#NYMUN2016 UNHRC – A Broader Approach to Transitional Justice

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) of NYMUN 2016 kicked off its first session diving straight into Speaker’s List with the delegate of the Democratic Republic of Congo taking the floor. This delegate spoke out about why Congo needs Transitional Justice and the issues that need to be addressed by the nation within itself.

At the outset of the session, Palestine was granted full member status by the Secretariat, transforming it from simply having observer status to a full member state with voting privileges.

The session moved between Speakers’ List and Moderate Caucus alternatively, with South Africa, USA, Iran and Palestine taking the floor after the delegate of Congo during the first round of Speaker’s List. USA’s turn brought a little controversy to the stage when a point of information brought in the position of refugees under the transitional justice system, to which the delegate of the USA responded with a snide comment that he was later called out for by the delegate of Palestine, diplomatically. This led to an odd turn of events, bringing in a rather broad approach to transitional justice.

Meanwhile, the committee saw many useful proposals for the implementation of transitional justice by various countries. Iran proposed a homegrown system of transitional justice without an international intervention component, while Palestine proposed promoting and protecting human rights while restoring, rebuilding and punishing gross human rights violations.

China proposed an independent body to investigate and suggest transitional justice mechanisms, with a follow up proposal of implementing non-interventional policies for mechanisms of transitional justice. This was followed by a point of information by the delegate of USA, which led to a battle between the two on their own human rights violations.

The delegate of Israel took the podium with an opening statement saying that Israel would like to use transitional justice to compensate the Palestinian refugees who had to leave their homes due to the creation of the state of Israel.

During Moderate Caucuses, five topics were proposed and discussed. While this time was put to use for furious debate by a few, some rose to oppose the topic with weakly worded counter-points, which only ended up offending another delegate’s nation.

All moderate caucus topics were debated well, with only two of them failing when it came to voting. Many proposals were brought up here, with the delegate of Iran proposing the endorsement of the ICTJ as a body to carry out transitional justice in response to a topic by Palestine and Ecuador for a special committee to implement and investigate transitional justice.

The delegate of Palestine, when speaking on the topic of defining conflict, brought up a real world example of a political prisoner. She went on to use that example to describe the difference between justice and transitional justice. The delegate described that the loss of salary of the detainee while he is detained can be sorted out via the regular court system, whereas the grievous human rights violations he suffers would require a different set of mechanisms.

Although the morning was spent going between feverish debates and passionate speeches, the delegates seem to have only scratched the surface when it comes to actually examining transitional justice in a post-conflict society.

Also, don’t forget to follow and tweet about the UNHRC on #HrcNymun

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