Montana Model United Nations 2000
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Security Council

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

Topic 1: Sierra Leone

The conflict in Sierra Leone dates from March 1991 when fighters of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) launched a war from the east of the country near the border with Liberia to overthrow the government. With the support of the Military Observer Group (ECOMOG) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Sierra Leone’s army tried at first to defend the government but the following year, the army itself overthrew the government.

Despite the change of power, the RUF continued its attacks. Parliamentary and presidential elections were held in February 1996, and the army relinquished power to the winner, Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. The RUF, however, did not participate in the elections and would not recognize the results. The conflict continued. A peace agreement between the Government and RUF known as the Abidjan Accord from November 1996 was derailed by another military coup d’état in May 1997. This time the army joined forces with the RUF and formed a ruling junta. President Kabbah and his government went into exile in neighboring Guinea.

The Security Council imposed an oil and arms embargo on 8 October 1997 and authorized ECOWAS to ensure its implementation using ECOMOG troops. In February 1998, ECOMOG, responding to an attack by rebel/army junta forces, launched a military attack that led to the collapse of the junta and its expulsion from Freetown. On 10 March, President Kabbah was returned to office. The Security Council terminated the oil and arms embargo and strengthened the office of the Special Envoy to include UN military liaison officers and security advisory personnel.

On June 1998, the Security Council established the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) for an initial period of six months. The mission monitored and advised efforts to disarm combatants and restructure the nation’s security forces. Unarmed UNOMSIL teams, under the protection of ECOMOG, documented reports of on-going atrocities and human rights abuses committed against civilians. Fighting continued with the rebel alliance gaining control of more than half the country. In December 1998 the alliance began an offensive to retake Freetown and in January overran most of the city. All UNOMSIL personnel were evacuated. Later the same month, ECOMOG troops retook the capital and again installed the civilian government, although thousands of rebels were still reportedly hiding out in the surrounding countryside. In the aftermath of the rebel attack, the Special Representative, in consultation with West African states, initiated a series of diplomatic efforts aimed at opening up dialogue with the rebels. Negotiations between the Government and the rebels began in May 1999 and on 7 July all parties to the conflict signed an agreement in Lome to end hostilities and form a government of national unity. The parties to the conflict also requested an expanded role for UNOMSIL.

On 22 October 1999, the Security Council authorized the establishment of UNAMSIL, a new, and much larger mission, to assist the Government and the parties in carrying out provisions of the Lome peace agreement. At the same time, the Council decided to terminate UNOMSIL.


Topic 2: The Congo


Democratic Republic of the Congo
Head of state: Laurent-Désiré Kabila
Capital: Kinshasa
Population: 46.7 million
Official languages: French, Kikongo, Kiswahili, Lingala, Tshiluba


Since 1994 the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly called Zaire) has been embroiled in ethnic strife and civil war. The civil war was touched off by a massive inflow of refugees from the fighting in Rwanda and Burundi. Troops from Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Angola, and Namibia have intervened in this devastating conflict. A cease-fire was signed on 10 July 1999, but skirmishing continues. Killings of civilians continue to be perpetrated by all parties involved in the DRC conflict. Torture by Congolese and foreign government forces opposed to President Kabila has been systematic and widespread. Reports of detainees "disappearing" in the custody of DRC government forces and of their armed opponents continued. Some of the "disappeared" were detained by Rwandan troops in eastern DRC and were reportedly moved to Rwanda. Most people in the DRC were victims of either direct attacks by combatants or of hunger and disease. Services such as education and health collapsed. Most ordinary Congolese lost their livelihoods and most government employees were rarely paid, if at all. Whereas foreign forces on both sides of the conflict were reportedly paid, Congolese combatants were generally not paid, and became increasingly undisciplined, living on extortion and looting from already impoverished civilians and humanitarian organizations.

Although they resisted pressure from the DRC government to condemn the invasion of its territory by neighboring countries, the UN, the Organization of African Unity and the European Union called for an end to the armed conflict in the DRC. In April the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding an end to the conflict and an inquiry into violations of human rights and international humanitarian law as soon as the security situation permitted. These organizations supported mediation between the main parties to the conflict by Zambian President Frederic Chiluba. The mediation culminated in the signing of a cease-fire agreement by the governments of Angola, the DRC, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe in July, and by the armed opposition groups in August. However, fighting continued as the opposing forces accused each other of violating the cease-fire. In August the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of military liaison officers to prepare for the deployment of a peacekeeping force. The liaison officers visited the countries involved in the conflict, but the peacekeepers required by the cease-fire agreement had not been deployed by the end of the year. A threat by the European Union to suspend aid to countries continuing the fighting was only implemented to any significant degree against the DRC and Zimbabwe.

Within the past month the Democratic Republic of Congo said it would allow United Nations peacekeepers to deploy freely with immediate effect, following its earlier rejection. The UN Security Council approved the deployment of 500 military observers and 5,000 support troops but have been unable to deploy them throughout the country, in part because Kabila had refused to allow them to operate in areas under government control. Until now, the United Nations has needed prior authorization for all flights, and UN planes taking off from rebel areas have been required to land at a "neutral" airport outside Congo before continuing to Kinshasa. That requirement is now waived.

