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General Assembly

1- Solving the Humanitarian Crisis Stemming from the Displacement of Syrian Refugees

For the past six years, Syria has been ripped apart by a raging civil war, and although the world recognizes this as a humanitarian crisis, more needs to be done. Seeing as Syria is suffering at the hands of various internal and external political differences, the humanitarian costs of the war have been flowing over the borders. This is where the Syrian refugee crisis arises, wherein over 10 million Syrian nationals have been either displaced internally or found themselves awaiting asylum, their current status suspended in limbo, as they wait stranded on European borders after having fled from Syria. Specifically, over six million citizens have been displaced within Syria, whereas another five million citizens have left the nation. Countries all around the world have taken in refugees, whether legally or illegally, but it is the countries surrounding Syria such as Turkey and Lebanon that have absorbed most of the impact. Lebanon, a country with a population of a little less than six million, has taken in more than one million refugees legally, but the number of illegal refugees in the nation is feared to be much larger.

The refugees are in need of help from all around the world, as what most people take for granted such as food, water, clothes, and even shelter, many refugees would name a luxury. These refugees are helpless, they are voiceless, and it is the United Nations that needs to stand up and act as that missing voice. Children are forced to replace play time with labor, as every family tries their best to stay afloat in a crisis that is drowning them given the lack of international involvement. Children are left with no education and are being robbed of the simplest of things, such as books, thus prompting the world to question what future generations could bring to the table.

Syrian refugees need financial help to support them, and there needs to be coherent support for them by all UN Member States. Countries in Europe are a great example of distant nations that are key players, as Germany alone has taken in more than 300,000 refugees. Countries that are distant to the problem, just like countries very close to it, should stand together to find solutions to this crisis and should allow victims trying to flee from danger to be able to do so with support from all over the globe.

2- Combatting the Outbreak of Cholera in Yemen due to the War

Yemen has been torn apart by war and the Yemenis living within the borders have felt the repercussions of that the most. The toll of the conflict on the civilian population has taken the form of the severe outbreak of Cholera, a waterborne disease that causes diarrhea, and thus severe dehydration. Intense degrees of dehydration can lead to many other symptoms, or even death in some cases. Since the start of the Yemeni war, more than 10,000 people have been killed, and millions have been displaced from their homes. This war has led Yemen to becoming one of the poorest, if not the poorest, nation in the Middle East. This poverty has left people with no other options than to use unhygienic water sources as their main form of rehydration, which are carrying waterborne diseases, most prominently cholera. According to the World Health Organization, this epidemic is expanding at an unprecedented level, and the death toll is feared to rise at an exponential rate.

Yemen has been the victim of violence due to war, and this new epidemic adds another factor no one is able to fathom. This is why it is here, in the General Assembly, that solutions to this epidemic should be found. The innocent citizens of Yemen are left relying on other countries to give them a voice, and more importantly reinstitute their basic human rights.  This epidemic has been ravaging in Yemeni lands for years, but with the bombing of hospitals and other medical facilities, there is little aid, and even in this case little hope, for the Yemeni people. Solutions to this problem need to be found, and what better place to find them than right here in the General Assembly.

Economic and Social Council

1- Implementing SDG 16: Promoting Peaceful and Inclusive Societies for Sustainable Development, Providing Access to Justice for all and Building Effective, Accountable and Inclusive Institutions at all Levels

On the 25th of September 2015, 193 member states at the UN Sustainable Development Summit adopted the 2030 Agenda containing a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that must be reached in order to ensure the prosperity of the planet. By 2030, with the implementation of these goals, countries aim to resolve issues surrounding poverty, inequality, environmental issues, education, and economic growth, amongst other things.

As one of the main organs of the United Nations, established by the UN Charter in 1946, the Economic and Social Council functions primarily around the three pillars of sustainable development; economic, social, and environmental. Acting as a platform for discussion, integration, review, and follow-up of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, ECOSOC will provide a direct link between UN’s functional and regional commissions, delegations, and specialized agencies.

High levels of violence and corruption have the power to negatively affect a country’s economic growth and prosperity, thus halting any progress towards sustainable development. More than 1.6 million deaths occur worldwide every year due to violent acts, making it one of the leading causes of death in all parts of the world. On a scale from 0-10, with 0 being highly corrupt, about three-quarters of the 178 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index score below five.

