The SMUN 2020 Academics team has carefully selected 12 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 committees: NATO and 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 as our staple double-delegate committee. The UNSC 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, our double-delegate 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.
MILITARISATION OF THE ARCTIC
With the potential for the Arctic to become a centre of international economic and military activities, the Arctic is turning into an attractive strategic location for countries in Europe and North America to further their military interests. As such, the Arctic may become a growing hotbed of competing territorial claims and disputes of sovereignty. As the status of the Arctic as terra nullius, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, remains debated, delegates should come into agreement on what, if any, degree of militarisation is acceptable, and improve the security frameworks currently in place to maintain a sustainable peace in the Arctic region.
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.
DEVELOPING DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND PREVENTION POLICIES DUE TO THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Existing disaster management frameworks have been premised on the infrequency of overwhelming weather events. However, anthropogenic climate change has recently resulted in extreme weather events occurring with greater, unprecedented regularity, rendering such disaster response measures outmoded and inadequate. As the frequency, scale, and extent of impact differ between natural and climate-change driven disasters, the nature of disaster management and prevention should also differ appropriately. Delegates will be challenged to understand not only the science behind climate events, but also deal with resource and political in developing frameworks for helping governments more effectively manage and prevent the ever-growing threat of disasters.
PROMOTING STEM EDUCATION IN LEDCs
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. Citizens of LEDCs are especially vulnerable to this trend as they struggle 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 lead to 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..
PROMOTION OF CULTURAL TOURISM
For many nations, tourism has been a significant contributor to their GDP. Historically, the tourism industry has incentivised nations to promote cultural sites and practices, allowing them to reap economic benefits from preserving and protecting their cultures. However, the tourism industry has often resulted in the over-commercialisation and degradation of many cultural sites globally. In view of the industry's over-exploitation and destruction of these cultural sites, delegates must explore and develop policies to strike a balance between the economic needs of countries and preserving their cultural integrity. These policies should also cover the protection of cultures, as well as native citizens and their beliefs, from the excesses of economic exploitation.
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.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
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.
SAFE AND ETHICAL PROLIFERATION OF ORGAN TRANSPLANTS
With an increasing demand for organs, coupled with their limited supply, nations are scrambling to tackle the shortage of organs available for organ transplants. However, while guidelines have generally been established to ensure safe organ transplants, the dearth of healthy, available organs remains a massive challenge for the healthcare system of many countries. Moreover, experts and policymakers continue to debate on the viability and ethics of organ trade, while rapid advancements in the field of organ printing could potentially add a new dimension of regulatory requirements to existing problems. Delegates will have to weigh the pros and cons of organ trade and organ printing, and develop new frameworks to alleviate the wider shortage of organs in a safe and ethical manner.
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 AMONG 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.
ECOSYSTEM PRESERVATION AND RESTORATION
Climate change has been a part of the planet’s natural development for billions of years. However, in recent times, large-scale anthropogenic ecosystem destruction has resulted in the acceleration of climate change, which in turn cyclically generates further damage to ecosystems globally. The global damage to ecosystems is fueled by the rise of deforestation, reclamation of previously untouched natural spaces for agriculture and urbanisation, and the extraction of natural resources. Thus far, the UN General Assembly has proclaimed a ‘Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’ to promulgate efforts to reverse the degradation of ecosystems. Delegates must discuss and decide on policies to secure greater cooperation among nations, given the perennial friction between environmental and economic interests.
United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
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.
THE VENEZUELAN CRISIS
Venezuela has descended into a state of chaos as the dispute over the Venezuelan Presidency 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), humanitarian aid, 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.
THE LAKE CHAD CONFLICT
As the epicentre of a conflict that has spanned over a decade, the Lake Chad Basin remains a persistent challenge to the regional security of West-Central Africa. Despite the various actions taken by the Nigerian Government and the international community, non-state actors such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) remain a threat to government forces and peacekeepers, especially as problems such as the recruitment of child soldiers, religious disharmony, rampant corruption, and socio-economic distress to nearby populations emerge. Moreover, the shrinking of Lake Chad has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, further destabilising the region. Delegates must not only consider how best to eliminate the threat of non-state actors, but also develop the frameworks and infrastructure to stabilise the region and facilitate peace-building.
United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)
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.
REGULATION AND REDUCTION OF SINGLE-USE PLASTICS
Humanity has benefited from plastics for more than a century due to its low costs and convenience. However, the widespread usage and improper disposal of plastics have led to the ever-increasing accumulation of plastics. The resulting proliferation of microplastics has also contributed to the contamination of water bodies and arable land, while single-use plastics alone account for 50% of marine litter. Despite being a pressing global issue for decades, solutions thus far have remained largely confined to domestic regulations, with limited global impact in sufficiently curbing the contamination of natural environments. Delegates must acknowledge and address the environmental problems that come with the widespread adoption of single-use plastics and develop viable policies to balance environmental and economic concerns.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
Signed on 4 April 1949, NATO is an intergovernmental military and political alliance of European nations, Canada, and the United States with the objective of establishing collective military security of all its member states. Member states frequently discuss and cooperate on defence and security-related issues in order to peacefully resolve these issues and coordinate collective responses to any crises.
THE KURDISH CRISIS
Despite their significant contributions towards the global cause of containing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Kurds are presently threatened by Turkish military aggression towards them in the aftermath of the sudden withdrawal of the United States military from northern Syria. While NATO possesses strategic interests in supporting Kurdish efforts against ISIL, Turkey, despite being a NATO member, has competing domestic interests on the Kurdish issue that do not fully align with the general NATO consensus. Furthermore, the intervention and involvement of Russian forces in the region complicates the Kurdish question. As such, delegates must consider how best to achieve the geopolitical interests of NATO in the Middle East while maintaining the unity of the NATO alliance.
ENHANCING CYBER DEFENSE AND CYBER SECURITY
At the turn of the century, the emergence of newer threats in the form of digital and cyber attacks posed a new dimension of security concerns beyond conventional warfare. Moreover, some nations are suspected to have gradually improved their capabilities in conducting cyberattacks and cyber surveillance. Evidence of perpetrated cyberattacks by Russia during the 2016 United States Presidential Elections and the Crimean Referendum are just drops in the bucket compared to the potential widespread damages which cyberattacks can cause to security infrastructure and even the fabric of society. Thus, delegates must decide on how NATO should improve the defense of the alliance against such threats, as well as respond to such attacks should they occur.
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.
PROTECTIONIST MEASURES AGAINST FOREIGN NATIONS
US international trade policies have largely shifted away from globalism, a policy of welcoming free trade and movement of labour, to one of protectionism under President Donald Trump’s Administration. After four years of the Trump Administration, however, it is clear that the protectionist policies he has championed have not necessarily worked to the US’s advantage. The US-China trade war remains in limbo, coal production is nose-diving across the US, and the US’s automobile industry has oscillated between stagnation and volatility. Without abandoning their partisan interests, Senators must figure out how to develop international trade policies which maximise the economic well-being of their constituencies and country, while striving for the end goal of maintaining the US’s global economic standing in an increasingly multipolar world.
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)
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: 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.
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
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.