ALEXENDER MELTZERWERNER, Korean Central News Agency
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a document made to target and weaken the sovereignty of other countries by pushing foreign political agenda. This is especially true with the latest meeting of the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM), where they discussed both the rewriting of the document to include guaranteeing the rights of LGBTQ communities, regardless of cultural values of other countries, and how to enforce these rights.
The hypocrisy of the SOCHUM can not be overstated. The delegates of Iran were quick to point this out, reminding the members of the committee that most of the countries present have gay marriage. By discussing more enforcement of human rights, they spit on the cultural values of other countries that are satisfied, and flourishing, the way they are. The delegates of China, who pointed out that China legalized gay marriage before the turn of the century, stated that while the UDHR is an important document, a country’s sovereignty and cultural values must be put into account before any rewriting of the document can be done.
Of course, there are some countries who are there to push their own political agenda onto other countries such as the delegates of Japan, who wish that more enforcement should be considered to safeguard LGBTQ rights. This is no surprise, Japan has a history with enforcing its will onto other countries. Japan’s proposal for more enforcement is a direct insult to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and is made to undermine the Korean people’s wish for peaceful unity of the Korean peninsula. They wish to use this enforcement to hinder the growth of the Korean people, along with other capitalist nations that support them such as, Canada and the United Kingdom. They fear the rise of the Korean people, and the juche ideal. The DPRK will take care of its citizens ensuring the greatest standard of living without having to adhere to opinionated documents such as the UDHR.
The UDHR should be kept as a value document and should be enforced at the discretion of the country. In addition, trying to add LGBTQ rights is hypocritical when the document is being mostly written by countries that don’t support all the points made in the document. If any additions to the UDHR is made, it should be written with consideration of the cultural values of each individual country, without the enforcement of political agenda to infringe on another country’s sovereignty.
MITCHELL MCFARLANE, Fox News
A tension seems to rise within the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM) regarding to whether a stronger enforcement of human rights articles could pose threats to national sovereignty.
The topic of the committee, rights of gender and sexuality, is inherently controversial itself. In a nation that embraces democracy and individual freedom as much as the United States, same-sex marriage is only recognized in 2015. However, the very fact that people remain divided on the issue, which is based on their faith and ideology, even after the legislation, verifies that enactment of laws does not necessarily make sure everyone is on the same page.
Take Poland for example, the delegate of Poland has pledged for the delegates to consider if the implementation of human rights laws regarding gender and sexuality will violates the rights of religious individuals for keeping their own faith, a view shared by Ethiopia.
While the delegate of Georgia stated that different religions offer different interpretations on gender and sexuality, the rights of people of faith remain threatened. Because of the diverse religious interpretations, we have and the respect for individual freedom that we value, America becomes a place we see some churches raise rainbow flags and but also others offer spiritual cleansing for same-sex desires, where everybody can get something they want.
It is also true that different nations breed different democracies, which is deep-rooted in the diverse national ideologies they hold. The enforcement of human rights articles will override the will of the diverse peoples in a diverse world.
Something quite contradictory is the proposal of Japan, in which the delegate attempts to enforce rights of sexual minorities universally, a major step-back from one of the core principles of respecting diversity that the United Nations thrive for. What we could think about is, perhaps, the proposal of Canada, one that sets a minimum standard that will ensure the rights of the minorities but also makes sure that protection doesn’t intervene with the majority.
As the delegate of India said, the enforcement of human rights articles is not the opposition of national sovereignty, but rather, it is something that can coexist. Similar stand is also taken by the delegate of Netherlands, who wanted to strike a balance between the two.
It remains to see how will the delegates from SOCHUM resolve this dispute in the following sessions, but what concerns people the most is whether democracy, or the voice of the people is going to be heard.
The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women addressed the topic of violence against women in a multi-faceted fashion, prior to gridlock.
