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 2021 Conference. 

2021 Simulations

In 2021, AMUN will simulate three main General Assembly (GA) Committees (GA1, GA3 and GA4), the Human Rights Council (HRC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). AMUN also simulates a historical body, Historical Security Council of 1973 (HSC73). A parallel online AMUN session will simulate the General Assembly Plenary and the Commission on Population and Development (CPD).

The General Assembly First (Disarmament & International Security), Third (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural) and Fourth (Special Political and Decolonization) Committees, the Human Rights Council (HRC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) are resolution-writing bodies. The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) are report-writing bodies whose purpose is to build consensus and to write and ratify reports submitted to the ECOSOC.

The Contemporary Security Council will be responsible for dealing with international peace and security issues as they stand at the opening of the Conference. A tentative list of topics will be provided for preparation, but representatives should be prepared to discuss any and all security issues that might arise. The Historical Security Council of 1973 will simulate the events of that year; it 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 Council will meet all four days of the Conference, including an emergency session on Monday night and a debrief on Tuesday afternoon.

The International Court of Justice is a unique simulation that will meet all four 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.

How to Use This Book

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

General Conference Information

Safety at AMUN

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

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

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

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

Conference Policies

Minimum and Maximum Delegation Counts

AMUN strongly recommends delegations place two representatives on the following committees: the Security Council and the Historical Security Council of 1973. Each delegation may place one or two representatives on the following committees: General Assembly First, General Assembly Third, General Assembly Fourth, Human Rights Council (HRC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Each delegation may place only one representative on the Special Committee, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA). Seats on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are assigned by application. Generally, only one person from a school can be assigned to the ICJ.

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

Schools may register up to four faculty advisors.

Dress Code

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

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

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

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

Conduct

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

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

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

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

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

Accessibility and Accommodation

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

Use of Electronic Devices

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

Accessibility and Collaboration

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

Plagiarism

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

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

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

Credentials

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

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

Seating and Placards

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

Lost and Found

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

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

Post-Conference Surveys

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

Special Conference Events

Keynote Speaker

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

After-Hours Caucusing Space

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

Representative Dance

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

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

Security Council Emergency Session

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

Events for Faculty Advisors and Permanent Representatives

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

  • Delegation Lottery: The Delegation Lottery is conducted at Conference and allows the current year’s attendees to select countries for the following year. A deposit for next year’s Conference is required to participate.
  • Permanent representative and faculty advisor meetings: Held on Sunday and Monday of Conference, these meetings allow you to share comments and concerns on this year’s Conference and any hotel issues your school is experiencing.
  • Roundtables and workshops for faculty advisors: Guest speakers discuss running and advocating for Model UN with Faculty Advisors in informal discussions and roundtable presentations. Consult the Conference Program for times and locations.

Graduate School and Career Expo

The Expo is a great opportunity to meet with representatives from graduate schools and organizations across the country and plan your future. The Graduate School and Career Expo will be held this year on Monday, 22 November 2021 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event and exhibitors will be announced and highlighted both in our Conference Program, the Conference app and the AMUN Chronicle. The Expo will be located in the main corridor on the Ballroom level, outside of the primary meeting rooms that hold most of the Conference events. Students will be introduced to the Expo area on their way to and from the open Monday morning meeting sessions.

The AMUN Approach to Model United Nations

AMUN Philosophy/Realism

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

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

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

The Purview of Each Simulation

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

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

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

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

Introduction to the United Nations

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

History of the United Nations

Origins of the United Nations

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

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

Purpose of the United Nations

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

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

Structure of the United Nations

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

The General Assembly (GA)

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

The Security Council (SC)

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

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

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

The Trusteeship Council (TC)

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

The International Court of Justice (ICJ)

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

Secretariat

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

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

How the United Nations Seeks to Achieve Its Purpose

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

Bloc Politics at the United Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United Nations Documents

Introduction

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

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

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

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

Draft Documents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After a draft resolution, report, or presidential statement has been entered into the appropriate Representative Workspace and receives the requisite sponsorship, representatives must share a copy of the draft document with 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 make it available to the body for viewing. 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 distributed, the Dais Staff will announce that the draft has become available for consideration. Although AMUN strives to distribute draft resolutions as quickly as possible, it may take up to several hours for physical copies to be delivered to the body, depending largely on the printing needs of the rest of the Conference.

Points to Consider in Writing Draft Resolutions

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

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

Purview and Other Content Requirements for Resolutions

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

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

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

Draft Resolution Guidelines and Format

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

Draft resolutions must be submitted using the Representative Workspace that AMUN provides for the simulation. The draft resolutions must also comply with the following additional formatting requirements:

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

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

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. Do not use a % symbol. Use “none” instead of zero.
  • Numbers between 10 and 999,999 should be written in figures, except at the beginning of a clause/sentence.
  • Millions, billions and trillions, are written as follows: 1 million, 4.3 billion, etc.
  • Isolated references to weights and measurements are spelled out (e.g., ten kilometers).
  • Generally, do not use a comma before the final element of a list.
  • Lists of sponsors and/or authors are not required in the final version of documents. Once passed, they become the work and property of the whole body.

Amendments

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

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

Once a document is approved by the body’s Dais Staff, amendments must be made through a formal process. This involves drafting the amendment in the appropriate Representative Workspace 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 in the Representative Workspace, provide exactly what language is to be amended and identify where the current language exists in the draft document or where the newly proposed language should go.

Sample Amendment

Reports

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

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

The first item in the report will be an executive summary, not exceeding one page, that outlines the major points of the report, including the commission’s findings and its recommendations to the council. It is important that the executive summary contains all the critical information for the body hearing the report. The presiding special rapporteurs will guide representatives through the report-writing process and formal acceptance of the report. The executive summary is written last to encompass all parts of the compiled report once actions are determined and deliberations finalized.

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

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

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

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

Reporting bodies should aim to conclude their substantive work by Monday evening, and they should finalize and accept the reports and compose the executive summaries for the reports on Tuesday.

Sample Table of Contents for Reports

Resolution Introductory Phrases

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

Preambular Phrases 

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

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

Operative Phrases

(verb in third person present indicative tense):

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

Lending Emphasis to Resolution Phrasing

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

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

Sample Preambular Phrase Crescendos

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

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

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

Noting with satisfaction

Noting with deep satisfaction

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

Noting

Noting with regret

Noting with deep regret

Sample Operative Phrase Crescendos

Notes (See comments on “noting” above)

Notes with appreciation

Notes with satisfaction

Welcomes

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

Invites (suggests that Member States take an action)

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

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

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

Urges (strongest suggestion by the General Assembly)

Demands (rarely used outside of the Security Council)

Notes with concern

Expresses its concern

Expresses its deep concern

Deplores

Strongly deplores

Condemns (rarely used outside of the Security Council)

Commonly Misunderstood Terms

Declares (used to make a statement)

Decides (used to indicate an action to be taken)

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

Security Council Presidential Statements

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

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

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

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

Sample Security Council Presidential Statement

 

Research and Preparation

A holistic approach to research and preparation

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

The United Nations system

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

The history and current affairs of the represented State

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

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

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

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

The relationship between the current world situation and the represented State

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

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

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

AMUN rules of procedure

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

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

Resolution and report writing

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

Preparing as a Group

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

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

Developing a Conference Strategy

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

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

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

Conducting Research

General Sources of Information

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

United Nations Sources

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

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

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

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

AMUN Materials

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

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

Writing Position Papers

Why Draft a Position Paper?

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

Internal Position Papers

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

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

Public Position Papers

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

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

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

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

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

Submission of Position Papers

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

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

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

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

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

Position Paper Awards

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

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

Introduction to the General Assembly

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

The General Assembly at AMUN

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

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

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

Research and Resources available

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Assembly Rules of Procedure

1.0 Administrative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Declare the opening and closing of each session,
  • Ensure the observance of the rules,
  • Facilitate the discussions of the Committee and accord the right to speak,
  • Advise the Committee on methods of procedure that will enable the body to accomplish its goals, and
  • Rule on points and motions, and subject to these rules, have complete control of the proceedings of the Committee and the maintenance of order at its meetings.
  • During the course of the session the Chair may propose Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), and Limits on Debate (rule 7.9). The Chair is under the direct authority of the Rules Committee and may be directed to inform the body on matters of procedure or the body’s topical competence if such action is deemed necessary by the Rules Committee.

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

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

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

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

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

  • They may not vote,
  • They may not make or second the following motions:
  • Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2),
  • Adjournment of Debate (rule 7.3),
  • Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), and
  • Decision of Competence (rule 7.7).

2.0 General Rules

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

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

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

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

  • Delegations, not representatives, are recognized to speak; more than one representative from the same delegation may speak when the delegation is recognized,
  • Speakers must keep their remarks germane to the subject under discussion,
  • A time limit may be established for speeches (rule 7.9),
  • At the conclusion of a substantive speech, representatives will be allowed to answer questions concerning their speech,
  • A delegation that desires to ask a question of the speaker should signify by raising a Point of Inquiry (rule 6.3),
  • All questions and replies are made through the Chair,
  • A speaker who desires to make a motion may do so after speaking and accepting Points of Inquiry, but prior to yielding the floor, and
  • By making a motion the speaker yields the floor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • This decision is not appealable.

3.0 Rules That Relate to the Rules

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

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

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

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

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

4.0 Draft Proposals & Amendments

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

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

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

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

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

  • For a draft resolution to be considered, it must be organized in content and flow, be in the proper format, have a minimum of 35 percent of the delegations in attendance listed as sponsors, and have 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), Consideration of Draft Resolutions (rule 7.13) and Consideration of Amendments (rule 7.14)

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

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

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

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

  • Amendments will be approved if they are legible, organized in content and flow, and in the proper format,
  • Approved amendments will be assigned an identification letter by the Rapporteurs, and
  • Typographical errors in a resolution or report will be corrected by the Rapporteurs and announced to the body.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.0 Voting

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

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

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

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

  • Any representative may request the adoption of a report, amendment or draft resolution by consensus at any time after closure of debate has passed,
  • For reports, the default method of voting is adoption by consensus,
  • The Chair shall then ask whether there is any objection to 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,

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

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

  • Following Closure of Debate, and prior to entering voting procedure, the Chair shall pause briefly to allow delegations the opportunity to make any relevant motions,
  • Relevant motions prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3), Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Decision of No Action (rule 7.5) (only available in GA Plenary), Decision of Competence (rule 7.7), Division of the Question (rule 7.10), or Important Question (rule 7.12) (only available in GA Plenary), and
  • Relevant requests prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3), Request for a roll call vote (rule 5.4), and
  • Once in voting procedure, no representative shall interrupt the voting except on a Point of Order or Point of Information concerning the actual conduct of the vote.

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

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

6.0 Points of Procedure in Order of Priority

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.0 Procedural Motions in Order of Priority

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

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

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

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

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

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion, and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • An item upon which debate has been adjourned must pass a vote of Reconsideration before it may be brought back to the floor for consideration (rule 7.11), and
  • The effect of this motion, if passed, removes the item from consideration and allows the Committee to move on to another draft report, resolution or amendment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote, and
  • The effect is the same as Adjournment of Debate (rule 7.3) and requires a motion for Reconsideration of Proposals (rule 7.11) in order to discuss the item again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.11 Reconsideration of Proposals. A motion for Reconsideration of Proposals is in order on a report, amendment, or draft resolution which has passed or failed when put to a final vote. The motion is also in order for proposals on which Adjournment of Debate has passed (rule 7.3), on proposals on which a Decision of No Action was decided (rule 7.5) and on proposals upon which the Committee has decided it was not competent to discuss or adopt (rule 7.7),

  • 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.

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

7.13 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.

7.14 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.

8.0 Rules Relating Only to the General Assembly Plenary Sessions

This section of the rules applies to the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary session, which will convene at the same time as the main Committees

8.1 Interchangeability of Rules. All Committee rules apply to the conduct of business in the General Assembly Plenary.

8.2 Quorum. The Concurrent General Assembly will observe the quorum requirements of rule 1.4. 

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

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The effect is the same as adjourning debate (rule 7.3) and requires a motion for Reconsideration (rule 7.11) in order to discuss the item again, and
  • This motion is in order during the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary sessions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Assembly and Economic and Social Council Short Form

 

Rule Second? Debatable? Vote Required Description
6.1 Point of Order No No None Point out a misuse of the rules
6.2 Point of Information No No None Ask any question of the Chair, or gain a clarification
6.3 Point of Inquiry No No None Ask a question of a speaker at the end of their speech, prior to the Delegation’s yielding the floor
7.1 Suspension of the Meeting Yes No Simple Majority Recess the meeting for a specific period of time
7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting Yes No Simple Majority End the meeting for the year
7.3 Adjournment of Debate Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Remove from consideration any proposal on the floor without a vote on the content of that proposal
7.4 Closure of Debate Yes 2 Con Simple Majority End debate on any proposal on the floor and bring it to an immediate vote
7.5 Decision of No Action Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Only in GA Plenary sessions; signify that no action will be taken on the matter
7.6 Appealing a Decision of the Chair Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Challenge a ruling made by the Chair
7.7 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
7.8 Consideration of Agenda Topics Yes No Simple Majority Change the order in which agenda items are discussed
7.9 Limits on Debate Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Impose (or repeal) a limit on the length of any form of debate
7.10 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
7.11 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
7.12 Important Question Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Only in GA Plenary sessions; requires a 2/3 majority vote to adopt a draft resolution or amendment
7.13 Consideration of Draft Resolutions Yes No Simple Majority Bring a draft resolution to the floor for discussion
7.14 Consideration of Amendments No No None Bring an amendment to the floor for discussion

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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. 

Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security

Governments, businesses and the general public around the globe increasingly rely on information and communication technologies (ICTs) in almost every aspect of life and work. From their role in providing government services and communicating public safety information, to enabling digital commerce and keeping friends and families connected worldwide amid a global pandemic, ICTs will continue to be a constant fixture of 21st century society. Governments have also used ICTs as instruments in maintaining international peace and security, yet these same tools can be used maliciously by State and non-State actors, presenting a bevy of risks. High-profile cyber attacks, such as the targeting of Iranian and Indian nuclear power plants, as well as an abundance of foreign electoral interventions in recent memory, illustrate the international cybersecurity implications of ICTs. The early months of the coronavirus pandemic unleashed a wave of cyber attacks targeting healthcare organizations and medical research facilities for informational and financial gain. As malicious actors work to hack States’ digital infrastructure to gain access to high-level information and state secrets, States have progressively joined the discussion around the need for an international framework for advancing peace and security in cyberspace.

The United Nations first addressed information security in 1998, when the Russian Federation added the topic to the agenda of the First Committee. In addition to recognizing the importance of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, Resolution 53/70 called for States to submit reports articulating their stances on the issues of information security to the Secretary-General, initiating an iterative process that has become a key confidence-building measure for understanding where States stand on this ever-evolving subject. Subsequent resolutions on this topic recurred in the First Committee year after year with minimal changes until 2004, when Resolution 58/32 authorized the first Group of Governmental Experts (GGE)—experts from 15 States, appointed by the Secretary-General yet working in their personal capacities—to consider existing and potential threats in the sphere of information security, potential measures for cooperation, and international information security issues. Experts—on behalf of their States—brought different perspectives and priorities to the GGE, with Russia, China, Brazil and Belarus promoting the right of States to ensure their own information security and the adoption of a new international legal regime, and the United States and European countries rejecting calls for cyber disarmament. These fundamental differences resulted in the failure of the first GGE to adopt a consensus report, an outcome that stifled progress on this topic until different circumstances permeated the political and security environment as a new GGE convened in 2009.

Cyber-related national security incidents instigated by Russia against Estonia in 2007 and Georgia and Lithuania in 2008 tempered the contentious political climate as participating experts from both West and East brought compatible priorities to the table as the second GGE convened between 2009 and 2010. Finding common ground on some aspects of this topic, the second GGE produced a consensus report, which the General Assembly adopted without a vote, demonstrating the body’s support for the process. The report’s contents mostly amounted to early cyber confidence-building measures, but experts recognized the gravity of threats posed in the sphere of information security, agreed to continue discussing norms pertaining to State use of ICTs, and noted a need to explore measures to reduce collective security risks and protect national and international infrastructure from cyber attacks. The subject of international law’s application in cyberspace has proven to be a stumbling block in negotiations, given that most of the existing body of international law lacks specialized rules for regulating cyberspace. The United States and several Western countries have argued for international law’s applicability in cyberspace, while Russia and China have called for a new international cyber convention. The third GGE in 2013 addressed the longstanding open question by bringing the experts together in agreement that the existing framework of international law—in particular the United Nations Charter—is applicable to cyberspace, and that future forums could discuss how it does so with greater granularity. The consensus report produced by the fourth GGE, now expanded to 20 experts, included for the first time a separate section listing 11 voluntary norms of responsible State behavior in their cyber activities. These include norms that States should cooperate in developing and applying measures to increase stability and security in the use of ICTs, States should consider how best to cooperate in exchanging information and assisting each other to address terrorist and criminal uses of ICTs, and States should take appropriate measures to protect their critical infrastructure from ICT attacks in pursuit of creating a global culture of cybersecurity.

The second, third and fourth GGEs established the foundation for today’s discussions on State behavior in cyberspace, but gridlock and backsliding characterized the fifth GGE that met between 2016 and 2017. Some States appeared to change their positions on the applicability of international law in cyberspace. The applicability of international humanitarian law and the question of whether States could respond to cyber attacks using non-cyber means created friction points that prevented consensus. One attributed cause for this dysfunction is the nature of the GGEs’ closed proceedings and their limited participation list involving only 25 Member States at this point, which failed to create a global environment that encouraged widespread, transparent implementation of the consensus reports’ voluntary norms and principles. Separately, the complex geopolitical environment of 2016 and 2017 made negotiations on this delicate subject more difficult to broach among the great power participants. In 2018, debate arose in the General Assembly First Committee over the next iteration of working groups, with Western interests backing a sixth GGE in Resolution 73/266, while the Russian Federation proposed a novel Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) in Resolution 73/27. In contrast to the GGEs of years past, the OEWG would be open to any and all interested United Nations Member States. Although this might address some of the perceived issues with the GGE’s limited membership, some watchdog groups noted that the resolution establishing the OEWG omitted references to the past GGEs’ consensus reports on the applicability of existing international law in cyberspace. Ultimately, the General Assembly adopted both resolutions, with a majority of Member States voting in favor of both.

Although pessimism filled the air as the two working groups set out to fulfill their mandates, both the sixth GGE and the OEWG submitted final consensus reports in 2021 that now await adoption in the General Assembly First Committee, marking important milestones and highlighting existing gaps in State capacity. Rather than acting as two groups with competing mandates, each carved out unique roles for themselves. The sixth GGE—comprised of 25 Member States—created an ecosystem where a fewer number of States could deliberate some of the more complicated and politically contentious aspects of this topic, while the OEWG—open to all interested Member States—served as a forum to build capacity and diffuse technical knowledge among the States who were not as involved with the previous GGEs. These dynamics came to pass as the bodies grappled with the quarrelsome topic of international law’s application to State behavior in cyberspace. The GGE actively engaged in sophisticated discussions concerning international law, including the role of international humanitarian law, State sovereignty, due diligence and State countermeasures. In contrast, the OEWG only commented on the applicability of international law in cyberspace at a high level—reaffirming the third and fourth GGE reports—and urged further capacity building on the subject. The vast majority of States did not issue a position concerning international law, potentially out of political considerations or due to a lack of legal capacity to understand and contribute to the topic. With the adoption of Resolution 75/240 in January 2021, deciding to convene a second OEWG from 2021–2025, questions abound of how the OEWG can continue to build capacity among and broaden the conversation to more Member States.

