Cap Cares

By VISHAL NAGDA, South China Morning Post

The Kurds inhabit a region that borders on Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. A population of between 25 to 35 million, they have not yet established themselves as a sovereign state.

The ECOFIN committee in HNMUN 2019 have a focus on both augmenting human capital to reduce the skills gap in the workforce and the economic future of green energy development. Indeed, a major theme that crosses both topics is technology and its impact in the 21st Century, both now and in the coming decades.

As the ECOFIN committee is preparing to submit their draft resolution to the dais, a number of blocs have formed over the last two days and deliberations on whether blocs should merge is ongoing.

One bloc, by the name of Cap Cares, aim to support the Kurdish population in Iraq by helping them grow economically through their population. Additionally, Cap Cares intend to establish a framework of human rights in the country, working hand in hand with the United Nations.

Cap Cares is an independent alliance composed of nations including Serbia, Armenia, Yemen, Oman and Canada.

The focus of the aforementioned bloc is sustainability and long-term planning. Through this, they believe, they can come up with a resolution and solution that is both realistic and effective.

U.N. Bodies Take On Forced Migration, Member States Invite Controversy

BY JEREMY HOLT, Le Figaro & KATIE JONES, The Boston Globe

The United Nations has directed its International Organization for Migration (I.O.M.) and High Commissioner for Refugees (U.N.H.C.R.) components to address salient issues surrounding global forced migration. The developments take place in the years following refugee crises around the world, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Sahel countries to Syria, which has been labelled the worst refugee situation since World War II. The U.N. delegated the interweaving subjects of human trafficking and refugee education to the I.O.M. and the U.N.H.C.R., respectively.

Blocs in both organizations have begun proposing their ideas in working papers. While member nations agree on the international community’s responsibility to ensure the safety of refugees, it has become evident that a number of states are doing all they can to alleviate their own burdens of accepting and providing for them. These stances of national interest have appeared — both implicitly and not — in the drafts of working papers.

In one glaring example, a U.N.H.C.R. working paper proposed by a bloc which includes France advocates for teaching systems powered by artificial intelligence which “should be tailored made [sic] … by France’s award winning EdTech startup Domoscio.” In a press conference, Le Figaro asked the French delegate if she or the French state had any ulterior motives in pushing Domoscio in such glowing terms. The delegate declined to address the question directly.

In the same press conference, Le Figaro asked the delegate of the United States if measures designed to boost refugees’ educational infrastructure in developing countries would be used to shift migrant flows away from the U.S. The American delegate responded, “American foreign policy is about freedom, and a country can only be free if the individual is free, and Epictetus said that only the educated are free … so, yeah.” The delegate had previously emphasized the U.S.’s status as the U.N.H.C.R.’s largest funder, a stance echoed by the American delegation to the I.O.M. When asked to confirm or deny the isolationist stance articulated by the U.N.H.C.R. delegate, the I.O.M. delegation declined to address the question directly.

The U.N.H.C.R. delegate from Poland had previously told a Le Figaro reporter that Poland wanted to decrease its incoming migrant flow by use of an “integration through examination” solution that filters out all but the most highly skilled and intelligent migrants. Poland did not elaborate where the remainder of the migrants would go.

In the I.O.M., delegations are primarily looking to create solutions for refugees and other victims of human trafficking. The Boston Globe partnered with Le Figaro to conduct a press conference that would establish lines in the sand on why each working paper is different.

The Boston Globe has confirmed that the United States is a “yes” on distributing civilian business information with international identities in efforts to stop human trafficking. This notion is alarming, as the United States has typically valued the protection and security of its citizens.

In the press conference the United States said, “We want to hold these corporations financially accountable and they need to be held accountable for the labor they are using — this will avoid the use of cheap labor that is the result of trafficking.”

The Delegation of the United States.

In response, The Boston Globe asked, “The United States is OK with providing private citizen business information to international entities?”

After poking and prodding, the delegation of the United States admitted yes, that it would support supplying private information on citizen activities to international entities if it meant halting human trafficking. This is a troubling statement, and it begs the question of whether this is Constitutionally legal for the United States.

Additionally, several delegations within the I.O.M. are advocating for “harsher punishments” for those convicted of smuggling and trafficking.

In several nations, including Canada and the Philippines, laws dictate a life imprisonment sentence for criminals of trafficking and smuggling. When asked what constitutes a “harsher punishment” than life imprisonment, there was a sense of vagueness and confusion among the delegates on the working paper (Better Together).

“We want all states to be at the level of imprisonment as a life sentence. It’s what we believe in, and it’s the only solution to punish smugglers,” said the delegation of Canada.

