RESHUFFLING THE CARDS IN PUZZLING TIMES
Dear future delegates:
It is our great pleasure to invite you to join us at elbMUN 2018. From May 21 to May 25, the Saxon State Parliament in the beautiful city of Dresden will once again be the site of encouraging, heated and hopefully fruitful debates. In our four councils and committees, you will have the opportunity to address a wide variety of issues which are currently being faced by the international community. Whether you will negotiate solutions for the crisis in South Sudan, debate child labor, address lethal autonomous weapon systems or another burning issue on our agenda: you will be the ones “reshuffling the cards in puzzling times”.
After all, those times we are witnessing are filled by seemingly drastic shifts in international alliances, the emergence of new leadership figures and the repeal of assumptions formerly believed to be definite and certain. It will hence be up to you to take the initiative, to think outside the box and to play out your cards wisely. Your input and your creativity will be crucial for the international community to come together in the common aim of achieving durable solutions to urging problems.
The entire elbMUN-team is currently preparing an unforgettable experience for all participants. We are once again keen to stick to our idea of a sustainable and ecologically beneficial conference. Consciousness will thus once more be the underlying and continuously present basis of elbMUN. Departing from there, we will strive to create a framework in which the MUN-spirit will be able to gradually unfurl – not only through our formal council sessions but also during talks over lunch, while having a beer at the Dresden Neustadt or while dancing at the traditional elbMUN prom.
We could not be more excited for the conference to start and are looking forward to welcoming you in May.
Best wishes until then,
Rachel Behring and Dennis Pöhland
Secretaries General of elbMUN 2018
Topic: South Sudan
South Sudan is the world's newest country, having declared independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of armed struggle. The international community, which had assisted the armistice, was quick to formally recognize its youngest member in order to assure its way towards statehood and stability. Unfortunately, however, only two years after its independence South Sudan was drawn into a new devastating conflict when political tensions among key political leaders erupted in violence.
In December 2013, President Salva Kiir accused his former vice president Riek Machar of plotting a coup, a charge Machar continues to deny. The conflict led to Machar’s destitution, which further spurred pre-existing ethnic divisions in the country. As the people of the Nuer took up arms to defend the power of their representative Machar, the Dinka organized to support President Kiir.
Clashes between both groups have brought about a complete disruption of government activity in many parts of the country, as both sides claim legitimate control of the territory. Unable to provide basic care, such as food and security, South Sudan, the newest country on Earth, is already considered a failed state.
Most worryingly, the political struggle is taking on an increasingly ethnical component, as civilians are specifically targeted based on their respective ethnic affiliation, leading to major abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law.
With 4 million refugees and tens of thousands of dead because of the conflict, the unique competency of the UNSC to provide stability and protection of civilians in the region is called for.
the international community has failed to live up to this responsibility so far.
We invite you to make a change, at elbMUN’s 2018 Security Council simulation!
The First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly is concerned with the challenges of disarmament and international security in the means to accomplish a world in peace. It resembles the General Assembly, thus every 193 United Nations member states can attend. The agenda is set by the General Assembly, which is also in charge of voting over draft resolutions passed by the committees.
Consus-building is the key regard to the First Committee in order to legitimately and cooperatively exert influence on matters of relevance for collective peace, including domestic military budgets, cuts in arms production, and seeking solutions to general challenges to the international security regime.
The first resolution to ever be passed by the First Committee called for “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction” (1946). Undoubtedly, the world is still struggleling with containing the spread of weapons of mass destruction while new challenges emerge from social developments and technological advancement for which the First Committee has to find appropriate solutions.
Topic I: Laws for LAWS: Regulating killer robots
What development or event is most likely to end the world? If you follow the news, issues like nuclear war and climate change seem to be the evident answer. Yet, there is one subject humanity seems to turn a blind eye on, although it has the potential to end the world as we know it: the rise of artificial intelligence.
While civil applications of AI are visibly spreading at an enormous pace, the military is starting to adopt this extremely disruptive technology as well, resulting in the emergence of “Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems” as the soldiers of the future. But since the international community has not yet responded to these so called “killer robots” developers are still operating in the twilight of a regulatory vacuum.
South Korea already relies on semi-autonomous border guards, that are able to
identify possible threats, decide on how to counter them and carry out the chosen
action if the soldier “on the loop” does not veto it. This human veto is the only
thing left that distinguishes these systems from LAWS. But as technology keeps
moving ahead, this last barrier might be soon to fall.
