- Welcome Letter
- About the Committee
- Topic A: The Humanitarian Crisis in Armed Conflict Areas.
- Topic B: Governments’ Responsibility in Forced Displacement.
We would like to offer a warm welcome to AISMUN 2013 and to the SOCHUM committee. We are honored to preside the third committee of the United Nations in this year’s conference, and we will do our best to guide you and to assure you of an unforgettable experience. We are convinced that each delegate will display preparation and an active participation; I will be at your total disposal for any questions and requests you may have.
Without further ado, welcome to AISMUN.
Camila Remolina - firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Committee
The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee, commonly referred to as SOCHUM, is the third committee of the United Nations. The general assembly allocates SOCHUM´s agenda items relating to a range of social and humanitarian affairs. The SOCHUM committee examines issues from the rights of indigenous people, refugees, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the promotion of the right to self- determination. This committee is unable to impose sanctions, authorize armed intervention or pass binding resolutions. The resolutions are significant, and they are able to recommend that the Security Council and the Secretariat manage specific problems in ways suggested by its member states and approved by the committee.
Topic A: The Humanitarian Crisis in Armed Conflict Areas
A humanitarian crisis is defined as a series of events in which there is an imperious threat to the health, security, well being or safety of a community or group of people. During these sorts of disasters human lives are jeopardized and human rights are violated. Humanitarian crisis are identified using four indicators to determine the type of struggle a country is facing, and to measure its seriousness, as well as its impact.
There isn’t a worldwide accepted definition of an armed conflict, according to the world report of violence and health the term violence is defined as: "the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm or deprivation."
Similarly, the definition of armed conflict from the UCDP/PRIO (Uppsala Conflict Data Program / Peace Research Institute Oslo) explains it as: “a contested incompatibility over government or territory between two organized parties, of which at least one is the government of a state, in which the use of armed force between the parties has resulted in at least 25 battle‐related deaths in a calendar year”… Armed violence encases the problem of hostility with the use of weapons that cause death or injury to a human being.
The onset of a humanitarian crisis in armed conflicted areas:
Important Armed Conflicts
In 2001 there were 24 major armed conflicts around the world in 22 areas. Among these conflicts only one was of an international relevance (the conflict between India and Pakistan), while others regarding internal matters. The regional distribution of armed conflicts indicated that in 2001 the most active armed conflicts were in Asia (7) and Africa (7), whereas the number in the Middle East (4), the Americas (3) and Europe (1) was significantly lower.
In 2011, there were 26 active armed conflicts worldwide, two more, compared to the previous year. A significant development in global armed conflict in 2011 was a series of pro-democracy movements—beginning in December 2010 and continuing throughout 2011—that swept the Middle East and North Africa and came to be known as the Arab Spring or Arab Awakening.
The majority of armed conflicts nowadays are internal. Many have been prolonged for decades, despite international preoccupation and efforts to put an end to armed violence. These conflicts are usually rooted in social, religious and ethnic issues as well as in the ambition for natural resources such as oil.
War crimes are committed in several countries such as Somalia, Colombia, Lybia, Syria and several other countries especially in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Allegations about human rights violations are common in these kinds of conflicts in which the main victims are children, women and elderly people.
A. Middle East and Northern Africa- The events constituted as the Arab spring took place with the uprisings in the Middle East and the North of Africa (MENA). The development of armed conflicts across the region has prevailed for much of the 20th century. The uprisings of the Arab spring in several countries share similar traits, including beginning with large demonstrations of inconformity in major cities, and non-violent actions, but the conflict escalates to violent levels in countries such as Algeria, Yemen and especially Libya and Syria.
International reactions to conflicts in the MENA region have included support from world powers such as France and the USA as well as China and Russia, which have demonstrated a special interest in solving the conflicts in Syria and Lybia, the United Nations instrument to act upon these conflicts has been NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), which has been deeply criticized for its actions in Lybia.
The result of the Arab spring has varied in each country, there were cases in which political regimes have completely changed, but there are also cases where popular resistance was repressed. The process of the Arab awakening has its roots in the unhappiness of the population after years of unfair governments in which there was little investment and attention to relevant problems -which shook the countries in this region- that were basically related to the promotion of democratic liberties, human rights respect, and the existence of humanitarian institutions.
B. Horn of Africa- Six countries constitute the horn of Africa: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. This region has been plagued by organized armed violence and has suffered state-based conflict, non-state conflicts, and one-sided aggression against civilians.
