Disarmament & International Security Committee
The First Committee, or the Disarmament and International Security Council, is committed to a safer and more peaceful world for all by setting the direction for disarmament efforts and actively addressing threats to international security. Within the illustrious history of the Committee, they have set resolutions to de-escalate the nuclear arms race, work towards naval disarmament, and prevent the militarization of outer space. With cyber warfare on the rise and the cessation of hostilities returning many veterans to their homes, the Committee must remain steadfast to its mandate of preserving international security.
The Question of Cyber Warfare
War in the fifth domain has become increasingly vicious and inconspicuous. Modern livelihoods hinge on technology, from the everyday smartphone to vast governmental databases, leaving the functioning of society vulnerable to cyberattacks. Malware is weaponised now by covert cyberwarfare branches to conduct espionage, siphon funds, and even take down entire infrastructures. As cyberwarfare technology grows exponentially by the day, the First Committee has lots of catching up to do to keep international regulatory regimes in lockstep.
Post-Conflict Veteran Reintegration
The world has become more peaceful than before as the Great Powers have ceased explicit warfighting and countries are calling their soldiers home from foreign peacekeeping operations. However, military life is starkly different from civilian life — many soldiers return home with stress-related disorders resulting from active service. From post-traumatic stress disorder to suffering physical and sexual abuse, these veterans are shipped home with no support networks for themselves. With many slipping into alcohol and substance abuse, and many others suffering from poor mental health, it is only fair that the First Committee takes the lead in establishing an international framework for veteran reintegration for our soldiers to lead a more dignified post-combat life.
Social, Cultural, & Humanitarian Committee
The General Assembly’s Third Committee is tasked with handling issues on social, humanitarian affairs, and human rights that affect people all over the world. The Third Committee discusses social development issues related to youth, families, crime, and the right to self-determination. Within its mandate, it is allowed to draft up frameworks on social affairs, and in some cases adopt country-specific resolutions related to human rights.
Reforming Education Infrastructure and Practices
263 million children, adolescents, and young adults are still out of school, with a majority of them being in developing countries. Access to education is often hindered by a lack of resources, the pervasive use of child labour, conflict and strife, and geography. Furthermore, education is the most poorly supported during humanitarian crises. Structural problems in the provision of education have been exposed as countries close schools and move to online learning. Delegates in the Third Committee should evaluate the existing education infrastructure and practices in developed and developing countries, and propose innovative means to promote its access.
The Use of Government Surveillance in Times of Crisis
In times of terrorism, conflict, demonstration, and pandemic, governments may employ technology or implement new laws to increase surveillance on their people. Governments justify their actions by citing public safety and security. However, human rights watchdogs have criticised such means of heightened surveillance in times of crisis due to their invasion of privacy and infringement of personal freedoms. There is even a possibility that such draconian measures will still be in place even after crises end. Delegates in the Third Committee should weigh privacy against public security in establishing potential boundaries for government surveillance.
International Civil Aviation Organisation
Overseeing the transport industry that revolutionised the global economy, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is responsible for publishing up-to-date techniques and regulations which undergird air navigation and international air transport. The ICAO is distinguished from other international aviation organisations due to the international authority vested into it by signatory states.
Sustainability of the Aviation Industry Amidst COVID-19
In the time of the pandemic, countries have shuttered their borders to prevent the import of COVID-19 patients. This spelt the downfall of commercial air travel as travel bans kicked into place. The entire premise on which their business model was gone! One after another, national carriers started filing for bankruptcy and sought bailouts from their governments as their operational costs sent their budgets into the red. With airline carriers scrambling from the tailspin, many airline staff have been laid off or put on indefinite furlough, threatening livelihoods. Airlines are seeking alternatives to revenue generation, with governments becoming increasingly reluctant to give lifelines. Many governments and airlines are now looking towards the ICAO for guidelines on safe air travel and alternative models to keep airlines financially solvent in a time of crisis.
