#NYMUN2016 UNHRC – Palestine leads the charge to Transitional Justice

The second day of conference began with UNHRC going into Speakers’ List, with the delegate of Netherlands being the first to take the floor. She was followed by Germany who spoke out about the use of transitional justice to make amends for the holocaust following World War II. She expressed how tearing down the Berlin wall, apologizing to victim countries, paying reparations and punishing wrongdoers were all mechanisms implemented under the transitional justice system.

In second day of session this committee did see an increase in the number of delegates being vocal and taking the floor, which is commendable. Hats off to the Chairs for encouraging first-timers to take the floor and be vocal about their ideas and proposals.

Moderate Caucus followed Speakers’ List, and the debates started to heat up as motions and proposals began flowing in. While discussing the importance of security sector reforms in strengthening transitional justice, a topic proposed by China, South Africa identified that there were two dimensions to these reforms, i.e. domestic and international. This was followed up by Syria who proposed strengthening national security as whole, and Palestine who said that reforms are a problems of quality rather than quantity and proposed restructuring, reappointment, training, and changing of mindset as remedies for this problem.

Moving back into Speakers’ List Brazil took the podium, stressing the importance of ensuring accountability to victims of missing persons. This was followed by Latvia who brought a twist to the debate by proposing the use of media to promote transitional justice. She stated that transitional justice has both judicial and non-judicial components and thus media can be used to promote the mechanisms of this system, by creating a close relationship between the government and the media. This came under criticism by the head table on the grounds of media freedom and independence, but Latvia, aided by the USA explained that the media must be used to show individuals the realities of the world, and the importance of justice for human rights violations as opposed to simply promoting government propaganda.

Going back to Moderate Caucus the Speaker’s List topic of using the Media as a mechanism of transitional justice was adopted with the USA agreeing the Media can be used to provide the nation with a more holistic view of what is happening in their own countries and the world. Sri Lanka noted that though government intervention in the media in the delegate’s own state has not gone well in the past, the judiciary, which is part of the government must be allowed to play a role in the media when carrying out transitional justice. China and Syria took the opposite end of the stick stating that media may increase already high levels of tension in post conflict society. Upon being questioned further, China controversially stated that social media brainwashes youth who are at a influential point in their lives. Although Syria agreed with this, the head table criticized, raising the argument that social media empowers rather than brainwashes youth. Tensions rose as the debate continued with the USA accusing Palestine of using media to promote anti-Semitic ideas that ally with government propaganda. Palestine took the floor claiming that it does allow media freedom but if the government has a media body of its own, then it would of course promote government ideas.

Moving away from this topic that created a lot of hype, the topic of using a victim centred approach to transitional justice was introduced. The delegate of Ecuador controversially proposed taking cautions when using a victim centred approach in sex crimes due to the lack of evidence. Although China argued furiously that the only evidence needed is the crime itself and Bangladesh called for due process, the debate on this extremely controversial topic was rather disappointing.

Following two more poorly debated topics, the committee broke into Unmoderate Caucus where the growing tensions between USA and Palestine reached its pinnacle when the two formed power blocks. A blatant breach of foreign policy was seen with Germany, Australia and the Netherlands allying with Palestine while USA was left with Israel, Mexico and a few others.

However as the day went on, and the resolutions were written and presented, things changed. The delegates of both factions agreed to take in the amendments and merge the two resolutions, taking into consideration their differences.

The Pre-ambulatory clauses affirmed the importance of transitional justice, recognised that transitional justice must be context specific, and it must promote equal justice for all. The Operative clauses called for freedom of expression, the adoption of media as a tool for accountability, the independence of the media, preservation of the right to knowledge and information, and for the ICJ, ICC and other international bodies to supplement the national process. They also reaffirmed the importance of amnesty, context specific approaches depending on each nations situation, and economic development for the implementation of transitional justice. They recognised the importance of reforming the security sector, promoting human rights and gender quality, trust between nations and groups, an impartial judicial system, truth commissions and aid provision. They also called for rehabilitation programs for youth and ex-combatants, and reforms in existing institutions. Finally, they stressed the importance of strengthening and improving the existing peace-keeping mechanisms and ensuring transparency in practicing them instead of diverting resources and funds towards a new mechanism.

Overall, the resolutions covered everything discussed during Moderate Caucus, and included almost all the suggestions and proposals made by delegates during the debates. Aside from the media clause, it lacked out-of-the-box ideas and proposals which was a little disappointing. However, we at the IPC did notice during Unmoderate Caucus that both USA and Palestine, being seasoned MUN-ers were encouraging their fellow delegates to participate to their fullest in the resolution writing and brainstorming which was commendable as everyone was given a fair say in the matter.



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