After the two World Wars, in June 1945, Chapter V of the United Nations Charter established the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as the primary and permanent authority of the United Nations (UN) system charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. The UNSC, which is composed by fifteen members, five permanent members (the People’s Republic of China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States of America) – the five victorious powers of World War II, that are granted with a veto power – and ten non-permanent (temporary) members, elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly (GA), encourages international peace and security. The main purpose is to prevent war by settling disputes between nations. Whenever peace is threatened, the Security Council meets. The Charta of the United Nations commits that all member states are obligated to comply with council decisions. The Secretary General is suggested by the Security Council, where the Secretary General is allowed to participate on the sessions, but does not have the power to vote. The Security Council’s powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states. But along with this power comes a high responsibility. Therefore, the Security Council is the most powerful body in the United Nations. In the 21st century, the international community faces increasing asymmetrical threats, where not only states are involved, but rather non-state actors have to face transnational organized crime and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. At the MainMUN conference, delegates of the SC should be aware that debates are often intensely political in nature. It is therefore important to balance the need for a resolution with the heated rhetoric of international politics.
Topic I: No Women, No Peace – Women and Peace and Security
The United Nations first addressed the connection of women and peace and security in the year 2000 with landmark Resolution 1325. Through the resolution, women are supposed to not only be better protected, but also more involved in resolving conflicts, helping to make a different voice heard. Resolution 1820 (2008) deals explicitly with sexual violence in armed conflicts and gives the Secretary-General and peacekeeping operations a clear mandate to take charge in this regard. The promise that came with it, however, remains largely unfulfilled. We know, when women are included in peace negotiations, agreements are less likely to fail and more likely to last. We know that women’s rights and physical safety are often the very first targets of fundamentalists. We know that sexual violence is used as a strategy. We know that only too often victims of violence, especially sexual violence, face a stigma of shame or self-infliction. We know that many perpetrators enjoy impunity may it be legal and customary. We know that women are often the first to spot conflict on the horizon. And we know when their insight and information is ignored, it often leads to consequences that might have been averted. Women are not inherently more peaceful than men. But history shows that when women are at the table, they bring together coalitions, and they work really hard to build consensus. They are the ones most likely to shine a bright light on issues of human rights, national reconciliation and economic renewal – may it be in Northern Ireland, Liberia, DR Congo or Colombia. With women’s issues in mind, peace negotiations are thirty percent more likely to create a durable agreement for all. With women at the table, it is sixty-five percent more likely. With women in peace making and peacekeeping, we are all safer and more secure.The issue of women’s full participation in peace and security can thus no longer be relegated to the margins of international affairs.
Topic II: Protection of Civilians
Civilians account for the vast majority of casualties in armed conflict. They are the most vulnerable and often purposely targeted. The Security Council first addressed the issue in resolution 1265 (1999), establishing that grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights may constitute a threat to peace and security. A more comprehensive framework should follow ten years later with resolution 1894 (2009), when the Security Council recognized the link between the international community’s obligations in the area of protection of civilians and its responsibility, including that of the Security Council, under the responsibility to protect. The Security Council holds a biannual public debate on the protection of civilians. There are several pillars of particular importance in the protection of civilians. Humanitarian Access is vital for ensuring access to populations in distress. It must be possible to allow the unhindered distribution of humanitarian aid. Aid effectiveness and the safety of personnel are dependent on timely, unrestricted and unhindered access. The Security Council has affirmed a respective resolution from the General Assembly (43-131, 1988) in more than 300 texts relating to twenty conflicts. Peacekeeping Operations are an important tool for the international Community. Yet, only eight out of fifteen PKOs are mandated to protect civilians. On a case by case basis, the international community assesses to coordinate the protection civilians under imminent threat of physical danger, to prevent and respond to sexual violence, to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, to ensure security in and around camps for refugees and security for the persons living there, and to create conditions conducive to their voluntary and safe return.