Statistics collected by The Boston Globe show a large number of prisons across the world are directly violating the International Declaration of Human Rights. For developed nations, a life sentence may mean a decent jail cell with semi-decent food. For prisons with a lack of resources and security, a life imprisonment for smuggling may violate the declarations definition of “cruel, inhuman punishment”.

This begs the question — does Canada, along with other nations in the Better Together bloc plan to violate the exact Declaration that they have signed and agreed to uphold and protect? The delegates of the I.O.M. have developed a lack of specificity in their working papers, which signals a call for concern, especially for citizens of the United States.

As human rights flounder against national interests in the subcommittees of the U.N., one recalls the words of H.N.M.U.N. Secretary-General Antonio J. Soriano at the opening ceremony of the current session: “I wish the rest of the world could see what happens in these halls over the next four days.” Amid cynicism at the U.N., one wonders if Soriano’s wishes are misplaced.

The Fight for the Arctic

BY ALEXENDER MELTZERWERNER, Korean Central News Agency

The Arctic has long been a point of contention between various nations because of its abundant amount of natural resources.  Not only are there approximately 200,000 species unique to the Arctic, it contains an estimated one third of the world total undiscovered natural gas.  The interests of Indigenous people have typically pushed aside in favor of economic gains from various countries, but as permanent consequences rear their head, the Arctic Council is talking the issue of indigenous representation, economic interests, and research opportunities to be had.

A recent merger has occurred between the proposed resolutions Ideal Arctic, which focuses on sustainable extraction of resources and indigenous representation, and FIRE which has the same sentiments, but which also included expanding research task forces.  The new proposal is called Ideal FIRE and through balancing all these issue hope that the entire Arctic Council can come to a peaceful resolution that will help not only Indigenous people but future generations through the reduction unsustainable extraction of natural resources.  “The current condition of the Arctic is far from ideal. What Japan wants is something simple, to strive for this ideal Arctic, the Arctic of the future,” said the delegation from Japan. Japan and other observer countries believe the Arctic Council itself should be reworked to be more efficient through the creation different expert groups to handle specific topics.  

However, nations with sovereignty of the Arctic have a different proposal in mind.  Correspondents with both the Russian Federation, and China have told the Korean Central News Agency, that they support the resolution called Invest, Protect, and Organize (IPO).  Russia emphasizes, “we want to emphasize that resource extraction is an inevitability. It makes up over 20% of our GDP as of now. When we extract resources, we are not doing so to intentionally hurt the environment, we are doing so to protect the millions of people within Russia,” a statement with much weight to it considering that the natural gases extracted from the Arctic to Russia held power all of Europe. IPO wishes to encourage investments from sovereign nations to expand not only research task forces but help empower Indigenous people have more of a voice in the Arctic Council.

One point of agreement for all nations is that the current treatment of the Indigenous people should be changed to better include them in the affairs of their homeland.  Delegates are confronted with the challenge of balancing the harmful extraction of natural resources that are necessary for keeping the lights on, vs a more sustainable solution that helps preserve that natural beauty of the Arctic for future generations and helps the Indigenous people.  It depends on all delegates to focus on both short term and long-term solutions.

Let Them Be Gay!

BY LIAM DALTON, The Guardian

The Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural General Assembly has submitted and discussed several working papers relating to the inclusion of gender and sexual minorities into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The inclusion of such terminology thus recognizes and affirms members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) community as equal global citizens, and paves the way for a more inclusive society.

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Worryingly, two abstract and contradictory working papers have emerged as front runners to addressing this global concern, which may not only halt the substantial progress the LGBTQI+ community has made in recent decades, but scale these efforts back.

Working Paper 1.1

Working paper 1.1 contains the most signatories and is driven by the Delegations of France and Iran. The 17-clause document looks impressive, but fails to address any substantive LGBTQI+ concerns head on, choosing to talk about ‘colonialism’ in cl. 4(d), and the environment in 5(c).

Furthermore, 1.1 contradicts itself by creating four classifications of rights: fundamental, civil and political, economic, and environmental in cl. 2, yet reiterating that all rights are fundamental by nature and cannot be separated from one another in cl. 4(b).

