General Assemblies

The Third Committee: Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian (SOCHUM)

Topics before the General Assembly’s Third Committee deal with long-term social questions with worldwide ramifications. In the first topic, “Populist Authoritarianism: Democracy in Decline?” delegates will address a global slide away from democratic government; evident examples include Viktor Orban in Hungary and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. Delegates will debate potential causes of this movement, such as economic changes and the rise of social media, and how they can be combated. In the second topic, “The Future of Work,” difficult questions will be raised about the structure of the workforce. The development of technology has lead to increased automation in nearly all types of economies. Its repercussions are widespread, including the threat of global warming and obsoletion of large job markets. Potential solutions to be discussed may include controversial programs such as the Green New Deal (proposed in the U.S. Congress) and universal basic income (as experimented in Canada and Finland).

The Fourth Committee: Special Political and Decolonization (SPECPOL)

In the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee, delegates will be called on to address two vitally important political and economic matters. The first topic, “Protectionism and the Future of International Trade,” deals with the massive shifts that have taken place in the global trading system over the past few years. The strength of international bodies such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and European Union (EU) are under threat, and combative tariff wars have escalated. Delegates must debate whether protectionism is a valid method of defending states’ economies, or if free trade should be encouraged, despite its imperialist connotations. The second topic asks delegates a simple but controversial question: “Foreign Aid: Development or Overseas Control?” In recent years, China has greatly expanded their Belt and Road program to develop infrastructure across Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe, an initiative which has been criticized as extractive and a type of “debt-trap diplomacy”: cheap loans today are used to extract political concessions later on. Meanwhile, much controversy surrounds Western institutions such as the WTO and International Monetary Fund (IMF), since they are often associated with hegemonic economic power. Delegates will address the fairness of development aid and what can be done to protect developing countries from predatory practices.

World Health Organization (WHO)

The assembly of the World Health Organization will debate two matters of public policy related to the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people around the globe. One of the Sustainable Development Goals proposed in 2015 (to be completed by 2030) was universal health coverage, which refers to the provision of essential health services without suffering undue financial burden. In the first topic, “Getting to Universal Health Coverage,” delegates are asked how best to achieve this objective. Matters to debate include what conditions should be treated under universal care, the merits of different health insurance schemes, and how these can be practically deployed in developing countries. The second topic, “Healthcare and War: Preventing and Treating Disease in Conflict,” deals with the “deadly comrades” of war and disease. During civil wars, disease often spreads rapidly due to the uncontrolled movement of troops, destruction of infrastructure, and poor sanitation of displaced-persons camps. Delegates will be asked how healthcare should be integrated into peacekeeping operations, and how preventative programs such as vaccination can be implemented.

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)

The ACHPR, an organ of the African Union, is tasked with protecting individual and collective rights across the continent, in particular through interpreting and enforcing the 1981 Banjul Charter. In the first topic, “Regime Change and Human Rights,” delegates will be tasked with recommending how human rights can be protected during civil wars and military coups. A relevant case study is ongoing in (North) Sudan,  where a military coup, and subsequent reprisals against protesters, has led to the suspension of the country’s voting power in the African Union. The second topic, “Resource Extraction and Human Rights,” will deal with the human rights implications of the development of Africa’s plentiful natural resources. In recent years, demand for rare minerals used in electronic devices has increased dramatically, leading to a proliferation of unregulated mining operations. Repercussions including environmental degradation, exploitation by insurgent forces, and the use of child labour will be key topics for debate.