s government. Increasing international tensions, while the mercenaries were initially held by South African authorities after landing in Durban, a South African court ruled that they had no authority over the events that occurred in Seychelles and released thirty-five of the mercenaries. South Africa has identified the white-goateed man who hijacked the Air-India aircraft and identified himself as Tom, as Mike Hoare. Hoare and four other mercenaries were charged with hijacking the plane, and were immediately released on bail. 

The Seychelles government has held regular press conferences since the coup, presenting evidence gathered, calling on the international community to bring the putschists to justice, and closing their air space. On 8 December 1981, the Charge D’Affaires of Seychelles addressed the General Assembly, and on 15 December the Security Council unanimously adopted a draft resolution to “send a commission of inquiry… in order to investigate the origin, background, and financing of the mercenary aggression of 25 Novbember 1981 against the Republic of Seychelles, as well as to assess and evaluate economic damages, and to report to the Council with recommendations no later than 31 January 1982.”

The Commission is anticipated to convene for the first time on 24 December 1981. 

Questions to Consider:

  • What roles have mercenaries in Africa played in the past?
  • What motivation would another Member State have to back a coup in Seychelles? 
  • If a coup in Seychelles was backed by another Member State, what should be the international response? 

UN Documents

The Situation in the Occupied Arab Territories

The conflicts between Israel and Palestine, and between Israel and the broader Arab world have been ongoing since the mid-20th century. The passage of UN Resolution 181 which called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, led to the 1947-1949 Palestine war. This was known in Israel as the War of Independence and in Arab states as the Nakba (“Catastrophe”). The players in the first Arab-Israeli War were Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Transjordan (Jordan), and Syria. They, with the help of the United Nations, reached an armistice agreement between February and July 1949. Israel gained some territory formerly granted to Palstinian Arabs under the UN resolution in 1947, while Egypt and Transjordan remained in control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, respectively. 

Conflict arose again on 29 October 1956 when Israeli armed forces entered Egypt near the Suez Canal after Egyptian President nationalized the canal for Egypt. The French and British quickly sided with Israel, while Egypt received some aid from the Soviet Union. In order to put an end to the crisis before events escalated, the first UN Emergency Force (UNEF) was stationed in the Sinai Peninsula. The Suez Crisis (also called the Second Arab-Israeli war) ended on 7 November 1956 with Israeli, British and French forces withdrawing from the area. The UN peacekeeping force remained in the area as a buffer between Israel and Egypt. 

Arab and Israeli forces clashed for a third time from 5-10 June 1967 in what came to be called the Six-Day War or the Third Arab-Israeli War. The Six-Day War was the result of rising tensions between Israel and Syria, with Egypt and Jordan later joining forces with Syria. On 5 June 1967, the Israel Defense Forces coordinated an aerial and ground attack on Egypt which, by the end of the day, won them full control over the skies. A United Nations-brokered ceasefire took effect on 10 June 1967 and the Six-Day War came to an end. The War had huge geopolitical consequences in the Middle East. Israel had tripled in size with the occupation of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt; the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. The displacement of civilian populations also had long-term consequences as Palestinians fled the territories now controlled by Israel, while the Jewish minorities in the Arab world fled or were exiled. 