The ability of the sixth GGE to produce a consensus report that built upon past reports, when the fifth GGE failed, marks a step toward the implementation of norms and principles concerning State behavior in cyberspace. Absent from the report, however, is any mention of accountability in the context of State behavior, a difficult subject that could limit implementation unless the international community reaches consensus around ways to follow through on and enforce their commitments. So far, 47 Member States have called for the creation of a Programme of Action for advancing responsible State behavior in cyberspace, an action-oriented international framework and political commitment to address challenges related to the use of ICTs in the context of cybersecurity that States and other stakeholders face. Both of the recent reports from the GGE and OEWG recommended that the topic of a potential Programme of Action be added to the agenda of the second OEWG in order to ensure that the interests and concerns of all Member States are taken into account through equal State participation. As discussions trend toward establishing some form of Programme of Action, a natural point of reference will be the 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, also established under the auspices of the General Assembly First Committee. A cyber Programme of Action could be an effective bridge between calls for a legally binding treaty and the current voluntary normative framework established through the two working groups. Applying lessons from the 2001 Programme of Action could inform a new Programme of Action concerning cyberspace. Some civil society organizations are already encouraging the United Nations to be ambitious, focus on action and accountability, and ensure all stakeholders are engaged throughout all phases of negotiation and implementation in order to secure responsible State behavior in the context of international peace and security.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How should the enforcement of international law be changed to effectively regulate State behavior in cyberspace and preserve international peace and security?
  • How can the United Nations and the international community help build capacity and knowledge among Member States concerning the role of ICTs in the context of international security?
  • What measures should Member States include in a new Programme of Action to ensure States remain accountable to their commitments to responsible behavior in cyberspace?
  • What lessons from the 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons can be applied to a new Programme of Action on cyberspace? What concerns and recommendations will civil society organizations offer?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents:

Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control

With the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1979, the United Nations recognized the importance of complete disarmament in achieving full equality between men and women. Since then, the international community has increasingly examined the unique, nuanced and diverse ways in which armed conflict disproportionately affects women, and often in gender-specific ways. In 2019, 96 percent of conflict-related sexual violence targeted women and girls. Explosive weapons also often target marketplaces, the second highest location for civilian casualties, which disproportionately affects women, who are often responsible for buying food and household necessities at markets. Despite carrying many of the burdens of the consequences of conflict, women tend to be underrepresented in decisions that are made regarding disarmament, with only three out of every 10 peace agreements between 1992 and 2019 including any women in their negotiation or signing. Ensuring the equitable representation of women’s voices on the issues of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control is necessary to promote collective security and stability for all Member States, as research has shown that peace talks which meaningfully involve women yield a greater likelihood of lasting peace.

In 2000, the Security Council passed a resolution encouraging Member States to include the perspective of women in all fields of operations, including in peace negotiations, post-conflict reconstruction and disarmament. Subsequently, the Office of Disarmament Affairs adopted a Gender Action Plan in 2003 to explore the connection between disarmament and gender equality, incorporate gender into its ongoing work, and advocate for including gender perspectives and advocates in disarmament discussions. Progress in implementing this plan was slow and uneven; by 2004 the Secretary-General noted that women’s participation in developing policies and guidelines had increased, while substantial gaps remained in directly including women in conflict resolution processes. The ad hoc nature of voluntary financial contributions for initiatives focused on increasing attention to gender perspectives, protecting the human rights of women and promoting women’s participation in the arms control space have contributed to slow progress in the resolution’s implementation. In 2006, the United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects convened and established concrete recommendations for gender mainstreaming and including women in the implementation of the original 2001 United Nations Programme of Action (PoA), a foundational policy document in arms control. While the original PoA provided detailed policy recommendations, it did not discuss how the illicit small arms trade affects women or what their role is in addressing disarmament. The report created a set of guidelines focused on four areas: women’s relevance in combating the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons; planning and implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; national and regional foci; and civil society and public awareness initiatives. These guidelines were reviewed again in 2010 and 2016 and have served as references for efforts moving forward.

The General Assembly passed a resolution in 2010 focused solely on women’s role in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, the first of its kind, and adopted the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in 2013, now the primary international agreement regulating the legal movement and transfer of arms. Articles Six and Seven of the ATT call on States to assess the risk of arms being used to commit violence against women and children and deny any arms transfer if there is an overriding risk that the arms may be used to commit or faciliate gender-based violence, finally formalizing the need to address gender in armed conflict. While the ATT marks a step toward progress in the women and arms control space, a lack of accountability mechanisms for States that violate the treaty, as well as the failure of many States to provide their assessed financial contributions for implementation efforts, may be limiting the agreement’s potential to address gender-based violence.

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, the United Nations continued its efforts to address women’s participation in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, notably through Goal 5 on gender equality and eliminating gender-based violence and Goal 16 on reducing illicit arms trafficking. In 2018, the Secretary-General reported that some progress had been achieved among Member States in increasing female representation within their disarmament efforts. The United Nations has seen increased funding to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women. Many countries have reported increased numbers of women in government and armed forces positions. Women increasingly participate in peace negotiations. The Office of Disarmament Affairs also implemented the Women Scholarship for Peace initiative to train young female professionals on peace, disarmament and non-proliferation, leading to 170 early career female professionals from the global South receiving scholarships in the program’s first year. Despite this progress, as of 2019, women still only account for 32 percent of the participants at disarmament meetings, and account for 24 percent of delegation heads in the General Assembly First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament and the Non-Proliferation Treaty preparatory committee meetings.

One outstanding issue is the lack of access and resources allocated to address the specific challenges facing women. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programs provide support in many forms—including services, cash incentives, healthcare, training, travel remittance, small business grants or housing support—to halt conflict and reintegrate people and groups involved in armed conflict into society at large, contributing toward peace, security and disarmament. One barrier is that women do not register for DDR programs at a high level. Prevailing gender norms in some countries may prevent women from declaring themselves as members of an armed force out of fear for social sigma. Some DDR programs also fail to sufficiently address the gender-specific needs of either women and girls or men and boys, and how gender-specific needs fluctuate as gender norms change. Inhibiting access for women and girls to DDR support packages makes it less likely that they will make it to the negotiation table, and diminishes the likelihood that the economic and physical needs of women affected by armed conflict will be acknowledged, hindering the success of disarmament efforts.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • What steps can the international community take to further implement the Arms Trade Treaty and reduce the risk of arms being used to perpetuate violence against women?
  • How can the United Nations and Member States increase women’s participation, at all levels, in the field of disarmament?
  • How can Member States improve women’s access to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs? How can DDR programs be more responsive to the gender-specific needs of women?

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.

Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance continue to fuel tensions both within and between States. Recent events have demonstrated persistent acts of violence informed by racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance—including racially-charged police brutality in the United States—heightened xenophobia in South Africa and mistreatment of refugees internationally. Racism and intolerance also affect access to fundamental human rights, for example by perpetuating barriers and inequalities in healthcare, including physical segregation, disproportionate resource allocation and limited cultural competency and tolerance from healthcare providers. These issues have come to the fore in light of the disproportionate effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on groups already marginalized due to race or ethnicity.

Founded in the immediate aftermath of World War II, the United Nations has a long history of stated opposition to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The 1945 United Nations Charter and 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights assert that the fundamental rights contained within both documents apply to all peoples, regardless of race, ethnicity or origin. However, continued discrimination, particularly the West German “swastika epidemic” of 1959 and apartheid in South Africa, led the General Assembly to augment these documents by adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1963. The Declaration elaborated on the United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights while urging the United Nations and Member States to revise institutional structures that perpetuate racism and racial discrimination and highlighting the offense to the dignity of persons that results from racism and racial discrimination. Work done on the Declaration also led to the creation of the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The ICERD codified many of the statements in the Declaration while also creating the Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and a formal system for submitting complaints. While ICERD was a major step forward in international human rights, States Parties have also entered a significant number of reservations and objections to the Convention, particularly around articles involving hate speech and handling of complaints, limiting its applicability and creating conflicting interpretations of the text. Continued recognition of issues pertaining to racism and intolerance led to the creation of three Decades to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination between 1973 and 2003 as well as the 1978 and 1983 World Conferences Against Racism.

In 1993, the Commission on Human Rights created the position of Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, tasked with monitoring and reporting on the efforts of Member States to address the concerns of victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance appealing to and communicating with States about human rights violations. The 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action further emphasized the commitments of the international community in eliminating apartheid and for Member States to develop effective policies to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. In 2001, the third World Conference Against Racism was held in Durban, South Africa, resulting in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The Durban Declaration noted the continued failure to create universal respect for diversity and provided comprehensive international and national frameworks to guide the elimination of racism, with particular focus on persons of African descent, indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees. Although the Declaration marked a step forward in addressing racism and intolerance, the conference itself was fraught with controversies, including disagreement over reparations, accusations of antisemitism against multiple states and NGOs and the withdrawal of the United States and Israel. The Durban Declaration was revisited in 2009 and 2011, with a review meeting planned for 2021, albeit without the support of many Western nations.

Although the United Nations recognizes the need for establishing improved, coordinated and coherent implementation of programs that tackle racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, significant challenges remain. Many of the topics discussed within the context of these issues, including the relationship between racism and police violence and discrimination against migrants, remain highly controversial. Concern also exists that Member States have used the controversial nature of these topics to promote political agendas at the expense of grappling with the issues themselves. Organizers of the 2001 Durban conference, including diplomats and the former High Commissioner for Human Rights, have noted that many states appeared to enter the process with destabilizing goals and were unwilling to engage in the consensus-building seen at prior human rights conferences. These practices have continued beyond the 2001 conference into subsequent review conferences and into the General Assembly’s discussion of other racism-related topics, including annual resolutions regarding the threat of Nazism, which have been accused of being put forward to promote politically-motivated disinformation campaigns and limit freedom of expression. However, this treatment of the topic and its foundational documents comes at a cost for marginalized groups that continue to suffer from racism and intolerance.

A further area of contention is the subject of reparations for those affected by centuries of racism and colonialism, particularly people of African descent. ICERD notes that special measures to advance equity and secure protections for adequate advancement of certain racial or ethnic groups or individuals are required as a reconciliation strategy, while the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and racial intolerance noted in 2020 that reparations necessitate moral, economic, political and legal obligations in the pursuit of justice for victims of discrimination and intolerance and that existing mechanisms for reparations have followed patterns of exclusion produced by racial and ethnic inequality within countries. However, the Special Rapporteur also noted significant political and legal opposition to reparations, with former colonizing and slaveholding states arguing that current international law should not be applied to them retroactively.

In the meantime, hate speech, hostility and violence remain significant concerns for the United Nations. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many of the harmful effects of racism and xenophobia, with race and ethnicity affecting risk of transmission, access to healthcare and access to vaccination. The pandemic has also resulted in a significant rise in racist and discriminatory attacks, particularly against those of Asian descent. This has followed other trends, including an increase in antisemitic attacks and the rise of social media as a means of distributing racist content and ideology. Despite progress in awareness-building, victims struggle to obtain justice and compensation for imposed strife. The continuation of discrimination and a lack of concrete action by the international community jeopardizes the capacity for inclusive and equitable communities.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • What steps can the international community take to protect victims of discrimination and persecution based on racial, ethnic and national origin?
  • What positive actions, such as reparations, should Member States take to support victims or descendants of victims of historical prejudice?
  • How can Member States ensure access to economic, social and political opportunities and recourses for victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance?
  • How can Member States uphold international commitments to best practices for preventing, combating and eliminating adapting manifestations of eradicating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa

The forced movement of people in sub-Saharan Africa remains widespread. The Secretary-General observed that by the end of 2019, the number of dislocated persons in sub-Saharan Africa reached 33.4 million, up from 26.4 million in 2018. Displacement in sub-Saharan Africa is greater than in any other region of the world. This figure included 6.3 million refugees—people who are outside of their country of origin and unable to return due to threats to their safety—18.5 million internally displaced persons—individuals who have been forced to flee their home to avoid the effects of armed conflict but have not crossed a State border—530 thousand asylum seekers and 975 thousand stateless persons. This increase is attributed to myriad factors, including armed conflict, human trafficking, an economic recession and environmental deterioration. More than four million children in Africa are refugees and more than seven million are IDPs. The United Nations affirmed the increased risk and vulnerability to physical and psychological injury, exploitation and death of children in forced displacement.

In 1951, the United Nations General Assembly convened a Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons to deliberate, draft and sign what would become the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The Convention defined the term “refugee,” outlined their rights to employment, welfare, housing and naturalization, and established the legal obligation of States to protect them. Originally, this Convention was limited to protecting only European refugees displaced as a result and in the aftermath of World War II. In 1967, Member States began to sign the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which broadened the applicability of the 1951 Convention by removing these geographical limitations. This paved the way for the Organization of African Unity (OAU), formed in 1963 and a precursor to the African Union, to promote and protect the rights of refugees, returnees and displaced persons specifically in sub-Saharan Africa with the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention. The OAU Refugee Convention complemented the 1951 Convention and represented the collective undertaking by the Member States of the OAU to assist and protect refugees amid an era of decolonization and in accordance with their respective national legislations. Although ratified by 46 of the 55 African Union Member States, the full implementation of the OAU Refugee Convention remains a challenge. The failure of OAU Member States to implement systematic monitoring mechanisms, legislation and other measures has contributed to long standing barriers affecting asylum processes, restrictions on movements, xenophobia and maltreatment of refugee populations in parts of the continent.

The turmoil of civil wars throughout the 1980s and 1990s created a surge of refugees and IDPs in Africa, and although efforts to help these populations have been ongoing, this increased the need for support from the international community. The United Nations arranged Operation Lifeline Sudan to aid displaced persons in 1989 and 1990, and the Security Council authorized the use of force in Somalia and Rwanda to facilitate delivery of relief for all those affected by civil wars. In 1992, the General Assembly adopted its first resolution on assistance to refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons in Africa, requesting that additional resources be dedicated to refugee programs and calling on the Secretary-General and UNHCR to continue their support of these persons.

While the 1992 General Assembly resolution addressed IDPs alongside refugees, there has not always been equal support for all of these groups. The Secretary-General sought to elevate the plight of IDPs by appointing the first Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons in 1992, but not much was done specifically to help IDPs for years. By 1996, 14 of Africa’s 53 countries would be involved in civil wars, causing strife and displacement throughout the region. In 1995, the Secretary-General of the OAU raised concern about the inconsistency in treatment among these different groups. This initiated a conversation about ensuring that those displaced internally within a State were receiving similar support to those that have become refugees in another State. While not legally binding, in 1998, the Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons submitted the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement to the United Nations as a framework for ensuring that IDPs are receiving the same assistance as other displaced persons.

Concerns about internally displaced persons continued to erupt throughout the 2000s, even as the number of refugees declined year after year. Between 2000 and 2008 the number of refugees in sub-Saharan Africa decreased from 3.4 million to 2.1 million. Meanwhile, two million people were newly displaced within States in 2008, bringing the total of internally displaced persons on the continent to 11.6 million. To address the challenge, the African Union, in collaboration with the UNHCR and other international organizations, established the Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa in 2009. Also known as the Kampala Convention, this framework operationalized the 1998 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and turned to addressing immediate issues and root causes affecting internal displacement, including intrastate conflict and gender-based violence. As of June 2020, the Convention has been ratified by 31 of the 55 States of the African Union, with many others expressing interest in doing so, showing the wide-ranging support throughout the continent. Some reasons why some States have not yet ratified the Convention include an overwhelming number of other priorities, IDPs not being numerous in the country and a lack of appreciation for the value of ratification.

The Kampala Agreement and its subsequent implementation failed to abate the continuously growing number of IDPs in sub-Saharan Africa, which has surged since 2015 due to a mix of near-term and long-term factors. In recent years, Africa has hosted a third of the world’s conflicts and, consequently, a third of the world’s displaced persons. Thirteen African States, all of which are enduring internal conflict—caused in part by instability or corruption—rather than interstate conflict, account for nearly 90 percent of the 25 million people displaced on the continent. Looking forward, growing populations across the continent will continue to intensify the pressure on the limited resources of States, and environmental pressures exacerbated by climate change will amplify population dislocation. The World Bank projects that in the absence of large-scale action to reverse and adapt to climate change, more than 85 million sub-Saharan Africans could be forced to leave their homes by 2050. In their most recent report to the General Assembly on this topic, the Secretary-General called upon Member States, development partners and financial institutions to support inclusive approaches that resolve conflict and promote durable solutions. To this end, in 2020 the UNHCR launched a 186 million USD appeal to the international community to provide lifesaving protection and assistance to the Sahel region of Africa. Although assistance like this could alleviate some of the pressure facing displaced persons, the Secretary-General notes that long-term, adequate and predictable funding will be critical to fully address the challenges facing refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • What implementation strategies can Member States adopt to expand existing protections and support for refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa?
  • How can the international community strengthen regional mechanisms to preemptively identify and support persons vulnerable to displacement?
  • What steps can Member States take today to prepare for future causes of displacement, such as growing populations and climate change?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

General Assembly Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization)

The General Assembly Fourth Committee is charged with addressing a variety of political and peacekeeping issues. Its political work covers aspect of decolonization, mine action and Palestinian refugee issues. Its recommendations should address political aspects of an issue and not focus on the economic, social or development aspect of the topic. For example, while the Fourth Committee may discuss the political problems of the Syrian Golan, it cannot discuss the details of how to promote development in the area, a task better suited for the Second Committee. The Fourth Committee is also charged with the coordination and operational aspects of United Nations peacekeeping missions and the oversight of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. This is an important distinction from the Security Council which develops peacekeeping missions and objectives.

Assistance in mine action

One of the longest-lasting consequences of armed conflict is the continuing presence of landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW), including unexploded bombs, shells and cluster munitions. Landmines and other unexploded ordnance can remain deadly long after they have outlived their intended purpose, with the locations where they were dropped or planted often going unrecorded or forgotten and with the potential to explode at any moment. Rough estimates suggest that as many as 110 million landmines have been deployed worldwide, and between 1999 and 2017, landmines and ERW caused over 122 thousand casualties. After 15 years of decline, with over 52 million APMs destroyed since 1999, the number of casualties from mines and ERW has increased significantly since 2013, due in large part to ongoing global conflicts. In 2019 approximately 80 percent of victims were civilians, 43 percent of whom were children. Mine contamination also presents long-term social, economic and environmental challenges. Uncleared mines, both anti-personnel mines (APMs) and anti-vehicle mines (AVMs), limit access to humanitarian aid and pose risks to sustainable development. Survivors of mines and ERW blasts require medical care and may struggle to reintegrate into their communities.

Landmine casualties peaked in the 1990s, with over 25,000 people killed annually and widespread deployment in conflict areas. In 1996, after failing to amend Protocol II of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) to ban the use of landmines, Member States met in a series of conferences, independent of the United Nations System, to produce a document banning APMs outright. These efforts resulted in the signing of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa Convention or the Mine Ban Treaty, one year later. The Ottawa Convention prohibits States Parties from using, transferring or stockpiling APMs of any kind. States Parties are also required to clear landmines within their territory, provide services to mine victims and develop risk-reduction tools, such as mine risk education. The Ottawa Convention also commits States Parties to assisting other States Parties in the implementation of these requirements.

The adoption of the Ottawa Convention and the focus on mine action led to the rapid development of new regulations for other explosive ordnance. In 1997, the United Nations consolidated missions from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Humanitarian Affairs to establish the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), tasked with coordinating mine action work across the United Nations System. A group of Member States annexed a new Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War (Protocol V) to the CCW in 2005, designating States Parties as responsible for the tracking and clearance of ERW and increasing protections for civilians. Three years later, 30 States adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), applying the framework used in the Ottawa Convention to cluster munitions; 110 States have now adopted the CCM.

In recent years, there have been several positive developments in mine action, including the elimination of several States Parties’ APM stockpiles, increased gender parity in mine action and the increased integration of mine action into frameworks for national development and humanitarian programs. However, as traditional landmines have become less common, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have emerged in armed conflicts as a more deadly and dangerous threat. Adopted in 2019, the United Nations Mine Action Strategy 2019–2023 outlines three strategic outcomes: strengthening the protection of individuals and communities from the risks and socioeconomic impacts of explosive ordnance; ensuring that survivors, family members and communities affected by explosive ordnance have equal access to health and education and can participate fully in social and economic life; and ensuring that national institutions can effectively lead and manage mine action functions and responsibilities. Similarly, the Oslo Action Plan 2019–2024 adopted at the Fourth Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention outlines 50 measurable action items intended to strengthen international cooperation and compliance with the Convention, including a particular focus on building capacity and allowing States Parties to take ownership of mine action.

