Through this piece, the IntCa envisages to provide a backgrounder to the topics being discussed in UNHRC, ECOSOC, and the Council of the EU at #NYMUN2016. While it is the responsibility of each delegate to conduct in-depth research into their committee’s topics and their country’s position on the topic, the IntCa hopes that this article, along with our previous backgrounder, will provide all delegates an adequate overview of the topics being discussed in each committee, as well as find a relationship between the topics. In the case of these three topics, the relationship is pretty clear – they all deal with human rights.
UNHRC – Transitional Justice as a mechanism for the protection of human rights in post conflict societies
Transitional Justice as a whole consists of both judicial and non-judicial measures that are implemented in order to remedy or curtail long drawn out human rights abuses. It is not a special “type” of justice or law, it is an approach that is applied in order to “transition” a society from violence and repression to peace and stability. It’s aim is to achieve accountability and redress victims from abuses, by providing the recognition of human rights, building trust and promoting and strengthening democracy.
In the aftermath of conflict, war crimes and mass human rights abuses there is a well established set of rights that allow victims to see their perpetrators punished and to receive the required reparations. Most often these heinous crimes do not just affect one victim but society as a whole, the state governments have a duty to address these issues and provide reforms to the institutions involved in these crimes and make sure that they do not occur again.
If these problems like mass human rights violations are not addressed, history shows us that they are most likely to occur again and again, while the need for justice grows, stirring up mistrust between groups and state governments until more acts of violence ensue. This in turn gives rise to greater instability lack of security, and lack of respect for the rule of law.
The components of a transitional justice system do not function alone, they are very much integrated with one another both practically and conceptually. These core components include but are not limited to criminal prosecutions, reparations, institutional reform and truth commissions. Of recent, memorialization has also become an integral part of the transitional justice system in many parts of the world. This entails keeping the memories of those affected by these grievances alive by constructing various statues, memorials and museums in their wake.
While transitional justice measures rest on the grounds of solid legal and moral obligations, there is a wide range of ways in which these obligations can be implemented and satisfied in post conflict areas. What is important is that it paves the pathway towards rebuilding social trust, repairing fractured judicial systems and rebuilding democratic societies.
ECOSOC – The dramatic rise in global food prices and the threat it poses toward global food and nutrition security
Since reaching a seven-year low in January 2007, overall global food prices have continued to rise over the last few months. While we have previously seen higher global food prices, this increase is worrisome nevertheless. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index stands at 161.9 points as of July 2016. In comparison, the highest recorded score was in February 2012 (240.1 points), while the lowest was in May 2002 (85.1 points).
Increasing food prices have been shown to cause riots. We have seen such incidents in Haiti, Bangladesh and Sudan, with the most recent country to be affected being Venezuela. It has also been argued that rising food prices were crucial for the Arab Spring (e.g. Syria, Egypt, Yemen). Furthermore, the rise in global food prices strongly affects food and nutrition security and hinders poverty alleviation. In the most extreme of cases, increasing food prices could even contribute to the failure of a state. As a result it is vital that policy makers, civil society, the private sector, and international organisations keep track of the trends in global food security.
When talking of security issues, one would naturally think of issues such as terrorism, piracy, and nuclear weapons proliferation. However, it is important to realise that the lack of food and nutrition security, which is a non-traditional security threat, could severely affect the global order to a greater extent than traditional security threats.
The EU – The European Union’s response to the refugee crisis
Since the turn of this century, there has been a continued flow of asylum seekers into Europe, but it truly became a crisis in 2015, with over 1.2 million refugees arriving on the continent in the last 20 months. Most refugees hail from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and take an arduous and life threatening journey across the Mediterranean Sea in the hope of better prospects.
However, before even diving in to the details of worst refugee crisis since the end of the Second World War, and Europe’s response to it, it is important to understand the differences between the various terms (i.e. irregular migrant- which the EU seemed to prefer using, economic migrant, refugee, asylum seeker) used in relation to this issue.
The EU Commission’s agenda on migration includes four policy areas, through which it hopes to curb irregular migration. These policy areas are;
1. Reducing the incentives for irregular migration
2. Saving lives and securing external borders
3. A strong common asylum policy
4. A new policy on legal migration
One of the most prominent agreements towards managing irregular migration has been the Turkey-EU agreement. While this agreement has been heavily criticized, it has managed to reduce the number of irregular migrants entering the EU from Turkey. However, the overall number of irregular migrants has not dropped. Thus, it seems that the EU has somehow failed to find the appropriate way to handle this situation. Furthermore, the rise of xenophobia against migrants and increasing number of attacks by militants in mainland Europe has increased the need to address the issue as swiftly as possible.
IntCa hopes that the delegates representing the member states of UNHRC, ECOSOC and the Council of the EU at #NYMUN2016 will be able to discuss the future steps that the their organisations should take in relation to the issue being discussed, and even come up with innovative ideas for change where it is possible.