Montana Model United Nations 2000
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Social Development Committee

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

Topic 1: Prioritizing Human Security.

While Human security is not a new concept it is only with the end of the cold war that it has become a major focus for the UN. The reason for its emergence as a major issue however was not easily predictable as the majority of people hailed the end of the cold war as a time of unparalleled peace. The reality is far from it. Since the beginning of this decade there has been an astronomical rise in the number of armed conflicts around the globe. From the former Yugoslavia to East Timor and Sierra Leone violent insurrections have become an almost monthly occurrence. These conflicts have been very bloody and very difficult to solve for many reasons, not the least of which being their shift from international conflicts to internal conflicts. They have also shifted the focus of violence from military personnel to civilians. The impact of these conflicts and other disturbances on civilian populations is almost unprecedented; events like the Rwanda massacres have been likened to the Holocaust. The response to these events however is not as easily agreed upon.
What even constitutes a threat to human security is not wholly agreed upon, is it just physical threats like war and famine or do you include political disenfranchisement and social inequality? Is the role of the UN simply peace keeping missions or are there other routes it can take to support human security? When if it all does the UN and international community become involved? These are just some of the questions that have yet to be answered. It is also important to remember that while international intervention has been used before the legal imperative in the UN of when to get involved as well as who should get involved and how they should go about accomplishing their goals is still debated by both those who are pro and anti intervention.
Human security put simply is the practical application of human rights and protection of civilian populations from threats to their lives. The issue of human security and how that pertains to the role of the UN and how it protects human security however is not as simple.

It is going to be up to the delegates to decide what their nations stance on these questions are. Some nations are going to be avid supporters of UN intervention while others are going to be more concerned with national sovereignty. It would also be helpful for you to find out which nations are likely to side with you on this debate. Delegates should focus their efforts on strengthening the U.N.’s existing ability both legally and administratively to respond to and cope with a wide variety of internal threats to civilian populations.

This is a very hotly debated topic right now so finding information should not be difficult. The UN web site ( will have volumes on specific actions relating to Human security as well as transcripts of more philosophical debates on the nature and legal/political precedence for intervention. You should also be able to find plenty of information at your individual nations web site.

Topic 2: Disability Rights*

This is a topic relevant to both H.R. and S.D. committees. While the technical rights of persons
fall under the Declaration of Human Rights in a blanket way, only a few countries have legislation for the
protection of disabled persons. How can these rights be given to people all over the world when
cultural values differ so vastly?

Topic 3: Embargoes

There is perhaps no other topic at the moment more controversial than that of economic sanctions. They, sanctions, have been used as a tool for quite some time, although historically they were more of a military blockade. Despite its shift from a military to a legal matter sanctions as a tool are still used by nations to gain more or less the same concessions in a wide variety of areas from political and economic concerns to military oversight.
The UN as well as individual nations have implemented countless sanctions for a variety of reasons. Most however are ended quickly as the situation that caused the infraction is cleared up. Some and perhaps the most politically important are not cleared up as quickly. These cases, Iraq and Cuba especially, raise many problems with using economic sanctions as a diplomatic tool.
The most perplexing issue raised by economic sanctions, again Iraq and Cuba’s especially, is the overall effectiveness of embargoes in achieving their stated goals. There effect on the nation is certainly as adverse as intended however this adversity is unfortunately born by the populace in most cases. This now begs the question of whether embargoes are effective at all. If not than what alternatives are there to coerce rogue nations into compliance? If sanctions are still a viable tool than how does the international community continue to use them? Can sanctions be overhauled to be more humane and still have the intended impact?
There are many sides to the debate over sanctions occurring in the international dialogue some of them conflicting, some of them coinciding. This makes the argument rather interesting and complex as the debate continues in a very morally ‘gray’ vane.

As delegates you must find where your country stands on the debate. There are going to be certain nations, Iraq, Cuba, and the US especially that are going to have very definitive stances either in favor or against sanctions. There are also many nations who will have a middle of the road attitude and will be more concerned with making sanctions more humanitarian as well as others who will be just as centrist but for more concrete economic reasons. All in all it should be a very diverse debate and students should come prepared knowing which side they are going to adhere to.

Again the UN web site should be your main source for ‘technical’ data, resolutions and other official documents. It would also be helpful to track down relevant editorials from news organizations with in your nation. Also remember that official government web sites will be an invaluable resource, both for background and to learn the ‘language’ of your nations stance.

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

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