While multilateral commitment to mine action is stronger than ever, challenges remain for implementation of mine action frameworks. Although there are now 164 States Parties to the Ottawa Convention, 32 United Nations Member States have still not signed. These States continue to use, stockpile or manufacture APMs and cluster munitions. Concerns over lack of readiness for potential future conflict hinder accession and implementation efforts of the Ottawa Convention, and even within the jurisdiction of States Parties, non-State actors still plant landmines as part of ongoing conflicts. Even as significant progress on mine action has been made, support for victims still lags behind. Moreover, as the world approaches the 2025 deadline for a landmine free world set in the 2014 Maputo+15 Declaration, imbalanced funding support risks leaving some Member States behind.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • What can be done to help achieve universal adoption of the Ottawa Convention?
  • How can the United Nations adapt its mine action programs to changing threats such as IEDs, ERW and increasingly urbanized conflict?
  • What can the United Nations do to build capacity within individual Member States to manage their own mine action programs?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents:

Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples

Decolonization remains central to the United Nations’ mission of protecting the rights of all peoples, and it endures as one of the United Nations’ greatest success stories. Lack of self-government limits the ability of territories to choose their own political, economic and social destinies, leaving them dependent on administering Powers that are often far away and indifferent to domestic concerns. In 1946, the United Nations created a list of 72 territories that it considered “non-self-governing” as defined by Article 73 of the United Nations Charter. Today, only 17 territories remain on the list, representing approximately 750 million people around the world who have gained self-determination. However, recent progress has been slow: only one territory, Timor-Leste, has been removed from the list since 1994, while another territory, French Polynesia, was readded in 2013.

Decolonization can be a delicate process: no two territories gain independence in the same way, and even successful efforts can result in turmoil. The independence referendum in Timor-Leste was met with mass violence which led to a United Nations peacekeeping mission and a three-year-long transition of power between Indonesia, the United Nations and the new government. This transition highlights the challenges of the period surrounding independence, including the development of new government institutions and economic systems, the risks of backlash from anti-independence forces and the necessity of international support.

In addition to defining Non-Self-Governing Territories, Article 73 of the United Nations Charter directs colonial Powers to help support territories in the process of achieving some form of self-determination. In particular, Article 73(e) requires the administering Power of a Non-Self-Governing Territory to submit yearly updates regarding its social and economic conditions for United Nations review. As former colonies were quickly becoming new Member States, in 1960, the General Assembly updated the Charter’s definition of “Non-Self-Governing Territory” with a list of criteria and adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. The Declaration reiterated the necessity of allowing people in Non-Self-Governing Territories the freedom to fully pursue their political, social, economic and cultural rights, defining colonization as contrary to those goals and those of the United Nations Charter. It also warned against any attempts to suppress, divide or use force against Non-Self-Governing Territories, all strategies historically used against territories seeking self-governance.

Shortly thereafter in 1961, the General Assembly established the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence of Colonial Countries and Peoples (C-24). The C-24 is responsible for reviewing the progress of the Declaration and providing recommendations on transitional issues as territories realize self-governance. Since 1963, it has been responsible for reviewing the yearly updates from administering Powers required under Article 73(e) and reporting on them to the General Assembly Fourth Committee. This process was largely successful between 1963 and 1984, a period in which roughly two-thirds of Non-Self-Governing Territories were removed from the initial list after gaining independence, joining another State or being determined to no longer meet the criteria for non-self-governance. However, no territories achieved self-determination between 1984 and 1990. In recognition of the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration, and noting this slowdown, the General Assembly in 1988 declared the period from 1990 to 2000 as the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, with a corresponding plan of action. The plan, intended to hasten the rate of decolonization, laid out proposals for action for the international community, including United Nations specialized agencies, administering Powers and other Member States. As the pace of territories’ removal from the list continued to slow, this was followed by the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism from 2001 to 2010, with a revised plan of action based on the lessons learned from the preceding decade, and the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism from 2011 to 2020.

In 2020, the General Assembly established the decade from 2021 to 2030 as the Fourth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. Having seen no new progress, it called on the international community to continue implementing the plan of action adopted during the Second Decade while urging administering Powers to cooperate with the C-24 in coordinating the self-governance of current Non-Self-Governing Territories. Although the General Assembly has maintained a strong focus on implementation of the Declaration, outside observers have criticized the C-24 and the Fourth Committee for not taking more decisive action to accelerate the decolonization process.

As the Fourth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism begins, it remains to be seen what progress the United Nations will be successful in making regarding the status of any of the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories, as significant challenges remain in successful implementation of the Declaration. Significant disagreement exists over the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories itself, with the C-24 and Fourth Committee routinely hearing debate about adding or removing territories. Meanwhile, experts speaking to the C-24 have expressed that Non-Self-Governing Territories often have limited knowledge of the self-determination options available to them, and that the perception of a lack of desire for self-determination from these territories may be better understood as a lack of information. At the same time, Non-Self-Governing Territories continue to experience lack of self-determination while remaining highly susceptible to external events, including natural disasters, rising sea levels and the COVID-19 pandemic. The effects of these challenges are magnified by the economic impacts from limited resources and lack of control over their own economies. Without more diplomatic progress from administering Powers or the C-24, the need for a Fifth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism may be inevitable.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • What steps should the United Nations take to fully implement the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples?
  • How can the United Nations improve the availability of information regarding self-determination options for Non-Self-Governing Territories?
  • What obstacles prevent the international community from making significant further progress on decolonization?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Human Rights Council (HRC)

The Human Rights Council (HRC) 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.

The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation

Consistent access to safely-managed sanitation and hygiene facilities and a sufficient supply of safe, affordable water for drinking, cooking and cleaning are fundamental human rights and universal necessities. While access to water, sanitation and hygiene has improved in the 21st century, 29 percent of the world’s population is still without access to safely-managed drinking water services and 55 percent is without access to safely-managed sanitation services. Lack of access to these facilities also perpetuates other human rights issues, including lack of access to education, lack of safe healthcare facilities and gender inequality. Safe drinking water and sanitation facilities are also frequently targeted in conflicts, with forced displacement during armed conflict further hindering access. Through Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, the United Nations has set the goal of achieving universal access to clean drinking water and equitable sanitation and hygiene services by 2030.

Treating access to water and sanitation as explicit human rights is a relatively recent concept, with neither right formally recognized in either the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The final report of the 1977 United Nations Water Conference, the first international conference on water scarcity, was the first time the United Nations explicitly recognized water as an essential right, with “similar considerations” for sanitation. This shift led to the inclusion of language regarding water and sanitation in subsequent human rights documents, including the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Recognition of the importance of access to water and sanitation grew rapidly with the turn of the century. In 2000, the United Nations adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for international development. MDG Target 7.C set the goal of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. Two years later, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights formally acknowledged that the rights to water and sanitation were implicit in the ICESCR’s articles on standards of living and health. In 2010, the General Assembly explicitly recognized a human right to safe drinking water and sanitation for the first time, representing the culmination of these changes. The Human Rights Council followed suit later that year. This also coincided with the international community meeting the goals for water access set in MDG Target 7.C.

Building on these successes, the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals included SDG 6, dedicated to ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030, and setting eight specific targets for measuring progress, ranging from increased development assistance for water and sanitation facilities to greater integrated water resources management implementation. That same year, at the urging of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the General Assembly recognized the right to safe drinking water and the right to sanitation as separate human rights, due in large part to a consistent lack of focus on sanitation access.

In 2016, the General Assembly declared the period from 2018 to 2028 as the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development,” with the goal of increasing discussion around best practices for providing universal water resources. Numerous reports and resolutions across the United Nations system have highlighted the importance of water and sanitation access and outlined regional strategies for progressive realization of SDG 6. In their commemorative report on progress made between 2010 and 2020, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation identified three critical components of a human rights-based approach to water and sanitation: assessing the root causes that drive exclusion from access to water and sanitation, incorporating the human rights framework into policy making and ensuring that people in affected communities, particularly those in marginalized groups, remain centered and protected in all decisions.

Despite notable progress and consistent attention from the United Nations and NGOs, the international community is currently far from ensuring universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2030. While the United Nations continues to highlight the importance of sustainable development in meeting the need for water and sanitation access, large development projects often fail to utilize a human rights-based approach, leading to further harms against the communities they are ostensibly supposed to benefit. There is also significant competition for water use in the agricultural, industrial and energy sectors, creating conflict over limited water resources. Climate change also exacerbates water and sanitation issues, further straining existing resources as access and affordability remain central challenges to securing the right to water and sanitation.

Unequal attention to the right to sanitation has also been a significant challenge to achieving SDG 6, with progress on and funding for sanitation-related goals lagging far behind those for safe drinking water. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the inherent risks of lack of sanitation and hygiene access, with lack of handwashing facilities and sanitation facilities contributing to further spread of the virus. Implementing safe, accessible, affordable and culturally appropriate sanitation and hygiene facilities alongside improving water access is necessary to meet the needs of all peoples and ensure the full enjoyment of their human rights.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can the United Nations help to ensure that implementation of new water and sanitation-related development projects and new technologies follow a human rights-based approach?
  • How can the international community ensure that the realization of the right to sanitation is met with the same level of effort as the right to safe drinking water?
  • How can the international community expand access to safe drinking water and sanitation in the face of climate change, water pollution and other threats to the water supply?
  • How can the Human Rights Council help secure the rights of marginalized groups which disproportionately suffer from a lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation?

 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Human rights and indigenous peoples

Indigenous peoples face unique obstacles to the full enjoyment of their human rights due to a history of discrimination and marginalization. Indigenous peoples have experienced centuries of repeating patterns of dispossession and forced removal from ancestral lands, forced assimilation and loss of cultural traditions, and lack of self-determination. These patterns have resulted in political, social and economic conditions that perpetuate other human rights abuses, including increased risk of gender-related violence, higher rates of poverty and increased criminalization. New threats to indigenous rights continue to emerge: The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected indigenous communities, who often lack full access to healthcare. Climate change also poses a significant threat to indigenous peoples, both despite and because of their close connections to their ancestral lands and history of ecological stewardship.

In 1971, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) commissioned a study on issues concerning indigenous peoples, largely due to activism by indigenous groups. The study, published between 1981 and 1983, detailed the distinct obstacles indigenous peoples faced in achieving their human rights and within the United Nations system. From this work, ECOSOC established the Working Group on Indigenous Population (WGIP) in 1982 to continually review the conditions surrounding indigenous rights. Working from recommendations of the WGIP, the International Labor Organization (ILO) revised a 1957 convention to create the 1989 Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (C169). While C169 has been celebrated as an important step in creating dialogue and accountability between governments and indigenous peoples, the Convention’s binding nature and its emphasis on indigenous control of ancestral lands made it unpopular, with only 24 states ratifying it. 

The 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action recommended specific steps for greater recognition of indigenous rights at the United Nations. One such recommendation was realized in 2000, with the establishment of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (IPFII). The IPFII was mandated to provide expert advice on indigenous populations, promote integration of indigenous peoples into the United Nations System and disseminate information on indigenous issues to appropriate bodies. The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples was created one year later in 2001 to report on the status of indigenous rights. 

Another recommendation culminated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2006 and the General Assembly in 2007. UNDRIP established a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples. It additionally elaborated on existing standards of human rights as they apply to indigenous populations’ specific circumstances. Among its provisions are the express rights to retain cultural traditions, safeguard linguistic identity, prevent forced assimilation, establish independent educational systems and seek redress for past grievances. UNDRIP’s adoption coincided with the 2007 establishment of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) to succeed the WGIP. EMRIP was tasked with conducting research on the rights of indigenous peoples and the state of specific indigenous cultures and meets annually to solicit input from indigenous leaders, non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations and academics. The United Nations continued to consider UNDRIP and related issues at the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and as part of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Despite widespread acceptance by Member States, implementation of UNDRIP continues to pose a significant challenge. In 2015, the United Nations published the System Wide Action Plan on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in order to coordinate the implementation of UNDRIP and increase indigenous participation in the United Nations System. However, reviews conducted in 2020 by the Secretary-General and the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) have found the United Nations’ work to be relatively inconsistent. Indigenous leaders and the Secretary-General continue to call for “a new social contract” that restores the human rights of indigenous peoples.

In the meantime, many of the obstacles that indigenous peoples face, from climate change to the repatriation of ancestral objects, are perpetuated by the lack of inclusion of indigenous peoples in decision-making and a broader lack of self-determination. International responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have frequently omitted indigenous voices, even as indigenous communities are often among the most adversely affected. These responses have largely replicated existing processes that violate the principles of free, prior and informed consent outlined in UNDRIP as necessary for taking actions that affect indigenous peoples or their resources. The Special Rapporteur for the rights of indigenous peoples has called for a more robust system of review to ensure that Member States comply with international human rights standards for indigenous peoples, particularly for states that are unwilling to work directly with international bodies, as well as greater cooperation between the United Nations, indigenous peoples and regional institutions.

Violence against and criminalization of indigenous peoples, particularly those attempting to protect their rights and ancestral lands, is also an area of increasing human rights concern. States’ desire for economic stability during the pandemic has led to rollbacks of safeguards that protect indigenous peoples and their ancestral lands in favor of large projects that, even when labelled “sustainable,” violate their rights under UNDRIP. Indigenous individuals and groups who have attempted to protest these projects have faced increased risk of arrest and prosecution and violence from non-State actors, threatening their fundamental rights to free assembly and expression. In extreme cases, indigenous activists have been murdered due to their activism; two-thirds of the human rights defenders killed in 2020 were specifically involved in environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can the United Nations pursue greater self-determination for indigenous people?
  • How can the United Nations better support indigenous communities in the midst of global crises such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • What should the Human Rights Council do to ensure stronger compliance with UNDRIP and other relevant human rights documents pertaining to indigenous peoples?
  • How can the United Nations ensure that indigenous voices and leadership are centered in discussions of potential action?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

The IAEA was created in 1957 in response to the deep fears and expectations resulting from the discovery of nuclear energy. The IAEA Statute, which 81 States unanimously approved in October 1956, outlines the three pillars of the Agency’s work: nuclear verification and security, safety, and technology transfer. This session will simulate the IAEA Board of Governors. In order to facilitate a simulation in four days, the simulation will focus on two issues: Measures to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety and Application of IAEA safeguards in the Middle East. The Agency will write resolutions to cover these issues.

Nuclear and radiation safety

As nuclear technology continued its rapid development after World War II, the international community and the newly-formed United Nations became increasingly concerned about the consequences of nuclear radiation. Nuclear and radiation safety involves the implementation of proper operating conditions, prevention of accidents and mitigation of accident consequences, protecting workers, the general public and the environment from undue radiation risks. Beyond generating electricity, nuclear technology has other useful and peaceful applications, including in agriculture, medicine and consumer products. One of the primary goals of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since its founding in 1957 has been to ensure that Member States can utilize the benefits of nuclear energy while strengthening international cooperation in the areas of nuclear, radiation, transportation and waste safety. The risks inherent in nuclear power are high: Environmental and water contamination, high-level or prolonged human exposure to radiation, and the theft of nuclear materials by non-State actors all threaten the legitimate and peaceful use of nuclear materials. Although only 30 countries maintain a combined 443 operational nuclear power reactors as of 2019, disasters know no boundaries, and a singular nuclear incident can impact millions of people.

Prior to 1960, there was no convention on liability for nuclear waste incidents, leading to ambiguities in State responsibility. States with nuclear incidents had no clear standard for safety, incident response or victim compensation. In 1960, the international community negotiated the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy, addressing a major area of nuclear safety. The Convention, which entered into force in 1968, sets standards for liability and compensation for damages caused by accidents that take place during the production of nuclear energy. Other strides made toward outlining nuclear safety and liability also include the 1963 Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage and the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC). Together, these aimed to increase the amount of compensation available for financial protection against damage resulting from certain peaceful uses of nuclear energy. This was a promising first step for taking responsibility in the event of a nuclear safety incident, though only 43 States are party to the CSC and only 16 States are party to the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy. Additional protocols to the Paris Convention were added in 1964, 1982 and 2004, with increasingly fewer signatories: The additional protocol added in 2004 only has two States Party.

The first major test of nuclear safety arrived in 1986 with the reactor meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which set the tone and focus at the IAEA for the following decades. The Chernobyl disaster exposed staff and emergency responders to nuclear radiation and yielded long lasting effects that continue to affect communities in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The United Nations increased measures taken to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear safety and radiological protection in response to the Chernobyl event. They also requested that States share nuclear safety related information to prevent another Chernobyl-like disaster from happening. These efforts led to increased safety measures, as well as the Convention on Nuclear Safety, decreasing the likelihood of disasters associated with poor construction standards and lax safety protocols.

The IAEA launched the Global Nuclear Safety and Security Network (GNSSN) in 2007 as a virtual community designed to assist the dissemination of nuclear safety standards and expertise at the national, regional and global levels. The GNSSN acts as an umbrella organization, coordinating the work of the disparate academic institutions, national laboratories, industry groups and regional bodies involved in nuclear technology. This work is instrumental in achieving a core goal to foster the exchange of scientific and technical information on peaceful uses of atomic energy as described in Article III of the Statute of the IAEA. While successful coordination of this process speaks to the dedication of the Member States of the IAEA, it also illustrates the crucial role of digital-age technology in disseminating information at truly global scales.

Much of the current work of the IAEA is focused on lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident. A comprehensive June 2015 report on the incident underscored the importance of creating a global framework for mitigating the vulnerability of nuclear facilities to external events. An unresolved challenge identified during the Fukushima Daiichi accident is the need to effectively coordinate and disseminate accurate information to the public during a nuclear emergency. After the disaster, the IAEA prepared an Action Plan on Nuclear Safety. The Action Plan aims to improve international nuclear safety through cooperation and information sharing between national authorities and technical experts. Under the Action Plan, the IAEA has facilitated peer reviews and capacity building programs for Member States planning to embark on a nuclear power program. The IAEA has focused on improving emergency preparedness and response in addition to ongoing technical work on developing standards and training related to nuclear safety to prevent accidents.

The IAEA continues to work with related United Nations bodies, committees and working groups on efforts that bridge the Agency’s safety and technology transfer functions. One example of such collaboration is the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and its work through the Nuclear Safety and Security Online User Interface platform that provides Member States with information and policy recommendations that support them in using atomic innovations safely. Through the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action program, the IAEA is exploring nuclear and radiation medicine to limit the spread of future pandemics. The expanded role of radioactive technology in agricultural, research and industrial fields highlights the need for proper control of sources and safe management—especially in relation to domestic and international transportation and export. Addressing the need for increased capacity building among Member States and availability of funding toward pursuing peaceful nuclear technologies is key to the organization’s goals of improving the safety and security culture at all levels. As interest in nuclear research continues to grow, previous technologies are needing to be replaced. The International Energy Agency expects between 200 and 400 commercial and research reactors globally to be decommissioned by 2040 due to the increasing age of nuclear fleets. This has intensified the request by Member States for the IAEA to develop specific training materials and support on the decommissioning of facilities. The IAEA is particularly concerned with ensuring appropriate waste management. The IAEA recognizes increased collaboration among Member States and stresses the importance of Member States to set up a national strategy for education and training regarding nuclear and radiation waste transport and waste disposal and ensure multilateral operations and training are in line with national requirements.

