Navigating turning tides - a decade in international waters
- 14th April - 18th April 2020
- Saxon State Parliament
Dear future Delegates and Chairs,
it is our honor to invite you to the 10th edition of Elbe Model United Nations! It has been a decade of MUN in Dresden - a decade of tolerance, united strength, peace and advancement of all peoples (Charter of the United Nations).
Over the past years, elbMUN has developed its very own identity. Maybe it is the Saxon state parliament that bestows a special touch on our conference, as we actually meet where politics happen. Maybe it is the experience of our Chairs which we carefully hand-pick out of many applications. Maybe it is Dresden’s nightlife brought to you by our social events team in a well dosed package. Probably, it is the combination of it all and how you, honored participants, live it.
As you read, about fifty people from our team give their best to make this experience a special and memorable one for all of you. But in the end, elbMUN is driven by the diversity of opinions, the complexity of debates and your ability, distinguished Delegates and Chairs, to work out ideas to the most recent international concerns.
As your Secretaries-General, we look forward to welcoming you within the unique charm of Dresden. We are expecting an open-minded, fair and constructive debate. Ever so rapidly does the world change. You will be, we all will be and already are “navigating turning tides”.
Anna Luntovska and Lucas Waclawczyk
Secretaries-General of elbMUN 2020
Topic: Rohingya Crisis
On June 2012 a violent protest took place in the Rakhine State (Myanmar), its consequences, reported by the global newspapers, affected more than 160.000 people, among which 200 civilians died and 150.000 became homeless (1). This is just one of the many anti-Muslim episodes that occurred in Myanmar since the rising of Buddhist nationalism (2). In 1982 the new Citizenship Law (3) was approved. Its content reported a list of 135 ethnic groups allowed to request Burmese citizenship, however the Rohingya group is not among them, marking them as stateless. Rights such as free movement, education and access to land, jobs and health care are denied to them (4). Amnesty International has said ‘Myanmar is trapping those Rohingya who are left in Myanmar in a dehumanizing apartheid regime’ (6) . On December 5th 2017 the UNHCR declared Rohingya as the most persecuted minority in the world (7).
Between October 2016 and August 2017 the Burmese police has started, under the state’s order, an ethnic cleansing called ‘clearance operation’ against the Muslim minority allegedly involving mass rapes, killings and burning of their homes. It drove more than 700,000 Rohingya (43.000 ??) civilians into Bangladesh (by the end of 2017 (8)). Refugee camps and makeshift sites were built to help the displaced population marking the start of an exodus that still continues (9). Among the homeless there are many women and children, the UNHCR counts alone in Bangladesh 211,383 families and 914,998 individuals of which only 4% are registered and 55% are children (10). The condition of Rohingya in the camps are crucial, with the monsoon season floods and landslides endangering the safety of the displaced persons.
The General Assembly, under UNHCR’s advice, created the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar [resolution 73/264] (11), with the purpose of ‘collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011’.
Understanding the worsening of the situation, Gambia on November 10th 2019 accused Myanmar in front of the International Court of Justice of the crime of genocide (8), violating the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and its treaty born on December 9th 1948, ratified by many states, including Myanmar (12). However such a process may take years while the head of the UN fact-finding mission warned in October that there still is ‘a serious risk of genocide recurring’ against the thousands of Rohingya still living in Myanmar. Therefore the question lingers what measures the Security Council can and should impose in order to prevent another descend of Myanmar into genocide and improve the horrific situations of Rohingya in Myanmar and in refugee camps abroad. Is there a need for the establishment of an Independent Criminal Tribunal as seen after the genocide in Rwanda and Yugoslavia? How to end impunity, protect the vulnerable and possibly even lay the foundations for refugees returning home one day?
Join the Security Council and work out solutions for a country marked by one of the most horrible crimes known to mankind.
Topic: Climate and Displacement
The term „climate refugee“ is intended to describe people who have been forced to flee their homes due to climate change and its various effects – namely rising sea levels and droughts leading in turn, to flooding, scarcity of resources and famines, in many cases creating the looming threat of a civil war or increasing the risk of its outbreak.
