Montana Model United Nations 2000
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General Plenary

Full-length backgrounds for each topic will be posted soon.


Topic 1: The Diamond Trade.

In 1930, the first diamond was mined from Sierra Leone. Thirty-one years later, the country gained independence from Great Britain; the ensuing years were characterized by political and civil unrest. The internal conflict came to a head in 1991 when the country’s former military corporal, Foday Sankoh, led the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in a rebellion against the government. Composed primarily of middle-class students, disillusioned youths, and Liberian fighters, the RUF failed to clarify their objectives and ideological stances. All that was certain was their desire to disrupt the Sierra Leonean government and to acquire access to the diamond-rich mines. By gaining access to these mines, the RUF was-and is-able to fund its military efforts. And such efforts include horrific infringements on the human rights of Sierra Leone’s citizens.
Embargoes on Sierra Leonean diamonds, particularly those mined by the RUF, have been long standing; but they are ineffective. So-called “conflict diamonds,” or “blood diamonds,” are regularly smuggled across the borders into Liberia and Guinea and are then sold under the auspices of having been mined in those countries. DeBeers, the premier dealer of diamonds in the world, have received most of their diamonds from Liberia and Guinea, though they claim not to have knowingly purchased blood diamonds for over 15 years. This claim of ignorance seems highly improbable. In other words, DeBeers and similar companies have been turning blind eyes, inadvertently funding the efforts of the RUF. Only after human rights groups threatened to expose the diamond merchants’ alleged misdeeds have these companies begun serious consideration on how to stop buying conflict diamonds.
The situation in Sierra Leone is not unique. Angola, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are beset with similar problems. In the interest of protecting citizens of said countries, and reducing political and economic repercussions, both governmental and non-governmental organizations have offered possible solutions. The most popular of which calls for the certification of individual diamonds denoting country of origin. The certificate would then be entered into a worldwide database. The assumption is that corporations like DeBeers could avoid, with a certain margin of error, buying blood diamonds and financing rogue military groups.
While the UN Security Council has dealt in depth with this issue, it remains undecided as to what actions to take, if any. The effectiveness of such a certification process is questionable, as are the civil and economic ramifications such actions could have.

Helpful Websites:


Topic 2: Immigration.*


Many countries around the world, especially the more prosperous ones in Europe and North America, are becoming a magnet for peoples from other countries seeking an opportunity for a better life. The policies of these target countries vary from open acceptance to outright rejection, and internal racism is growing towards these migrants. What rights, if any, do people have to move from country to country; or is national sovereignty paramount?
The problem is this: Ought humans have an international, inalienable right to pursue personal and financial betterment? If so, then humanity must have freedom to cross international boarders, looking for a better environment. But does this practice victimize the existing citizens of the target country? Does the influx of cheap labor offered by immigrants lower the standard of living of the existing citizens? If so, does this consideration warrant denying humans the right to immigrate, assuming immigration is actually a right?
Put more plainly, the argument can be divided into 2 ordered issues, the first leading to the second.


1) What practices are or ought to be rights?
a. Do humans have a right to cross international boundaries in search of a better environment?
b. Do countries have a right to protect the economic systems and standards of living of their citizens?
2) If both of these practices are actually rights, then they are conflicting rights. Asserting and protecting one means infringing upon the other. What are the consequences of each choice?
a. Does leaving countries the option of disallowing immigration-denying the right to an opportunity for a better life-do more harm than good, or vice versa?
b. An international open immigration policy would assuredly infringe upon the sovereignty of nations, denying them the right to protect their economic systems. Would such a policy do more harm than good, or vice versa?

These positions are, of course, the two extremes of this issue. Is a compromise between these positions possible?
Another consideration is the rising racism directed toward these immigrants. Firstly, citizens of target countries feel victimized by immigration-immigrants will work for less, and companies are more than willing to let them. Secondly, citizens also feel victimized when new immigrants receive benefits from national welfare systems. These factors combine to spur racist and anti-foreign sentiments. Does this issue influence what stance ought to be taken regarding immigration? Is racism a major consideration for immigration policies, or is racism just an unfortunate human tendency to be handled delicately in its own right?
Your task is to determine whether not these practices are rights, whether or not there is a grave violation of these rights, and whether or not the sovereignty of these rights supersedes the sovereignty of the nations involved.

For some examples, please visit the following websites:

Topic 3: Drugs and Destabilization.


Plaguing Central America and other less-developed countries around the world is the
problem of drugs, their creation and distribution. The tremendous profits attained by those who
produce drugs works to destabilize governments and foster civil wars. More developed countries suffer
from the influx of these illegal drugs, yet despite time and money, they have yet to develop an
effective solution to stop the inflow.

*This will be the resolutionless topic for the General Plenary committee. Do not submit resolutions on this topic.

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