One area needing more attention is the transportation of radioactive materials by land, air and sea. While there has not been a major accident during the transport of radioactive material outside the national boundaries of an IAEA Member State, the growing demand for radioactive materials, as well as increased development of nuclear power programs, is likely to increase the volume of radioactive materials shipped internationally. Although the IAEA created the Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material in 2018, there is still a pressing need to establish requirements for the safe handling and transportation of radioactive material, and to equip regulators with the tools to enforce them. Ensuring that the country responsible for transporting radioactive materials, as well as countries near and through which such materials move during shipment, are informed and prepared to respond in the event of an accident poses challenges for IAEA coordination. This is a primary IAEA concern, especially when considering those Member States not party to all of the past conventions.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How should the IAEA balance its role with supporting the development of innovative, peaceful nuclear technologies while promoting a global culture of safety and limiting the risk of nuclear accidents from occurring?
  • What steps can the IAEA take to ensure that Member States have the support, resources and technical capabilities necessary to manage decommissioning aging nuclear reactors?
  • How can the IAEA and the international community promote safety in the transportation of nuclear and radioactive materials, especially in cases where hazardous materials cross borders?
  • How can the IAEA continue to make measurable progress in fulfilling its mandate, given the reality that not all Member States are party to past conventions, treaties or agreements?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents:

Nuclear security

Nuclear security involves preventing, detecting and responding to the theft, sabotage, unauthorized access or illegal transfer of nuclear and radioactive materials. Today, nuclear security encompasses the protection of nuclear and radiological materials and facilities through their full life cycles, and has necessarily expanded beyond questions of physical security to include problems such as cybersecurity and insider threats. The International Atomic Energy Agency has used its mantates to inform and advise to educate its regulatory and industry partners, encourage the sharing of best practices, and ensure States’ legal and regulatory codes uphold their international commitments as enshrined in various agreements. The IAEA continues to assess that a number of Member States are failing to adhere to best practices, and that emergent technologies add to the complexity of ensuring the security of nuclear materials and facilities. While there has yet to be an attack using illicitly acquired radiological or nuclear material, the international community and malicious actors have both long recognized the unique threat—physical and psychological—that such an attack presents.

The IAEA published its first version of its Recommendations for the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material in 1975, which was followed by the international community’s adoption of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) in 1979, focused on the international transport of nuclear material. The 1975 Recommendations promoted measures to prevent the unauthorized removal of nuclear material, locate and recover any in the event of its loss and minimize the risk of sabotage to facilities. The Convention promoted legal reforms to prevent the diversion of nuclear material from regulatory control, set standards for the safe transport of nuclear materials and encouraged both information sharing and legal cooperation. While revisions were made to the Recommendations in the years that followed, it was two decades before the IAEA and international community revisited this subject in depth.

Following high profile terrorist attacks and various smuggling incidents throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, States became increasingly concerned about the risks of nuclear terrorism. Among the smuggling incidents, the most concerning at the time were the seizures of highly enriched uranium in Bulgaria in 1999 and France in 2001, which led intelligence experts to worry that thieves inside of Russia stole a nuclear bomb’s worth of highly enriched uranium. The Security Council had previously stressed Member States’ obligations to prevent the proliferation of any and all weapons of mass destruction, but spurred by these events, the Council adopted Resolution 1540 in 2004. Resolution 1540 focused on countering State support to non-State actors that sought to develop, acquire, transport or use weapons of mass destruction.

The IAEA worked in parallel to the Security Council and published its first comprehensive plan of action for nuclear security in 2002, which included the creation of the Nuclear Security Fund, a voluntary funding mechanism set up to help Member States implement the 2002 plan. The IAEA began regularly publishing these Nuclear Security Plans (NSPs) as a means of highlighting Member States’ priorities for the Agency for the years ahead, outlining planned projects and activities to address those priorities, and reviewing the progress achieved during the previous plan. However, IAEA’s planning documents do not include guidelines for prioritizing its nuclear security activities, and some nuclear security programs lack baseline performance targets, limiting the IAEA’s ability to measure program outcomes.

The international community also adopted two additional significant measures in 2005. The International Convention for the Supression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism criminalized the possession, use or threat of use of radioactive devices by non-State actors, and promoted domestic and regional regulatory and legal reforms that complemented the IAEA’s work. Adopted around the same time, the Amendment to the CPPNM expanded states’ responsibilities to secure and protect domestic nuclear material and facilities, responsibilities that included promoting the coordinated, rapid response to any stolen or smuggled nuclear material, critical to preventing or responding to illicit diversion. The CPPNM and this Amendment, along with relevant aspects of the Security Council resolutions and the International Convention, serve as the legal binding elements of the international nuclear security framework.

With the increasing integration of computers and sensors to manage both the function and security of nuclear and radiological facilities, the IAEA in the late 2000s began to wrestle with how to best benefit from these important technologies while protecting these facilities from cybersecurity attacks. Cyber actors could hack into facilities’ networks to steal nuclear materials or even attempt to sabotage the facilities. The threat moved from fear to reality in 2010 with the discovery of the Stuxnet attack on the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in Iran. The Agency published its first technical guidance on the subject, Computer Security at Nuclear Facilities in 2011. Protecting against cyber threats is a difficult challenge, as many attacks take advantage of undetected and novel flaws in the design or management of networks. The pace of cybersecurity threats and the diversity of digital systems used globally in nuclear facilities means the IAEA continues to educate States, industry and civil society of the threat; promote information sharing among these partners; and sponsor research to both promote systemic resilience and hardening against the cybersecurity threat. It is a cross-cutting issue that also affects the IAEA’s work in detecting unauthorized acts involving nuclear and other radiological material, securing its own information and ensuring confidentiality, and responding to nuclear events—major areas of IAEA activity during the 2018–2021 Nuclear Security Plan (NSP). As the IAEA reviews the performance of the 2018–2021 NSP and prepares its 2022–2025 plan, how to ensure the Agency’s timely response to the cybersecurity threat, while staying vigilant for other novel and familiar threats, will remain key foci.

Among the most pressing challenges facing nuclear security and the IAEA moving forward are insider threats, a risk that has become even more potent amid the COVID-19 pandemic. An insider threat is an individual with authorized access to a nuclear facility and material who could attempt unauthorized removal or sabotage. They could also assist an external adversary in gaining unauthorized access. Insider threats are dangerous because they possess unique access, authority and knowledge about nuclear facilities. Although the IAEA first published guidance concerning preventative and protective measures against insider threats in 2008, more recent incidents—including an insider attack at the Doel-4 nuclear power plant in Belgium in 2014 that shut the plant down for months and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in economic damages—demonstrate the risk of insider threats. In response, the IAEA has emphasized the need for advanced, practitioner level training on insider risk mitigation to address risk at the national and facility levels. The IAEA further suggests that security and confidence-building programs to conduct performance tests, self assessments and peer reviews could improve the performance of insider threat mitigation efforts, although due diligence is critical to avoid the release of sensitive site-specific information that could exacerbate insider risks—underscoring the need for a holistic approach to protecting against insider threats.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can the IAEA best balance using advanced technology to operate nuclear facilities while promoting systemic resilience and ensuring their security from cyberattacks?
  • What areas of emphasis should be included in the IAEA’s 2022–2025 Nuclear Security Plan?
  • What steps can the IAEA and Member States take to reduce the risk of insider threats? How can States more effectively build trust to use peer reviews as a confidence-building and security tool?

Bibliography

 

United Nations Documents:

United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) creates and coordinates UN environmental activities and policies and develops international environmental law. With universal membership, UNEA is also the primary international body when it comes to discussing environmental issues, particularly those that require collective global action. UNEA was established in 2012 as part of the “strengthening and upgrading” of the United Nations Environment Programme after the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. While the UN Member States are the only voting members, the UNEA meetings, which occur every other year, include the voices of thousands of representatives of governments, international organizations and civil society groups. The simulation of the United Nations Environment Assembly will be a special session. Each delegation may place one representative on this body.

Innovative pathways to achieve sustainable consumption and production

Over the last few decades, millions of people around the globe have moved out of poverty and a number of countries have reached the status of middle income, but the patterns of development that have lifted them out of poverty have also resulted in damage to the environment. Meeting the increased demand for resources such as food, water and energy has strained available resources, increased pollution and worsened climate change, thus pushing the Earth toward the limits of what it can sustain. With this in mind, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has emphasized a model of sustainable consumption and production (SCP), which is a model by which pollution and natural resource use are minimized while providing an acceptable quality of life. SCP encompasses both the decisions surrounding what goods to provide a population to ensure its quality of life and the processes by which resources are extracted to manufacture those goods. Material and energy efficiency are critical, though planners must guard against a rebound effect where increased efficiency leads to an increase in consumption. As the resources that must be conserved are global in scope, it is critical that the entire supply chain of a product be considered, as well as the fate of the product once it is consumed or discarded.  With these principles in mind, the goal is to ultimately create an economic system that sees continued growth while safeguarding the environment. This model must not only support the current population, but accommodate population growth, as the global population is estimated to grow to over 9.7 billion by 2050. This increase will cause a strain on food production, water and other important resources. Without a plan in place, this strain will be passed on to the environment, with devastating effects on global health and wellbeing. 

The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Environment in Stockholm brought the status of the environment to the fore of the international community. This Conference proposed 26 principles and 109 action items through the Stockholm Declaration and Action Plan for the Human Environment, including human rights, ocean pollution and weapons of mass destruction. Recognizing the importance of international cooperation on these issues, the Conference established the UNEP to coordinate the United Nations’ environmental efforts. This conference was successful in laying out a structure for addressing environmental issues and establishing them as a necessary topic for international cooperation, but also revealed Cold War-related tensions about membership and conflicts between developed and developing countries about the balance between development and environmental protection

Guided by this framework, the international community was able to come to several agreements on minimizing environmentally destructive practices, including the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985. This convention balanced the need to phase out production and use of ozone-depleting gases with the need to promote innovation regarding alternatives to these gases and international sharing of new technologies. Still, larger challenges remained as global economic growth led to a sharp increase in consumption of natural resources over the second half of the 20th century.  With the groundwork set, the Oslo Symposium of 1994 brought the international focus on how to best address production and consumption of goods, noting the necessary balance between the increased quality of life that these goods provide and the pollution and resource depletion they entail. The Symposium defined sustainable consumption in terms of the entire life cycle of a product, including its supply chain, and suggested that substitution of resource-intensive and otherwise unsustainable products with sustainable alternatives was more practical than reducing the volumes consumed. Accordingly, the recommendations for action from this symposium focused on developing and promoting more sustainable products. The process for attaining sustainable consumption and production was later elaborated in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPI), adopted at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). This solidified consumption and production as essential parts of any plan for sustainability along with poverty eradication and natural resource management. The JPI identified efficiency across the entire life cycle of a product as key for sustainability, and furthermore called for the internalization of environmental costs via the “polluter pays” principle. It also identified energy technologies as a crucial area for innovation, including both renewable energy and more efficient fossil fuel-based energy. While these changes mean that each unit of energy produced 1.5 times as much economic output in 2015 as compared to 1990, 2013 patterns of energy consumption and production were still expected to result in an increase in global land temperatures of six degrees Celsius above 1900 levels and a 70 cm increase in sea level by 2100 if continued throughout the century. 

In 2012, the General Assembly passed a broad resolution entitled The Future We Want. This resolution covered topics ranging from governance to education, but the bulk of the resolution focused on sustainable development. The resolution identifies promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production as one of the three dimensions of sustainable development, along with poverty eradication and natural resource management. These previous efforts to achieve SCP have since been reinforced through their inclusion in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production, promotes resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure and providing access to basic services and jobs that will help provide a better quality of life. This goal aimed to assist development plans, reduce future economic, environmental and social costs of development, strengthen economic growth, and reduce poverty worldwide. In 2019, UNEP passed the Innovative Pathways to Achieve Sustainable Consumption and Production, which elaborates on Goal 12. This resolution promotes involvement of the private sector and re-emphasizes the need for life-cycle analysis of products, from their supply chain to their fate in waste management. UNEP complemented that resolution with several others focusing on specific aspects of production and consumption, including marine litter and microplastics, single-use plastics pollution, innovative methods for reducing land degradation and sustainable management of the nitrogen cycle

UNEA did not meet in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and deferred substantive issues to 2022 in its 2021 online meeting. In that online meeting, UNEA also noted that the situation remains concerning, with the resources of 1.6 Earths required to sustainably meet current living standards. Furthermore, several resolutions from the 2019 session request the current session discuss their impactCrises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the blockage of the Suez Canal on the 23rd of March 2021 show that challenges to the international supply chain can have lasting effects. On the other hand, they provide great opportunities to build a more sustainable future. The President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) noted this in the closing session of the 2021 UNEA meeting, identifying financing, sustainable infrastructure and science and technology as three areas recovery efforts should focus on. The challenges of sustainable development are multifaceted and somewhat recalcitrant, but international cooperation is key to finding solutions.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  1. What can states do to implement sustainable practices into the rebuilding process following COVID-19?
  2. How can existing infrastructure be improved to reduce resource consumption while providing an acceptable quality of life?
  3. Are there ways that partnerships can be improved to ensure sustainable practices up and down the international supply chain?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Poverty-Environment Nexus

Poverty is a very harmful and degrading experience, and many countries have therefore chosen to pursue development regardless of the cost to the natural environment. While it is often easier and cheaper in the near-term to pursue development programs that unsustainably exploit the local environment, such programs harm long-term economic stability. Air and water pollution, scarcity of resources and desertification are some of the risks associated with mismanaged environmental resources. These negative effects on the environment due to mismanagement have a severe effect on people living in poverty and can even exacerbate this poverty; rural populations in particular often depend upon the availability of surrounding natural resources to sustain themselves and are forced into poverty when resources dry up. An extreme example in recent decades has been the drying of the Aral Sea due to the diversion of its water sources for cotton cultivation. The majority of the diversion was due to a plan pursued by the Soviet Union to reduce poverty in its Central Asian republics, but these regions now suffer from pesticide-laden dust storms originating from the former sea floor. These economic impacts are exacerbated by worsened health effects from pollution and disease, especially among children and the elderly. Poverty and environmental degradation form a self-reinforcing nexus such that both must be addressed simultaneously.

The effects of global climate change have only exacerbated the threat environmental degradation poses to long term development and the need for Member States to take an active role in adopting a developmental approach that proves sustainable. While developed countries currently account for a large portion of carbon emissions, the contribution from developing countries is large and increasing. Failure to act decisively could result in an uncontrollable expansion of poverty and environmental destruction as natural disasters grow increasingly more common and powerful. These disasters drive mass migration from regions that are heavily affected, increasing resource strain on their host regions. Even developing States that would benefit in the short term from the overexploitation of their natural resources see a large potential increase in long-term poverty as a result of the disruption of global climate patterns and the subsequent effects on agriculture, labor production and health outcomes. No Member State stands to benefit from leaving the issue unaddressed.

The call to address the poverty-environment nexus was first introduced through United Nations efforts on sustainable development. Originally, development initiatives were independent of environmental initiatives, but this nexus became an area of focus for the United Nations in the 1990s, particularly because the threat of global warming became increasingly clear at that time. The 1990 Human Development Report drew clear connections between the protection of the environment and human development, demonstrating the two-way relationship between poverty and environmental degradation. Two years later, the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) produced the Rio Declaration which formally called for the eradication of poverty as a necessary component of sustainable development. This was followed by the 2000 Millennium Summit’s Development Goal 7, ensuring environmental sustainability, which identified specific targets at the intersection of environmental protection and economic development, in particular prioritizing the wide adoption of sustainable development principles.

Efforts to address the nexus in the following years were hampered by insufficient coordination between environmental and poverty-related initiatives. In 2005, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNEP sought to remedy this situation by establishing the Poverty-Environment Initiative, which promoted mainstreaming of the connection between poverty and environmental damage. Despite this recognition of the poverty-environment nexus and individual State- and NGO-led projects concerning the nexus, many development projects continued to lack an environmental component. While UNDP funding for anti-poverty projects came from its core budget, environmental projects were funded by external funds, which were often earmarked for specific projects. The absence of an active monitoring process further discouraged focus on the nexus and reduced recognition of successfully implemented projects. Despite this, an independent review of the Poverty-Environment Initiative’s implementation from 2008–2013 rated it “highly satisfactory” in its strategic relevance, and highlighted that the Initiative was especially relevant to addressing rural poverty. 

Member States have since recommitted themselves to addressing the poverty-environment nexus with the passage of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as the parallel Addis Ababa Action Plan. The 2030 Agenda posed several benchmarks for assessing if global efforts are succeeding at the intersection of poverty reduction and environmental protection, such as halving the proportion of untreated wastewater by 2030 to reduce biological contamination of ecosystems and water supplies. The Addis Ababa Action Plan poses several more concrete directions for development initiatives to follow, including recognition of the importance of avoiding environmentally harmful activities, a commitment to restructure subsidies that directly increase fossil fuel consumption and devotion of infrastructure funding to the subnational levels in areas that have experienced particularly severe harm from environmental degradation and climate change. 

In 2019, the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) of the United Nations Environmental Programme called for Member States to institute reforms to enhance the environmental sustainability of several sectors of their economy, particularly agriculture, forestry, energy and the extractive industry. UNEA followed up with an assessment of these reforms in 2020, which drew focus to certain successful national and subnational initiatives that have increased the sustainability of various economic sectors, such as the education of artisanal miners regarding the dangers of mercury-based gold extraction. 

One of the biggest impacts of external factors on the UNEP is the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, there has been a decline in the rate of people living in poverty; however, COVID-19 risks reversing decades of progress to the eradication of poverty in all its forms. Studies done by the UNU World institute for Development Economics Research estimate that the economic impact of COVID-19 could increase global poverty, which has not happened since 1990, and that in some regions of the world the impacts could result in poverty levels returning to those of 30 years ago. Developing countries are most at risk from the health and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19. According to the UNDP, developing countries could lose at least 220 billion USD in income because of the pandemic. There is a danger that countries that are desperate to stem reversals in their development will neglect environmental protection to allow a short-term boost to their economies. In April 2020, the United Nations issued a Framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19 in response to the Secretary-General’s Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity report in March 2020. The building of relief packages on the nexus of poverty and natural capital will be important in supporting countries and people in need of assistance because of COVID-19. Nature and environmental goals must occupy a central place in recovery strategies and in development policy in order to create a more sustainable future.

Questions to Consider from Your Government’s Perspective:

  1. How can the international community take the environment-poverty nexus into account while planning recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic?
  2. How can UNEA ensure proper coordination between development and environmental initiatives in the future?
  3. In what ways can the international community promote development models that prioritize reducing net carbon emissions?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Introduction to ECOSOC and Report Writing Bodies 

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

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

ECOSOC at AMUN

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

As an update to AMUN’s procedures and as a way to preserve student’s productive time and experience, AMUN has chosen to forego ECOSOC plenary sessions. Similarly, AMUN has also chosen to provide a streamlined set of report writing rules meant to better facilitate the work of the body. Beginning in 2021, ECOSOC report writing bodies will be managed by Special Rapporteurs trained in both extensive report writing body processes and in the streamlined rules.

Report Writing Bodies and their Role at AMUN

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

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

Consultative Session

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

A Note About AMUN’s Simulation Philosophy

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

Research and Resources Available

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

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

The Special Rapporteurs are the experts on content and AMUN’s content philosophy in the committee rooms.  They also facilitate debate by helping representatives use the rules correctly to accomplish the work of the body. They answer all questions related to the AMUN rules. If a representative has any questions about the Committee’s purview, Rapporteurs are a go-to source. In the RWBs, they also have an extensive knowledge of reporting procedures. Representatives can also find Rapporteurs in the Delegate Services Lab.

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

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

ECOSOC Rules of Procedure

1.0 Administrative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Hereafter, in these rules, “presiding Special Rapporteur” refers to the Special Rapporteur who is presiding Special Rapporteuring the meeting, facilitating formal and informal debate, and ruling on procedural items before the body. 
  • 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 Presiding Special Rapporteur. In addition to exercising such authority conferred upon the presiding Special Rapporteur elsewhere in these rules, the presiding Special Rapporteur 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.

1.7 Absence of presiding Special Rapporteur.  Any Special Rapporteur, or other Secretariat member as assigned, for the committee may preside over the committee’s sessions. 

1.8 Number of Accredited Representatives. Each delegation is allowed two representatives 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), and
  • Closure of Debate (rule 7.4).

