The SMUN 2020 Academics team has carefully selected 11 committees, paired with highly relevant and exciting topics, to challenge delegates into stepping outside their comfort zones. Our committees are differentiated not just in their mandate, but also in their expected difficulty levels. Hence, before indicating your committee preferences in the registration form, do spend some time considering your interest in the topics offered and the kind of experience you think you would most enjoy in SMUN 2020.
For delegates who wish to gradually ease themselves into MUN, the committees of SOCHUM, ECOSOC, and UNEA are ideal options for you. These committees are especially suitable for less experienced delegates as the issues presented are fairly straightforward, yet still leave plenty of room to discuss and negotiate potential solutions. If you are simply looking to test the waters of what learning experiences MUN can offer, these committees may suit you well. Delegates who are more familiar with MUN may prefer the committees of DISEC, WHA, and UNESCO as they offer more complex, technical, and contentious topics.
Delegates truly seeking an academic challenge are strongly encouraged to consider our specialised committee: US Senate. Moving away from traditional UN bodies, the unique dynamics of these committees, coupled with complex, multi-dimensional topics, will almost certainly push you to your limits on what it takes to achieve your country agenda.
Keeping with traditions, SMUN has brought back the UNSC, which has historically seen intense showdowns year after year between outstanding delegates giving it their all to defend their country’s stances, and we are confident that the UNSC will continue being a symbol for the healthy competitive spirit which SMUN embodies.
SMUN also strives to introduce novel concepts that we feel are under-explored, and nowhere does that philosophy show better than our crisis committees. Delegates who love the prospect of thinking on their feets and strategic risk-taking may find the fast-paced, dynamic nature of crisis an excellent opportunity for them to shine and enjoy the turbulent ride. Our Press Corps are reinvented every year to incorporate more immersive journalism as part of the conference experience. Lastly, the ASEAN committee will feature a never-before-seen committee format that requires delegates to adopt the mindsets of diplomats even before the actual conference.
In the end, we believe that each delegate can bring to their committees a unique combination of interests, passion, and mindsets regardless of their MUN experience. Your committee preferences remain your decision, and we hope to best meet your expectations of what you wish to gain out of SMUN 2020.
Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC)
The UNGA First Committee
As the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, DISEC is tasked to consider all issues pertaining to disarmament and maintaining international peace and security.
DISARMAMENT, DEMOBLISATION & REINTEGRATION OF EX-COMBATANTS
The DDR of ex-combatants is a process which facilitates peace building in post-conflict environments by helping former soldiers return to society where they may contribute meaningfully. However, key issues such as the deployment of child soldiers, poor access to healthcare, and the administration of post-conflict justice, are present challenges which governments, UN bodies, and non-governmental organisations have to confront in their efforts to ensure long-term international collaboration. Delegates must decide and debate on measures for the development of more effective, robust, and coordinated DDR programmes, as well as consider how transitional justice policies and DDR programmes can be better integrated.
Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM)
The UNGA Third Committee
SOCHUM is the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. It deals with a broad spectrum of issues ranging from humans rights, cultural issues, and social, humanitarian affairs.
REVIEWING THE RIGHT TO DIGITAL PRIVACY
With the rapid and extensive development of digital technology, governments and institutions have faced increasing difficulty in keeping legislation up to date with the significant technological shifts. The rise of big data, possible exploitation of such data, and the increased risk of invasive government surveillance have challenged the right to digital privacy as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet despite the already existing threat to privacy, legislation surrounding digital media, controlled by both public institutions and private companies, remains nebulous at best. Delegates must disentangle multiple overlapping jurisdictions to formalise and enforce institutional checks and balances against corporations, lone-wolf actors, and even governments, while also balancing all of the above with national security needs and commercial interests.
