Description, Difficulty: Advanced
The United Nations Human Rights Council is the inter-governmental body within the organization’s system tasked with supporting the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. It has the competence to address a multitude of thematic issues, such as: freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.
The Council was created by an UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 with its first session taking place from 19 to 30 June 2006. In the following year, the Council adopted its "Institution-building package" to guide its working process and fabricate its procedures and mechanisms.
The UNHRC is a subsidiary body of the UN GA, thus it is the Assembly that elects the members who occupy the Council’s 47 seats, by considering the candidate States’ contribution to upholding human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.
The UNHRC meets at the UN Office at Geneva. Yet this time around, the conference has been translocated to the Technical College of Communications Nicolae Vasilescu-Karpen in the city of Bacău, where special members will be selected to represent Member States for a 3-days term and will have the chance to discuss several matters of high importance: women’s hygiene & health and female genital mutilation, the right to privacy in the digital age and the capital punishment.
Women’s hygiene & health and female genital mutilation
Menstruation is a taboo subject across the world, an attitude which can lead to misinformation and the promotion of dangerous menstrual hygiene practices. Cultural norms and religious teachings on menstruation are often compounded by traditional associations with evil spirits, shame and embarrassment surrounding sexual reproduction. Millions of girls and women are subject to restrictions in their daily lives simply because of this alleged condition. The term ‘female genital mutilation’ refers to all procedures involving removal of/injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM has been reported to occur in all parts of the world, but it is most prevalent in Africa, some countries in Asia and the Middle East. It is known to be harmful as any damage to healthy tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body. Yet it is often considered a necessary part of raising a girl and a way to prepare her for adulthood and marriage. It is often motivated by beliefs about what is considered as acceptable sexual behaviour and even though no holy scripts prescribe the practice, the perpetrators cling to the idea that it has religious support. The question stands: whether women’s hygiene and potential FGM represent a significant issue that needs to be addressed by certain states, and if so how can it be handled by all the countries involved in these inhumane practices?
Right to privacy in the digital age
Privacy has become a controversial topic in the 21st century. According to Article no.12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights privacy is defined: ”No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks up on his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” But can we talk about same laws applied by sovereign states in the context of borderless internet? Through the lenses of evolutionary technology one is subjected to a greater danger of being deprived of personal information, but also is at risk of being the target of hacking (such as bank account hacking or identity theft). With more and more terrorist attacks at home, the majority of the population is growing uneasy. Human rights advocates are adamant, exhibiting a strong desire to keep their freedoms and privacy. However, at the same time, the possibility of reducing terrorist attacks represent a tempting perspective. The UN Member States shall reconsider this matter in order to determine the extent to which privacy and, extensively, its violation affects the life of the citizen. Bearing that in mind, how should the UN tackle the issues of ‘digital privacy’ such as mass surveillance, phone back boning and many others?
Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is a government sanctioned practice whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. In most countries that practise capital punishment it is now reserved for the gravest of crimes (e.g. murder, terrorism, war crimes, espionage, treason) or as part of military justice, while in others, sexual offences carry the death penalty, as do religious misdoings. Several states even allow children to receive this punishment. The majority of states, including almost all First World nations, have abolished capital punishment either in law or in practice. Notable exceptions are the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, and some Islamic states. Abolitionists believe capital punishment is the worst violation of human rights. They assert also that capital punishment lacks deterrent effect, discriminates against minorities and the poor, and that it encourages a "culture of violence". On the other side, advocates of the death penalty argue that it deters crime, is a good tool for police and prosecutors (i.e. in plea bargaining) and serves as righteous penalty for atrocious crimes. Despite the fact that the international community has created various treaties and resolutions calling for the abolishment of capital punishment, this ultimate penance continues to be put to use. Thus, the UN will have to decide: promote the trend of abolishing capital punishment around the world, preserve the sovereign ability of governments to decide how to seek justice or outrightly support this controversial method due to its potential positive effects?
Description, Difficulty: Accesible
The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC; French: Conseil économique et social des Nations unies, CESNU) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, responsible for coordinating the economic, social, and related work of 15 UN specialised agencies, their functional commissions and five regional commissions. The ECOSOC has 54 members. It holds one four-week session each year in July, and since 1998, it has also held an annual meeting in April with finance ministers heading key committees of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The ECOSOC serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues and formulating policy recommendations addressed to member states and the United Nations system. A number of non-governmental organisations have been granted consultative status to the Council to participate in the work of the United Nations.
The world’s oldest profession –a legit one or modern slavery?