2.0 General Rules

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

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

  • Representatives who persist in obvious attempts to disrupt the session shall be subject to expulsion from the Committee by the presiding Special Rapporteur,
  • 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 presiding Special Rapporteur,

  • 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 7.7),
  • 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 presiding Special Rapporteur,
  • A speaker who desires to make a motion may do so after speaking and accepting Points of Inquiry, but prior to yielding the floor, and
  • By making a motion the speaker yields the floor.

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

  • The exception to this rule occurs on any Point of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2), or Inquiry (rule 6.3), at which time a representative should raise their placard and call out “Point of ___________” to the presiding Special Rapporteur,
  • 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 presiding Special Rapporteur (rule 7.4), may be made when recognized for a Point of Order.
  • The presiding Special Rapporteur shall recognize speakers in a fair and orderly manner,
  • Speakers’ lists will not be used.

2.5 Right of Reply. The presiding Special Rapporteur 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 presiding Special Rapporteur,
  • Requests shall contain the specific language which was found to be insulting to personal or national dignity,
  • The presiding Special Rapporteur 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 presiding Special Rapporteur may rule out of order any motion repeating or closely approximating a recent previous motion on which the Committee has already rendered an opinion,

  • This decision is not appealable.

3.0 Rules That Relate to the Rules

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

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

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

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

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

4.0 Draft Proposals & Amendments

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

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

  • For a draft report to be considered, it must be organized in content and flow, have a minimum of 35 percent of the delegations in attendance listed as sponsors, and the approval of the Special Rapporteur(s),
  • The final required number of sponsors will be determined by the Rules Committee at conference registration and announced at the opening of each committee session,
  • After acceptance by the Special Rapporteur(s), draft reports shall be processed in the order in which they are received,
  • Limited copies of the full text of the draft report shall be issued to the committee, and a copy of the Executive Summary shall be distributed to all delegations as soon as feasible,
  • Only one draft report per topic area shall be accepted for consideration by the Special Rapporteur(s),
  • Once a draft report is on the floor for discussion, additional sponsors may only be added to that draft report with the consent of the original sponsors,
  • Any resolutions adopted by the committee on the topic of the report will be automatically included in Section III of the report, including after the adoption of the report or Executive Summary,
  • Once a vote has been taken on any part of a draft report, including a contested amendment, it becomes the property of the body, and no additional sponsors or friendly amendments may be added or removed,
  • Friendly amendments (rule 4.6) do not limit the addition of sponsors as above,
  • See also Closure of Debate (rule 7.3) and Consideration of Draft Items (rule 7.10),
  • Objections or reservations to the report shall be included in the text of the report, and
  • Objections to the report must be in writing and may be submitted before or after the final vote on the report, and
  • The default method of voting for reports shall be Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3). If there is any objection, the Committee will proceed with a substantive vote, which requires a simple majority for passage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

One or more amendments may be considered on the floor at any given time (see also Closure of Debate (rule 7.3) and Consideration of Draft Items(rule 7.10)).

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

A friendly amendment becomes part of a draft proposal upon the announcement that it is accepted,

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.0 Voting

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The presiding Special Rapporteur may grant a request by a delegation for a roll call vote on any substantive matter, and the presiding Special Rapporteur’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 presiding Special Rapporteur,
  • Representatives shall reply “yes,” “no,” “abstain,” or “abstain from the order of voting” and
  • A member may abstain from the order of voting once during a roll call; a second abstention from the order of voting will be recorded as an abstention.

5.5 Structure of Voting For Draft Reports. The Committee shall vote on any draft report items in the following manner. 

  • The body shall vote individually on each chapter and resolution to be included in the report. A vote in favor of the chapter or resolution shall be a vote in favor of  including that section or resolution in the final version of the report, and voting shall occur in the following order:
    • First, the body shall vote on any resolutions included in Chapter I (matters calling for action) of the report. The body will vote on each resolution in the reverse order in which they are introduced to the body. For each resolution, the body will vote on any amendments to that resolution in the reverse order in which they were introduced to the body.
    • Second, the body shall vote on its findings in Chapter II of the report. The body will vote on any amendments to this chapter in the reverse order in which they were introduced to the body.
    • Third, the body shall vote on any resolutions included in Chapter III (decisions adopted) of the report, in the same order identified above for resolutions included in Chapter I. 
    • Fourth, the body shall vote on the executive summary. The body will vote on any amendments to the executive summary in the reverse order in which they were introduced to the body.
    • After all sections of the draft report have been voted upon by the body, the remaining sections shall be compiled into the final draft version of the report, and the body shall vote on the report as a whole.
  • Each vote is entitled to the full rights and voting methods under Method of Voting (rule 5.4), including, but not limited to, division of the question, requests for roll call votes and adoption by consensus and the items enumerated in Conduct During Voting (rule 5.6).
  • The body may request, when a report has been passed,a representative from the Secretary General’s office or the Economic and Social Council plenary body to present their findings. The body may conduct this presentation orally in a structure and manner that the body determines is appropriate, and that conforms to the requirements of Diplomatic Courtesy (rule 2.2).

 

5.6 Conduct During Voting. Immediately prior to a vote, the presiding Special Rapporteur 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 presiding Special Rapporteur’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 presiding Special Rapporteur shall pause briefly to allow delegations the opportunity to make any relevant motions,
  • Relevant motions prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3), Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Consultative Session (rule 7.5), or Division of the Question (rule 7.8), 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.

5.7 Changes of Votes. At the end of a roll call vote, but before Rights of Explanation (rule 5.8) and the subsequent announcement of the vote, the presiding Special Rapporteur will ask for any vote changes. Any delegation that desires to change its recorded vote may do so at that time.

5.8 Rights of Explanation. Rights of Explanation are permitted on all substantive votes after voting. The presiding Special Rapporteur may limit time for Rights of Explanation.

6.0 Points of Procedure in Order of Priority

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

  • The representative must call out their point and will be recognized immediately by the presiding Special Rapporteur 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 presiding Special Rapporteur if a representative wishes to obtain a clarification of procedure or a statement of the matters before the Committee,

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

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

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

7.0 Procedural Motions in Order of Priority

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

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • The presiding Special Rapporteur 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 presiding Special Rapporteur 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 Closure of Debate. A representative may move to close debate on a draft report or amendment before the Committee at any time during the discussion of item. The effect of this motion, if passed, is to bring a draft report or amendment that is on the floor to a vote,

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

At the conclusion of voting procedure, the draft report 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.

7.4 Appealing a Decision of the presiding Special Rapporteur. Rulings of the presiding Special Rapporteur 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 presiding Special Rapporteur shall put the question as follows: “Shall the decision of the presiding Special Rapporteur be upheld?” A “yes” vote supports the presiding Special Rapporteur’s decision; a “no” signifies objection,
  • The decision of the presiding Special Rapporteur shall be upheld by a tie, and
  • Rulings by the presiding Special Rapporteur 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 presiding Special Rapporteur is a direct quotation from these Rules of Procedure.

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

  • The motion should specify a length of time and a moderator for the consultative session,
  • A moderator can be a representative or Secretariat Member,
  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote
  • The Council will move immediately into a formal session at the conclusion of the consultative session, and
  • See also Consultative Session (rule 7.5).

7.6 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.

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

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

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

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

7.9 Reconsideration of Proposals. A motion for Reconsideration of Proposals is in order on a report or amendment 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),

  • 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.

7.10 Consideration of Draft Items. To bring a report or an amendment to the floor for discussion, a delegation must first be recognized by the presiding Special Rapporteur,

  • No second is required. Upon recognition of this motion by the presiding Special Rapporteur, the amendment will be under consideration by the body. Draft reports moved to the floor are subject to a vote by the body and must pass by a majority for consideration.
  • Only one draft report is allowed on the floor at any time; any number of amendments is allowed.
  • The Committee Secretariat will present the draft item to the body, and
  • The delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the item, if desired.

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 Special Rapporteur, 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 Closure of Debate Yes 2 Con Simple Majority End debate on any proposal on the floor and bring it to an immediate vote
7.4 Appealing a Decision of the Special Rapporteur Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Challenge a ruling made by the Special Rapporteur
7.5 Consultative Session Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Suspend rules and move to an informal debate session
7.6 Consideration of Agenda Topics Yes No Simple Majority Change the order in which agenda items are discussed
7.7 Limits on Debate Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Impose (or repeal) a limit on the length of any form of debate
7.8 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
7.9 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
7.10 Consideration of Draft Items Yes Yes Simple Majority Bring a draft report or amendment to the floor for discussion

NOTE: Draft amendments require no speeches in favor or against and are automatically available on the floor once moved.

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Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is responsible for supporting the economic and social development of Member States in the Asia-Pacific region. ESCAP focuses on poverty reduction, managing globalization and tracking emerging social issues within the region. This includes issues facing the entire region or several States within it, cross-border issues, and other emerging economic and social issues. ESCAP also provides technical assistance to its members and monitors progress of, and provides advice to, countries pursuing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Commission is composed of 53 Member States and nine associate members. The associate members are not members of the United Nations and have no voting rights.

Towards disability-inclusive sustainable development

Since the 1980s, the United Nations has remained strongly committed to the ideal of sustainable development. In 1987, Our Common Future, a report by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, defined sustainable development as economic development that should avoid being overly taxing on the environment as well as being able to be continued into the future. However, despite the title of the 1987 report, modern development efforts have struggled to properly include these people with disabilities. According to the World Health Organization, about 15 percent of the global population has a physical or mental disability—personal impairments which interact with social or environmental factors in negative ways—with over 80 percent of people with disabilities living in the developing world. Disabilities are thus highly contextual to whatever society persons with disabilities live, with factors like the design of infrastructure, general societal attitudes, access to resources such as corrective lenses all playing a role. Children with disabilities lag behind those without disabilities across the world in educational achievement. A 2017 UNESCO case study showed that children with disabilities can be less than half as likely to attend school in certain countries, leading to decreased literacy and increased poverty among persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities also face struggles in the workplace, both because of lack of accommodation and prejudiced views of what they are able to do. The International Labour Organization (ILO) reported in 2007 that persons with disabilities are often underemployed or kept in low-level jobs in developing and developed countries alike, leading to lower workforce participation and worse self-image. 

Recognizing the international failure to fully include persons with disabilities in development plans, the United Nations began devoting special attention to this issue. In 2012, the Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) launched the Incheon Strategy in an effort to enact disability-specific development goals. The targets set forward by the Incheon Strategy include increased political participation, greater work prospects, and improved early education. In 2013, noting these unfortunate trends, the General Assembly expressed its concern that persons with disabilities were not properly considered in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. Other significant actions include the creation of a Special Rapporteur for the rights of persons with disabilities in 2014 by the Human Rights Council, as well as the publication of a flagship report on how the Sustainable Development Goals can be adapted for those with disabilities in 2018.

Despite these major United Nations efforts to elevate this issue, inequalities remain for those with disabilities. ESCAP conducted a midpoint survey in 2017 to determine whether the Incheon Strategy’s initiatives were succeeding, and found that significant work still needs to be done in all of its key areas. The disadvantages of those with disabilities in education, income, employment and social participation have remained severe across Asia and the Pacific. In terms of employment, people with disabilities were two to six times less likely to be employed in countries across the region. Recognizing this struggle, ESCAP put forward the Beijing Declaration and Action Plan to serve as a guide for specific actions on the part of ESCAP and national governments to ensure that the goals of the Incheon Strategy are met. Among other goals, the Action Plan asks governments to review their education systems to ensure that all schools are accessible and inclusive for children with disabilities, rather than relegating children with disabilities to schools specifically dedicated for them. In 2018, ESCAP further endorsed the Beijing Declaration and its Action Plan that would speed up the implementation of the Incheon Strategy. While this was the most recent resolution on the topic, ESCAP prepared a report the following year regarding the progress toward the goals of the Incheon Strategy. Concerns raised primarily relate to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its implementation within countries in the region. Specifically, several Member States state that they are doing enough to protect the rights of people and do not wish to do more. Also, accountability for disability-inclusive initiatives remains a concern, as many government initiatives lack proper monitoring mechanisms. 

With COVID-19, the protection and implementation of disability-inclusivity actions have been greatly hindered. The global pandemic has caused an even larger gap to manifest between persons without disabilities and persons with disabilities, especially since many COVID-19 related measures, such as testing sites, do not provide the range of accommodations needed to serve the disability community. The World Bank recently stepped up efforts in order to provide for the inclusiveness of disabled individuals by encouraging COVID-19 relief projects to provide provisions for disabled people while also actively working with its partners to develop disability-inclusive education programs. At the same time, the General Assembly addressed the intersection of COVID-19 and disabilities, recognizing the disparate effects of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities and the potential for long-term disabilities caused by the virus itself, and strongly endorsing the mainstreaming of persons with disabilities in COVID-19 relief plans by Member States and United Nations agencies. ESCAP, by contrast, did not mention disabilities in its 2020 resolution concerning the pandemic and has not taken action on the matter.

Questions to Consider from Your Government’s Perspective: 

  • What can individual Member States do to ensure inclusivity for people with disabilities in their development plans, and how can ESCAP facilitate such efforts?
  • What can ESCAP do to ensure accountability in development plans’ efforts to include people with disabilities?
  • How can ESCAP work to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 and future pandemic-like events on disability inclusivity?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Building resilience to cross-border disasters

Several States across the Asia-Pacific region are at a high risk of flooding, tsunamis and earthquakes; in the decade prior to 2016, the region suffered more than one thousand natural disasters, affecting over 1.4 billion people and causing nearly a half trillion dollars in economic damages. Today, the social and economic costs from these disasters are major impediments to the efforts of Member States to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2019, six of the 12 States with the most natural disasters were in Asia. Compounding the problem, climate change is driving stronger and more frequent disasters, and exposing new areas to disaster risk. Natural disasters can devastate wide areas with no regard for the political boundaries of States; thus, efforts to mitigate the risk of and bolster resilience to natural disasters require regional collaboration.

The Asia-Pacific region has been a leading proponent for regional collaboration in disaster risk reduction and resilience. In the mid-1960s, the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, the precursor to the Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), partnered with the World Meteorological Organization to improve cooperation in typhoon forecasting and flood warning, and to establish a regional office, culminating in the 1968 establishment of the Typhoon Committee. The Committee’s early work focused on increasing the use of science and technology to improve forecasting and mitigate damage. 

In 1971, the United Nations adopted a resolution addressing assistance in cases of natural disasters and created the United Nations Disaster Relief Office (UNDRO), which over the next several decades led assistance missions in response to droughts in Afghanistan and several African States. As the General Assembly continued to discuss this topic in subsequent years, efforts evolved beyond just a post-disaster response toward disaster and risk mitigation. The General Assembly established the 1990s as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction and promoted regional and global efforts to better understand, forecast and reduce the risk from natural disasters. The Decade was successful in sparking a concerted international approach to improvements in early warning capacities for natural disasters that lasted beyond its ten years. In 2000, the General Assembly established the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). The UNDRR has since worked across the globe, including their regional office for Asia and the Pacific, to aid local governments in prevention of and recovery from disasters.

That same year, the General Assembly adopted the Millennium Development Goals, however they were a missed opportunity for the United Nations to emphasize the relationship between disasters and development. While all countries are vulnerable to natural disasters, the impacts on Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States—many of which are Member States of ESCAP—can destroy development gains achieved over decades. Investments in pre-disaster mitigation deliver important social and economic benefits to communities everywhere, but they offer a significant benefit to the populations most at risk. While requiring upfront costs, pre-disaster mitigation saves money in the long run by reducing costs in disaster relief aid and recovery.

The Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction produced the 2015–2030 Sendai Framework: a set of common standards, a comprehensive framework with achievable targets and a legally-based instrument for disaster risk reduction. The Sendai Framework is an initiative designed to cover every aspect of disaster management—from preparation to recovery. Moreover, the Sendai Framework firmly integrated the concept of resilience, recognizing that the risk from disasters cannot be reduced to zero. UNDRR and regional leaders like ESCAP are implementing the Sendai Framework and are compiling and maintaining disaster data to continuously monitor resilience efforts.

The Sendai Framework will serve as a key part of ESCAP’s work to improve resilience for the Asia-Pacific region and continue progress toward realizing the SDGs. Since 2015, the ESCAP secretariat has promoted regional cooperation in early warning and disaster monitoring to promote disaster harm reduction and increase resilience, which became a key strategy in ESCAP’s regional road map for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Robust data collection and risk analysis, in line with the Sendai Framework, allows for innovative, data-driven proposals to address extreme and slow onset disasters and was a key focus of the ESCAP Asia-Pacific Disaster Resilience Network (APDRN). The APDRN serves as a network of networks to promote connections between regional experts and scalable and practical solutions. Another data-driven approach is the Regional Cooperative Mechanism for Drought Monitoring and Early Warning, a flagship program of the Regional Space Applications Programme for Sustainable Development designed to enhance capacity for integrated analysis of space and ground sensor data and information to build resilience among agrarian communities perennially affected by drought.

ESCAP’s work in establishing the Regional Cooperative Mechanism for Drought Monitoring is one example of how ESCAP and its secretariat are replicating the Typhoon Committee model to improve regional collaboration on forecasting. Moving forward, the reality of stronger storms and more frequent disasters—supported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report—means ESCAP must consider how to maintain progress on collaboration for slow onset disasters like droughts and sea level rise, and build resilience in the face of intensified disasters fueled by climate change. Improving cross-border collaboration on development and infrastructure planning in border regions, continuing progress on improving impact forecasting, and continued advancements in data collection and analysis are all areas ESCAP can consider.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How should ESCAP prioritize the secretariat’s work in promoting regional collaboration on resilience building, especially to protect impoverished and vulnerable populations from cross-border disasters?
  • What examples can Member States share demonstrating the importance and cost-savings of pre-disaster planning in building resilience? How can Member States more effectively use ESCAP regional platforms to bolster resilience?
  • How can development in border regions be informed now to ensure a more resilient future in the face of a changing climate?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was established in June 1946 to promote implementation of the principle that men and women shall have equal rights. The Commission has 45 members elected by the Economic and Social Council to four-year terms with broad regional representation. It meets annually for a period of ten working days to prepare recommendations and reports to ECOSOC on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields. CSW also makes recommendations to the Economic and Social Council on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women’s rights.

Women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS

Since the start of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, over 30 million people have died from the disease, especially concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and among groups long associated with high HIV disease burdens. While the international response to this pandemic was slow at first, partially due to latent discriminatory attitudes towards the gay men, drug users and sub-Saharan Africans most at-risk for the disease, there now exist medical interventions that allow infected individuals to live nearly-normal lives. Despite this progress, however, the situation remains dire. While anyone can become infected with HIV through intravenous drug use, sexual transmission or several other routes, the experiences and risk factors between people of different gender identities differ greatly. Women in sub-Saharan Africa represent 56% of new infections in the region, and, globally, young women and girls between the ages of 15 and 24 are twice as likely to become infected as their male peers. These disparities have deadly consequences: As of 2020, AIDS was the leading cause of death for women aged 15 to 49 years.

Following the international humanitarian response of the 1980s, the United Nations began considering secondary causes and effects of the virus. In 1995, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted, emphasizing the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS on women’s health and indicating that a gendered perspective is necessary when considering diseases such as HIV/AIDS and their consequences. Several key populations of women and girls, including young women and adolescent girls, are particularly vulnerable. Women have less access to sexual and reproductive health services than men; moreover, even when these services are available, women who utilize them may face stigma and even violence. In 2000, the United Nations adopted the Millennium Development Goals, including a target to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015. By 2013, much progress had been made on this front, as new infections dropped by 40 percent in absolute numbers and millions gained access to antiretroviral therapy over this time period.

In 2014, on the eve of the 15-year target of the Millennium Development Goals, the fifty-eighth meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women focused on the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals in relation to women and girls. This report particularly focused on the need to address the vulnerability of young women and adolescent girls, and the severity of stigma toward women and girls living with HIV/AIDS. This continued a tradition of special considerations of the effects of HIV/AIDS on women and the girl child, and the intervening years have yielded a series of special meetings and reports by the CSW and the Secretary-General. Successive reports marked improvements as intersectionality and women’s access to justice increased, but the most recent reports still highlight the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. Although the international community has made significant progress in reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, completely eradicating these conditions will require special attention to the groups most disproportionately burdened with infections. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes several key targets that are particularly relevant as part of a global response to HIV/AIDS. Sustainable Development Goal 3.3 includes the promise made by Member States to achieve the end of AIDS by 2030.