SDG 16 aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. By creating the aforementioned institutions, countries may increase the general prosperity of their populations, be it through educational institutions, judicial proceedings, or inclusive governance. Therefore, in essence, SDG 16 paves the way for all other development goals. Throughout the conference, delegates would be expected to work cooperatively with one another to find lasting solutions to conflict and violence whilst keeping the targets of the goal accounted for.

2- Improving and Revamping Infrastructure and Natural Disaster Response Mechanisms, Taking into Account the Effects of Climate Change on the Intensity of Natural Disasters

When necessary, ECOSOC hosts meetings to address global emergencies and crises in order to develop a strategic response and decelerate any further damage to civilians and infrastructure. Over the last 20 years, ECOSOC has addressed several cases concerning natural disasters, including floods in Mozambique in 2000, the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004, the massive earthquake in Haiti in 2010, and the Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013.

Damage caused as a result of natural disasters constitutes a serious threat to the socio-economic growth of all civilizations worldwide. In 2016, natural disasters had caused over 175 billion dollars in damage, resulting in the highest global cost in the last 4 years and coming in as one of the ten costliest years to date. According to Munich RE, only 30% of the losses, 50 billion dollars, had been insured, thus, leaving most of the damage insecure. A total of 750 events out of 1900 have been categorized as relevant natural catastrophes, supporting the increasing trend in natural disasters in the last decade since the number proves to be significantly larger than the average amount of natural disasters in the last 30 years.

While climate change is not the singular cause behind the spike in the number of natural disasters on record, the increased temperatures and rising seawaters have played a role in exacerbating precursors to intense natural disasters. Taking both Hurricane Harvey and Irma into account, the latter of which set records for being the strongest hurricane to have formed in the Atlantic, reaching near-record breaking speeds of 185mph, climate change can be attributed to their destructiveness. With storms and hurricanes specifically, there is a correlation between warmer seawater and stronger storms, a correlation which spells out disaster if global temperatures keep rising. In addition, warmer atmospheric temperatures can hold more water vapor, resulting in increased rainfall. Consequently, not only will storms be of a stronger intensity, but tropical nations will face a longer and harder monsoon season. Finally, when storms form over large bodies of water, their strong winds push the seawater in front of them, forming storm surges. If sea levels keep rising, storm surges will keep on getting bigger, and by extension they will become deadlier as well.

In order to preemptively deal with the possibility of increased natural disaster frequency and intensity, delegates must keep in mind the current capabilities of their infrastructure, be it drainage, canals, dams or any other mitigation options, and whether or not they have to be improved and updated. In addition, recognizing that climate change is a driving force behind the intensity of natural disasters witnessed in our current day and age, delegates may want to address their respective greenhouse gas emissions and general eco-friendly policies. Finally, delegates must also develop strategic and long-term solutions in order to aid countries emerging from natural catastrophes in the development and reconstruction of infrastructures.

Middle Eastern Commission

1- Stabilizing the Arabian Peninsula by Ending the Qatar-Gulf Crisis

The fifth of June, 2017, marked the beginning of a regional crisis when Saudi Arabia along with other persian gulf countries cut diplomatic relations with Qatar. This was mainly due to alleged Qatari support of regional terrorist organizations which would breach a 2014 agreement amongst the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). However, Qatar has had a long history of differences with prominent Arab Governments, that being mainly with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Amongst these differences is Qatar’s maintenance of good relations with Iran.

In the midst of the Qatar-Gulf Crisis, Qatar, on the 24th of August, announced that it would restore full diplomatic relations with Iran, an act that has only worsened the situation in the region. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s blockade on the only land border of Qatar severely disrupted the Qatari trade system. Since the start of the crisis, Qatari food stock and other imports has declined, and the cost of shipping skyrocketed with a tenfold increase. For a country that depends heavily on exporting its great wealth of  natural gas and oil, trade disturbances and price increases are not only national issues, but rather pressing concerns for the entire Middle East. Moreover, Qatar Airways, one of the region's biggest airlines, has had to cancel and reroute several flight paths.

Therefore, it falls to the Middle Eastern Committee to solve the issue in a thorough and reasonable manner taking into account the economic, social and political aspects stemming from the crisis.

