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Topics & Committees

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

Topic A: Practice of Mass Surveillance Conducted by Sovereign States

Mass surveillance has never been something new to us. Back in the Cold War, mass surveillance has already been an effective means for state authorities to monitor people’s thoughts. With the advent of ground-breaking technologies such as artificial intelligence, facial recognition, and biometric authentication nowadays, people’s lives have become more convenient than ever. However, what comes with the convenience is the exposure of our privacy. From PRISM, to the implementation of the social credit system in China, people are now under more and more easier monitoring by their government. While such monitoring may bring order and safety to society, do we have a price to pay? Between human rights and national security, how can nations strike a balance between the two? The members of this committee would have to focus on how can the UN constraint state authorities carrying out surveillance that might harm human rights without infringing national sovereignty, and how can the international community strike a balance between the necessity of surveillance and the increasing awareness on one’s protection of privacy.

Topic B: State-conducted Religious Persecution

In contemporary society, religions remain one of the largest sources of conflicts all over the world. Though freedom of religion is protected under the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief by the UNGA, nowadays state-conducted religious persecution is still in a dire situation. Even though religious freedom is enshrined in many countries’ constitutions, in reality, religious minorities are still aimed as dissidents to many state authorities. Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, to name just a few, are all under threats in different parts of the world by state authorities. Common means of state-conducted persecution include denial of basic necessities, continuous surveillance, sexual assaults, indiscriminate armed attacks, as well as imprisonment and re-education. While human right is upheld as a universal value nowadays, the members of this committee would have to focus on the measures to prevent such persecutions and protect the religious minorities in such nations under the power of the United Nations.

World Health Organisation (WHO)

Topic A: Regulation of Genome Engineering and Evaluation on Its Impacts

The boom of biotech industries has advocated the development of genetic engineering over the decades. In view of improving the well-being of the human race, and in pursuit of a more comprehensive advancement, biological research should be encouraged. It is, however, posing incremental pressure on bioethics and related topics. From Dolly, the first cloned sheep bred from a mammy gland cell, to the first gene-edited child, as claimed by Chinese scientist He, these controversial cases have created various disputes on whether genome engineering should be monitored strictly or not. The WHO committee since then closely oversee and regulate the governance of bioethics advisory groups and genome editing all over the world, as well as reviewing available research scopes for scientists. The committee is facing its biggest challenge ever over the years, as the ethical boundary is losing on its sight and embryo research becomes more prevalent and private in different countries.

Topic B: Legitimacy of Generic Drugs Substitution and Patent Protections

It is an ongoing battle against the proliferation of common chronic diseases in the world like stroke and asthma. Thus the WHO has been striving for the health of human mankind for this long-term fight. An imminent issue has arisen along with the expansion of drug industries, as people in LDCs are finding ways to purchase low-cost medicine. Those generic drugs are manufactured on a large scale without any authorisation from the researchers, at the same time risking patients’ lives, as the producers may not be abiding safety requirements in their local countries. The production of generic drugs has induced a chain of problems on the legitimacy of substitution, also the protections of patents. It might be a good intention to make more drugs available, but still, the side-effects might cause reluctance in medical research or even refrain scientists from inventing new medical therapies. Inadequate support from WHO is recalled and a proactive role in addressing this issue should be mandated.

World Trade Organisation (WTO)

Topic A: Global Trade Disputes and Trade Protectionism

From the creation of Benelux Union to the OEEC; From GATT to WTO, establishing a transnational trade network has been an aspiration of generations of people. In the era of globalisation, free trade has now naturally become a part of our life. It is widely believed that when trade barriers are brought down, the fruits of commerce can blossom all over the world. Despite the improvement in international trade regulations and reduction in tariffs, WTO is aware of the tendency where member states start to resort to protectionism. Recently, the United States, once hailed as a globalist, vowed to “Make America Great Again” under the Trump administration. He first scrapped the Trans-Pacific Partnership and launched a trade war against China in blatant violation of WTO regulations. China, in return, retaliated by imposing a punitive tariff on US exported goods. Almost in parallel to the Sino-American trade war, the United Kingdom is entangled in a trade dispute with the European Union after Britain voted to leave the European Union, another supranational organisation which championed the free flow of capital and labour. The WTO is therefore currently facing an increasingly high pressure in maintaining the post-war free trade order, while adequately addressing the concerns of member states which advocate protectionist trade policies.

Topic B: Advocating Responsible Investments from Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs)

Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) has long been a state apparatus in achieving its financial goals in the global market. Mostly owned by countries that command an enormous amount of foreign exchange reserves and national assets, SWFs served as an effective tool for nations to generate extra revenue by extensively investing in the asset and capital markets. One of the most notable SWFs in the world is the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority owned by the UAE. Composed of revenue derived from oil trade, the fund has accumulated an asset profile of $773 billion USD in decades of time. While the WTO recognised the merits of SWFs to the interest of member states, there is a pressing concern pertaining to the level of transparency of these SWFs: How far are they independent of political influence from the sovereign government? China, for instance, was frequently accused of manipulating its SWFs in the hope of penetrating other nations’ economies, including monopolising local infrastructures and maliciously acquiring key companies and sectors in Africa and South Asia. How far are the operation of these funds in line with international regulations? Russia and UAE, as other examples, are said to have exploited their SWFs as a tool for money laundering. The organisation endeavours to construct a safe, healthy and rule-abiding trading environment. As such, how SWFs can be monitored and invest responsibly remains to be an essential question that must be duly addressed by the members of this committee.