Therefore, it is time to take action, although there has been no consensus yet, on what this action ought to look like. In order for this to change, some questions will have to be debated thoroughly: Could LAWS make warfare more humane or will their use increase the number and intensity of armed conflicts? Who bears legal liability for machines’ actions? Do humans have to retain control to a certain degree? What standards need to be considered in developing and deploying LAWS and how can they be enforced? Or should such weapon systems be banned completely?
We kindly invite you to start finding answers to such questions at the 2018 elbMUN DISEC. Together with other young political trailblazers, let us make sure we determine the rules of the game before the cards of warfare are shuffled uncontrollably. Because as Elon Musk and 116 other leading AI experts pointed out in an open letter to the UN: “We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”
Topic II: Safety Zones
In the last decades there have been significant changes in modern warfare. As wars have become more asymmetrical, weapons more indiscriminate and combatants less distinct than ever before, civilian populations nowadays bear the brunt of armed violence.
In order to live up to its values and aims determined in humanitarian international law, the international community has to adapt to this new reality and find new ways to protect the most vulnerable of its members. One of the most promising measures to achieve this aim has also been of the most controversial. Safety zones, which were first laid out in the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) have been set up by the Security Council since the 1990s.
The first safety zone was implemented during the first Iraq War in the early 90s advocated for by the neighboring countries not only to protect civilians, but also to prevent refugee flows. The Iraqi government however protested against what they considered an unlawful violation of its sovereignty, as the Security Council imposed the safety zones without authorization. Most prominently, safety zones were used in the Bosnian War in 1993 where shortcomings in supply and security made the UN unable to prevent one of the most horrific genocides in recent history.
These examples show that there are still serious flaws in design and implementation of safety zones, which need to be addressed in order to evaluate, whether this instrument is appropriate for the mitigation of the horrifying consequences of modern armed conflicts.
We invite you to make your point at elbMUN’s 2018 DISEC session!
The Economic and Social Council is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and thus playing a key role within it's institutional framwork. It's responsiblity ranges from coordinating the specialized agencies in economic and social sectors (e.g. UNESCO, WHO, UNHCR) to the implementation of regional and local environmental programs, and it holds accountable the World Bank Group (and therefore it's sub-segments IMF, IBRD etc.) in questions of global social and economic equality. Although negotiations in the ECOSOC are considered to be fairly effective amoung equal parties, it's decisions are not obligatory to any extent. As economic and social questions increase in complexity and interdependence, the council's voice however weighs heavy in the international community.
Topic I: Antimicrobial resistance
Modern medicine has evolved to a point where most common infections can be cured through the use of antibiotics. Yet all these achievements are put at risk through the overuse of antibiotics in the medical and agricultural industry. While most countries in the world have no existing regulations to control the prescription of antibiotics and hinder their overuse, the cattle breeding industry came to a point, where preventing administration is a norm. In the US, for instance, over 70 percent by weight of antibiotics were sold for use in animals.
Even further, the bacteria themselves run a natural course making them more resistant to existing and future treatments. Everywhere around the world new strains of malaria, TB and HIV immune to new medical treatments, vaccines and antibiotics are appearing.
An estimated 700,000 people die from antimicrobial resistance now and every year, but if the overuse of antibiotics is not curved and regulated there will be a dramatic increase in antimicrobial resistance related deaths till 10 million people by 2050. That would cost the world about 100 trillion USD. There may come a point where antibiotics will not work at all and a post-antibiotic era will likely lead to a relapse in medieval medicine and society.
Preventing the antibiotic apocalypse is one of the main goals, stated by the world health organisation. Who is going to pay for the measures and actions that have to be taken? What is the more serious cause of AMR, agriculture or overprescription? In which of these fields is action urgently needed? Who are the relevant stakeholders?
Join this year’s elbMUN ECOSOC to discuss ideas how to steam this global crisis!
Topic II: Water grabbing and water security
Water is the basis for our very existence. No resource is so essential for our lives and none has greater potential to cause violent international conflicts. For this reason, the UN General Assembly proclaimed in 2010 that every human has a right to clean water. However, already today more than 2 billion people live in countries with insufficient access to drinking water. This figure is expected to explode in the coming years, as demographics rise incessantly, while pollution and climate change make clean water resources ever more scarce. Those who can afford it, compete for the access to the blue gold by purchasing land in other countries. In light of this race for resources, assuring global water security becomes one of the most pressing issues of our time.
The UN General Assembly has acknowledged the urgency of the situation, calling for “access to safe water and sanitation and sound management of freshwater ecosystems” as part of their 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
Still, not only do transnational agriculture corporations exploit foreign water stocks for profit, but also do governments try to gain exclusive use of transnational freshwater stocks by limiting their neighbour’s access to it. As a consequence of this water grabbing, local populations are left deprived of economic development opportunities, facing serious threats to their health and alimentation conditions.