Prostitution is a well-known phenomena and although it has its roots in antiquity, it looks like the problem is far from being solved. The politics regarding this job are slightly different from one country to another. While there are countries in which any form of prostitution is completely legal, there are states which convict their prostitutes to death penalty. Apart from people killed because of prostitution, this wide issue leads to Human Rights violation, social instability, discontent, tax evasion and so on. Taking the example of the Western European countries in which prostitution is mainly legal under different forms, the legalization of prostitution might be one of the best solutions to this problem. After being legalized, both the sex workers and the customers were undoubtedly safer and better kept away of STDs and, moreover, the specific countries’ economy was bettered by the measure, taxing an activity which is very likely to happen no matter the circumstances. But is this a normal job? Some say it is, but some say it is not, including ex prostitutes who say that nobody does this because he or she wants to do so. Also, there are countries in which such a measure would feed an immense social crisis, may it be simply because of the mentality of the population or the religious beliefs. So is the Western European model a good one to follow by all countries or is it just a way to encourage the practice of an immoral job? What measures should the ECOSOC Committee take on an international scale?
The Economic Aftermath of Nuclear Energy
The world is about to face an extensive wave of nuclear power plant decommissioning. More than a half of the 449 power plants in 30 states in the world are approaching the end of their lifespan. The process of shutting one down requires considerable amounts of both time and finances. Materials that cannot be reused are certified as waste materials and relocated for “safekeeping”.
There is currently no nuclear vault capable of holding such materials indefinitely.
More and more countries are opting for nuclear power phase-out - often initiated because of concerns about nuclear power, phase-outs usually include shutting down nuclear power plants and looking towards fossil fuels and renewable energy. While gas and renewables get cheaper, the price of nuclear power only rises.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations body, said Asia had become the “driver” of global nuclear development.
South Korea has 25 working reactors delivering power.
China is constructing new reactors at the rate of eight a year.
Both countries are increasingly eyeing the export opportunities created by the collapse of the old order in the U.S., France and Japan.
In other words, we are headed to a monopolisation of the nuclear energy industry, that highly unbalances the very own instrument that made nuclear power somewhat safe: equality.
With nuclear plants shutting down in the west and with eastern powers opening new ones, the economic power is shifting in a highly unstable infrastructure.
There is the problem of alternative energy sources, in a world devastated by pollution and atmospherical dysfunction. Renewable energy has not reached the point in its development at which it can satisfy the needs of billions, and fossil fuel is beginning to loose its appealing factor as days go by.
The Effects of the Pink Tax on the Economy
The Pink Tax is the higher price paid for women's consumer items compared to similar products marketed to men. The pink tax also refers to the extra amount women are charged for certain products or services. Things like dry cleaning, personal care products, and vehicle maintenance.
In certain conditions, women are subject to higher prices on certain products. However, some of the companies that enact such measures justify their taxation habits by additional services that are required for the products of women. For example, a clothing brand justified this tax gap by stating that during the designing process required for women’s jeans is subject to an additional phase.
The pink tax is perfectly legal, as vendors are legally allowed to impose different prices for different products they release on the market. In the context of the American stance on a lower income directed to women, this limits the economic accessibility of women even more.
In other words, women are earn less but pay more than men.
The ECOSOC should establish the legitimacy of these taxes and the way they are managed, and if found non compliant within the global economic standards, it has to establish and enforce rules and regulations to overcome such intimate issues.
Description, Difficulty: Challenging
United Nations Security Council, United Nations (UN) organ whose primary responsibility is the maintenance of international peace and security.
The Security Council originally consisted of 11 members—five permanent members (the Republic of China [Taiwan], France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and six nonpermanent members elected by the UN General Assembly for two-year terms. An amendment to the UN Charter in 1965 increased council membership to 15, including the original five permanent members and 10 nonpermanent members. Among the permanent members, the People’s Republic of China replaced the Republic of China in 1971, and the Russian Federation succeeded the Soviet Union in 1991. The nonpermanent members are generally chosen to achieve equitable representation among geographic regions, with five members coming from Africa or Asia, one from eastern Europe, two from Latin America, and two from western Europe or other areas. Five of the 10 nonpermanent members are elected each year by the General Assembly for two-year terms, and five retire each year. The presidency is held by each member in rotation for a period of one month.