The World Bank has estimated that the number of climate refugees until 2050 will be around 140 millions, whilst a study by Greenpeace has found even more extreme numbers, predicting 200 millions by the year of 2040. But even today’s climate hazards have reached an extent that has led to over 20 million climate refugees – accounting for more than half of the refugees worldwide.
Yet, so called „climate refugees“ don’t have an internationally recognized legal status and the UN seemingly don’t expect any change of this soon, preferring to talk of climate migrants rather than refugees. There are a number of reasons for this, one being the challenge of even defining the characteristics of flight solely as a result of climate change. Commonly, a chain of events leads to a refugee’s escape, making it difficult to isolate one single cause. Furthermore, the task to calculate specific numbers of climate refugees has proven itself intricate to perform because of the blurred line to migration as well as the fact that displacement mostly occurs internally.
The topic of climate displacement has been the cause for controversial discussions for years and a range of NGO’s have started initiatives aiming to provide guidance and assistance especially to climate refugees. Additionally, organizations such as „Brot für die Welt“ have been demanding an improved legal protection of climate refugees, a claim which is supported by over a hundred states worldwide. Furthermore questions of responsibility for assisting, protecting and resettling those displaced urgently need to be settled. How can the international community help them find new homes and livelihoods all while preventing tensions or conflicts between displaced communities and host communities as a result of competition over natural resources? How to ensure the international response does not only focus on extreme weather events but also on slow onset phenomena like desertification?
UNHCR Model UN Refugee Challenge
Join this Committee and represent elbMUN in the MUN Refugee Challenge launched by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). With this the United Nations challenges us, young people and MUN enthusiasts to find ways to help the 70.8 million people who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence and persecution to ‘thrive, not just survive’.
Make your voice heard not only in front of your fellow delegates but gain the chance to have your ideas listened to by the real United Nations. The best resolutions from the participating MUNs all over the world will win awards and be shared in the relevant policy-making forums as well as promoted on UNHCR’s social media channels.
Take this chance and shape solutions to forced displacement and climate change!
Learn more about the Challenge here:
More Information to follow soon.
Topic I: Synthetic Biology
Synthetic biology is an emerging field in science with potential of a direct impact on our quality of life. Though the progress in the field remained slow since the term ‘synthetic biology’ was first coined in 1910 by Stéphane Leduc, it has gained strong footing in recent years. It aims to design and build biological systems with new functions with the overlap of chemistry, biology, computer science, and engineering. This includes the creation of de novo design of cells, biological parts and devices. Some of its potential applications include synthetic biosensors (e.g. for cleaning pollutants from water and soil), degradable bioplastic, renewable biofuels and biological computers.
Such applications make it a rapidly growing field of research but there are also concerns about its prospective benefits and harms to society; are the moral boundaries being pushed too far by redesigning organisms? How and at what risk for the environment can modified organisms be introduced into the ecosystem? Issues related to biosafety and biosecurity are being intensely debated and there have been calls for a worldwide moratorium on the release of synthetic organisms.
Join the UNEA and work out a common framework to guide further and long term advancements in this field so that risks can be avoided, benefits used and the fine moral balance kept.
Topic II: Rainforest and Deforestation - Challenges to be met by a Global Forest Convention
The ongoing fires in the Amazon rainforest are a harsh reminder of the environmental crises facing the world – of climate, of biodiversity and of pollution. Not only do forests provide homes and livelihoods to millions of people, they also absorb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from humans and livestock. Deforestation imperils Earth’s biodiversity and contributes to climate change – a development that we can and must stop. Are you ready to face the challenge by joining the UNEA at elbMUN?
Forests have been high on the international policy and political agenda since the Rio Conference in 1992. At the Rio Earth Summit, intense intergovernmental negotiations resulted in the non-legally binding “Forest Principles”, as well as Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 on Combating Deforestation. In January 2017, the first-ever UN Strategic Plan for Forests was forged at a special session of the UN Forum on Forests and later adopted by the UN General Assembly on 27 April 2017. While the Strategic Plan features a set of six Global Forest Goals and 26 associated targets to be reached by 2030, it remains being voluntary. There is currently no comprehensive legally binding instrument on forests, which could provide a unanimous and universal framework for forest protection at a worldwide level.
