Topics & Committees
Beginner: World Health Organisation (WHO)
Topic A: Review on Global Notification Mechanism and Response to recent global public health crisis
Ever since the creation of international health authorities, the world has never faced such a global pandemic that is comparable to Spanish Influenza in the 1920s, as the threat of COVID-19 has emerged vociferously and killed over million in a few months. WHO has been criticised for its incompetence in dealing with this crisis, for its lack of agility in warning the globe and taking nimble actions.
WHO has been a key stakeholder of public health since 1948, and with a concerted effort from the rest of the world, it has successfully suppressed the outbreak of Ebola and SARS years before. In contrast, the performance of WHO in this pandemic is being depicted as mediocre, and it recalled public attention on the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) found in 2013, and whether it can alleviate the impact of the pandemic. The network aims to strengthen the connections among nations and improve transparency of sharing health information, and it also has a steering committee in providing adequate advice from different expertise around the world. Do the GOARN and WHO, require a reformation within the structure, based on their achievement so far? Do the emergency fund and incident team bear more rights or duties, with respect to their performance in WHO and in fighting the pandemic?
Topic B: Financial and resources aid for tackling against infectious diseases in third world countries
The United Nations has long recognised physical health and wellbeing as a crucial part of human rights. Along with its member states, it has actively enacted resolutions and proposed goals to promote health and wellbeing globally. The existence of infectious diseases, notably in third world countries, have greatly jeopardised the universal and inalienable human right. These infectious diseases can take on many forms and spread in different environments, with examples from the outbreak of Malaria in the Amazon rainforests to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic in Africa. Many developing states lack the financial and medical resources to tackle these issues on a nation-wide scale, leading to high morbidity and mortality rates while robbing the right of many individuals to a healthy and prosperous life. In this committee, members will be tasked to address one of the most critical health issues of our time and determine methods to tackle the threat of infectious diseases in third world countries. Moreover, members of this committee must consider the various stakeholders in this debate, such as nation-states, intergovernmental organisations and global health public-private partnerships. These considerations must be undertaken to provide much-needed impetus towards achieving global wellbeing.
Intermediate: 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 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 the UN constrain state authorities from carrying out surveillance that might harm human rights without infringing national sovereignty, and how 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 by 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.
Advanced: Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC)
Topic A: Privatisation and militarisation of outer space
In light of recent breakthroughs in space exploration, current space legislations, such as the Outer Space Treaty, have become outdated. Private corporations’ swift development on space tourism, asteroid mining and space station logistics indicates the need for regulations regarding private property rights, rescue and environmental obligations, as well as jurisdictions over crimes involving various nationals in unclaimed space. The controversial role of state-owned enterprises should also be discussed in view of potential de facto national territorial claims. Furthermore, there are also concerns about the militarisation of space. The prevalence of equipment capable of scientific and military dual use, as well as the establishment of the US Space Command reflect loopholes in current peace clauses, which must be amended before conflicts arise. Finally, space debris swarms surrounding the Earth, resulting from frequent missions by spacefaring states, pose danger to people departing from and returning to Earth. Liabilities for releasing debris and responsibilities for cleaning up should be defined to prevent disastrous accidents in the future. Therefore, it is hoped that existing space treaties and agreements be updated in response to the commercialisation, militarisation and pollution of space.
Topic B: 2020 US-Iran Crisis
Does the US’s use of force constitute an act of aggression under the UN Charter? Or is it a rightful act of self-defence in response to the preliminary attack against aggression from the Quds Force and Shia militias? Similarly, should Iran have the right to conduct military actions in the future for self-defence against the US? The current status of Shia militias in Iran is another controversy, as some contended that they are terrorists, but some considered them as freedom fighters who had contributed in the war against the Islamic State.
Under this crisis, the role of the United Nations is still unclear. Should it act as a mediator or should it intervene the support for the rightful side? What would be the differences in the responses of Iran, a sovereign state and Shia militias, a militant group? How should the UN maintain regional stability and address possible military clashes? How to minimise impacts to people around the globe? The members of the committee would have to focus on the incidents’ implications on Iraq, and possibly Syria and Yemen in the future and UN actions to safeguard their interests during possible clashes in the region.