Economic and Social Council
The ECOSOC, one of the six principal organs of the UN, is responsible for coordinating multiple agencies and commissions over a wide range of economic and social issues. One of its core focuses is to promote the sustainable development of countries in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
IMPROVING COOPERATION AMONGST DEVELOPING MEMBER STATES
The UN is increasingly turning towards promoting ‘South-South’ cooperation to bridge what is conventionally known as the ‘North-South’ divide. Today, the scope of ‘South-South’ cooperation has broadened to include developing frameworks for inclusive partnerships with developed countries, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, and other developing countries. Yet, further cooperation is hindered by a persistent lack of resources, manpower, and funding, which makes it difficult to continue the expansion of South-South initiatives. To ensure that the ‘South-South’ development framework remains relevant, delegates may need to consider new multilateral initiatives, as well as institutionalise cross-border technological, human resource, and knowledge-sharing facilities to build greater capacities for the South.
World Health Assembly
The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation. Convening annually in Geneva, its responsibility is to determine the policies of the organisation and discuss specific health-related agendas set by the Executive Board.
CONTAINMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF COMMUNICABLE DISEASES
The advancement of medical technology and improved hygiene standards have made communicable diseases manageable and even eradicable. However, communicable diseases still remain rampant in some nations, especially with previously eradicated diseases, such as measles, beginning to resurface. While frameworks already exist to monitor such diseases, many nations have yet to develop a robust response system for dealing with them. In addition, some nations also struggle with developing the critical infrastructures and obtaining the resources necessary to effectively contain and combat communicable diseases. Delegates should consider how the international community can best respond to the spread of such diseases, and develop the necessary frameworks to assist nations that require the most support.
United Nations Environment Assembly
As the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment, the UNEA convenes member states and non-governmental organisations to discuss the priorities for global environmental policies and develop international environmental regulations.
Although innovation and new technologies have enabled farmers to drastically improve their yield, sustainable agriculture remains a pressing challenge given the continuously growing demand for food and agricultural land use required. Current agricultural practices such as deforestation, monocropping, overgrazing, and overfishing have harmed environmental biodiversity and farmland sustainability, while also contributing to pollution and desertification. Delegates will need to develop and enforce standards to promote sustainable agricultural practices and technologies which enable sustainable farming, while considering the balance between short-term economic gain and long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry.
United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation
Formed in 1945, UNESCO is a UN specialised agency that aims to promote international collaboration in education, science, and culture in order to maintain the universal respect for the rule of law, human rights, and the freedom of speech as enshrined in the UN Charter.
PROMOTING SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS
IN LESS ECONOMICALLY DEVELOPED COUNTRIES
With increasing automation across the global economy, millions of jobs in the global manufacturing industry are being replaced by those which require higher technical and scientific know-how. One of the most vulnerable groups to this trend is the citizens of LEDCs, who are largely struggling to keep up with the drastic technological changes due to the lack of sufficient skills training and technical education in their countries. As a result, many citizens of LEDCs remain at high risk of unemployment, which could further jeopardise the economic growth of LEDCs and cause chronically lowered standards of living for their citizens. In view of this growing emergency, delegates must aid LEDCs in the improvement of their access to more sophisticated STEM education and technical skills training, as well as create guidelines for the improvement of their education systems.
United States Senate
The US Senate is the upper chamber of the US Congress, the legislative body of the United States of America. In accordance with the Constitution, the Senate is tasked with managing the legislative process alongside the House of Representatives, as well as approving treaties with foreign governments. Senators will have to abide by their partisan stances, while also keeping in mind the interests and needs of their constituents. The US Senate hence showcases how the complex interactions of party politics, identity politics, and political ideology impact the formulation of national and foreign policy in the United States of America.
