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 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.
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: The Rohingya Crisis
After the independence of Burma, also known as Myanmar, from the British Empire in 1948, peace, stability and fundamental human rights have been at stake. After five decades of autocratic military rule, Myanmar has initiated a critical transformation into a representative democracy. In 2015, the country held its first contested national elections since 1990. It seemed, that a period of stabilization on the political level is in process. This ended in late 2017 with the beginning of the Rohingya crisis.
The Rohingya, situated mostly in the State of Rakhine, are an ethnic minority in Myanmar, with about one million people at the beginning of 2017. The Buddhist government denies the Rohingya citizenship and even ignored them in the 2014 census. The latest and most serious outbreak of violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority, sparked by Rohingya militant attacks (called Rohingya Salvation Army „Arsa“), recently created one of the world’s fastest-growing refugee outflows. The violence against Rohingya people has continued since the attack by Arsa. The military denies targeting innocent civilians, they are only combating Rohingya militants. The fighting has not stopped yet and many Rohingyas are continuing to flee across the border from their home state of Rhakine to Bangladesh. After the outbreak of the violations, there were around one million Rohingya refugees living in temporary camps and shelters, according to the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
According to Amnesty International, the human rights situation deteriorated desperately as many ongoing human rights violations like raping and abusing women and girls were happening.
Topic II: Combating the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons
The upheavals of 1989/90 have changed the global geopolitical landscape. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, the democratization of several Central and Eastern European states and the dissolution of the Soviet Union temporarily contributed to a security-political euphoria among the states of the Euro-Atlantic subsystem. In the absence of an existential threat to the states of Western Europe and the United States, the era of „eternal peace“ seemed to have begun.
The “eternal peace” was quickly interrupted by 9/11 and other numerous terrorist attacks, not only in the Western World. The number of violent conflicts between states has decreased but the conflict areas and potential have changed. Localized armed conflicts raise global attention, resulting in an estimated death rate of more than a million people for the past decade. Neither a nation nor a (sub-)region is safe from the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) which are the weapons of choice in most of today’s’ conflicts. These events in localized areas can have far-reaching implications in different forms throughout the global community. The circulation of SALW is often the catalyst that converts stationary incidents into global events.
In the last years, the United Nations improved their global efforts to combat the proliferation of SALW and established an overall framework, like the adoption of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (PoA), the subsequent adoption of the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), the Firearms Protocol of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, or the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Additionally, Sustainable Development Goal Target 16.4 aims to significantly reduce illicit arms flows, strengthen recovery and return of stolen assets, and combat of all forms of organized crime by 2030. Nevertheless, inconsistencies between different treaties and regulations exist and need to be addressed. On top, the links between the UN small arms process and UN arms embargoes as enforced by the United Nations Security Council are of important relevance in order to combat the proliferation of SALW.