GARIMA KARIA, THE HINDU (Opinion)
Delegates in the Commission on the Status of Women work on merging working papers during an unmoderated caucus.
BOSTON: The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has been working tirelessly since yesterday to address the sensitivities and multiple issue areas associated with the topic of violence against women.
For the past three committee sessions, delegates have been working both constructively and creatively to address every possible facet of this complicated and pervasive issue, and have decided to place their focus on vulnerable populations.
Personally, I deeply commend the committee for selecting this as their first topic. While I do believe that the wage gap and gender inequality in the workplace is a serious issue that women face worldwide, the intersectional and societally-embedded causes of violence against women have yet to be addressed in a comprehensive manner by and international organization. The statistic “one in five women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime” rings like a terrifying siren in my head on a daily basis, and it’s about time a committee composed of the youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow focused its efforts and resources on combatting the realities of this statistic.
Working papers in this committee address the issue of violence against women in both an intersectional and multi-pronged manner. Papers focus on topics ranging from crisis management and health for women, education and economic empowerment of women in the developing world to legislation, wartime violence, and the plight of female refugees. As a woman of colour of Indian origin, where violence against women is both stigmatized and pervasive, I was proud to see such a range of subtopics taken so seriously by the delegates, and the rights of women so respectfully prioritized by all.
My disappointment comes from my continued witnessing of this committee’s inability to merge working papers. The CSW has been in a deadlock for the past committee session, with blocs refusing to merge with others. This impasse lasted hours, and is still unresolved. The CSW Chair has set new committee regulations in order to alleviate the committee of this deadlock, an action that I both commend and respect. More specifically, her requirement now obliges the committee to propose no more than two draft resolutions with 15 signatories each – a requirement that she honours to enforce. Right now, there are 3-5 working papers waiting to be merged. In my opinion, if we want to empower women and advocate for their equality within society, diplomacy, collaboration, and negotiation are of paramount importance.
On the topic of this deadlock, I spoke with the delegate of Trinidad and Tobago, a member of one of the blocs. “Some groups didn’t want to merge with other,” she said, “so there was a dichotomy of strength. We were left out because the group we wanted to merge with felt strong enough on their own.”
The Human Rights Watch NGO confirmed these claims. “Some blocs should definitely be merging because their ideas and policies complement one another significantly,” she told me. However, these same blocs feel strong as a result of their independence and dominance. “They are putting their pride before the goals of the committee.” The delegate of New Zealand echoes Human Rights Watch’s comment. “There’s lots of pressure to merge, so there’s lots of frustration.”
I urge the UN CSW committee to come together, pride aside, with the intention of merging their papers not for themselves, but for that “1 in 5” woman who is a victim of sexual assault. Millions of women worldwide, especially in conflict zones and developing nations, need these policies for their protection, safety, and dignity.
EMILY C. SCHEPPEGRELL, THE ECONOMIST (opinion)
The Special Political and Decolonization Committee (SPECPOL) buzzes with life. Delegates rapidly pass working papers, type swiftly on laptops, and briskly move between blocs conceptualizing papers. While all of this progress has resulted in five working papers so far, only one may ultimately be passed as a resolution.
Several member nations voiced concerns and confusions on Working Paper 1.1 during a moderated caucus. The Republic of Korea’s delegate pointed out, “Under Structural Revision, in part A, it says any type of allegation will be suspended for a six-month period, we want to know what that would all entail.”
“We feel this paper completely removes the power a government has to regulate its people, especially with creating an International Tribunal,” Iraq’s delegate stated, bringing up the incessant issue of sovereignty.
Team Blue of Working Paper 1.2 spoke with The Economist, and discussed potential merging in the future with Working Paper 1.1. Team Blue described their paper as “very in-depth,” and covers many promising points like deployment issues, prevention of future misconducts, modernized warfare, increased female participation, and faster response time. They want to utilize UN Trust Fund Assistance as well. The name “Team Blue” comes from the blue helmets UN Peacekeepers wear, in the hopes of improving these forces.