Revitalising the Aviation Industry Post-COVID-19
After the time of the pandemic, the aviation industry, being amongst the hardest hit, will remain reeling for years to come. With potential losses between 388 to 392 billion USD in passenger revenue in 2020 alone, stricter travel regulations, seat reductions, and lack of confidence will translate into further financial reverberations in the industry. Not only will airline staff be retrenched, but industries and businesses which rely on major airline contracts will also suffer revenue loss. Thus, the ICAO must look into re-envisioning what the civil aviation industry would look like in the new normal of a
post-COVID-19 era, where social distancing is a given and people struggle to normalise the concept
of global air travel; and how civil aviation can build industry resilience in future crises that
incapacitate air travel.
International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the non-governmental organisation in charge of the Olympic Games. The IOC comprises 115 members, each representing the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of respective countries. IOC is responsible for upholding the Olympic Charter, selecting the host cities of the Olympic Games, and providing funding for other International Sporting Federations (IFs). It also plays a significant role in providing support for athletes through the various IFs and promoting the spirit of sportsmanship and participation in the Olympics.
Choosing the Host Nation for the 2032 Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is the flagship event of the IOC. While much has been made of the games themselves being highly politicised, the politics of the selection process is often overlooked. Bids go through three stages to assess their economic and political viability, and countries may withdraw their bids at any given time. On the bidder’s part, the benefits of holding the games (image, reputation, economic boost, etc), will be the main concern. IOC members as a whole should consider other factors such as the political implications, commercial interests, and even the susceptibility to allegations of corruption. Delegates in the IOC must scrutinise the sociopolitical dimensions of every bid, assessing its viability while bearing in mind the political implications of their support for any given bid.
Protection of Athletes
While the IOC’s jurisdiction over IFs is limited, there is much that it can do to protect athletes, especially those in Olympic sports. The wide scope of this topic allows discussion on issues such as transgender athletes, abusive coaching practices, mental health, and more. For instance, the issue of transgender athletes is often a controversial one, as female athletes with higher testosterone levels enjoy an unfair advantage over other female athletes, but forcing
them to compete with men would be unfair and degrading. On the other hand, studies on the harmful effects of the intense and often abusive world of professional sports, especially among developing athletes, have led to greater scrutiny on coaching practices and the mental health of athletes. This topic seeks to explore the limits of IOC jurisdiction, and how it can better protect athletes in an increasingly cutthroat industry.
Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was established in 1960 at the Baghdad Conference. Its mission is to coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its member countries and ensure the stabilisation of oil markets. This helped to secure an efficient, economic, and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers, and a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry. With a greater focus on multilateral environmental matters, OPEC needs to find ways to ensure the stability and sustainability of energy supply.
The Issue of Dropping Oil Prices and Diversification of Energy
In 2020, a year plagued by a global pandemic and numerous conflicts, oil prices are expected to generally decline with a collapse in the demand for oil and a lack of storage capacity for excess supply. According to the International Energy Agency, this is the first time demand for oil has contracted since the recession in 2009 that followed the global financial crisis. Furthermore, the drop in oil prices has been compounded by the availability of alternative sources of energy as countries have begun to diversify their energy production towards a greener future. Delegates in the Organisation will have to deal with the ever-fluctuating oil prices to stay relevant and profitable in today’s volatile energy market.
The Sustainable Production of Oil
As population, urbanisation, and the global economy increases, the world will need more energy in the decades to come. However, the production of oil, a non-renewable source of energy, is an extractive industry that undermines sustainability. Recognising the threat posed by climate change to our environment, the Organisation will desperately need to answer these two questions How can we ensure there is enough supply to meet expected future demand growth? How can this growth be achieved sustainably, balancing the needs of people concerning their social welfare, the economy, and the environment?