On 6 October 1973, Egypt and Syria formatted an attack towards Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur in order to win back territory lost during the Six-Day War. Egypt and Syria won the first few battles, but lost the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, or the Yom Kippur War, to Israel. On 25 October, a ceasefire between Egypt and Israel was secured by the United Nations which led to tensions de-escalating between the two States. In early 1979 Israel and Egypt signed a peace agreement resulting in the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. The Israeli and Syrain ceasefire agreement of the Yom Kippur War led to even more territory being controlled by Israel in the Golan Heights. In 1979, Syria voted with other Arab States to expel Egypt from the Arab League due to its peace treaty with Israel. The lands that Israeli seized during the Third and Fourth Arab-Israeli Wars have been the center of tension between the Arab States and Israel, and have been the focus of efforts by third-parties to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Due to the aftermath of the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars, the Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations on 23 February 1979 sent a letter (S/13115) to the President of the Security Council to convene a meeting of the Council to “consider the most ominous and accelerating erosion of the status of Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Arab territories in consequence of the Israeli occupation authorities’ systematic, relentless and deliberate policy and practice of settlements and colonization of those territories which constitute a grave threat to world peace and security.” On 2 March 1979, the acting Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People sent a letter (S/13132) addressed to the President of the Security Council stating the Committee’s concern of the actions taken by Israel towards the Palestinian people in the occupied territories. Another letter (S/13149) from the Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations was addressed to the Secretary-General on 7 March 1979. The letter contained maps and documents about Israeli occupation in the Arab territories. In response to the letters, the Security Council considered the topic “The situation in the occupied Arab Territories” at its 2123rd, 2124th, 2125th, 2126th, 2127th, 2128th, 2131st and 2134th meetings held between 9 and 22 March 1979. 

At the 2124th meeting on 22 March 1979, the Council established and adopted Resolution 446 (1979) which created a Commission of Inquiry with the mandate: “To examine the situation relating to settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.” Thus, the Commission is to investigate what is happening in the Arab territories that Israel has occupied since the end of the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War, specifically in the creation and expansion of Israeli settlements.

Questions to Consider:

  • What States are concerned in the current situation and why? 
  • What are the cultural and historical connections that both Israel and the Palestinian people have with the territoroes in question?
  • What types of settlements have been established and how have they changed over time?
  • How have the people/citizens/refugees been affected by the settlements? 

 

Bibliography

Introduction to The 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:

  • Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 (Advisory Opinion: Madagascar; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; United Kingdom)
  • Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda)
  • Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)

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 session 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 session 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 for all Conference participants. 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 all 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; this is a part time assignment. 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.

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 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 session 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 1 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 during the first session. 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.

International Court of Justice

Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 (Advisory Opinion: Madagascar; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; United Kingdom)

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 2018. Any and all updates to this case after that date will not be relevant to the AMUN simulation nor considered in hearing the case.

In 1964, the United Kingdom conducted an oceanic survey and determined that Diego Garcia, an island located within the Chagos Archipelago, would be an ideal location for the installation of a military base. At this time, Mauritius was not a sovereign state, but instead a non-self-governing territory, having been colonized by the Dutch, the French and ultimately the British. Following the survey, in 1965 the United Kingdom entered into the Lancaster House Agreement with Mauritian ministers (and others) granting the United Kingdom the ability to separate the Chagos Islands from the rest of the territory. 

Mauritius was granted independence through a process that was completed on 12 March 1968. Since gaining independence, the republic has demanded the return of the Chagos Islands to its territory. In 2010, Mauritius attempted to facilitate this return through the institution of proceedings under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This proceeding began in direct response to the United Kingdom’s assertion of a large Marine Protected Area surrounding the Archipelago. Mauritius argues this claim is in direct contradiction to its 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone and violates its right to self-determination and sovereign territorial claims to the Chagos Islands after independence. The Tribunal formed to adjudicate this claim was unsuccessful in determining jurisdiction on the issue but determined that the United Kingdom’s creation of this Marine Protected Area had violated UNCLOS. Further attempts by Mauritius to settle this claim bilaterally were unsuccessful, leading to its appeal to the General Assembly.

With the adoption of A/RES/71/292 on 22 June 2017, the General Assembly requested that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) answer the legal questions of whether the process of decolonization of Mauritius was lawfully completed when the country was granted independence in 1968, and what, if any, consequences arise under international law from the continued administration by the United Kingdom of the Chagos Archipelago. This request comes in accordance with Article 65 of the Statute of the Court, which grants the Court the ability to give an advisory opinion on any legal question requested of it by an authorized United Nations body.

Within this resolution, the Assembly recognized that the questions asked of the court regarding self-determination were reflected largely in a series of existing Assembly resolutions, specifically citing Operative Clause 6 of A/RES/1514(XV), which reads: “Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter.” 

