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Situated at the crossroads of Europe, West Asia and India on one side, and Japan and China on the other, together with abundant wealth of natural resources, the South China Sea is of vital commercial and strategic significance to the states of the regions. The international value of the South China Sea has three principle axes: resources, sea-lanes, and security. The problem that has faced the international community however, is that this strategic stretch of water has been claimed as national boundaries by 9 countries, with China fiercely claiming most of the sea to be theirs through the proposed 9 dash line. There are many angles to the dispute and most parties have their own vested interests in the SCS. With United States playing an active role in the dispute, we have with ourselves a perfect game of international relations. Therefore, the task before the UNSC today, is to ensure peaceful and just delimitation of the South China Sea with all the vested interests taken care of.
The situation in Syria can be accredited to the anti-government demonstrations which began in March of 2011, part of the Arab Spring. But the peaceful protests quickly escalated with army defectors loosely organizing themselves in the Free Syrian Army and many civilian Syrians taking up arms to join the opposition. Almost five years after it began, the full-blown civil war has killed over 220,000 people, half of whom are believed to be civilians. The majority of Syrian refugees are living in Jordan and Lebanon, where Mercy Corps have been addressing their needs since 2012. In August 2013, more Syrians escaped into northern Iraq at a newly opened border crossing. Now they are trapped by that country's own insurgent conflict, and Iraq is struggling to meet the needs of Syrian refugees on top of more than one million internally displaced Iraqis — efforts that we are working to support. An increasing number of Syrian refugees are fleeing across the border into Turkey, overwhelming urban host communities and creating new cultural tensions. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are also attempting the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey to Greece, hoping to find a better future in Europe. Every year of the conflict has seen an exponential growth in refugees. In 2012, there were 100,000 refugees. By April 2013, there were 800,000. That doubled to 1.6 million in less than four months. There are now 4.3 million Syrians scattered throughout the region, making them the world's largest refugee population under the United Nations' mandate. The U.N. predicts there could be 4.7 million registered Syrian refugees by the end of 2016 — the worst exodus since the Rwandan genocide 20 years ago. In light of this situation, the committee would want to reach a decision on the position of countries on the situation and the need for humanitarian aid ahead of the political squabbles of the countries.
As economic globalization, regional economic crises, and political upheaval have stimulated movement across national borders, migrants and refugees in particular are assailed by new measures of discrimination on an enormous scale. Trends in human population movements and toward an increasingly international labor force make it particularly urgent to address it as a factor in the generation and management of migration and refugee flows and in its relation to international and domestic conflict. The determination of refugee status is most often left to government agencies of the host country. This can lead to a situation where the country will neither recognize the refugee status of the asylum seekers nor see them as legitimate migrants and treat them as illegal aliens. There are certain rights which refugees by virtue of their status enjoy. The UN Pinheiro Principles are guided by the idea that people not only have the right to return home, but also the right to the same property. It seeks to return to the pre-conflict status quo and ensure that no one profits from violence. Then there is the right to non-refoulement which allows states to transfer genuine refugees to third party countries with respectable human rights records. Other problems that the refugee could face are those associated with displacement which can lead to instances of exploitation at the hands of enforcement officials, citizens of the host country, and even United Nations peacekeepers.
Conflicts generally involve use of violence in a particular situation, where there is no consensus on a particular issue. These conflicts generally have devastating effects, generally having grave long-term effects. Considering the mandate of the committee, Economic and Social Council is particularly expected to help countries recover inter alia economically and socially. The committee is expected to aid the affected countries with necessities, to tackle common challenges like stabilization of health care and displaced human resource, rebuilding the destroyed structures, and recuperate the destroyed sources. Further, it also has to undertake activities to ensure long-term peace in the region and at the same time decrease the possibility of re-occurrences of such conflicts, and enhance local capability to manage conflicts. ECOSOC, in the past has created Ad Hoc groups in countries like Guinea-Bissau (2002) and Burundi (2003), to tackle the problems faced in post-conflict situations. There was also an Ad Hoc Advisory Group constituted in Haiti on a long-term development strategy to promote socio-economic recovery and stability. Similar steps could be taken by Economic and Social Council in other conflict affected regions, by providing expertise to tackle post-conflict challenges.
Owing to the past decades of rapid technological and industrial development, the world is long past preventing climate change. It is inevitable and as it increasingly seeps into the circumstances of today, it is important to remember that the ones most vulnerable to this phenomenon are also the ones least contributing towards it. Climate change is one of the issues to be addressed by the Millennium Development Goals of UN, along with food and development, which are interrelated to each other. Apart from being an issue of sustainable development, this phenomenon also concerns economic and social development. The Economic and Social Council must address this challenge which threatens to negate all of the progress made towards the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and work towards mitigating the impact of climate change particularly on the communities most vulnerable to it. Achievement of eradication of poverty along with sustainable development becomes imperative in light of this challenge faced by the world today. The Council must undertake steps to invest in adaptation and mitigation so as to strengthen the ability of the poor to cope with the adverse effects of climate change. The Council can come up with other measures to construct an effective response to climate change and ensure that the progress made towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is not hindered.