The region has displayed a tendency to become militarily engaged in neighboring countries, such is the case of Ethiopia and Kenya, which have sent troops to support the Transitional Federal government in Somalia.
C. Latin America- For several years armed conflicts and armed hostility have erupted in Latin America, countries such as Mexico and Colombia have been the main protagonists of these conflicts in which human rights have been deliberately violated by groups of organized violence.
The main targets of these groups usually are isolated regions or government-neglected territories with which communication is particularly difficult. Colombia is one of the main victim of armed conflicts in Latin America, as well as one of the countries which suffer large humanitarian crisis caused by armed violence caused by insurgent groups such as the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia or Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) have terrorized this South American country for decades.
Troop contributions to UN missions in 2011:
- What is the role of the United Nations´ institutions, such as UNHCR, in the humanitarian crisis caused by armed conflicts?
- What are the repercussions of humanitarian crisis in the appropriate development of a nation?
- Has your country faced any sort of humanitarian crisis?
- How could arms conflicted areas prevent humanitarian conflicts?
Topic B: The Responsibility of Governments in Forced Displacement.
Forced displacement, or forced migration, refers to the coerced movement of people, who involuntarily flee their homes due to conflict, violence, persecution, or human rights violation. People who are victims of this issue are divided in two categories: Internally Displaced People (IDP) and refugees; IDP´s were forced to flee their homes but unlike refugees they didn’t cross the borders to another country.
Both IDP´s and refugees often have limited access to food, water, employment, education, and health care, and many have lived away from their homes for even decades because the conflicts that caused their displacement are yet to be resolved. Displacement triggered by violence does not only represent a humanitarian crisis, but is also likely to affect political stability if it remains unresolved, especially in fragile and conflicted areas. It may also lead to the increase of crime and violence, as well as long-term impacts affecting human capital, economic growth, and poverty reduction methods.
Internally Displaced People (IDP)
Considering the fact that refugees usually receive help from UN organizations as well as external and government organizations IDP´s have a more delicate and vulnerable condition: They may be often transiting from one place to another, may be forced towards unhealthy or inhospitable environments, schooling for children and youngsters is disrupted. They are more susceptible to be attacked by armed combatants, they lack appropriate and necessary documentation and they are usually children and elderly.
Even though it isn’t required under international law several countries, such as Colombia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Russian Federation have adopted legislation providing for the creation of a national status for IDP´s to provide registration to those entitled to the status, and provision of benefits such as social, economic, and legal assistance in order to safeguard the rights of endangered IDP´s.
According to the definition of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) definition “a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence.
Refugees commonly face fear of persecution due to reasons of religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, or political opinion. Most likely a refugee cannot return home or is afraid to do so because of war and violence conflicts persevering in their home areas. International law recognizes the right to seek asylum, but does not make it mandatory for states to provide it, nations at times offer temporary protection without any guarantee of permanent asylum.
Government involvement in Forced Displacement
Several factors can make a government incapable of dealing with its refugees and IDP´s, this condition include little infrastructure, no government-funded programs for displaced people, and little economical availability to handle the amount of victims of forced displacement.
Due to the continuation of the conflict people do not return, not all governments provide necessary economical or psychological aid to those who were coerced to abandon their homes even though the most efficient actions a government can take to eradicate from the root the amount of forced displacement victims is to put an end to the conflict which served as the cause, the problem is these conflicts could take several years to be resolved, while governments must strive to find pathways to short term solutions which benefit these victims.
Colombia has faced terrible conflicts, which have resulted in the displacement of thousands of people. Colombia’s government has implemented certain programs such as “Acción Social” or “Social Action” which have the purpose of creating an environment of prosperity and appropriate conditions for the vulnerable population and to contribute to the re-integration of refugees and internally displaced people to their original regions.
Governments must ensure the creation of agencies and institutions for displaced people, or assign the responsibility of these victims to already existing government institutions. It is also their responsibility to provide protection, legally and socially speaking, to cover the full range of humanitarian rights.
However, in many cases these protections are not provided since sometimes the state that is in charge of handling the situation is also serving as an instrument for the fomentation of conflicts that cause forced displacement.
A. ¿What is the role of your government in the protection of refugees and IDP´s?
B. ¿Is your government neglecting the victims of forced displacement?
C. ¿Are the United Nations organisms and institutions present in your country providing necessary conditions for the displaced people?
D. ¿What are the main conflicts in your country and around the world that have resulted in forced displacement?