To resolve this case, the Court must determine whether the decolonization of Mauritius was lawfully completed when the country was granted independence, and if it was not, what consequences may arise under international law. The Court must first determine it has jurisdiction to answer these legal questions, or whether it should use its discretion and decline jurisdiction. 

If the Court determines it does have jurisdiction in weighing the lawfulness of the decolonization of Mauritius, the Court in this case should consider whether the right to self-determination had emerged as an accepted piece of customary international law (CIL) prior to or after 1965, when the Lancaster House Agreement entered into force. Mauritius argues that the right to self-determination emerged as part of CIL prior to 1965 and, as such, the United Kingdom is obligated to respect Mauritius’ claim to the Chagos Islands. The United Kingdom asserts that the right did not develop as part of customary international law when the Lancaster House Agreement was negotiated and is therefore not applicable to the partitioning of these islands.

Questions to consider

  1. How can the Court determine jurisdiction to issue an opinion on this case without violating the consensual nature of the negotiation of bilateral disputes?
  2. How can existing bilateral agreements be interpreted when confronted with contradictory tenets of international law?
  3. How does the right to self-determination interact with decolonization?
  4. How is sovereignty exercised continually following its initial determination?
  5. If the decolonization of Mauritius was not lawfully completed, what, if any, consequences should arise?

Bibliography

International Court of Justice. Overview of the Case | Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965.

International Court of Justice. Statute of the International Court of Justice.

Lancaster House Agreement (1965).

Mauritius Independence Act (1968).

Republic of Madagascar (28 February 2018). Written Statement.

Republic of the Marshall Islands (17 January 2018). Written Statement.

Statement by Dr. the Hon. Navinchandra Ramgoolam Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius at the General Debate of the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (2005).

United Nations, General Assembly (1960). Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples. A/RES/1514(XV).

United Nations, General Assembly (2017). Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965. A/RES/71/292.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982).

United Nations Meetings Coverage and Press Releases (22 May 2019). General Assembly Welcomes International Court of Justice Opinion on Chagos Archipelago, Adopts Text Calling for Mauritius’ Complete Decolonization.

Vine, David (2006). Empire’s Footprint: Expulsion and the United States Military Base on Diego Garcia. City University of New York Academic Works.

Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda)

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 2005. Any and all updates to this case after that date will not be relevant to the AMUN simulation or considered in hearing the case.

On 23 June 1999, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC or Congo) filed a grievance with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the Republic of Uganda, the Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Burundi’s presence in and armed activities within Congolese sovereign territory. On 15 January 2001, Congo withdrew proceedings against Rwanda and Burundi, leaving only the claims against Uganda.

Included in Congo’s grievance was a call for the immediate cessation of armed activities, as well as a demand that Uganda pay reparations for looting, destruction of state property and acquisition of natural resources as reported by Congo. Later, on 19 June 2000, Congo submitted a request for provisional measures to withdraw all armed forces from any territories relevant to the dispute. Both parties recognized the Compulsory Jurisdiction of the court in Article 36, paragraph 2 of the Statute of the Court, under which Congo recognized jurisdiction of the Court on 8 February 1989 and Uganda recognized jurisdiction on 3 October 1963.

During the First Congo War, Laurent Kabila of the Congo led the Ugandan-backed Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) against Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire. Upon his successful overthrow of the government of Zaire in 1997, Kabila renamed the state the Democratic Republic of the Congo and invited forces from Uganda and other neighboring states into Congolese territory as a means of restoring order. After a series of diplomatic breakdowns with these neighboring countries in July 1998, Congo issued a decree that all foreign forces must leave the country, which culminated in the filing of court proceedings in 1999.

While Congo initially invited Ugandan forces and granted consent for their presence within Congolese territory, by August 1998, the Ugandan presence was disputed. Congo claims that Ugandan forces engaged in military action against it by occupying territory in Congo and providing financial and military support to insurgent groups operating within the DRC, all in violation of state sovereignty, as well as against the 1963 Charter of the Organization of African Unity. Uganda claimed its actions were in self-defense. 