Later clauses fail to adequately relate proposed solutions back to central issues facing the rainbow community; such loopholes have been used for decades to undermine LGBTQI+ individuals along with other minorities. For example, cl. 5(d) reiterates the right to attack or use aggression with legitimate reason, but does not affirm that being part of the LGBTQI+ community does not constitute a ‘legitimate reason for being attacked’. Similarly, cl. 7(c) affirms the rights of a family through the use of gender neutral language, but the wording of the clause demands that the family be constituted through marriage thus failing to address the reality that only 30 member states allow same-sex marriage under domestic law, and thus there protections will not apply in 163 member states. Lastly, cl. 8(a) calls for access to education be purely based on the ‘merit’ of a person, but does not expressly state that gender identity or sexual preferences shall not be considered as going towards a person’s merit.

Working Paper 1.2

Working paper 1.2  is driven by the Delegations of Russia, China, Macedonia, and Brazil. The bloc and its working paper represents the more conservative member states and the desire not to have Western values infringe upon their sovereignty and religious practices. This working paper fails to address LGBTQI+ concerns in any material form, failing in several ways:

  1. Cl. 3 suggests the rewording of United Nations documents to include ‘his/her’ pronouns, which reinforces the notion of a gender binary system and thus totally neglects the issue of gender diverse people failing to be recognised by the state.
  1. Cl. 4(b)(ii) and 15 call upon member nations to protect LGBTQI+ communities from arbitrary punishment. This proposal, whilst well intentioned, seems to conflict with the activities of The Russian Federation who systematically imprison LGBTQI+ individuals in Chechnya and subject them to conversion therapy. This clause would also conflict with policies in nations such as Japan, who demand transgender individuals be sterilized if they wish to undergo sexual reassignment surgery, a clearly cruel and arbitrary punishment.
  1. Working paper 1.2 then broadly calls for ‘trials’ to be held for those who take action against the LGBTQI+ community under cl. 7(b)(iv). It does not specify whether such trials are criminal or civil, whether they are to be conducted by a domestic or international court, and what is to happen when such actions have been authorized by the state.
  1. Later, in clause 10, the bloc then acknowledges that the LGBTQI+ community has been treated poorly in regards to human rights, but then improvements on such rights were not explicitly to be considered in the summit they wish to establish relating to international improvements in adherence to the UDHR.

There appears to be little hope for a material improvement in LGBTQI+ rights if these working papers become draft resolutions. Serious reconsideration of these policies will be necessary to address the concerns of this community, and produce a solution that is worth adopting.

Update on the DISEC Press Conference

BY RAHUL REGULA, Daily Sabah

In the fourth session of the DISEC meetings on the Kurdish state, the Sabah and Financial Times moderated the much-anticipated press conference on the eight working papers which the delegates have been working hard on for the past two committee sessions. Both news agencies had many questions for these delegates about their working papers since they are so comprehensive.

The Sabah and Financial Times each analyzed the working papers and the Sabah got their hands on the following: C.A.R.E, Kurds Just Wanna have Fun(damental) Rights, and Path to Prosperity. Starting with the first listed resolution, the Sabah asked for a clarification on one of their clauses which states “the establishment of third-party frameworks for negotiation between central governments and non-state actors.” It is not clearly stated in this paper what is meant by a “third party.” The representative for the paper was not able to clearly define this, and instead provided another vague response.

Furthermore, the paper calls for a “proper demarcation” of electoral constituencies which the host states have to allow for Kurds to be implemented in their voting groups. This would mean that the committee is placing trust in these same nations, who have a historical animosity towards the Kurdish, to carry out a truthful voting process. The representative for the paper could only respond with “we are going in with the idea that these countries are going to be truthful in their process.” This is a bold and risky claim to make since they have no fall back plan if this goes wrong.

Representatives for the different working papers in the DISEC press conference

The second listed directive lists out a plan to militarize and modernize the Kurdish Defense forces with help from the Finnish, Australian, and Belgium forces. This, however, begs the question about the hypocritical nature of security. Why should the host nations stand back and let the Kurds arm up without any guarantee of consequences the international community will take if the Kurds act violently? When posing this question to the paper’s representative, the only answer that the delegate could conjure up is, “we rest assure that this will not happen.” A very vague rebuttal to a very serious concern is worrying and should be noted by all delegates in that committee.

The lasted listed directive recommends for autonomous regions to be set up by the host nations for the Kurdish. The problem with this resolution, however, is that there is no way to force these countries to give up land just like that to the Kurds. Nowhere in the paper, and when asked in the press conference, did a member of the bloc mention how they expect to convince these nations to give up parts of their land that they claim is rightfully theirs. The paper also brings up the clause on education and that there will be an official government site to educate Kurdish. It does not seem likely that the host governments would support this initiative and to add to the confusion, the representative for the paper in the press conference started to mention third parties that will be involved. The representative did not state clearly who will make up these “third parties” and how they will fit with an official government-run site that could just deny access to the database for the third parties.