Working Paper 1.5, also known as “Triple E-Mash,” focuses on gender equality, accountability, and cultural training. The Netherlands delegate told The Economist, “[The] most important issue regarding our working paper is training.”
Their paper focuses on not only protecting women but empowering them through increased participation in peacekeeping.
While these working papers are very promising, they primarily cover the same issues regarding peacekeeping reformation, and in the end, only one can be passed as a resolution. Somehow, they must merge or face being dropped. Problems with communication are slowing SPECPOL down, and increased communication and awareness of what each team is working on will surely speed the process of creating a final resolution.
Team Blue hard at work crafting their paper:
ELLA BROWNLIE, AL QUDS AL ARABI (Opinion)
This afternoon a press conference was held in the Historical General Assembly 1991. At this event, the delegates were individually grilled on the content of their working papers; proposals for decolonization in the Western Sahara. Yet the discussion revealed that the committee has some work to do.
Many of the delegates appear to have submitted working papers, based on idealistic plans with serious practical, financial and logical flaws.
Superficial solutions and blatant contradictions are apparent in several of the delegates’ proposals. Italy remains adamant that Moroccan settlers should be given citizenship in the new regime, yet refuses to allow them to vote in the election of a country they would inhabit.
Saudi Arabia, in turn, is attempting to build a “mixed mission” legal system, based on cooperation between Saharawi tribes and the Moroccan rule of law. Yet when questioned, the delegate admitted that a central authority would be needed to govern the region overall, and appeared to assume that the losing party would be happy to cooperate under such an arrangement.
Then there was the outright hypocrisy. Nigeria has been quick to decry the human rights violations committed by POLISARIO forces, but when questioned about their recognition of SADR as a sovereign government, they failed to explain why their government is supporting a regime that also abuses human rights.
In addition, several delegates appeared very vague on where the funding for their projects was coming from. Both the United States and Libya mentioned the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program as a potential source of funding for their social projects in the Western Sahara. Both assumed that this would be an infinite financial resource.
Likewise, Singapore and her allies are proposing a temporary ban on foreign exports out of Western Sahara, in the hope of preventing the exploitation of these resources by Morocco. When questioned about how this ban would affect local Saharawi, whose livelihoods are dependent on such exports – the delegate from Singapore admitted that these exporters would need to be compensated by the World Bank.
Greater creativity by the delegates will be required going forward. Throwing money from the World Bank at a problem, will not necessarily fix it.
It would be beneficial if Libya could provide slightly more innovative ideas regarding the type of ‘social programs’ they see being initiated. Their coalition is proposing the DDR agreement; a straight swap. Militia and armed forces trade in their guns and other weapons for “social programs” funded by, you guessed it —the World Bank.
This flawed assumption that Moroccan or Saharawi parties will give up a struggle of territory and communal identity for “social programs” doled out like sweets by paternalistic beneficiaries, demonstrates a lack of imagination on the behalf of the committee.
This committee is fighting to reverse the brutal legacy of colonialism, yet propositions like these seek only to perpetuate the theme of imperialism and to reduce the autonomy of African nations. Identity issues in the Western Sahara, and indeed the entire Middle East, require far more attention than the sticking plaster solutions proposed so far..
Going forward, there are three key areas that all states need to address in detail. A decision must be made on which parties will vote in the referendum, backed by strong reasoning. States also need to demonstrate a procedure to deal with the aftermath of the election result, based on an informed social assessment of the perspective of both parties. Ultimately, comprehensive and financially viable plans are ncessary for reconstruction in the Western Sahara; based not on paternalistic philosophy, but a genuine commitment to the economic and social empowerment of this African state.
Following this recent press conference, we hope to see delegates prepared to fill some substantial gaps in their working papers, or to make some very good friends at the World Bank.
By KATIE JONES, THE STRAITS TIMES (Opinion)
Delegates look over the working papers in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space committee.