2- Tackling the Issue of Hezbollah’s Complete Disarmament in Lebanon

During the upheaval of religious intolerance in Lebanon leading up to the Civil war (1975-1990), several political parties were endorsed and given full support and funding, thus becoming powerful armed militias. Due to armed confrontation, suicide bombings, and the part these militias played in destabilizing the situation in the country, the Taif Agreement of 1989, hailed as the solution for civil war, called for the complete disarmament of all militias across Lebanon.

“Disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias shall be announced. The militias' weapons shall be delivered to the State of Lebanon within a period of 6 months, beginning with the approval of the national accord charter. The president of the republic shall be elected. A national accord cabinet shall be formed, and the political reforms shall be approved constitutionally.”

Since then, some militias have disbanded, others have died down, but Hezbollah remained highly relevant and powerful, and were the main instigators of the 2006 war against Israel. Thus, in UN Resolution 1701, there was yet another call for "full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state."

Unfortunately, this clause was yet again unfulfilled, and Hezbollah went on to be recognized as one of the most powerful militias in the world. Recently, Hezbollah was decreed “more militarily powerful than most North Atlantic Treaty Organization members,” worrying many foreign countries and consequently placing a target on Lebanon. However, delegates must also consider that the insurmountable power that Hezbollah has, is seen to be one of the biggest deterrents against ISIS’ activity in Lebanon, and thus disarmament might cause the country to be temporarily crippled subsequently paving the road for ISIS’ complete infiltration of Lebanon. It is up to the member states of the Middle Eastern Commission to approach the situation in a reasonable and delicate manner in order to assure Lebanon’s safety and stability, while also upholding the sovereignty the Lebanese government should have in controlling its own borders.

Note that this topic was not chosen due to any personal political views or opinions about Hezbollah, but due to the relevance and importance of the topic. The debate needs to be approached in a civil and diplomatic manner, and delegates need to adopt the views of their countries and keep all personal opinions out of the conference.

Human Rights Council

1- Addressing the Violations of Human Rights Stemming from Palestinian-Israeli Disputes

For more than 50 years, both the Palestinians and Israelis have perpetuated the cyclic of violence in which they currently live. For Israel, it views the Palestinians as a threat to their national security, specifically Hamas' 10 year administration of the Gaza Strip. Having somewhat reconciled their differences with Fatah under the auspices of Egypt, a united Palestinian opposition only worries Israel further. An important distinction has to be made, however. Along with Human Rights officials who have been calling for mediation and tolerance between either side, civilians on either side of the fault line share the aspiration for a common ground and peace between the inhabitants of the same land. However, the political establishments of either side seem to be content in continuing the regression of relations, and they seem to care less about human rights as the conflict continues to drag on.

Over the course of the past five decades, the Human Rights Watch continues to accuse Israel of using “repression, institutionalized discrimination, and systematic abuses of the Palestinian population’s rights” to preserve control over the occupied areas. UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, has continuously condemned the occupation’s “heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people” which he believes has “fuelled recurring cycles of violence and retribution”.

Be it the creation of settlements in the West Bank in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions or documented bombing of hospitals, for example the Al-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital in Gaza, which in itself is a war crime, Israel has become notoriously famous for breaking human rights and suffering no repercussions. While the Israeli attack on the Jabalia Elementary Girls School, a UN school harboring over 3000 internally displaced Palestinians, did elicit a response from UNRWA commissioner Pierre Krahenbuhl as well as former Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, there was little international willingness to truly reprimand Israel for yet another transgression against the UNDHR and the Geneva Protocol.

When questioned for their actions, Israelis always seem to use the alibi of protecting their own civilian populations. Taken with a grain of salt, there is some minimal truth to their words. While Hamas rockets launched at Israeli settlements do not cause the same damage as Israel’s full bombardment of Gaza in 2014, they nevertheless breach the very same conventions Israel should be held to.

As such, delegates are tasked with addressing human rights violations on either side of the conflict, and to find a possible middle ground to most importantly ensure the safety of non-belligerent civilians. With “At least five categories of major violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law” on record, the occupation is characterized by “unlawful killings, forced displacement, abusive detention, the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions on movement, and the development of settlements, along with the accompanying discriminatory policies that disadvantage Palestinians,” all of which must be addressed by delegates of the Human Rights Council. Is it Israel’s right to enforce its sovereign control within its border, thereby legitimizing any actions taken to perpetuate their national security, or do human rights trump their right to do so?