We invite you to discuss how to ensure global water security and sustainable use at elbMUN’s 2018 ECOSOC!
"All Victims of human rights abuses should be able to look to the Human Rights Council as a forum and a springboard for action.", says United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the opening of the 4th HRC-Session in March 2007. Intending to consolidate and fortificate effective protection of human rights the General Assembly passed a resolution in March 2006, reconstituting the organ formerly known as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Drawing its legitimacy from their primary ambition to prevent horrific acts of violence and thus violation of human rights in wars like WW II, it nowadays follows a wider framework to unveil, and if possible, prevent infringement and violation in any aspect. It does however receive criticism since a key set of its members are considered to explicitly violate or conceal violation of human rights. It's members are said to pripritize in establishing influence over others rather than taking care of protecting human rights.
Topic I: Child labour and right to education
is a vicious circle: Children growing up in poverty must start working at a
fairly young age in order to support their families. Hereby, many of them
suffer from harmful conditions, earn low salaries and receive little education.
This, in turn, reduces their chances to quit poverty.
Acknowledging that education is one
of the most efficient approaches to breaking this vicious circle, the
international community agreed on ambitious goals to improve children’s lives.
The Sustainable Development Goal 4, for example, states that all girls and boys should receive free,
equitable and quality primary and secondary education by 2030. However, 264
million children worldwide still cannot visit secondary school. Particularly
child workers are frequently excluded from education.
For this reason and due to the
oftentimes harmful circumstances of child labour, the International Labour
Organization strives to eradicate child labour. Hereby, approximately 73
million children who are engaged in hazardous work which directly endangers
their health, safety and moral development should receive particular attention
from the global community. These so called worst forms of child labour include
prostitution, forced labour and recruitment of children for use in armed
At the same time, the ILO’s approach on these issues has
aroused controversies. Multiple NGOs and child labour organisations argue that
especially ILO Conventions 138 and 182 worsened many children’s situation since
it forced them to work illegally. Adopting a different approach, Bolivia passed
legislation permitting younger children to work under certain protective
regulations in 2014.
This approach emphasizes the emerging question regarding the combination of child labour and right to education: How can the United Nations guarantee both protection of children from economic exploitation and their right to education while taking into account their reality which, in many cases, includes a certain extent of non-preventable labour?
Join the Human Rights Council at elbMUN 2018 in order to find solutions on how to enable children to exercise these rights!
Topic II: Female empowerment in the world of labour
Having a decent job is widely agreed on as one essential key to a good life. It is seen as an effective tool to live in dignity and material security, including a certain standard. At best, it might even contribute to a sense of purpose in life. Due to these reasons, the United Nations included “full and productive employment and decent work for all” in their Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.
At the same time, yet another SDG aims at achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.
Combining these goals would imply equal integration of men and women in labour markets. Reality however shows us the opposite: to this day, there is an enormous gap between the official labour force participation of the sexes. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), it is 27% less likely for women to participate in the labour force than for men. The situation also seems to be quite stagnant: in regions where this gap was big in 1995 it has not decreased by now. In Southern and Eastern Asia, the gap has even widened. On an international scale, the gender employment gap has only closed by 0.6% in the last 20 years.
That, however, does not mean that women generally work any less than men. In fact, according to the ILO, women work on average 73 minutes per day longer than men in developing countries and 33 minutes longer in developed countries. Especially in low-income countries, women oftentimes shoulder the domestic work as well as work on family farms or in unpaid jobs close to their homes. This, in turn, excludes them from official unemployment statistics and withholds them from the benefits that often come with official employment contracts such as insurances or pensions.
Adding to this, recent data shows that there are still tremendous wage inequalities between men and women. For instance, the ILO’s report “Women at work” from 2016 estimates a gender wage gap of 23% on a global scale, which translates to women earning as little as 77% of men’s earnings. The ILO further emphasizes that “these gaps cannot be explained solely by differences in education or age, but are also linked to the undervaluation of the work that women undertake and of the skills required in female-dominated sectors or occupations, the practice of discrimination, and the need for women to take career breaks to attend to additional care responsibilities, for instance after the birth of a child.”
The fact that there are still such enormous
gaps in labor force participation and wages shows that the actions the UN has
taken so far have not lead to a significant reduction of inequality between the
So join the Human Rights Council at elbMUN 2018 in order to find a way to work better towards gender equality on the labour market!