UNEA Delegates will determine key factors in the negotiation of a Global Forest Convention. How can existing instruments be reasonably integrated? What keeps international key actors from addressing this pressing issue in a legally binding way? Which legal gaps need to be closed immediately? Join UNEA to lay the foundations for a Global Forest Convention.
Topic I: The Rise of China – A growing threat for the
transatlantic alliance ?
China’s global influence is permanently increasing. Since President Xi proposed the Belt and Road initiative in 2013, the promise of partnership and shared economic growth has led more than 70 countries accounting for half the world’s population to join. China is investing heavily in their infrastructure and is providing their governments with excessive loans laying the foundation a dependency not only economic but also political in its nature. The country is already accused of starting to use “debt-trap diplomacy” to extract strategic concessions and silence human rights violations.
Many European countries and NATO member states like Greece or Hungary participate in the Belt and Road initiative. In 2012 China introduced the 16+1 cooperation format that includes 16 central and eastern European countries to increase its influence in the region and gain further access to European markets. China is already controlling 10% of European ports and is steadily increasing its investments. In addition to that China is investing strategically in target industries all over Europe.
Because of this entanglement of NATO member states and China, the country’s geopolitical rise is a matter of great importance but also great debate for the alliance.
The US is promoting a though and confrontational approach towards China. The White House is pressuring European countries to exclude the Chinese tech company Huawei from building their 5G networks by raising security concerns since China’s espionage activities in Europe are already considered to be growing.
However especially eastern European nations might favor close relations with China, while countries like France and Germany prefer a close transatlantic partnership. In the final statement of the NATO summit in December, the growing influence of China is discussed for the first time and described as a common challenge and opportunity for NATO. But the alliance needs more, it needs a common strategy to tackle the rise of China and its growing influence in and outside Europe.
The rise of China has the potential to divide Europe and weaken the unity among NATO member states. Scenarios of new confrontations not only in trade but some already audaciously predict in war as well begin to emerge. But might there be also a way to avoid cold confrontation and use China’s prosperity for the East’s and West’s mutual benefit? Participate in the North Atlantic Council of this year’s elbMUN to debate this pressing topic and be involved in the creation of a common security strategy!
Topic II: In Face of Cyber Attacks – Evaluating an
Active Cyber Defense Concept
The North Atlantic Council (NAC) provides high-level political oversight on all aspects of the implementation of NATO’s Policy on Cyber Defense. Cyber threats to the security of the Alliance are becoming more frequent, complex, destructive and coercive – Join the NAC and help NATO address the evolving challenges of cyberspace!
At the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels, Allied leaders once again committed to reaffirm NATO’s defensive mandate and employ its “full range of capabilities - including cyber - to deter, defend against, and counter the full spectrum of cyber threats.” But what does this entail in case of an emergency? This Council Meeting focuses on the cyber threats going to the core of NATO’s raison d’être: cyber-attacks threatening an Ally’s territorial integrity, political independence, or national security which could lead Allies to invoke NATO’s collective defense clause under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. Council Members shall discuss whether a definition of “armed attack” in cyber space is necessary and practicable and if so, draft a workable definition.
Other than that, States could use cyber-attacks in peacetime and crisis situations for precise, limited actions that avoid crossing the threshold of an armed attack. While these actions can lay the groundwork for future cyber attacks, States stay in the realm of hybrid operations and thus, in the grey zone between peace and war where norms of behavior are lacking. NATO will have to adapt to this evolving cyber-threat landscape – possibly with an Active Cyber Defense Concept. Taking the “US Persistent Engagement Strategy” as an example, NATO could rely on constant contact with potential adversaries globally – even in their own networks – with the intention of imposing tactical friction and strategic costs on adversaries, compelling them to shift resources to defense and reduce attacks. Whether such a strategy is beneficial and should be implemented is up to you and your fellow delegates.