Each member has one vote. On all “procedural” matters—the definition of which is sometimes in dispute—decisions by the council are made by an affirmative vote of any nine of its members. Substantivematters, such as the investigation of a dispute or the application of sanctions, also require nine affirmative votes, including those of the five permanent members holding veto power. In practice, however, a permanent member may abstain without impairing the validity of the decision. A vote on whether a matter is procedural or substantive is itself a substantive question. Because the Security Council is required to function continuously, each member is represented at all times at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
Any state—even if it is not a member of the UN—may bring a dispute to which it is a party to the attention of the Security Council. When there is a complaint, the council first explores the possibility of a peaceful resolution. International peacekeeping forces may be authorized to keep warring parties apart pending further negotiations (see United Nations Peacekeeping Forces). If the council finds that there is a real threat to the peace, a breach of the peace, or an act of aggression (as defined by Article 39 of the UN Charter), it may call upon UN members to apply diplomatic or economic sanctions. If these methods prove inadequate, the UN Charter allows the Security Council to take military action against the offending nation. he Security Council can issue a variety of documents. These are listed below:
Resolution: Can be submitted by any member or a group of members of the Security council; requires a simple majority plus consensus among the P5 to pass.
Presidential Statement: Issued by the president of the council on behalf of it if no resolution can be adopted. A statement is not legally binding in any circumstance; requires consensus among all members of the council to be adopted.
Communiqué: Published by the Secretary-General at the closure of a closed-door meeting.
In accordance with Article 27, each member state has one vote. Of the voting procedures used in the council are Roll Call voting, and division of the question. Roll Call voting involves going through the roll call whilst conducting the vote, thereby allowing states to also state any rights in favour or against a draft resolution. Division of the question, also called ‘Clause-by-Clause’ voting, involves voting separately on each operative clause of the draft resolution. If more than two-thirds of the draft resolution is rejected, the draft resolution fails. The latter situation also applies to amendments to a draft resolution.
The powers of the UNSC are contained in Chapter VI and Chapter VII of the Charter and comprehend several measures both peaceful and involving the use of the force. More specifically Chapter VI take in consideration the Pacific Settlement of Dispute and it is mostly applied to divergence among Member States (border disputes are the typical example of this kind of issues) and authorize the UNSC to operate as a mediator taking all the appropriate measures to lead the involved parties to a peaceful agreement. As expressed in Article 36 Paragraph 3 the council should also take in consideration that any legal dispute should be referred by the parties to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as the competent body on the matter.
Article VII is the true core of UNSC powers and it take in consideration all the action with a respect to threats to peace, breaches of peace and act of aggression. The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations or decide what measures shall be taken to restore the peace and prevent further escalations of the conflicts. This measures could be limited to diplomatic and economic means (Article 41) such as but not limited to economic sanctions, political and diplomatic isolations or embargo. If the above mentioned actions will be ineffective the Council is authorized to take action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations (Article 42). The agreement made to establish this kind of actions is called Mandate and it shall provide all the necessary information on the forces to be employed ( such as but not limited to time frame, dimension, participation, funding, rules of engagement). Possible cooperation with Regional Organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is provided by Article 53 Paragraph 1.
Resist and regress in the Yemen Crisis
Yemen, one of the Arab world's poorest countries, has been devastated by a war between forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement. The crisis goes to the extent of both internal and external conflicts, terror and terrorist intervention and a trigger of human rights violation. Not to generalise, the state has been dealing with attacks by al-Qaeda and now by ISIS, a separatist movement in the south, the continuing loyalty of many military officers to Mr Saleh, corruption, unemployment, food insecurity alongside with the death of more than 8,000 people and the newest of all, cholera. Needless to say, the key players chose their side, using their resources in supplying the crisis. Living in terror, the UN says 2 million Yemenis are internally displaced and 180,000 others have fled the country, therefore immigration being an inevitable war consequence. The conflict between the Houthis and the government is also seen as part of a regional power struggle between Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, thus representing also a question of the religious and military supremacy in the area.
The issues remain complex, concerning both international relations and humanitarian aid: how can the Council achieve a ceasefire which will not be broken by any party? How can be Saudi-Iranian cold war brought to a successful halt? What are the possible ways to optimise the situation concerning the humanitarian crisis?
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Since the end of the Korean war, the two Koreas couldn’t have been evolving more different. The South, which has enjoyed a democratic regime ever since and continuous growth, is at complete odds with their neighbors in the North, which have been a threat for international security. The current leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un seems to be adamant on pursuing his nuclear program, confident that if he gives up on his agenda, he will end up as many other dictators such as Saddam Hussein or Qaddafi. Recent constant testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) have led the UN to impose harsh sanctions on North Korea slashing their annual export revenue of $3 billion by more than a third. Pyongyang’s response was under the form of a direct threat at the address of the United States, stating that if they do not stop with their aggressive policies against the regime, a war is imminent. The White House did not take long to answer, stating that if North Korea does not stop threating the US or any other Member State, they will be met with “fire and furry like the world has never seen”. Now, it is only natural to ask: will North Korea escalate the conflict to the point where a war is imminent? Bearing in mind their tense relations with China since the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, can they still rely on them as their staunch ally? With Kim Jong-un’s unwillingness to disarm, is a preemptive strike the only measure to assure international security?
