Social Development Committee
Full-length backgrounds for each topic will be posted
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
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 (www.un.org)
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
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
Cubas 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
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.