Historical United States Senate
(Historical US Senate)
The US Senate is the upper house of the US Congress, responsible for passing laws, directing spending, and ratifying treaties. As a representative body, it is designed to give an equal voice to every state, big or small. This means that each state has 2 senators, each serving a 6-year term. This historical senate will straddle two time periods, exploring the history of the US as well as these momentous events as they happened. Delegates will therefore be assigned two portfolios, one for each topic.
The Annexation of Texas into the Union (1843-1845)
Texas seceded from Mexico in 1836, after irreconcilable cultural differences and over-centralisation of governance by the Mexican government led to heightened Texan nationalist sentiments. The same year, the newly-independent republic applied for annexation into the US but was rejected by the Secretary of State. Attempts at annexation were renewed in 1843 by President John Tyler, before being annexed in 1845. Tyler initiated talks with Texas on the terms of annexation. The reasons behind the successful annexation were largely due to
President Polk’s “Manifest Destiny” doctrine of expansionism, rather than Tyler’s pro-slavery platform. Through this topic, delegates will grapple with various societal undercurrents at the time, such as slavery, Texan nationalism, and US expansionism.
The Question of Cloture (1917)
The Filibuster is often viewed as the scourge of productive, efficient debate in the Senate, has its modern roots in the adoption of the cloture rule in 1917. This rule essentially allowed Senate debate to end (and voting to begin) with a 2/3 majority in favour, harkening back to pre-1806 Senate procedure. However, this had disastrous and undemocratic consequences. It allowed just 1/3 of the Senate to indefinitely block a bill simply by refusing to move to a vote. This gave rise to some of American politics’ most memorable moments, from Strom Thurmond’s infamous 24 hour filibuster to Ted Cruz’s reading of Green Eggs and Ham. Yet, cloture was ironically designed to counteract filibusters in the first place, in an era where there was no mechanism to end debate with a vote. This topic, therefore, invites delegates to consider how to fix the glaring problems facing the Senate in 1917, while creatively avoiding the pitfalls of the present rule.
The African Union (AU) is a regional organisation composed of 55 member states, aimed at fostering greater
African solidarity, assisting developing African nations, and promoting peace and stability within the region. Since its establishment in 2001, the AU has presented initiatives within the region to accelerate economic growth through programmes such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. These programmes and declarations help to establish norms among African states and have contributed to greater integration within the continent.
Furthering Good Governance Within Africa
Development has often been associated with good governance. In Africa, the AU has introduced various instruments that would promote good governance. These include the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, as well as the African Peer Review Mechanism. These are intended to guide its member states to establish good governments. However, their effectiveness has been limited by a lack of political will to adhere to the guidelines or a lack of ability to institute structures for good governance. Delegates in this council will need to consider how these problems can be overcome at a governmental-level and how the AU may include the rest of the African population in supporting these ideals of good governance.
The Issue of Gender Equality in Africa
The promotion of gender equality in Africa has been an uphill task as many communities continue to propagate social norms that often infringe on the rights of women. These are illustrated through areas such as violence towards women, harmful traditional practices,
an absence of effective laws that protect women, as well as a lack of economic independence amongst African women. While the Union has produced the AU Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment for 2018-2028, inertia remains strong among the member states when it comes to taking action. As such, delegates will have to consider frameworks that may allow for the implementation of proposals for gender equality, while keeping in mind the specific cultural contexts of their country during their discourse on equality.
The Construction and Protection of the Tourism Industry Post COVID-19 to promote the Recovery of the ASEAN Economy
In 2019, ASEAN welcomed 51.57 million tourists, a number that had been on the rise since 2010. However, the Covid-19 Pandemic and border shutdowns led to these numbers falling drastically, hurting ASEAN economies for whom intra-ASEAN and international tourism contributes a large part of their national income. Delegates are to discuss policies to facilitate the reopening of ASEAN’s tourism sector to member states and the global public while keeping in mind the protection of their citizens and the tourists visiting their nation, and restrictions placed on international travel due to COVID-19.