The Peaceful Uses of Outer Space committee is introducing working papers. The solutions presented have raised questions as to if this committee is really focused on developing cooperation and coordination in the final frontier.
China wants to expand an arsenal of nuclear weapons. It’s simple to determine that most Asian nations, Singapore included, will not be happy if this is allowed. It gets crazier though—Indonesia has offered its full support to China’s resolution. The diplomatic relations between the two regions were suspended in 1967. Indonesia must have had a serious change of heart to allow China to perform a power play on an international level.
With China being a global power, this has a massive effect on the security of Singapore. Saying that the expansion of nuclear weapons is for everyone’s own protection is absolutely ridiculous, and it will create a lot of enemies in the Asian region of the world. The government of Singapore strongly condemns the actions of China, and looks forward to cooperation with allies such as Malaysia, Brunei, and Myanmar. As for Indonesia, they too deserve to be cut out of any Asia-Pacific negotiations because they will be labeled as traitors.
There’s even more information that is extremely concerning on a global scale. Russia and the United States are coordinating on the same working paper, both involving increasing nuclear arsenals for the “safety and security of the world”. Iran and Spain are also on this working on this paper, which is rather odd because the president of the United States tried to ban the people of Iran from entering the nation. What is actually going on?
Nuclear weapons need to be forgotten about. While they may be practical for defending the planet against asteroids (According to NASA, the chances of an asteroid hitting Earth is one in 63,000), nations simply cannot be trusted in expanding their arsenals. Small nations are left floundering, and are forced to seek refuge under any of the permanent members of the United Nations.
Even more radical ideas were offered in the committee. Crowdfunding $50,000 dollar missiles, building missile silos on the moon (which would be a massive violation of international law), and even ideas that literally straight out of Star Wars.
As this committee begins to vote on solutions, all we can do is hope that small nations similar to ours will band together to stop the hegemonic nations from power grabbing. As far as The Straits Times can tell, this committee is not peaceful.
By KATIE JONES, THE STRAITS TIMES (Interview Transcript)
Q: What is your main stance on the topic?
A: The delegation of Spain is mainly focusing on protection through observation but also weaponry. We want to have extremely advanced detection software, but also we hope to somehow form a way in which nations can hold nuclear weapons only for peaceful uses. It sounds strange, nuclear weapons, but it may just work with the right steps.
Q: Isn’t there any other means of destroying asteroids besides nuclear weapons?
A: Unfortunately not really. People often view asteroids as these medium sized rocks just drifting around space. It’s not true. Asteroids fly thousands of miles per hour, and they can be the giant, like the size of Texas. The only technology we have right now that could solve the problem is nuclear weapons. Honestly, it is so rare that an asteroid would hit Earth, that this is all hypothetical. It probably won’t happen.
Q: How do you feel about Russia and the United States working on the same paper?
A: So we are actually on that paper with them. It’s strange that they are willing to work together in this instance and it could be mildly concerning. Yet, we are here for our interests only. I don’t really care what Russia or the US do, as we have decent relations with both nations. My main concern is the safety of the citizens of Spain.
Q: Have you heard of any ideas that you do not agree with?
A: Yes, tons actually. Someone was hoping to get missiles for the UN, which would mean an international body would have access to weapons. I really don’t even know how someone could come to that conclusion. There was also one idea discussing building missile containers on the moon. While it sounds like a good idea, you have to understand that the moon doesn’t belong to anyone, so this would violate some form of international law.
Q: China has offered to expand their weaponry solely for the use of defending space. What do you think about this?
A: I’m not sure. It seems a little sketchy as China is a global competitor to lead the world. It’s something that should definitely be looked into, and no irrational decisions can be made yet. In short, I am not sure what my opinion would actually be, but I suppose I would lean more towards disagreeing with China’s intentions.
Delegation of Spain discusses nuclear weapons and space with The Straits Times.