2- Resolving the Issue of Reported-Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar

The conflict in Myanmar (previously known as Burma) deals with the Rohingyas, who are a Muslim minority in Myanmar. They are regarded as foreigners by the government of Myanmar, but claim to be natives of Arakan, now the Rakhine State, and are hence geographically within the borders of Myanmar. The government, however, labels them as Chittagonian, which are the inhabitants of Chittagong, a city in Bangladesh. The Rohingyas on the other hand consider themselves a separate race with a distinct identity, culture, history, and language than that of the people of Bangladesh.

Ever since 1960, the government of Myanmar has failed to recognize the Rohingya identity and has banned the Rohingya people from receiving Burmese citizenship. Thus, majority of the Rohingya population has been forced to leave Myanmar due to their identity and the subsequent structural oppression they face, but are also not accepted elsewhere else. Additionally, the government of Myanmar is wholeheartedly denying the notion of ethnic cleansing on their part due to their refusal to acknowledge the Rohingyas as an ethnic group.

The Rohingya ethnic group also faces the threat of violence, given the fact that they are Muslims living in a majority Buddhist state. Given the historical dispute between these two religions, the Rohingya are further ostracized and oppressed by the society they live in. Delegates of the Human Rights Commission will propose and debate potential solutions to the ongoing conflict in Myanmar.

International Criminal Court

The Prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic for Crimes Against Humanity, Crimes of Aggression, and War Crimes with Regards to his Involvement in the Srebrenica Massacre

When one hears the word “genocide,” they usually think of little else other than the Holocaust and the deliberate ethnic cleansing of three million Armenians. Granted that both are inexcusable and tragic events in their own rights, there is another case of genocide commonly overlooked due to the chaotic war it was considered a part of. Starting on July 11th of 1995 and lasting until the 22nd of July, the Srebrenica massacre was an atrocity, even genocide, that resulted in the death of over 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks, all instigated by the Serb army of the Serbian province Republika Srpska (Serbian Republic). The genocide occurred during the Bosnian war, but the situation really escalated when each ethnicity started declaring its autonomy, resulting in the ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs (Particularly the Muslims) from Serb areas. To this day, the Srebrenica massacre is regarded as one of the biggest humanitarian blunders of all time, with the UN and even French forces intervening and failing, leaving only a pillaged and destroyed village filled with nothing more than the corpses of thousands of murdered people. The blame for this iniquity has been disputed and thrown around ever since, ranging from the president of Serbia, to the president of Republika Srpska, to even the UN forces themselves.

This year, the International Criminal Court will be trying former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic for crimes of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Furthermore, the court shall be focusing on whether or not the Srebrenica massacre was an undeniable genocide, and where Milosevic, as the Serbian president, was responsible for said genocide. The advocates and jury have a variety of tools at their disposal, including the ICC Rome Statute, international law, the Geneva conventions, and the agreed-upon definition of “genocide”. Finally, the advocates will have to decide whether it was essentially Milosevic who was responsible as president, or whether the military commanders of Republika Srpska are the ones who are guilty.

Slobodan Milosevic, the person standing trial for this alleged genocide, was Serbia’s first president. After rising to power throughout the 1980s, Milosevic was elected president in 1989. He can be seen as one of the innovators of the modern Serbian state with his contribution to transforming Serbia from a one-party Communist system to a multi-party system. In spite of this success, Milosevic is also responsible for being part of the government that initiated the Bosnian War that, ultimately, handed Milosevic power over the Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992 until his overthrow in 2000. In 1995, during Milosevic’s tenure as president of the republic, the Srebrenica Massacre was carried out. Typically, a president is supposed to be aware of and in charge of any crimes or violations of a his/her nation’s constitution yet some may argue that there are also other factors like the commander of the military, the parliament, the prime minister, and even the subsequent leader of the provinces involved that must also be considered before formally judging the president. Will the prosecution bring President Milosevic to justice, or were his actions already justified? That is what the International Criminal Court seeks to learn.

Security Council

1- The Reintegration of Previously Occupied ISIS Territories into Society

To put things into context, ISIS would not exist were it not for the flawed approaches to nation building that were used by the US in Iraq. Following their self coined systematic “de-baathification” of Saddam’s administration, the US/UK coalition set the groundwork for radicalization in the north of Iraq. Contextual background to the rise of the modern ISIS is key, because as the international community now looks at defeating this extremist entity, it must also make judgment calls on how to truly eradicate it. Sadly, it has come to the attention of many that a simple military campaign aimed at the physical extermination of ISIS, hereby referring to overly fighting its armed militants and recapturing lost cities, is simply an incomplete method of dealing with ISIS. The ideologies that have been cultivated by ISIS must be tackled; furthermore the reintegration of liberated cities and their inhabitants into society is crucial.