Additionally under dispute is whether Ugandan forces made any distinction between civilian and military forces in their actions, including looting and pillaging. Uganda asserts that Congo consented to this action, that this action was required to protect Ugandan sovereignty and that it was carrying out operations against anti-Uganda insurgent groups within Congo’s borders that the DRC was unable to control. Likewise, there is a conflict between the parties as to whether Congo has allowed attacks on various Ugandan diplomatic and other noncombatants within its own territory. Congo also asserted that Uganda exploited many of the natural resources found in Congolese territory. 

As a result of the escalating violence in the region, the parties signed the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement on 10 July 1999. The terms of the treaty called for an immediate cessation of military activity by all signatories. Following the agreement coming into force, both Uganda and the DRC claim the other side violated the Lusaka Agreement.

Uganda filed a counterclaim with the ICJ, alleging that Congo used unauthorized force in contravention of the UN Charter, allowed attacks on Ugandan diplomatic personnel in Congo and that Congo violated the Lusaka Ceasefire agreement. 

A state’s right to sovereignty is a well-established norm of international law; however, a state’s right to sovereignty is not absolute and may sometimes conflict with the sovereignty of another country. Among the norms established through the principle of sovereignty, a state has a right to defend itself against external threats. 

It is before the Court to consider the extent to which sovereignty applies when it comes to the self-defense of another state. There are three main issues that the Court must consider in making a decision in this case. First, whether or at what time were the Ugandan forces authorized within Congo’s territory or were necessary for the defense of Uganda? Second, do the alleged Ugandan actions rise to the level of violations of human rights and humanitarian law? Third, what, if anything, should be done about the allegation that Uganda exploited the natural resources of Congo? The Court must also sort through conflicting statements and assumptions made by the two states in question while also determining what, if any, reparations are owed.

Questions to Consider

  • To what extent does the right of self defense extend regarding matters of state sovereignty?
  • How should the Court take into consideration potential violations of human rights and international humanitarian laws?
  • How can the Court consider the actions of non-state actors and whether they are attributable to a State?
  • What claim would a state have for violations of territorial sovereignty if external state actors were brought in by a previous leader?

 

Bibliography

American Society of International Law. Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo

Charter of the Organization of African Unity.

International Court of Justice. Statute of the International Court of Justice.

Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement (1999).

United Nations, International Court of Justice. Overview of the Case | Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda)

United Nations, International Court of Justice (1999). Application Instituting Proceedings. 23 June

United Nations, International Court of Justice (2000). Counter-Memorial of Uganda. April.

United Nations, International Court of Justice (2000). Request for Provisional Measures. 19 June.

World Court Digest. Summaries of the Decisions.

Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)

This is a historical case. In accordance with AMUN rules and procedures, please note that the historical timeline for this case will stop on 25 September 2013. Any and all updates to this case after that date will not be relevant to the AMUN simulation nor considered in hearing the case. 

On 24 April 2013, the Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia filed an application instituting proceedings against the Republic of Chile asserting Chile has an obligation to negotiate with Bolivia to reach an agreement granting Bolivia sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean. Chile denies such an obligation exists. Bolivia requested the Court to adjudge and declare: (a) Chile has an obligation to negotiate with Bolivia in order to reach an agreement granting Bolivia  fully sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean; (b) Chile has breached the obligation, and (c) Chile must perform this obligation in good faith, promptly, formally, within a reasonable time and, effectively, to grant Bolivia  fully sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.

Chile gained its independence from Spain in 1818, and Bolivia shortly afterwards in 1825. At the time of independence, Bolivia’s territory included several hundred kilometers of coastline along the Pacific Ocean. Bolivia and Chile delimited their mutual border through the Boundary Treaty of 1866. In 1879, Chile declared war on Bolivia and Peru in the War of the Pacific, which officially ended in 1904 with the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, leaving Bolivia without any coastal territory. The Treaty was followed by a series of declarations and exchanges between the two parties regarding Bolivia’s access to the Pacific Ocean, but Bolivia remains landlocked.