The present situation of internal displacement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a result of events which started in the early 1990s when political instability accompanied by inter-ethnic rivalry in the central and eastern regions caused several hundreds of thousands of people to become displaced and/or forced to resettle (USCR 1995, p.82). In October 1996, several factors, including general resentment against the Mobutu regime, discrimination against local ethnic Tutsi, and the presence of militant Hutu militias who had fled Rwanda after participating in the 1994 genocide, caused an uprising against Mobutu. A full-scale civil war and substantial displacement of the population in conflict zones followed. In early 1997 opposition forces under Laurent Kabila took the capital Kinshasa and Kabila became President in May 1997.

Displaced Congolese were only allowed about a year to start the process of return and reintegration when a major rebellion against Kabila materialized into a new civil war and renewed displacement. Since August 1998 continued war involving Kabila's forces, armed contingents from several African nations and three rebel factions plus various internal conflicts among allies made the number of IDPs reach 1,5 million by June 2000 (OCHA 11 July 2000).
Under the auspices of Zambia, President Kabila's Government signed a cease-fire agreement on 10 July 1999 with Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia. On 31 August 1999 the major rebel groups also became parties to the cease-fire agreement. Although the agreement called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, the security situation continued to deteriorate during the first half of 2000, including offensives both by rebel groups and Government forces and it's allies (UN SC 18 April 2000). However, the main cause for increased displacement during the first half of 2000 has been fighting between different ethnic groups and fighting within the Eastern DRC involving the three main rebel forces, their Rwandan and Ugandan allies, and several militia groups (IRIN 9 February 2000, OCHA 17 April 2000). An attempt made in April 2000 to make the parties to the conflict respect a new cease-fire appeared initially to have had some success (IRIN 19 May 2000). But, major violations of the agreement have continued, e.g. when clashes between troops from Uganda and Rwanda in Kisangani displaced more than 60 000 in June (UN SC 12 June 2000, OCHA 11 July 2000).

There have been widespread reports of violations of humanitarian law by armed groups on both sides, causing tremendous suffering by the civilian population, especially in the central and eastern regions (AI 31 May 2000, HRW May 2000). Although there has been a frontline stretching across the country, various armed factions, including local militia known as "Mai-Mai" and members of the former Rwandan Armed Forces (i.e. ex-FAR) or Rwandan militia (the "Interhamwe"), as well as the rebel RCD forces, have been accused of continuously attacking civilians within opposition-held zones of eastern DRC (HRW May 2000). Ethnic clashes have continued, especially in the Oriental province where the number of IDPs has increased continuously since mid-1999 (UN OCHA 17 April 2000), and in the Ituri district between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups (IRIN 3 March 2000).

The lack of access to IDPs during hostilities has meant there was limited information on the subsistence needs of IDPs prior to the stabilization of the military situation in August 1999. Several recent reports now suggest that the IDPs and the general war-affected population share the same needs, as most IDPs have not sought shelter in camps but have integrated into host communities (UN July 1999). Coping mechanisms of communities hosting the displaced are seriously over-stretched (IRIN-CEA 2 April 1999 and 20 August 1999). The health care system, already in a weak state when the present conflict started in August 1998, has been degraded by looting, fleeing staff and lack of other resources and has been unable to cope with a sharp increase of epidemic diseases (MSF 25 January 2000). Malnutrition rates among IDPs have been reported to be alarmingly high in several areas (OCHA 15 February 2000). The health and nutrition situation were during the first half of 2000 particular precarious in the Ituri district and the Kivus (IRIN 24 March 2000, ACC/SCN 31 March 2000) There are high numbers of abandoned children in need of protection and humanitarian assistance (MSF 25 January 2000).

Although accessibility to vulnerable populations on both sides of the front-line improved during limited periods in 1999, the capacity of the UN system to accelerate assistance towards the displaced and the general war-affected population was curtailed by a lack of resources. WFP, for example, had by September 1999 secured less than 20 percent of the resources needed to assist its target group (WFP 17 September 1999). It was reported in July 2000 that administrative procedures for humanitarian access in Government held areas had improved but access was still hampered by Kinshasa's highly centralized decision making procedures. Humanitarian access appears to have worsening in eastern DRC, especially in South Kivu by mid-2000, reflecting the escalated violence in that area (OCHA 11 July 2000). Donor contributions of food aid improved during the first half of 2000, but it was widely acknowledged that the ongoing support covers only a small proportion of the needs (OCHA 17 April 2000). However, there have been reports of improved delivery of aid and the establishment of a wider humanitarian network throughout the DRC since March 2000, and a more systematic response to the internally displaced persons (UN July 2000) - as, for example, demonstrated by an effective humanitarian response to the Kisangani crisis in June.

Topic 3:

The last Security topic will be a dynamic one in the spirit of last year's Executive Committee. It
will come to light sometime during the conference and the flexible nature of the Security Council's
agenda will allow it to adopt as it sees fit. This topic is IN ADDITION to the Crisis topic; the Security Council is unique in that it will have two fluid crisis-style topics.


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