The reason behind their unshakable hold on northern Iraq/Syria is that they have used the institutional failures of the governments in said countries to widen their support base. In Iraq, the Shia government of PM Nouri Al-Maliki simply did not care to provide the most basic access to education, electricity and infrastructure to the Sunnis of northern Iraq. Therefore, ISIS rose as a result of the absence of proper governmental institutions and has used the failures of these governments to their advantage by gaining people’s support and exploiting their grievances. In Syria, the role that outside powers played in the conflict largely contributed to the rise of ISIS.

As foreign powers began to intervene in the civil war, an unintended safe-zone was created for ISIS where recruitment was made easy for the Sunni militias in Syria who received support from the KSA and Qatar. Thus, as the US-led coalition moves to halt the reign of terror, most recently retaking 5 of the 10 major cities occupied by this group, questions regarding how to rebuild and regenerate these areas have risen. In order to do so, social, political, religious and economic reintegration is necessary.

Delegates must keep in mind the diverse approaches to combating this violent extremist group, which range from more independent and unilateral military approaches to grassroots societal restructuring focused on containment and damage limitation strategies. The all encompassing and frequently discussed approach is the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, which was introduced by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Combining both hard and soft power, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon put his roadmap up for discussion on the 15th of January 2016 by presenting it to the General Assembly. The General Assembly later adopted a resolution that “welcomes the initiative by the Secretary-General”; furthermore, a Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was put into effect in June 2016 based on this proposal.

With specific emphasis on the social and humanitarian aspects of this conflict, delegates of the Security Council must focus on methods of restoring and reintegrating these liberated areas back into society in order to ultimately tackle the root cause of ISIS’ appeal and ideological drive.

2- Tackling the Issue of the Taliban in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been in a state of conflict and unrest for decades now. The Soviet-Afghan War opened the gates for an Islamic extremist group named the Taliban to take over and wreak havoc in Afghanistan in one of the most violent and long lasting conflicts in our modern time. After the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the militia group known as the Mujahedeen fought tirelessly for a decade for their independence. After years of conflict, and aided by the external pressures on the Soviet Union’s Economy, the Soviet Union was finally driven out of the country in 1989. But with no real government set in place, fighting and chaos broke out between the Mujahedeen.

This void of power and lack of stability paved the way for the rise of the Taliban in 1994. In 1996, the Taliban began enforcing their ideologies of strict Shariah Law and anti-western views. The Taliban then changed its name in 1997 to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in order to appeal to the international community and established diplomatic relations with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. These relations, however, did not expand to other countries in part because of the Taliban’s support for terrorist groups like Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. After 9/11, the US and NATO formed a coalition that directed its efforts toward the defeat of Al-Qaeda which found a safe haven in Taliban Afghanistan. As a result, the U.S. and its allies attacked Afghanistan directly and remain in the country to this day trying to bring stability and to defeat the Taliban once and for all.

The US-supported Afghan government has grown in strength but still does not effectively rule all territories in the country, such as Sangin and the environs of Kunduz where the Taliban maintains a strong presence. They continue to engage in violent attacks against foreign forces such as Afghan military forces and any other opposition including Muslim scholars who do not support their implementation of Islamic law.

Most recently, on August 21st 2017, President Donald Trump gave a speech introducing a new military strategy to combat the Taliban in Afghanistan based off sending an increasing number of troops steadily over a long period of time. President Trump stated that “the consequences of a rapid exit [from Afghanistan] are both predictable and unacceptable”. Furthermore, Trump stated that “position on the ground, not arbitrary timetables will guide our strategy from now on” and “our troops will fight to win”. Trump also condemned Pakistan for reportedly hosting Taliban training grounds and bases and warned that action would be taken if they are not eradicated from the country. This new level of uncertainty in the international community adds more complexity to the already delicate and complicated issue in the region.

It is the delegate’s job to assess the international community’s approach to the Taliban, particularly toward dismantling it. This goal needs to be achieved through means which will not incite the Taliban to inflict greater civilian casualties and which will reintegrate Taliban controlled areas under the Afghan government.

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