Amnesty: An Infringement on State Sovereignty?

By KATIE JONES, THE STRAITS TIMES (Expository)

A hot topic in the legal committee has been circling around: is there a way to set guidelines for amnesty without infringing on state sovereignty? Smaller nations such as Morocco and Bangladesh are looking for these solutions.

“If we allow large nations to have control on the discussion of amnesty, it could potentially increase conflict in the Western Sahara—which already has a lot of problems,” The delegation of Bangladesh said.

The nation of Morocco, located in the northwestern corner of the African continent, feels that it is much more progressive than its African neighbors, but still holds a traditional view on who should be granted amnesty. The delegation described setting up basic guidelines for states to follow, but only intervening if a state refuses to cooperate.

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The delegation of Morocco wants to defend small nations.

Nicaragua spoke about respecting the rights and regulations of the state. While there should be some criteria, the state should ultimately have discretion on granting amnesty. Most smaller nations agreed in unison, except the Bahamas had a different opinion.

“Amnesty affects everyone, not only one state. Advisory boards would be absolutely necessary for monitoring amnesty grants,” said the delegation of the Bahamas in a speech.

For the Bahamas, granting amnesty to a criminal would result in other nations intervening regardless. The delegation discussed the concept of an international advisory board, reviewing all cases for amnesty, therefore stripping state sovereignty.

The nation of Bangladesh did though, offer a compromise between the differentiating opinions in the Legal committee. A set of criteria would be created, and these rules would be very open and flexible. One guideline would suggest amnesty may only be granted if it further progresses the nation at hand towards peace and security. Any nation that chooses to ignore and break these rules would be subject to review. If the case worsens, the International Criminal Court as a final result to review the state’s priorities and views on amnesty.

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Bangladesh gives a speech to the Legal Committee.

A general trend in the committee has been to save state sovereignty. There is a strong fear that small nations may be overpowered by hegemonic nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom in analyzing how amnesty should be handled. Small Asian nations such as Singapore could be greatly infringed upon by neighboring China if superpowers are given total authority.

Many of these nations have already formed working papers. Sources state that there may be over 6 working papers throughout the entire committee, but most papers are extremely similar in content. The working papers will be merged throughout the day, to narrow down a solution on amnesty—especially surrounding state sovereignty.

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