REVIEWING GUN CONTROL
Throughout contemporary US politics, gun control and the interpretation of the Second Amendment remain polarising issues that have been exploited by Senators across the political spectrum. The rise of public shootings, especially in schools, has created a public safety question surrounding policies of gun control and ownership that can no longer be ignored. Meanwhile, there remains a complex, murky network of interest groups and lobbyists which appears to have some political and ideological influence over the flow of debate thus far. Senators must determine how best to strike a careful balance between resolving this nationwide malaise via a bipartisan solution and maintaining the political support they currently enjoy.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations
ASEAN is a regional intergovernmental organisation which coordinates the integration of policies among ASEAN member states and other countries. With an emphasis on consensus-building, ASEAN aims to strengthen intergovernmental cooperation between ASEAN member states through mutually beneficial policy frameworks and the maintenance of good ties between ASEAN leaders.
PLANNING OF STAGE II OF THE ASEAN PLAN OF ACTION FOR ENERGY COOPERATION
The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is an initiative for the economic integration of the region into a single market and production base. In order to meet this objective, the APAEC 2016-2025 was adopted in 2015 as a blueprint for the completion of AEC. Following the completion of the first stage of APAEC in 2020, a mid-term review is currently underway in determining the plan of action for all member states for the second stage.
As Phase 2 of the APAEC deals with multilateral energy trade, as well as enhancement of energy security of the region, delegates representing ASEAN member states would have to contend with reconciling various best practices, recommendations, and feasibility studies compiled and conducted by the various working groups established under Phase 1. Another point of contention which delegates must manage will be the extent and scope of capacity building, such as in terms of carbon capture technologies for coal-fired power plants, or in building the expertise required for nuclear technology to form a part of the ASEAN power grid. The ASEAN committee at SMUN 2020 would be an intersectional challenge for delegates to understand the unique dynamics of ASEAN regional cooperation within the context of the APAEC.
United Nations Security Council
The UNSC is one of the six principal organs of the UN. It is tasked with safeguarding international peace and security, and it possesses the sole authority within the UN to issue binding resolutions on all UN member states. With the power to establish peacekeeping operations and impose international sanctions, the UNSC is equipped with a wide array of tools to flexibly resolve disputes that threaten international peace and security.
Venezuela, once a beacon of democracy and economic power in Latin America, has descended into a state of chaos as the dispute over the Venezuelan Presidency between President Nicolas Maduro and President of the National Assembly Juan Guaido continues unabated. At present, the population faces both political and humanitarian crises, where skyrocketing inflation, widespread malnutrition, and an abject lack of healthcare and other social services continue to severely disrupt the livelihoods of Venezuelans. While the international community has been eager in assisting the vulnerable populace of Venezuela, the question of legitimacy between Maduro and Guaido looms overhead. Delegates will have to grapple with the multidimensional nature of this issue, including the intricacies of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), provision of aid, potential spillover effects of the crisis beyond Venezuela’s borders, and the extent to which the UNSC can intervene in the matters of a sovereign state.
1871 Imperial German Cabinet
Historical Crisis Committee
Following a declaration at the end of the Franco-Prussian War, the North German Confederation and other Germanic States had come together under the Prussian Monarchy to form Imperial Germany. However, while the Prussian Prime Minister Otto Von Bismarck managed to unite the Germans under one banner, the various institutions and governments had yet to be properly integrated. Rival domestic factions continue to challenge Bismarck’s rule, threatening to divide the nation once more, while foreign powers continue to observe and make plans to contain the new Germanic State. Delegates will be challenged to conceptualise policies and systems to tackle the various threats, while navigating the uncertain political waters, both domestically and on the international stage.
The Press Corps
SMUN TORCH 2020
The Press Corps is an indispensable component of public discourse on global issues. By providing strong critique of policies and proposals, journalists are able to hold authority figures accountable for their ideas, decisions, and actions, potentially shaping the public opinion in the process. At SMUN 2020, the Press Corps will comprise journalists from a variety of notable media outlets. Delegates representing these journalists will be tasked to write incisive articles that critically analyse and critique the committee debates at SMUN 2020, while representing their press agencies’ respective biases. These articles will be published for all delegates to peruse during the conference, creating opportunities for journalists to indirectly shape committee debate through exciting commentaries on the committee proceedings as well as the stances and strategies employed by delegates.