Bolivia argued the Court has jurisdiction over the dispute under Article XXXI of the American Treaty on the Pacific, also known as the Pact of Bogotá. In relevant part, the Pact grants the ICJ jurisdiction over disputes regarding “b) Any question of international law; c) The existence of any fact, which if established, would constitute a breach of international obligation; d) The nature or extent of the reparation to be made for the breach of an international obligation.”

On 15 July 2013, Chile entered a preliminary objection, stating the Court did not have jurisdiction in this matter. Chile’s objection quoted Article VI of the Pact of Bogotá, which states that the procedures “may not be applied to matters already settled . . . which are governed by agreements or treaties in force on the date of the conclusion of the present Treaty.” Chile contends the 1904 Peace Treaty settled the dispute regarding Bolivia’s access to the Pacific Ocean and Bolivia’s application to the ICJ is an attempt to renegotiate the Treaty.

On 24 September 2013, the Court dismissed Chile’s preliminary objection against jurisdiction. The Court cited Article XXXII of the Pact of Bogotá, which provides, “If the parties fail to agree as to whether the Court has jurisdiction over the controversy, the Court itself shall first decide that question.” The Court determined the subject matter of the dispute was not whether Bolivia should be granted sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean, but whether Chile is obligated to negotiate in good faith with Bolivia, and if such an obligation exists, whether Chile breached the obligation. As the 1904 Peace Treaty does not address if Chile has an obligation to negotiate Bolivia’s sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean, Chile’s objection was dismissed, and the Court determined it has jurisdiction.

Chile’s specific obligations to negotiate sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean, beyond general obligations states have to negotiate in the face of a dispute, arises through a variety of treaties, acts and declarations. Prior to the 1904 Peace Treaty, the parties agreed to the Treaty of Transfer of Territory in 1895, which included several potential solutions to Bolivia’s landlocked state. This commitment by Chile to negotiate access to the Pacific Ocean was confirmed by Bolivia and Chile in the Officially Approved Act of 10 January 1920, through which the States agreed to open meetings to “strengthen and make lasting the bonds between their countries,” and through subsequent memorandums, notes, declarations and exchanges. Resulting requests by Bolivia for the two parties to reach an agreement on access to the Pacific Ocean have been unsuccessful.

Chile argues a willingness to negotiate or discussions preceding or during negotiations does not necessarily create a legal obligation. Similarly, unilateral statements in and of themselves do not necessarily rise to legally binding negotiations. Even if an obligation to negotiate did exist, that obligation would not be of an unlimited scope and duration, and the previously agreed upon treaties resulted in settled negotiations between the two parties. Finally, Chile argues that a failure to reach an agreement or rejecting a proposal that is outside of a nation’s best interest does not equal a breach of the obligation to negotiate in good faith.

Since requests to reach an agreement by Bolivia between the parties have been denied by Chile, the question before the Court is whether Chile has an obligation to negotiate with Bolivia, and if it does, whether Chile has an obligation to grant Bolivia fully sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.

Questions to Consider

  • What rights do landlocked countries have to access an ocean?
  • On what basis, if any, would Chile have an obligation to negotiate with Bolivia on access to the Pacific Ocean?
  • Is there a mechanism under which the Court could mandate negotiation between Chile and Bolivia?

Bibliography

Boundary Treaty (1866).

Council on Hemispheric Affairs (2011). Bolivia/Chile Pacific Access. 24 June. 

Long, Gideon (2013). Bolivia-Chile Land Dispute Has Deep Roots. BBC News. 24 April. 

Organization of American States, General Assembly (1979). Access by Bolivia to the Pacific Ocean. 31 October. AG/RES. 426. 

Pact of Botogtá (1948).

Rossi, Christopher R. (1 February 2017). A Case Ill Suited for Judgment: Constructing ‘A Sovereign Access to the Sea’ in the Atacama Desert. University of Miami Inter-American Law Review.

Treaty of Peace and Friendship (1905).

Treaty on Transfer of Territories (1895).

United Nations, International Court of Justice. Overview of the Case | Maritime Delimitation and Territorial Questions (Qatar v. Bahrain)

United Nations, International Court of Justice. Overview of the Case | Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile).

Vienna Convention on the law of treaties (1969).

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