Committee On Thin Ice—The Arctic Council Struggles to Discuss Non-Arctic State Cooperation in the Region

BY ISAAC BYKHOVSKY, Financial Times

Saturday morning started with The Netherlands opening debate by stating that the committee “needs accountability.” The next speaker, Japan, fought accountability and touted responsibility by stating “Non-Arctic states need to ask permission to speak and vote…in such a council.” By the third day of committee, the merits of unity and cooperation had melted away from delegates minds—and the discussion on the responsible use of resources in the Arctic becomes contentious.

Iceland and Sweden both echoed the sentiments of Japan—indicating an unfortunate alliance which seemingly alienates non-Arctic states. Granted, these sentiments may be a bi-product of the resolutions from those non-Arctic states. In an interview, France states “The extraction of resources [from the Arctic] is acceptable, as long as conducted through the merits of sustainable development.” From an economic perspective, the Financial Times agrees with this statement. The opportunity for economic development in the Arctic is the next frontier for innovation—yet the importance of safe resource use must be pivotal for this committee. There have been notable examples for economic downturn due to unsafe natural resource use throughout the world—specifically in Youngstown, OH in the United States.

Figure 1 The delegate from France leads the Protect IPO bloc

When the fracking industry came to this rust belt town, residents of Youngstown were eager to be apart of this growing energy industry. The added employment and economic stability were accepted with open arms by the locals—but soon this boom became literal. Within months of starting this fracking operation, residents of the city noted that their water supplies were catching fire, and there were numerous reports of earthquakes throughout the city. After months on investigation, it was found that natural gas from the fracking process was leaking into the water table, causing gas to penetrate water supplies and shift the ground of the city.

It is clear in The Arctic Council that every state wants to prevent such occurrences in their respective countries, but unfortunately there is no cohesive plan to do so. Central and Western European nations continue to view the Arctic as a prosperous frontier which they hope to utilize and respect, while Nordic states see the Arctic as a nature preserve in their backyard—solely focused on its protection, and not its use.

In the coming hours, the Financial Times will lead a Press conference focused on the economic ramifications of resource extraction from the Arctic.  

Cyberchase’s Many Faults

BY MATTHEW REIAD, Granma

The United Nations Legal Committee has been discussing and debating three working papers as of noon today. The delegates are eager to pass at least one resolution as soon as possible, resulting in diminished quality for many of these working papers. Although it is important to reach a consensus in the committee, many working papers presented today had holes and contradictory statements that seemed to plague several of the proposed working papers.

The first working paper that was presented labeled “Cyberchase” aimed to combat cyberattacks while also acknowledging and understanding the sovereignty of each nation of the United Nations. A clause in the working paper also explicitly defended freedom of speech. As the delegate from Qatar rightfully noted, nations such as Iran and Russia who were at the forefront of this working paper, have terrible records in regard to government protections for the freedom of speech.

Cyberchase was influential throughout the development of this committee session. Many of the later working papers were created by members states who were formerly on board with “Cyberchase.” The mismanagement of this working paper, however, led many member states to discontinue their support of the working paper. Throughout the rest of the committee session, “Cyberchase” was met with harsh criticism both by member states and spectating members with no voting power. Most notably, the delegation of the spectating member Palestine noted that this working paper had no provisions or protections towards non-member states, which would make them vulnerable to cyberattacks.

During the later stages of the committee session, Granma was approached by the delegation of France who hoped to release a press release to update us about the committee session. This press release read: “We, as the majority of the members of the HACT Block in the Legal Committee, with countries such as France, Iran, Iraq, Netherlands, Poland, Indonesia, among others, announce that as we continue to develop a strong and coherent draft resolution as a result of our upcoming merger, will not be participating with former members of our block like Russia and Palestine because of clashes in policy. We would further like to state that we will continue striving for international consensus in combating cyberattacks.” (The Delegation of France)

Granma was also delighted to discuss the progress of the Cuban delegation in this committee. The Cuban delegation had this to say, “The Cuban delegation is very glad to see that China and Russia, leaders of their respective blocs, have decided to put their differences aside and work together on a coherent solution to the problem of cybersecurity.” (The Delegation of Cuba)

The Republic of Cuba continues in its persistence in combating cyberattacks in any form. As the official source of news in Cuba, by the Cuban Communist Party, any entity presenting falsehoods within Cuba will be met with swift and efficient retaliation from the Cuban government. While the Republic of Cuba acknowledges freedom of expression and speech, any information meant to undermine the Cuban government, or the governments of Cuba’s allies, will be considered a cyberattack.