In recent years, the United Nations and Member States have made substantial progress to address the intersection of gender and HIV/AIDS. Currently, more women have access to HIV testing and antiretroviral treatment than ever before. Medical strategies for preventing HIV infection in women have also improved. In particular, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is very effective at preventing HIV infection to women who would otherwise be at high risk of infection, so long as regular adherence to the treatment is possible. Such progress has been made possible through collaborative international, regional and national efforts. One such effort has been Option B+, where pregnant women with HIV are given antiretroviral therapy regardless of CD4 T-cell count. In many South and Southeast Asian countries, this has greatly increased the rate at which HIV-positive pregnant women receive treatment, reducing the rate of mother-to-child transmission and HIV-related pregnancy complications. In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly set a target goal for reducing the number of new infections among young women to below 100,000 by 2020. However, progress toward this goal has varied across regions, often in a manner correlated with the level of development in the region. Meanwhile, most developed countries contribute a smaller proportion of global funds for addressing HIV/AIDS than their share of world gross domestic product, highlighting the need for developed countries to contribute more to providing treatment to particularly vulnerable regions.

Despite the medical advancements, in many countries, the stigma arising from unequal gender norms prevents women from accessing HIV information and services, in particular surrounding the fact that HIV/AIDS is often transmitted through sexual activity. Without such resources, women and girls are unable to make informed decisions regarding their health and are left vulnerable to HIV infection. Structural inequalities, gender based violence and gender norms that prevent women and girls from having control over their health outcomes compound this issue. Despite the increased risk of infection for women and girls due to inadequate access to prevention and treatment, national policies and strategies typically underfund gender responsive interventions regarding HIV and AIDS and do not prioritize research with a gendered perspective. Previous work to combat HIV and AIDS has been extremely successful, but the fight is far from over. As new strategies are designed, special consideration must be given to the unique position of women and girls and the specific challenges they face.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • What actions can be taken to make HIV resources more readily accessible to the women and girls who are most vulnerable to infection?
  • How can the stigma surrounding women and girls’ access to medical resources, particularly related to sex, be lessened?
  • How can successful small scale measures to reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS on women and girls be scaled up to national, regional and international levels?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work

In developed and developing countries alike, the nature of work and the workplace has changed markedly in recent years. Where women had previously been employed in labor-intensive industries such as textiles in large numbers, automation is decreasing labor requirements in many industries and women are disproportionately likely to be displaced from their jobs. Informal and non-standard working arrangements comprise a growing share of the workforce, especially for women. These jobs are a key part of most developing and developed economies, but generally afford less social protection or labor rights than formal employment. As the world of work has changed, women have remained both underrepresented in the labor market and underpaid, and subject to gender discrimination and inequality. Such inequalities have been exacerbated by the changing nature of work toward a greater use of information technology and the Internet in the workplace, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a strong digital divide by gender, as well as socioeconomic class, in access to the internet due to lack of education regarding the Internet, lack of access to Internet-capable devices and family opposition to women using the Internet. Ensuring that the barriers to economic empowerment caused by the changing nature of work are addressed is essential to realizing gender equality as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is an important step to securing sustainable economic development.

The United Nations has previously addressed economic issues concerning women through an anti-discrimination framework, with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1979. The economic clauses of the Convention focus on rights to family benefits, free choice in employment and the special concerns of rural women working in the informal economy. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 provided an empowerment-focused framework, calling for the promotion of womens’ economic independence, including employment. Today, this declaration serves as both a roadmap to empowerment and a call to action. The Declaration also promotes the discussion of gender in all matters of development, a process known as gender mainstreaming. The Commission on the Status of Women, as part of its long history of being heavily involved in international efforts to empower women and secure gender equality, built upon this foundation in its sixty-first session in 2017 and emphasized the path to the economic empowerment of women in the changing world of work. The commissioners further introduced actions to be taken in order to achieve the empowerment of women and gender equality by 2030 following the goals proposed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, developed the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) in 2010 to attain gender equality and empower all women as described in the Sustainable Development goals. The WEPs offer guidance to promote gender equality in the workplace and further the economic empowerment of women. Globally, some four thousand companies have committed to the WEPs in 2017, doubling the number committed in 2016. One of the Principles is representation of women at the highest levels of corporate governance. Within the past year, the Asia-Pacific region has made notable progress along these lines as part of the UN Women’s WeEmpower Asia Initiative, with Thailand raising its percentage of women in executive positions to 24 percent, as compared to 20 percent globally. However, more progress must be made to achieve ambitious goals—no country is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has, in many regards, stalled the progress being made toward economically empowering women. The world of work drastically changed at the onset of the pandemic with women facing disproportionate economic challenges. When most communities closed schools and daycare centers to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, women disproportionately left formal work in order to complete unpaid domestic labor, such as childcare. Furthermore, when employed, women often have more vulnerable jobs than men: During the pandemic, women have experienced a 19 percent higher risk of job loss than their male counterparts. In December 2020, UN Women and the International Finance Corporation published a report featuring practices being used by companies to encourage women’s economic empowerment throughout the pandemic. Despite these efforts, women remain economically vulnerable and the efforts to promote gender equality have stagnated due to two main factors. First, women are expected in many cultures—in developing and developed countries alike—to bear primary responsibility for childcare and domestic tasks in their homes. Second, employers often expect a degree of commitment from workers that detracts from the ability of a parent of any gender to care for their children.

The rapidly evolving world of work poses unique challenges for the economic empowerment of women, making the issue critically important. In crafting their proposals, CSW must be conscious of the diverse needs of the women they seek to empower. This means changes that include promoting job security for women, especially those caring for their families, empowering the voices of women through increased presence in corporate leadership and promoting social and economic policies that support women in each stage of their careers are necessary to achieve the empowerment of women. CSW will need to consider how Member States can be prompted to strengthen their legal frameworks to ensure equitable access to work for all women. To promote empowerment, this Commission should work to ensure women have the necessary education and leadership skills to attain economic success. When women are empowered, society as a whole benefits both socially and economically, which is more important than ever in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can the effects of the burden of unpaid labor on women’s economic independence be mitigated?
  • What can the CSW do to ensure gains in women’s economic empowerment are resilient to future changes in the world of work?
  • How do existing legal frameworks hinder women’s economic empowerment, and how can Member States improve them?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

 

Introduction to the Security Councils

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

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

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

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

AMUN’s Security Council simulation philosophy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Declarative Statements and Operational Decisions

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

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

Parties to the Dispute

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

Roleplaying in Historical Security Councils

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

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

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

Open Agenda

A unique feature of each Security Council simulation at AMUN is the Council’s ability to set its own agenda. The situations outlined in the council-specific topic briefs on the following pages are only a few of those facing the world at the time and each Security Council can discuss any topic that the body wishes. For the Contemporary Security Council this includes any real-world event up until the day the simulation convenes. For the Historical Security Councils, representatives should have a working knowledge of the events prior to and including the start date for their respective simulation. For the Historical Security Council of 1973, the start date is 1 February 1973.

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

Other Aspects to Consider

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

Background Research

The following sections offer brief synopses of the main international situations facing the Security Councils. For the Contemporary Security Council these briefs are current as of summer 2021. Information for the Historical Security Councils covers information available up until the respective start dates of each simulation. AMUN recommends that representatives have a solid foundational knowledge of the background of major international issues. The topics laid out in this handbook are provided as a starting point for further research.

 

 

Security Council Rules of Procedure

1.0 Administrative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

  • This agenda in no way limits the Council’s topics, 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 present a representative of a non-United Nations Member State, an international organization or any other persons it considers competent for the purpose, the Council may request one by means of Party to the Dispute (rule 7.15). A representative will be made available to the Council in a timely fashion,

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.0 General Rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • This decision is not appealable.

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

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

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

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

3.0 Rules That Relate to the Rules

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

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

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

3.3 The Order of Precedence of Motions. The order of precedence of motions is listed in order of priority in both the Security Council Precedence Short Form and in these rules under Section 7, “Motions in Order of Priority.” 

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

4.0 Draft Resolutions, Amendments & Statements

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

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

  • For a draft resolution to be considered it must be organized in content and flow, in the proper format and approved by the Council Dais, and
  • After acceptance by the dais, 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 or removed, and
  • Friendly amendments (rule 4.4) do not limit the addition of sponsors as noted above, and
  • See also Closure of Debate on an Agenda Topic (rule 7.4), Closure of Debate (rule 7.5), and Consideration of Amendments (rule 7.14).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.0 Voting

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

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

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

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

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

  • Any representative may request the adoption of an amendment or draft resolution by consensus at any time after closure of debate has passed,
  • For Presidential Statements, the required method of voting is adoption by consensus,
  • The President shall then ask whether there is any objection to 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 
  • If any representative objects to consensus, voting shall occur as otherwise stated in these rules.

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

  • The votes of Council Members on all substantive matters shall be officially recorded, and all substantive matters are subject to the Consent of the Permanent Members, regardless of the means by which they are voted upon (rule 5.8),
  • Any delegation may request a roll call vote on substantive matters, unless adopted by consensus; the President may grant a request by a delegation for a roll call vote on any substantive matter, and the President’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 President,
  • Representatives shall reply “yes,” “no,” “abstain” or “abstain from the order of voting,”
  • A Member may abstain from the order of voting once during a roll call; a second abstention from the order of voting will be recorded as an abstention.

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

  • Following Closure of Debate, and prior to entering voting procedure, the President shall pause briefly to allow delegations the opportunity to make any relevant motions,
  • Relevant motions prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3) Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Consultative Session (rule 7.7) and Division of the Question (rule 7.12), 
  • 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 roll call, but before Rights of Explanation (rule 5.7) are granted and the subsequent announcement of the vote, the Vice President will ask for any vote changes. Any delegation that desires to change its recorded vote may do so at that time.

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

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

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

6.0 Points of Procedure in Order of Priority

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.0 Motions in Order of Priority

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

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

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

  • The motion is not debatable,
  • The President may refuse to recognize a motion to adjourn the meeting if the Council still has business before it, and
  • 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 before the Council at any time during the discussion of that item. The effect of this motion, if passed, is to bring the issue under discussion to an immediate vote,

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

At the conclusion of voting procedure, the draft resolution or amendment being voted on is removed from consideration, regardless of whether it passes or fails. Debate then continues on the current agenda 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. The Council may choose to suspend the rules and enter an informal, consultative session if the Members determine that this process will better facilitate the discussion of a particular issue,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security Council Rules Short Form

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

Notes:

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

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The Security Council

Membership of the Security Council

  • China
  • Estonia
  • France
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Kenya
  • Mexico
  • Niger
  • Norway
  • Russian Federation
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Tunisia
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Viet Nam

Introduction

The topics covered in this chapter are a guide to help direct your research on your State’s positions. 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. The Contemporary Security Council topics below are current as of July 2021 and may not include all topics that the Council might discuss at Conference. 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.

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

The Situation in Libya

February 2021 marked the 10-year anniversary of the uprising in Libya that toppled the government of Muammar Gaddafi. Following the outbreak of the First Libyan Civil War in 2011, the Security Council passed Resolution 1970, which required Member States to prevent the supply of weapons to Libya. The following month, the Council passed Resolution 1973, which authorized Member States to take all necessary measures to protect civilians, establish a no-fly zone and enforce an arms embargo. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) used Resolution 1973 as the legal basis for military intervention to assist the anti-Gaddafi uprising. Later that year, the Council passed Resolution 2009, which created the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), a political mission with a mandate to support the new transitional authority in establishing the rule of law. UNSMIL remains active today.

After Gaddafi’s ouster, divisions among the participants in the uprising undermined efforts to create a new national unity government. A Second Libyan Civil War broke out in 2014 between the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the capital city of Tripoli, and the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalifa Hifter, which controlled (and still controls today) Benghazi and much of eastern Libya.

Hifter launched an assault on Tripoli in April 2019, but after 15 months of fighting his forces were defeated and forced to retreat. Hifter’s campaign against Tripoli is reported to have received substantial foreign assistance in the form of weapons and mercenaries from Russia and the United Arab Emirates, though both governments deny direct involvement. The LNA’s failure to take Tripoli has been credited to intervention by Turkey, which supported the GNA with advisors, airstrikes and mercenaries. In October 2020, after a week of talks hosted by the United Nations in Geneva, the two sides agreed to an immediate ceasefire. Further talks in February 2021 resulted in the creation of a new interim government led by Abdul Hamid Dbeiba as an interim prime minister and a three-member presidential council. The new Government of National Unity (GNU) received the endorsement of the House of Representatives in March 2021. Nationwide elections are scheduled for December 2021.

Significant challenges remain despite this progress. Foreign forces, mercenaries and weapons are ever-present, threatening the peace and the establishment of a stable Libya. Both the GNA and the LNA have violated the arms embargo. Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Libya (ISIL-Libya) also continue to operate in Libya, fighting to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state. The years-long conflict has severely damaged Libya’s economy and healthcare system—the poor security situation and a lack of funding have reduced the number of functioning health facilities in the country by 50 percent since 2019. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of at least 3,000 Libyans, putting an additional strain on an already damaged healthcare system.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in the Middle East (Yemen)

After a revolution in 2011–2012 that drove longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power, Yemen experienced several years of civil unrest and instability. In 2014, a civil war erupted when the Ansar Allah movement, commonly known as the Houthis, captured the capital city of Sana’a and drove the internationally-recognized government of Yemen into exile. In 2015, a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia launched a bombing campaign against the Houthis. The Houthis often responded to airstrikes by firing ballistic missiles across the border into Saudi Arabia. The bombing campaign has inflicted massive damage to Yemen’s infrastructure and caused substantial civilian casualties, but the civil war remains stalemated.

Saudi Arabia and its allies continue to maintain an air and sea blockade, preventing deliveries of food and fuel from entering Houthi-controlled air and sea ports. In March 2021, Saudi Arabia offered to lift the blockade on the condition that the Houthis first agree to a ceasefire monitored by the United Nations. The Houthis rejected this and demanded that Saudi Arabia lift the blockade first before agreeing to and implementing a ceasefire. Fighting continues on multiple fronts, especially in the northern Marib governorate, where many civilians had fled to escape fighting in other parts of the country.

As of December 2020, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 233,000 people had died in the conflict. More than half of these deaths were from indirect causes such as lack of food or medical care. Nearly half of Yemen’s population cannot get sufficient food, and that number is expected to rise as aid agencies face reduced funding. The humanitarian situation only worsened with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yemen has reported over one thousand deaths from COVID, but a lack of testing and medical infrastructure means that the actual numbers might be much higher. In March 2021, 360,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were shipped to Yemen via the COVAX initiative, and the country is currently slated to receive a total of 1.9 million vaccines through the program. Distribution of the vaccines has been hampered by the war, distrust of the vaccine and religious objections.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in the Middle East (Syria)

The Syrian Civil War is a multi-sided conflict that began in 2011. As part of the Arab Spring movement, Syrians began to protest against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. These pro-democracy protests were met with deadly force, sparking nationwide resistance. The Assad government received military support from international allies such as Iran and Russia.

The civil war was compounded in 2013 by the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which fought against both the Syrian government and rebel forces. ISIL seized control of several major cities in Syria, including Raqqa, which served as the capital of ISIL’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” until 2017. An international coalition led by the United States launched a campaign against ISIL beginning in 2014. The United States conducted airstrikes against ISIL and deployed American military forces to Syria to support local allies, including Kurdish militias, in the fight against the Islamic State. As of 2021, ISIL has been largely defeated in Syria.

By 2018, the Assad government succeeded in regaining control over most of the country. The major exception was northern Syria, which was controlled by rebel groups and Kurdish militias. In 2019, after American forces withdrew from northern Syria, Turkey intervened and invaded Kurdish-held territory. Turkey continues to occupy portions of northern Syria, supporting Turkish-aligned rebel groups.

While large-scale violence has subsided, the humanitarian situation across Syria remains dire. Years of warfare have created millions of refugees within Syria, neighboring countries and abroad. Today, there are 6.6 million Syrian refugees, 5.6 million of whom are housed in camps in the countries bordering Syria. Turkey houses the largest number of Syrian refugees, with 3.6 million. Only one in 10 Syrian refugees in the neighboring countries lives in a refugee camp. Most live in cities, often in extreme poverty. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has identified the most pressing needs for Syrian refugees as helping to cover school fees for children, providing food and cash assistance and helping refugees obtain access to healthcare and hospital treatment. To do this, the UNHCR operates through the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan.

Security Council action on Syria has been limited. While some Member States imposed unilateral sanctions against the Syrian government in response to attacks on civilians, the Security Council has failed to reach consensus on a course of action. This has severely hadicapped the Council’s ability to respond to the humanitarian crises caused by the war, which now include concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in addition to a lack of food, water and medical care.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in the Middle East (Israel & Palestine)

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 discussion and debate on the matter.

The most recent conflict in Gaza is the worst outbreak of violence since the Israeli ground invasion in 2014. On 6 May 2021, Palestinians began to stage protests in East Jerusalem. The major inciting incident for the protests was the planned eviction of six Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. On 7 May, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli police, who responded by storming the compound of the al-Aqsa Mosque. Hundreds of Palestinians were injured. On 10 May, Hamas issued an ultimatum to Israel, demanding it withdraw its security forces from the Temple Mount complex and Sheikh Jarrah. When Israel did not respond to the ultimatum, Hamas began launching rockets into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. Israel began a campaign of airstrikes against targets in Gaza. Over 11 days of hostilities, Israel carried out over 1,500 airstrikes. The United Nations estimates more than 250 Palestinians were killed, including whole families, with 66 children among the victims. Hamas fired over 4,000 rockets into Israeli territory. Many of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system. 13 people were killed in Israel, including two children. The Israeli aerial campaign damaged or destroyed schools, hospitals, and water and sewer systems. On 21 May 2021, both sides agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet condemned the indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by Hamas, as well as the attacks launched against Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces. Bachelet told the Human Rights Council that the Hamas rocket attacks constituted “a clear violation of international humanitarian law,” while Israel’s airstrikes against Gaza might constitute war crimes “if found to be indiscriminate and disproportionate in their impact on civilians and civilian objects.” On 27 May, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to create a commission of inquiry to investigate possible war crimes, as well as examining “all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict, including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity.”

The Secretary-General called on the international community to work with the United Nations to strengthen the ceasefire and provide reconstruction assistance to Gaza. He also reiterated the commitment of the United Nations to a long-term settlement to the conflict: “a two-State solution on the basis of the 1967 lines, UN resolutions, international law and mutual agreements.” Other United Nations officials have called on Member States to ensure the provision of reliable and sufficient funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA), the agency responsible for assisting Palestinian refugees.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Maintenance of International Peace and Security (COVID-19)

The global community continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, a health crisis caused by a deadly infectious disease that continues to spread across the world. More than three million people have died from the virus, seriously damaging global, national and local economies. On 1 July 2020, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2532, which called for all parties in armed conflicts across the globe to cease hostilities for at least 90 days, to enable access to medical aid. In February 2021, the Security Council passed Resolution 2565, which repeated its call for a worldwide cessation of all armed conflicts in order to enable access to medical aid, especially COVID-19 vaccinations. It also called for increasing multilateral and international cooperation in efforts to produce and distribute vaccines.

Several vaccines have been developed to immunize people against the virus. More than 3 billion doses of vaccine have been administered across the world, but there are wide gaps between different countries’ vaccination programs. Some countries have yet to begin mass vaccinations, and low-income countries have administered far fewer doses than high-income countries. Some vaccines have been potentially linked to adverse health outcomes, causing fear and confusion and slowing global vaccination efforts.