Projection of the Socio-Cultural Brand of ASEAN globally to further economic growth and globalisation
With 10 member states, each with a multitude of distinct cultures and ethnicities, ASEAN encompasses one of the most unique and diverse regions in the world. Beyond being a tourism hotspot pre-Covid-19, ASEAN has not fully utilized its unique position to advance itself on the world stage. Furthermore, ASEAN itself has to decide between showcasing the unique cultural tropes of each individual nation, or to project its brand as a single entity. This topic encourages delegates to consider how ASEAN could harness this great asset in the best possible way to further their pursuit of socioeconomic and cultural development as a region.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional forum to promote cohesive cooperation between its ten member states. Founded in Bangkok in August 1967, ASEAN is globally recognised as the mainstay for Asian-Pacific diplomacy in the region and for strong international cooperation within and outside the organisation. It represents a strong coalition of member states with the ability to influence the global stage and serves to promote joint growth among nations in various sectors and industries such as education, security, economy, and more.
United Nations Security Council
One of the most powerful institutions of international diplomacy, the United Nations Security Council is responsible for safeguarding international security and protecting the hallowed norms and customs of interstate diplomacy. Empowered by Chapter V of the Charter, the 15-member Committee is the only UN body that can impose legally- binding resolutions. It can execute peacekeeping operations, order fact-finding missions, and levy sanctions on nations to keep them in diplomatic line. In today’s increasingly complex geopolitical arena, the role of the Security Council as a gatekeeper of international peace and security becomes more important than ever.
The Use of Ceasefires as a Tool for Global Peace and Response
Known as the “Truce of God” in the Middle Ages, a ceasefire used to be a sanctified, gentlemen’s agreement between belligerents to lay down their arms to preserve humanitarian interests or work towards reconciliation. Yet in recent times, notably in the Syrian and Yemeni Civil Wars, ceasefires have been agreed upon only for it to be broken on the very day it started. In such cases, broken ceasefires only fuel distrust between belligerents and strengthen the narrative that the other party is hostile. As such, the ceasefire must be scrutinised for its efficacy in the modern international security context, how parties can improve upon ceasefire durability, and whether alternatives to the ceasefire is possible.
The Tigray Conflict
In the Tigray region of Ethiopia, the flames of civil conflict continue to burn, amidst the dry tinder of weak political institutions and communal distrust, between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and government authorities. Originally a member of the governing coalition, the TPLF’s refusal to merge into a new coalition in 2019 sowed discord between the TPLF
and the government. After a surprise TPLF offensive on a government building on November 4 2020, Ethiopian Premier Abiy Ahmed called for a state of emergency and promised a full-on military offensive with the TPLF. The escalation of civil conflict and delegitimisation of Ethiopian central authority will have devastating reverberations across the Horn of Africa, and the Council must take heed and address it.
1985 Presidium of the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
Historical Crisis Committee
The Soviet Union was a unified soviet state formed by the Bolsheviks in 1922, one of the two major superpowers during its existence. She commanded strong global influence during her existence and boasted tremendous military capability in her time. However, since the rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev, the union has seen more liberal and progressive policies and decisions coming to light. As a result, a dynamic shift has appeared in the superpower between various factions and leaders of the nation, placing her at risk of falling into chaos. The Soviet Union and her leaders must decide swiftly and act decisively to decide the future of this global superpower.
SMUN TORCH 2021
The Press Corps presents delegates the opportunity to represent prominent news agencies. Members of the Press Corps will be tasked with the duty of reporting on the discussions of committees by gathering information about the council and its delegates through interviews and Press Conferences. Such will provide Press representatives with the necessary materials to write analytical articles that may impact committee debate
* Note: Press Corps is a Double Delegation committee.. Delegates who register within the same form indicating Press Corps as one of their choices will be allocated as a pair. Individual delegates who indicate interest in and are allocated to Press Corps will be paired with another individual.