As the objectives and scope of warfare evolves, so do the tactics employed by actors involved in armed conflicts. Society has been witness to a plethora of rising modes of warfare which can be deemed as unconventional simply by its nature. For eg., cyber warfare is a developing form of warfare employed by non-state actors. Other forms of unconventional modes of warfare involve suicide bombing, guerrila warfare, etc are also in their evolution phase. As the objectives of warfare have started to evolve, the methods of conducting such warfare have taken a new turn too. The pace at which societies are witnessing warfare calls for a discussion on the unconventional modes of warfare as these modes have to be recognised and curbed.
In the wake of overwhelming transnationalism and globalization, nations founded upon the model of the Westphalian sovereign state are gradually diminishing into virtual units. The accompanying factors and events of these mechanisms give rise to non-state actors. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, alternatively translated as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is a Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist, militant group that has proclaimed itself to be a worldwide caliphate, asserting religious, political and military authority over Muslims around the world. In the assertion of its power it has committed some of the worst atrocities in history. It is responsible for genocide, mass population displacement, and several war crimes resulting in one of the severest refugee crises that the world has seen. Armed non-state actors such as ISIS are a greater challenge to intervene with since international law, and norms governing the use of force for intervention or peacekeeping purposes, was primarily written in the context of the nation-state. It is upon the UN and its respective committees to address the plight of the region and resolve to root out the presence of all armed threats that heighten the tinderbox nature of the Middle Eastern region, to ensure basic civil rights for its inhabitants, and allow peaceful, unhindered progress.
The Republic of Marshall Islands v. Republic of India case before the ICJ is touted to be more than a legalistic debate on nuclear non-proliferation. Many scholars believe that the dispute has an undercurrent of international politics to it. As India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the provisions of the treaty do not oblige India to change its nuclear policy as per the requirements of the treaty. Nuclear Non-Proliferation is already a controversial topic and the claim made by Marshall Islands further exacerbates the issue as it juxtaposes both law and politics. Though Marshall Islands has been a victim of indiscriminate nuclear weapon testing in the past, they claim India is violating its customary law obligations by continuously expanding its nuclear arsenal, while India denies the the maintainability of the dispute before the ICJ. The ICJ will have to very carefully assess the case especially due to the political colour it has and the vested interests of the major powers of the world.
The treaty forbids the five original nuclear countries from supplying any other country with the materials, technology, or other resources needed to make atomic or hydrogen bombs. It forbids all the other countries from acquiring or manufacturing such materials or technology. As a reward for this restraint, the NPT not only permits but encourages these countries to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The technology for this will be provided, according to Article V, “on a non-discriminatory basis” at a price “as low as possible”. With changing times there is a need for an update on certain aspects of the treaty like, inspections. As the technology for producing nuclear energy is the same as the technology for producing nuclear weapons it is only the process of enrichment that is required to make bomb grade Uranium. Despite the knowledge of this fact, the negotiators relied on two impediments. First, the treaty requires the recipients of nuclear technology to allow international inspectors to monitor nuclear facilities in order to ensure nothing is diverted. Second, at the time of the signing, these evasions were far from easy. But with time both these impediments are vanishing. Therefore, there is scope for countries to argue that they have every right to develop nuclear energy under the treaty, even to enrich uranium, as long as they do so for peaceful purposes. The NPT Committee therefore, will have to reach a consensus on certain modern and updated methods which can curb such deviance.
The treaty recognizes the P-5 countries (U.S.A., U.K., China, Russia, and France) as possessors of nuclear weapons to provide international security and safety, who are expected to maintain peace and social order for those countries that are not in possession of nuclear weapons.
Naturally countries like India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, and South Sudan have garnered international condemnation for not being parties to the NPT in the interest of national security. What must also be noted is the existence of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) policy of nuclear powers, proclaimed by the nations like India and China, stating that they will not initiate the use of nuclear weapons but will use them strictly for the purpose of retaliation. Other countries in possession of nuclear arsenal have remained wary of this policy and have rejected its implementation, pledging to use it only under the pretext of defense.
Some countries have gone on to state that it will be used in volatile situations. Can the NFU policy be brought into the purview of the NPT and the IAEA to fill this policy lacuna? The question stands as to how do countries reach a consensus to amend the NPT so as to accommodate the interests of the non-signatories.