The World Health Organization has partnered with several other international organizations to form COVAX, a global initiative working to distribute COVID-19 vaccines equitably around the world. It has distributed vaccines to over 100 countries and economies, but it faces a funding gap of two billion US dollars. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has called on Member States to close this funding gap and provide equitable access to vaccines.

Many organs of the United Nations are currently engaged in efforts to address concerns related to COVID-19. For the purposes of this simulation, Representatives should focus their efforts on how COVID-19 might impact the ongoing and future efforts by the Security Council in regard to the Maintenance of International Peace and Security.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

 

The Historical Security Council of 1973

Membership of the Historical Security Council of 1973

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • China
  • France
  • Guinea
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Kenya
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Sudan
  • United Kingdom
  • Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Russian Federation)
  • United States of America
  • Yugoslavia (Serbia)

Introduction

The early 1970’s saw changes in the nature of the Cold War inside and outside of the United Nations. After tension over Berlin, Cuba and the Congo in the early 1960’s, the President of the United States of America, Richard Nixon, and the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev, pursued a series of policies known as détente to lower the temperature of the Cold War and the risk of nuclear war. Two prominent examples of détente were in answering the question of the representation of China in the United Nations and the pursuit of arms control agreements.

In 1971, the Security Council voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China as the representative of China in the Security Council, with the Republic of China no longer recognized by the United Nations. Additionally, in May 1972 Nixon and Brezhnev engaged in the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks, with both parties agreeing to limit the size of their country’s nuclear arsenal. In a further sign of reduced tensions, the United States and the parties in Vietnam signed the Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973, bringing an end to the Vietnam War.

The decolonization of European empires in the previous years began to have major effects on the issues discussed at the United Nations. Newly independent countries were becoming more assertive in bringing issues of concern to the attention of the United Nations and organized themselves as the Non-Aligned Movement. The presence of the People’s Republic of China in the Security Council changed the relationship between the Soviet Union and the Non-Aligned Movement, with China claiming the Soviet Union was not using its influence to support the concerns of the Non-Aligned Movement. These accusations cooled relations between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. In response to the changes in the United Nations and its own foreign policy goals, the United States of America announced it would use its veto on the Security Council more liberally to prevent the passing of resolutions it considered bad or did not address the concerns of the United Nations.

As the United Nations enters 1973, the organization faces many challenges. Although Cold War tensions have been somewhat reduced due to the policies of détente between the United States and the Soviet Union, the United Nations was frequently sidelined in favor of bilateral talks. This emphasis on bilateralism over multilateralism could be seen in the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks and the Paris Peace Accords. At the same time, the Non-Aligned Movement was pressing the United Nations to take up contentious issues in the Security Council. This is the atmosphere on February 1, 1973, in which representatives will begin their deliberations in the Security Council.

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

Continuing the trend of decolonization after the Second World War and following successful independence movements for French African colonies, other colonial states, especially of the British empire in Africa, achieved independence in the 1960s. Among these was the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which was dissolved in 1963, leading to the creation of Malawi and Zambia in 1964 and Southern Rhodesia the following year.

While a territory of the United Kingdom, Rhodesia amended its constitution in 1961 to segregate voting roles by education, income and property requirements. While not segregated explicitly on racial grounds, voting requirements for the “A Role” meant that, in a state that was 95 percent Black, 50 members of the Legislative Assembly were always white and 15 members were always Black.

The United Kingdom had a policy of “No independence before majority rule” (NIBMAR); a United Kingdom colony needed to adopt policies that ensured majority rule before the government would entertain colonial independence. The Rhodesia government led by Prime Minister Ian Smith, attempting to preserve its white-minority rule, issued a unilateral Universal Declaration of Independence in 1965 to form Southern Rhodesia.

The declaration was resolved by the Security Council as illegal and seen as such by the international community at large. In response, Rhodesia received significant international attention at the United Nations, especially for its minority-rule regime and policies. The Security Council adopted resolutions endorsing economic sanctions on Rhodesia, barring all trade and support; however, South Africa and Portugal continued to violate the oil and petroleum stipulations of the trade embargo, undermining the will of the Council. Talks between the British and Rhodesian governments continued on and off for several years but did not make the headway hoped for by the affected African States.

The United States’ and United Kingdom’s tacit support for the Rhodesian government significantly complicated the issue. Starting in 1971, the United States resumed chrome trade with Rhodesia in full violation of the 1968 UN trade embargo. In July 1972, the United States abstained in a 14-0 Security Council vote to condemn “all acts violating” the economic sanctions against Rhodesia, considering United States actions to be outside of these sanctions. In September the United Kingdom vetoed an African-sponsored resolution on Rhodesia, which called for stronger economic sanctions and a direct settlement of the Rhodesian issue.

By 1972 the lack of change in the government’s policies regarding formal discrimination against Black Africans was the focus of attention for the United Nations. Many African states and Black athletes threatened to boycott the 1972 Munich Olympic Games if Rhodesia was allowed to participate. Ultimately, the International Olympic Committee conceded and barred Rhodesian athletes from participating in the games.

The ongoing problems in Rhodesia also created regional economic problems. The economy of Zambia, which relied upon trade with Rhodesia, suffered significant disruption from the attempts to divert trade in accordance with international sanctions brought against Rhodesia. Succeeding years saw wide fluctuations in the price of copper, Zambia’s major export, and a sustained drought that required heavy agricultural imports. There was also additional political stress between the two states over rebel activity. The Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) were operating out of border regions in Zambia, waging a guerilla campaign against Rhodesian troops and officials.

In response, on 9 January 1973, Rhodesia closed its border to traffic with Zambia, stating it would stay closed until assurances could be made that Zambia would no longer permit terrorists to operate from within its borders. These closures had harsh economic impacts on Zambia, which relied heavily  on railroads through Rhodesia for much of its trade. Moreover, in a letter to the President of the Security Council, Zambia alleged that Rhodsian forces, reinforced by 4,000 South Africans, had committed “numerous acts of subversion and sabotage.” The details of these acts have not yet been shared with or discovered by the Security Council.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in the Middle East

Following the decisive victory by Israel against multiple Arab states in the Six Day War of 1967, conflict continued between Israel and Egypt, despite a United Nations brokered ceasefire. These hostilities became known as the “War of Attrition” and were characterized by frequent exchanges of artillery fire and clashes between warplanes over the Suez Canal. After three years of the “War of Attrition,” Egypt and Israel agreed to the Rogers Plan—a proposal by United States Secretary of State William Rogers— which established a more comprehensive ceasefire agreement between Israel and Egypt over the Suez Canal.

Following the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in the Six Day War, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) established themselves in Jordan. The PLO used Jordanian territory to attack Israel; which prompted frequent armed Israeli incursions into Jordan to attack PLO bases. The frequent Israeli incursions into Jordanian territory to attack the PLO contributed to the souring of relations between Jordan and the PLO. Further, the revolutionary political beliefs of the PLO put them at odds with the more conservative Jordanian monarchy, with the Jordanian government fearing a potential coup attempt by the PLO. In September 1970, the Jordanian army forced the PLO leadership and its fighters out of the country in a series of clashes known as “Black September”.

The PLO subsequently established itself in southern Lebanon, taking advantage of Lebanon’s instability to create a “state within a state” and began attacking Israel from this new territory. The Israeli government responded by attacking and subsequently occupying parts of PLO controlled territory in Lebanon. In 1972 the Security Council condemned the Israeli attacks and presence in Lebanon in Resolutions 313, 316 and 317. The Israeli government stated it was acting in self defense in response to PLO attacks and that the Lebanese government was unable or unwilling to prevent the PLO from attacking Israel. In September 1972, Arab terrorists attacked the Israeli Olympic team in Munich, killing 11. The Israeli government responded with large airstrikes against PLO bases in Syria and Lebanon. In the Security Council, a resolution condemning Israeli attacks was vetoed by the United States, after the Soviet Union and China vetoed amendments that would have included a condemnation of the PLO’s attacks on Israel. The United States stated any resolution condemning Israel’s attacks against the PLO must also condemn the PLO, while the Soviet Union stated that it was inappropriate to equate the actions of a terrorist group with a state attacking another state. The Israeli government pledged it would hunt down those responsible for the Munich attacks.

Angry over Israel’s actions in the Six day War, the Arab League adopted the Khartoum Resolution, which called for “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.” The Khartoum resolution resulted in a complete breakdown of communication between the parties and complicated any future peace processes. In an effort to circumvent this agreement and bring a more lasting peace to the region, in 1967 the United Nations Secretary-General, U Thant, acting under the authority of Resolution 242, authorized Swedish diplomat Gunnar Jarring to serve as an intermediary between Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Although Egypt and Israel both indicated a willingness for peace, peace talks never occurred. As a precondition for talks, Egypt insisted Israel must withdraw to the pre-1967 borders as described in Security Council Resolution 242; Israel refused to accept the precondition on grounds of national security and the continued military threat from Arab states.

The topic of negotiations surfaced again in 1972. In July, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat expelled all Soviet military advisors from Egypt and nationalized all former Soviet military facilities in Egypt. The Soviet Union complied with Sadat’s request, and the last Soviet advisor left Egypt in August 1972. Sadat’s move was seen as an attempt to move Egyptian foreign policy away from the policies of Sadat’s predecessor, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Western leaders also saw it as an opening for new peace negotiations between Egypt and Israel, now that there was reduced Soviet influence. The United States took the initiative and proposed to serve as an intermediary, with the Rogers Plan serving as a framework for peace talks. The Israeli and Egyptian governments both expressed a desire for peace, but talks stalled along the same lines as Jarring’s attempt to facilitate talks. Egypt again demanded that Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders as a precondition for talks, and Israel again refused to withdraw due to security concerns. Despite the apparent deadlock, multiple observers have noted Egypt and Israel have refrained from ceasefire violations over the Suez Canal; an indication Israel and Egypt are hoping to avoid conflict.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in Cyprus

In 1960 Cyprus was granted independence from the United Kingdom. In recognition of the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities on the island, a power sharing agreement between the two communities was written into the constitution. Greece, Turkey, the Cypriot government and the United Kingdom (which maintained sovereign military bases on the island) signed multilateral agreements to guarantee the constitution and to work to restore it in the event of a breach. To prevent revanchist claims or separatist movements, the constitution expressly forbade the partitioning of Cyprus, or its entering into a union with another country. In late 1963, the Greek Cypriot President, Archbishop Makarios, proposed amending many of the power sharing agreements written into the constitution, claiming the existing structure of the power sharing agreements made government impossible. The smaller Turkish Cypriot community in the north of the island saw this move as threatening their rights, and violence broke out between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities. Acting under their treaty with Cyprus, the United Kingdom dispatched troops to the island to maintain order and prevent a conflict between Greek and Turkish troops stationed on the island under the treaty. In recognition of the potential for escalation, the parties referred the issue to the United Nations.

On 4 March 1964, in Resolution 186, the Security Council authorized the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) to prevent a recurrence of fighting and, as necessary, to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order. In its time on the island, UNFICYP has primarily served as observers, negotiators and mediators preventing and deescalating communal conflict. Due to the unresolved political disputes and the potential for escalation if UNFICYP personnel are withdrawn , UNFICYP has been repeatedly extended since 1964. In response to a report from the Secretary-General, the Security Council passed Resolution 324 on 12 December 1972, and extended UNFICYP’s mandate to 15 June, 1973.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in Namibia

Following World War I, South Africa was given control of the former German colony of South West Africa as a Mandate territory. As the Mandatory power, South Africa was expected to help South West Africa achieve self-government and eventual independence. South Africa failed to fulfill expectations and maintained direct rule over South West Africa, insisting the limits set by the League of Nations lapsed when the League disbanded. This resulted in the United Nations General Assembly passing Resolution 2145 in 1966, which stated South Africa had failed in its Mandatory responsibilities, the Mandate was terminated and the United Nations assumed jurisdiction over South West Africa. South Africa disregarded the General Assembly Resolution by ignoring the United Nations’ authority and instructions.

In response to South Africa’s disregard to Resolution 2145, the Security Council passed a number of resolutions condemning South Africa’s continued control of South West Africa, by then known as Namibia. However, the multiple resolutions passed by the Security Council did not compel or prompt any action from the United Nations itself.

In 1971, the International Court of Justice issued an Advisory Opinion on the status of Namibia, in response to a request from the Security Council. In the Advisory Opinion, the International Court of Justice stated that the South African presence in Namibia was illegal, that South Africa was obliged to withdraw and that Member States should refrain from any actions implying the South African presence was legal. In recent years the newly independent African Member States have pressed the Security Council to take stronger action on what they see as South African colonialism in Namibia, with the Soviet Union often taking up their case. In 1972 the Security Council passed additional resolutions condemning the South African presence and calling for periodic reports by the Secretary-General on South Africa’s compliance with previous resolutions. The most recent resolution, Resolution 323, called for the Secretary-General to report back to the Security Council on April 30, 1973.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in Viet-Nam

Conflict in Viet-Nam has been ongoing since the 1950s; the first battle between the Viet Cong, supported by the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam (DRV) and the Republic of Viet-Nam (RVN) occurred on 26 September 1959. The RVN and DRV are colloquially known as South Viet-Nam and North Viet-Nam, respectively. As of the present date, North Viet-Nam controls significant territories within South Viet-Nam, gained via the Easter Offensive between 30 March and 22 October 1972. After the Offensive, all forces were exhausted, and when peace negotiations resumed in Paris, all sides were willing to make concessions.

The Security Council, with particular pressure from the United States, has not voted on a resolution concerning the situation in Viet-Nam since 1964, when the Security Council deplored an incursion by South Viet-Nam forces into Cambodia.

Negotiations have progressed into the Paris Peace Accords, signed on 27 January 1973 by North Viet-Nam, South Viet-Nam, the Republic of South Viet-Nam (representing Viet Cong forces) and the United States. The Accords effectively end the United States’ involvement in the Viet-Nam War. Additionally, the Accords call for the establishment of the International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS), composed of Canada, Hungary, Indonesia and Poland to oversee the ceasefire.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Admission of New Members

Chapter XIV of the Rules of procedure of the United Nations General Assembly outlines the process by which a State becomes a Member of the United Nations. After an application of membership is received by the Secretary-General, and if the Security Council recommends the application State for membership, the General Assembly considers whether the applicant is a peace-loving State and is able and willing to carry out the obligations contained in the Charter. The most recent State to be recommended for admission by the Security Council was the United Arab Emirates, on 8 December 1971.

The Secretary-General received Bangladesh’s application for membership on 8 August 1972. China, citing that it believed Bangladesh had not implemented resolution 307 (1971), exercised its first veto on 23 August 1972, blocking Bangladesh’s admission. China has signalled further attempts at compromise will also be vetoed.

Recently, the United Kingdom agreed to recommend to its Parliament that independence be granted to the Bahamas on 10 July 1973, while the head of the Federal Republic of Germany’s observer mission at the United Nations said at a news conference on 22 November 1972 that he anticipates both the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany to be admitted as Members of the United Nations at the 28th session of the General Assembly.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

 

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), sometimes referred to as the World Court, is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It sits in The Hague, Netherlands and is composed of fifteen independent Justices from around the world. The ICJ is the only court in the world with general and near-universal jurisdiction; countries may bring cases before the Court even without becoming United Nations Member States, as long as both countries have consented to be subject to the Court’s jurisdiction. It may entertain any question of international law, subject to the provisions of its founding statutes.

The Court’s role is to examine international law and to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states. It also dispenses advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies. Since 1946, the Court has heard more than 160 cases, including more than 25 advisory proceedings. ICJ opinions, unlike most national legal systems, do not create binding legal requirements on other United Nations Member States, and cases are generally treated independently of one another.

The Justices are nominated by regional groups and elected by the General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms. Justices must receive a majority vote in each body to be named to the Court, and one third of the Court is elected every three years. When a state is party to a case before the ICJ, it enjoys the right to appoint an ad hoc justice. The ad hoc Justice does not need to be from that State. The ad hoc Justice enjoys the same privileges and responsibilities as the other Justices, but his or her obligation is limited to proceedings in that case.

Unlike most other international organizations, the members of the Court are not representatives of governments; they are independent judges whose first duty is to exercise their powers impartially and conscientiously in the Court.

Proceedings before the Court can last for years, involving complex issues of international law as well as difficult political questions. The States party to the case submit pleadings, or memorials, in writing along with extensive records supporting their cases. The States also participate in oral arguments, which allow States to explore the case and respond to questions from the Justices. The Justices deliberate in private, then read the judgment in an open forum.

Common Types of Cases

The Court hears two types of cases. 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:

  • Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay)
  • Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand)
  • Advisory Opinion: Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Palestine; Israel; Canada; Egypt)

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 evening of the simulation, the Secretariat, in conjunction with the Justices, will strive to communicate the order as soon as it is set to the advocates. The docket is also published in the AMUN Chronicle. After the docket is set, the Court elects a President and Vice President by secret ballot. Their duties are to moderate and time the oral arguments and facilitate the closed deliberations.

Joining the International Court of Justice

Permanent Justices

Justice positions are assigned by application on a first-come, first-served basis until the fifteen seats on the Court are filled. It is not a requirement for Justices to be a member of a delegation. Permanent Justices are full time Conference assignments, and representatives serving as Justices shall not be assigned to another simulation.

Ad Hoc Justice Application and Role at Conference

States involved in a case before the Court are strongly encouraged to place an Ad Hoc Justice on the Court if they do not already have a Permanent Justice. States wishing to do this may do so in two ways: (1) they may apply to be a permanent Justice (see above); or (2) they may appoint an ad hoc Justice. Ad hoc Justices sit on the Court only for the case in which their country is involved and must be assigned to another simulation. If States wish to appoint an ad hoc justice they must contact the Secretary-General and the Director of the International Court of Justice by 1 October by e-mailing icj@amun.org. Ad hoc Justices should, whenever possible, be paired with another representative in committee, so the State is fully represented in the committee while the ad hoc Justice participates in the Court’s proceedings.

Advocates

Advocate positions are not full-time Conference assignments. ICJ Advocates are assigned as members of the delegations who have cases before the court. Generally, Advocates should expect to spend two to three hours presenting their case and hearing the Court’s opinion during the Conference. Advocates must also serve as representatives in another AMUN simulation or as a delegation’s permanent representative. ICJ Advocate teams are limited to two people. ICJ Advocates should, whenever possible, be paired with another representative in committee, so the State is fully represented in the committee while the Advocate participates in the Court’s proceedings.

Preparation

Preparing as a Justice

Familiarizing yourself with the information provided in this handbook and on AMUN’s website is a key starting point to your preparations. Justices should familiarize themselves with the factual and legal disputes at hand, as well as the international treaties involved. Another helpful resource is previous ICJ opinions that are similar. While reading opinions, note the tone and style used by the Justices. Pay special attention to the way the Court addresses questions of jurisdiction; often this is the crux of the winning argument for the Court. Memorials written by the Advocates will be made available on the AMUN website in November as soon as memorials from all sides of a case are received by AMUN staff. Reviewing these resources is key to a successful experience.

Each Justice, while independent, will still have a roleplaying function. ICJ Justices retain their citizenship with the state their school represents at the Conference. Justices not affiliated with a delegation will be assigned citizenship with a state; while ICJ Justices are supposed to be independent advocates for the law, they often come to the Court with inherent biases based on their home country’s history, culture, religion and laws. Similar to the ICJ in The Hague, a Justice’s citizenship is important as it can sometimes cause a Justice to favor or side with the position advocated by their country of origin when that State comes before the Court.

All Justices will be expected to hear arguments and question the Advocates in all cases on the docket. Any Justice not present during the Court’s Oral Arguments may not participate in the subsequent deliberations and opinion writing for that case. After each case is argued, the Justices retire behind closed doors to deliberate and to draft the opinion of the Court. Justices discuss the case in depth, pulling from their research prior to the Conference, the Advocates’ memorials and the points raised during oral argument. If the Justices require any additional information, they are welcome to request that from the Registrars. Justices collaborate to write a majority opinion and as many concurring and dissenting opinions as the body requires. Justices use their persuasive writing and speaking skills to sway additional Justices to their position throughout the drafting process.