Description, Difficulty: Advanced
Welcome delegates to the SPECPOL committee. The Special Political and Decolonization Committee, also known as the Fourth Committee, deals with a variety of subjects such as humanitarian crises, outer space, mine action, nuclear threats and human rights. This year the BacauMUN SPECPOL Committee will pursue sever topics of crucial importance such as Arctic territorial disputes, which threaten world peace, the situation between Taiwan and China, that has the potential to escalate and also The Moon Agreement, formally known as Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. All these topics are regarded as being of great importance in today’s world and also for the years to come in human development and evolution.
Arctic Territorial Disputes
The Arctic Ocean is a desolate environment with a fragile ecosystem, yet beneath ice, earth and sea lay monumental natural resources such as oil, gas and species of fish essential to the global food market.
As such, many claimants to these largely unspoiled lands emerged, with countries such as Russia and Canada ever wishing to expand its sphere of influence over territories near the North Pole. That is why they have come up against a number of member states that wish to preserve their current claims in the Arctic.
Despite the country’s entire landmass being located outside of the Arctic circle, Norway is one of the most important claimants in the region, having huge revenues from oil extraction, precious mineral mining and fishing.
Russia has had some very important claims made in the region as of 2001, annexing 1.2 million square kilometres of Arctic territories. This action has been deplored by the other states with claims in the region, being seen as a threat to the current borders.
Canada has taken a great interest in the northern regions of its territory and, following Russia’s example, has consolidated its military presence in the area, yet regarding the Russian claim as being barbaric.
The U.S., on the other hand, have taken an economic approach rather than a military one. Seeing as U.S. oil production has reached a historical low in present years, the country has sought to raise it by any means necessary.
Governing of the Moon and other celestial bodies
The Agreement was elaborated by the Legal Subcommittee from 1972 to 1979, finally being accepted as a resolution by the General Assembly in 1979. Its content has been directed at colonisation of other celestial bodies and mining of extraterrestrial resources, when and if such actions could become feasible.
Having been drawn almost 40 years ago the agreement is deem to be obsolete at present, due to ever increasing technological and economic requirements. In recent years space programs that are funded by member states have lost interest in spatial colonisation and resource mining due to a severe lack of funds, yet private companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX have had exponential breakthroughs in space travel, which could lead to more feasible exploration. These privately owned companies are not covered in the agreement, and that could mean member states could operate behind them, through loopholes.
Humanity’s hunger for new and accessible resources could lead to an overexploitation of the Moon and other celestial bodies, and thus resulting in the destruction of otherworldly landscapes and potential ecosystems.
Taiwan vs China
This issue concerns both the political status and foreign relations of the Republic of China, informally known as Taiwan, and its eventual readmission into the United Nations. The status hinges on whether the island of Taiwan and Penghu (Taiwanese territories) should become unified with the territories of Mainland China under the rule of the Republic of China (ROC); become unified with the territories of Mainland China under the rule of the People's Republic of China (PRC); declare independence to become the Republic of Taiwan; or maintain the status quo.
In 1945, the ROC took control of Formosa (Taiwan), the Pescadores (Penghu) and other nearby islands, under the direction of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. In September 1952, Japan officially renounced its right to Taiwan in the Treaty of San Francisco without explicitly stating the sovereignty status of Taiwan, and hence some people believe that the sovereignty of Taiwan is still undetermined. The People's Republic of China claims that the Republic of China government is illegitimate, referring to it as the "Taiwan Authority". The ROC, however, with its own constitution, independently elected president and armed forces, continues to view itself as the sole representative of China. The territory being controlled by the state has never been controlled by the PRC. Internationally, there is controversy on whether the ROC still exists as a state or a defunct state per international law due to the lack of wide diplomatic recognition.
Over the years, UN states have made several requests so that the UN General Assembly would consider allowing the ROC to resume participating in the United Nations. This approach was chosen, rather than a formal application for membership, because it could be enacted by the General Assembly, while a membership application would need Security Council approval, where the PRC held a veto. The ROC continues to maintain de facto relations, including with most of the non-governmental organizations at the United Nations.