Preparing as an Advocate

Advocates’ opportunity to present their case is twofold: written memorials and oral arguments. Advocates must thoroughly understand the legal principles that support, and those that oppose, their position, and be able to articulate them in the face of strict scrutiny from the Justices. The research and creation of an Advocate’s Memorial is one of the most important parts of preparation for an Advocate’s at-Conference role. Time spent thoroughly researching the Advocate’s State’s positions and arguments provides Advocates with the vital information necessary to respond to questions at Conference and helps them effectively craft a memorial to present their arguments to the court before the Conference.

Prior to oral arguments, Advocates have the opportunity to consult with an ICJ Registrar about their oral argument. To take advantage of the opportunity, Advocates should attend the Advocate meeting on the first evening of Conference, where the Registrars will share information about the simulation timeline and give Advocates the opportunity to set up a practice session.

Written Memorials

ICJ memorials should contain:

  • Jurisdictional statement and arguments (outlining whether your country recognizes the Court’s jurisdiction in this case)
  • Statement of facts (what are the relevant facts in the case?)
  • Statement of law (what treaties, customs or laws apply?)
  • Argument section (detailing how the law and facts apply to the merits of the case – how do the laws and facts support your case?)
  • Summary and prayer for relief (what do you want the Court to do?)

The Court does not require these sections to be in any particular order, although they are typically laid out in the order shown. As you draft your memorial, think carefully about how best to use these sections to your advantage to advocate your position.

The party bringing the case is called the Applicant. The defendant is called the Respondent. In an Advisory Opinion, each country is known as a Party. Due to time constraints, all Parties in any AMUN ICJ case must prepare their memorials without seeing the memorial of their opponent. However, each side should anticipate and seek to counter the arguments opposing Advocates might make. All memorials must be submitted by 25 October to the AMUN Secretariat at icj@amun.org.

Oral Arguments

Oral arguments provide Advocates with an opportunity to explain to the Justices the factual and legal merits of their case. In adversarial cases, the Applicant will argue first. The Respondent will then have the same amount of time to reply. Finally, the Applicant will have the opportunity to present a brief rebuttal. In Advisory Opinion cases, each Party will have a set amount of time to present their argument to the Court and for rebuttal, the order for which will be determined by the Justices on the first evening. Advocates presenting amicus curiae arguments will then be accorded no more than five minutes each to speak. The Justices will create the docket and define the amount of time for oral arguments. Advocates, with the exception of amicus curiae, should prepare between 10 to 20 minutes for arguments. The oral argument is not simply an opportunity to give a prepared speech; Justices often interject with multiple questions throughout the presentation. At least the first five minutes of each Advocate’s presentation will be uninterrupted, to allow each side the opportunity to freely present the key issues of their arguments. After the initial five minutes, the Advocates may continue with their presentations, but the Justices may also interject and question the Advocates on the merits of their case. Therefore, Advocates must be prepared to both answer questions and defend their positions. The following steps should be taken to prepare for oral arguments:

  1. Identify the critical issues in the case. You should try to have at least three main points to your argument.
  2. Develop a theme which incorporates your best arguments on the critical issues. Keep it simple. Remember, the best arguments are structured around a story that has a unified theme, which explains why your country has been wronged, and what the Court can do to provide a fair and just solution.
  3. Prepare an outline. The outline should include your theme, your best arguments on the critical issues, your responses to your opponent’s best arguments and ideas about answers to any other questions you think the Justices might ask. Try to make your memorial and oral argument outline consistent, so the first issue addressed in the memorial is the first issue addressed in the oral argument.
  4. Practice, practice, practice! There is no substitute for practicing oral arguments: your presentation is likely to be smoother and more persuasive. Have your Faculty Advisor or other students fire questions at you. Learn to field those questions and then transition back to the point you were making prior to the question.
  5. Learn proper courtroom demeanor. Remember to be polite and deferential to the Justices at all times. While argument is the method, persuasion is the goal.

Though each Advocate will have more than five minutes to present oral arguments, keep in mind that only the first five minutes of the presentations will be uninterrupted. Focus on the main points and key issues during the first five minutes. AMUN suggests that you follow a pyramid format; present the crux of the argument first and then use the remainder of the allotted time to expand on those issues in a more thorough and complete manner. This format can also allow for a quick means of referencing issues during the remaining period of presentation and questions. It is also wise to conclude the presentation by again summing up the key points.

Try to anticipate questions the Justices might ask and develop answers. Do not write out answers verbatim. Do, however, write out catch phrases or legal terms you will want to remember precisely. Simple, concise answers that repeatedly stress the same points are persuasive and will be remembered by the Justices. Oral arguments will involve extemporaneous speaking and responses, not the presentation of a memorized speech.

Outline the specific names of conventions, treaties and cases in your memorial and your outline. Your oral argument requires these citations to maintain your credibility with the Justices, and articulate the reasons your side of the case is stronger.

Note: Remember that the AMUN ICJ is a simulation. No one expects participants, who are not lawyers or Justices, to make presentations, decisions or render opinions with the same level of sophistication as actual ICJ Justices or Advocates. The participants’ job is to gain a basic understanding of what considerations are taken into account when presenting or presiding over a case and to prepare to argue their cases before the Court.

Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay)

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 February 2007. 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 response to two established mills along the river that marks their shared border, the Argentine Republic (Argentina) issued an application instituting international court proceedings against the Oriental Republic of Uruguay (Uruguay). The application alleges that the pulp mills were established in violation of the Statute of the River Uruguay—signed by both parties in February of 1975—which requires advance notification and consultation of such operations by both parties before establishment of any sort of operation along the river. Argentina requests the Court order Uruguay to suspend the mill’s construction and refrain from any further construction incompatible with the 1975 Statute.

Argentina, in its memorial, outlined the action of the establishment of the two pulp mills as well as filed an application for provisional measures of the Court. Argentina asserts the Court has jurisdiction under the first paragraph of Article 60 of the 1975 Statute, which states “Any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the Treaty and the Statute which cannot be settled by direct negotiations may be submitted by either Party to the International Court of Justice.” Its claim was simple: Uruguay failed to notify and collaborate with the Argentine government prior to the establishment of the two pulp mills as required by the 1975 Statute, thereby constituting a violation of the 1975 Statute. Additionally, Argentina raised concerns that the mills would adversely harm the environment and the river itself. Argentina requested the Court order Uruguay to suspend work on the mills, and begin to protect and conserve the aquatic environment around the mills.

Countering the claims of Argentina in its memorial, Uruguay asserts a limitation on the jurisdiction of the court. While accepting jurisdiction under Article 60 of the 1975 Statute, Uruguay states that only arguments based on the 1975 Statute are to be considered. Since the 1975 Statute does not address the specific environmental concerns outlined by Argentina, Uruguay argues it is not within the jurisdiction of the Court for consideration. In response to the actual claims of the Argentine memorial, Uruguay states that Argentina has mischaracterized the 1975 Statue as requiring consent for operations alongside the river, and not just simply notification. Under this interpretation of the 1975 Statute, Uruguay states it did uphold its end of the treaty in providing advanced notification of the establishment of the pulp mills.

To resolve this case, the Court must determine the exact bounds of jurisdiction under the 1975 Statute of the River Uruguay, as well as determine the correct procedures required.

In successfully adjudicating this case, the Court must address and resolve two significant issues. First, does the International Court of Justice have jurisdiction to consider the application submitted by Argentina to determine whether Uruguay is in violation of the 1975 Statute of the River Uruguay? Second, if the Court does find jurisdiction in this case, how does the Court balance the act of asserting national sovereignty with a potential or real impact that extends beyond national borders?

Questions to consider:

  • What is the scope of jurisdiction for the Court under the 1975 Statute?
  • To what obligation are each nation under the 1975 Statute?
  • What precedent, if any, is there for interpretation of the 1975 Statute and what precedent would be set for a decision?

Bibliography

Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand)

This is a historical case. In accordance with AMUN rules and procedures, please note that the historical timeline for this case will stop on 1 June 1961. 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 6 October 1959, the Kingdom of Cambodia (Cambodia) instituted proceedings against the Kingdom of Thailand (Thailand) in the International Court of Justice (the Court) regarding the sovereignty of the Temple Preah Vihear. Thailand entered a preliminary objection, stating the Court lacked jurisdiction to rule on the application. After written and oral proceedings, the Court decided on 26 May 1961 that it had the jurisdictional authority to proceed and dismissed Thailand’s objections.

The Temple of Preah Vihear, now in ruins, sits on a plateau in the Dangrek Mountain chain. Thought to have been built by the Khmer Empire, it is only easily accessible from the north. Historically, the Temple was a place of religious worship and pilgrimage for Cambodians. Currently, both Cambodia and Thailand lay claim to this site.

Cambodia asserts their sovereignty over the Temple Preah Vihear is proven by international conventions and treaties, continual acts of sovereignty over the area, and that any acts of Thailand fail to displace Cambodia’s sovereignty. Thailand disputes the interpretation of the international conventions and treaties cited by Cambodia and rejects the assertion that Cambodia enacted continuous acts of sovereignty over the area, as Thailand had maintained a military presence in the temple since 1954. Finally, as Thailand asserts that since the Temple was always under their sovereignty, it need not prove its actions displaced Cambodia’s sovereignty of the area.

The border between Thailand and what is now Cambodia was negotiated over several treaties, the foremost being the Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1904. This treaty between Siam (now Thailand) and France delineated the border between Siam and the French protectorate Cambodia.

Cambodia asserts the final border for the area in question was established by the Mixed Commissions in 1907, with the Temple lying in Cambodia’s territory. Referencing the map found in the Application Instituting Proceedings, Cambodia further asserts the border was formally approved with the 23 March 1907 Treaty between France and Siam. Thailand disputes this, stating the proposed border map could not have been presented to the Mixed Commissions and therefore approved by both parties, because the last meeting of the Mixed Commissions was held on the 19th of January 1907. Thailand asserts the map presented by Cambodia could not have been completed at that time and therefore was not seen nor approved by all parties. Thailand asserts the border for the area in question should, as stated in Article I of the 1904 Treaty, follow the watershed.

The Court has two questions before it: (1) Whether the Court has jurisdiction to address the claims for Cambodia; (2) whether the territorial sovereignty over the Temple of Preah Vihear belongs to the Kingdom of Cambodia or the Kingdom of Thailand.

Questions to consider:

  • How does the 1904 Franco-Siamese Treaty and subsequent treaties, conventions, and documents support or refute the claims of each side?
  • What actions or inactions result in showing or losing sovereignty over an area?
  • The Judgment by the International Court of Justice sought to balance a number of competing priorities in a volatile geopolitical time and circumstance. Should those considerations be reconsidered in the context of this case?

Bibliography

Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Advisory Opinion: Palestine; Israel; Canada; Egypt)

This is a historical case. In accordance with AMUN rules and procedures, please note that the historical timeline for this case will stop on 9 July 2004. 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 8 December 2003, the United Nations General Assembly (GA) adopted resolution ES-10/14 during the 23rd meeting of its Tenth Emergency Special Session (ES). The resolution requested the urgent issuance of an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice (ICJ or Court) in response to the question of the legal consequences of the construction of a barrier wall in the Occupied Palestinian Terrritory. This intermediary resolution was preceded by ES-10/13, which demanded that Israel reverse and discontinue its construction of the barrier wall in accordance with 1949 agreed armistice lines.

Following the failure of the Security Council to adopt a resolution on the highly-contentious matter after a permanent member refused to take action on the situation, the Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly implored the Court to answer the following question: What are the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, as described in the report of the Secretary-General, considering the rules and principles of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions?” 

In September 2000, during the Second Intifada, Israel began the construction of a barrier wall that loosely followed and extended beyond the Green Line, a demarcation line proposed by the 1949 Armistice Agreements that concluded the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and generally understood to serve as an accepted border. The extension of the wall beyond this line of demarcation as proposed by Israel would encompass around 80 percent of settlers within the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including within a significant portion of East Jerusalem, a city determined legally to be maintained under international administration by A/RES/194(III), which provided an official end to the 1947-49 Palestine War.

Citing Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, Israel posits that its construction of the barrier wall is a matter of domestic self-defense from militant Arab aggressors and terror attacks, thus implying that their control over territory contained within the borders of the barrier wall is legitimate and defensible. In addition to disputes about the legitimacy of Israel’s de facto authority over implicated Palestinian territories, including condemnations by the General Assembly and Security Council of Israel’s violations of international law and imposed obstacles to the Middle East peace process, were questions of the rights of civilians in zones of active conflict.

Within its written statement, Palestine reiterates their prior support for the opinion of the Court and asks that the Court keep two distinct points in mind. The first is that the territory of the Palestianian people be respected as the people of Palestine are, as has been indicated in the past by the General Assembly, entitled to self-determination and a degree of autonomy. The second being that the wall cannot be considered a simple barrier, but a manned operation of a variety independent of simple defense. Palestine further characterizes the wall—and its continued operation—as one designed to annex territory and limit the limited sovereignty of Palestinian territory.

Of particular note was debate regarding the enforcement of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (GCIV), which provides for the protection of noncombatants from the withholding of their right to life or humanitarian assistance. Considering that Israel has not ratified the GCIV, disputes may arise regarding their responsibility to cooperate with its provisions, which include non-exclusive clauses for non-ratifying parties to conflict. Secretary General Kofi Annan reinforced these grave concerns in a November 2003 report, claiming that the construction of the barrier wall “is in contradiction to international law,” and “increases suffering among the Palestinian people.”

To resolve this case, the Court must consider the obligations of Parties under preceding legislation adopted by organs of the United Nations, as well as the establishment of practices by customary international law.

Questions to consider: 

  • How do the Court and the referring body establish jurisdiction and competency in a matter of international peace and security, traditionally reserved for the Security Council, particularly considering arguments of political interference between sovereign territories?
  • What are the implications for human rights, self-determination, and diplomatic negotiations by the construction of this barrier wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory?
  • How might the Court apply customary law and the findings of external human rights organizations to this request?

Bibliography

The International Press Delegation

The International Press Delegation (IPD) is a unique simulation that allows students to fill the role of reporters as they work to produce AMUN’s Conference newspaper, the AMUN Chronicle, and keep participants informed about the functions of the United Nations.

While at AMUN, the International Press Delegation is reflective of the work of hundreds of reporters from news agencies around the world. Even though IPD does not exist at the United Nations in New York, reporters there still cover the work of the organization—publishing essays, opinion pieces, articles and videos on the debates and activities of the United Nations—to share with audiences around the world. By doing so, the members of the International Press Corps assist the United Nations in fulfilling one of its fundamental objectives: the dissemination of information about the United Nations and world events to all people.

Recognizing the critical role the press plays at the United Nations, AMUN’s IPD simulation has two major goals:

  • To keep all AMUN participants informed about newsworthy events from each simulation with social media and a high-quality newspaper (the AMUN Chronicle) each day of Conference.
  • To provide representatives the opportunity to present their country’s positions through press releases and press conferences and to gain familiarity with the challenges of strategic communications.

 

AMUN Secretariat Members will serve in the following roles:

  • The Director of the International Press Delegation, who is responsible for overseeing all IPD activities and for the content of the published AMUN Chronicle.
  • The Publisher, who is responsible for taking the articles and laying them out into the template for the AMUN Chronicle.

 

What do IPD Reporters do?

Participants will be issued specific press credentials that will identify them as IPD reporters to the AMUN Secretariat and representatives. Each IPD reporter will be assigned to at least one beat, which is a specific simulation (e.g., Security Council, ICJ, General Assembly Third Committee) that they will have primary responsibility for reporting on throughout the Conference. Reporters are assigned to beats to ensure consistent and thorough reporting of how each committee functions. All IPD reporters will submit content covering their assigned beats for each issue of the AMUN Chronicle.

Reporter content will include a short ticker story for their beat and, depending on the newsworthy events in a simulation, reporters may also submit a committee feature (100-125 words) or a general feature (200 words). Reporters will create their own content, review their peer’s content and assist with the production of the paper as needed. Additionally, reporters will be asked to schedule tweets via the @AmunIPD Twitter handle and be assigned to cover press conferences and other Conference events, such as interviews with guest speakers.

Ticker stories will offer brief coverage of high-level events in a simulation. Each simulation should have a ticker story in every edition of the AMUN Chronicle. Tickers should be no more than 50 words and must be tightly constructed and edited to briefly convey the main point. A ticker story for General Assembly Second Committee might read as follows:

Although GA 2nd continues debate concerning revised guidelines for alleviating sovereign debt crises, several representatives from Latin America seek more impactful regulation to mitigate capital flows to violent extremists.

General features will cover the primary, newsworthy events that occurred on a reporter’s beat. When drafting features, reporters should investigate the motivations for and representatives involved in the notable event. By conducting thorough interviews and seeking accurate primary and secondary sources, features can clarify the various activities of the United Nations. Reporters are advised to build in-depth relationships with representatives on their beat. Reporters should strive to feature two to three quotations from different representatives. To assist in planning and drafting articles, fellow reporters and editors will provide feedback on reporters’ content.

The content of each edition of the AMUN Chronicle is set in a budget meeting that reporters attend in their assigned work space. At each budget meeting, in consultation with IPD Secretariat staff, reporters assess the type and length of article(s) they will draft for the next edition of the AMUN Chronicle. Reporters’ content will be published to all participants at Conference; therefore accurate reporting is critical to ensure unbiased information is disseminated.

Joining the International Press Delegation

Any interested student can join the IPD. However, IPD reporters cannot also be members of their school’s delegation(s). In other words, participation in the IPD as a reporter is a mutually exclusive, duration-of-the-Conference assignment. Up to two students from any school may become IPD reporters. Students from schools that are not sending a delegation to AMUN are also welcome to apply to participate in the IPD. Students not attending with a school delegation must pay only the AMUN delegate fee.

Due to the resource-intensive and specialized nature of this simulation, AMUN will accept up to 14 IPD reporters. Positions will go to applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. The application is available on the AMUN website; please contact the AMUN Executive Office (mail@amun.org) for more information. For the best chance of being accepted as a reporter, apply by mid-October.

IPD will also accept qualified applications to fill one position as a photojournalist. This position will be evaluated based on the applicant’s background and experience in photography. Applicants may apply for a reporter position as well as the photojournalist position.

Connect with IPD at Conference

All AMUN representatives and delegations are encouraged to explore the news-coverage possibilities offered by the IPD. In particular, representatives should get to know the reporter(s) covering their simulations, make themselves available for interviews and provide background information when it is requested or when it is in their country’s interest to seek press coverage. Also, representatives and delegations are strongly encouraged to call press conferences and to submit press releases, personal ads and letters to the editor.

Press conferences allow representatives a chance to give an oral statement and to answer questions from reporters and other conference participants. Representatives request press conferences using the IPD Request Form. They are asked to provide three specific pieces of information: (1) the requested time for the press conference, (2) the first and last names and countries of the participating representatives and (3) the topic(s) that will be discussed. Representatives have a maximum of 15 minutes to complete the press conference, including the question-and-answer session. Time slots are made available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Press Releases are official statements from a representative’s country that explain a country’s stance on one of the topics under debate at AMUN. Press releases are a maximum of 150 words and are included in every edition of the AMUN Chronicle. Press releases must be typed and submitted in the IPD Office. Press releases are edited by IPD Secretariat members for content and clarity.

Letters to the Editor may be submitted by any attendee and can be on any topic germane to the Conference. Letters to the editor are limited to 250 words. Letters to the editor must be typed and submitted in the IPD Office.

Social Media offers an opportunity to concisely communicate a country’s position in a more interactive manner. All IPD reporters will have the ability to tweet newsworthy updates via the AMUN official Twitter account. Each committee will have a designated hashtag, so all representatives can participate in the online conversation by commenting on AMUN’s official Twitter account, @AmunIPD.

The decision to include material submitted to the IPD office in the AMUN Chronicle is left to the discretion of the Director of the IPD and the AMUN Executive Committee. AMUN Secretariat will screen and edit all content submitted to the IPD for clarity and adherence to rules for diplomatic courtesy.

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