UN General Assembly 2008 Background Guide As one of the United Nation’s (UN) six principal organs, the General Assembly (GA) is the international community’s most representative forum, as well as it’s chief deliberative and policy-making entity. Because the mandate of the UN GA is so broad, its work is divided into six committees: - First Committee (Disarmament and International Security Committee) is concerned with disarmament and related international security questions; - Second Committee (Economic and Financial Committee) is concerned with economic questions; - Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee) deals with social and humanitarian issues; - Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization Committee) deals with a variety of political subjects not dealt with by the First Committee, as well as with decolonization; - Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary Committee) deals with the administration and budget of the United Nations; and - Sixth Committee (Legal Committee) deals with international legal matters. At CIMUN, the GA will act as a Plenary Session, a state of the body in which all matters across the committees may be discussed. Every Member State of the UN has one vote within the GA and its six main committees, and all decisions require a simple majority (50% +1 vote). Unlike the Security Council, Member States do not hold a veto power, and 70-80% of all resolutions are passed by consensus. However, any resolutions passed in the GA are non-binding – that is, it has no real power to enforce decisions made. The GA is considered the “voice” of the world, with major decisions being passed, though their ability to affect world politics is limited, except as a representation of international public opinion. Topic 1: Combating the spread of illicit drugs Introduction The use of drugs, particularly illicit drugs, is not a new phenomenon and they have adversely affected human development throughout the years. But the multiplicity of drugs involved and increasing global drug trafficking routes pose new challenges in combating the spread and consumption of illicit drugs. Today, more than 200 million people worldwide abuse illicit drugs at least once a year, and of those users, 25 million can be considered “problem drug users.” Although global drug consumption was contained in 2007, the overall picture is mixed. While opium production has fallen by more than 85% in the last decade in the Golden Triangle (Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam), at the same time the growth in opium cultivation in Afghanistan has kept overall production levels high. Cocaine production, mostly originating in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru, is stable and interception rates for cocaine have risen from 24% in 2000 to 42% in 2006. Still, these advancements must be contrasted with manifold increasing seizure rates in Western Africa and Eastern Europe – indicating that these regions are increasingly used as trafficking routes to Europe and new potential markets. The United Nations and Illicit Drugs Being closely intertwined with transnational crime, organized crime, and terrorism, illicit drugs not only became an important detrimental factor for human health, but for the security of people and UN Member States. In 1998, the General Assembly held a Special Session on the World Drug Problem, which culminated in the adoption of the Political Declaration of the Special Session of the General Assembly on International Drug Control (A/RES/S-20/2) that outlined a global strategy and named 2008 as a target date for the achievement of its goals. The declaration underlined the shared responsibility of all Member States to take effective measures to reduce both demand and supply of illicit drugs, and to tackle increasing violence and money laundering accompanying drug trafficking by increasing multilateral, regional, and sub-regional cooperation, particularly in border controls and law enforcement. The declaration’s overall goal was to “significantly reduce with a view to eliminate” the global production and trafficking of illicit drugs until 2008. While there has been some progress in reducing the overall area under cultivation, the global production of the various illicit drugs has increased. The General Assembly Third Committee serves as the main component of the General Assembly that annually addresses the multifaceted issues of combating the spread of illicit drugs and international drug control. During the last session the Secretary- General’s report on International Cooperation Against the World Drug Problem (A/61/221) detailed the progress in pursuit of the goals for 2008 and underlined the fact that comprehensive measures against drugs and crime are essential for a State’s sustainable development. The subsequent report of the Third Committee, and resolution A/RES/61/183 International Cooperation Against the World Drug Problem by the General Assembly Plenary, reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to reduce both the supply and demand for illicit drugs and to develop comprehensive strategies that include alternative development measures; the prevention of illicit drug manufacturing; increased information sharing and legal cooperation among Member States; as well as the use of collaborative efforts in border controls and against money laundering. At the forefront of the United Nations’ efforts to combat the abuse and trafficking of illicit drugs stands the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which provides leadership and expertise for the Secretariat and all other UN organs, as well as its Member States, monitors the implementation of drug control conventions, and supports national drug control structures. The UNODC keeps a multitude of national and regional field offices that consult national governments in law enforcement, drug control strategies, conduct research, and work on crime-related issues, such as corruption, transnational organized crime, and money laundering. A variety of organizations work with the UNODC to contain the spread of illicit drugs. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) are the two main bodies assigned to administer the three major UN drug conventions: the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention on the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. The CND’s main task is to draw the INCB’s attention to matters of importance and to revise, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), the four different drug schedules of the 1961 and 1971 conventions. The INCB’s task is to monitor and ensure compliance of parties to the conventions and to ensure the solely scientific and medical use of the concerned drugs. International Drug and Related Conventions The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which was adopted in 1961, attempts to limit the manufacturing, distribution, trade, possession, and use of drugs except for scientific and medical purposes. Its 1972 amending protocol underlined the importance of treatment and rehabilitation measures undertaken by Member States. The original Convention has 153 parties, whereas 183 States currently have ratified the amended convention. Article 36 requests Member States to penalize “subject to its constitutional limitations” the “cultivation, production, manufacture, extraction, preparation, possession, offering, offering for sale, distribution, purchase, sale, delivery on any terms whatsoever, brokerage, dispatch, dispatch in transit, transport, importation and exportation of drugs.” To this date, conflicts have arisen with two principles outlined in the Convention: the traditional chewing of coca leaves and the use of cannabis. The Bolivian Government intervened at the 49th session of the CND in 2006 in order to legalize, in the Andean regions, the traditional chewing of coca leaves, which is currently outlawed under the Convention. The second dispute concerns the formal compliance with the Convention, but de facto toleration of consumption of various illicit drugs, particularly cannabis, in some Member States, which has evoked criticism, especially by the INCB. The ban on narcotic drugs under the Single Convention, led to a substitution effect in drug consumption in favor of hallucinogenic drugs, which prompted the International Community to adopt the Convention on Psychotropic Substances in 1971. The treaty creates an international drug control system for psychotropic substances based on the principles of the 1961 Single Convention. There are currently 183 parties to the Convention. The 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances intensified the struggle against global drug trafficking by promoting “co-operation among the Parties so that they may address more effectively the various aspects of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances having an international dimension.” Such measures include the penalization of the intentional “possession, purchase, or cultivation of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances for personal consumption” (Article 3), the confiscation of drugs and proceeds (Article 5), the extradition of suspects (Article 6) and the provision of “the widest measure of mutual legal assistance” (Article 7) in criminal investigations. Other international legal instruments that respond to the increasing linkage of drug trafficking and other forms of uncivil behavior include the UN Convention Against Corruption (A/RES/58/4), the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (A/RES/55/25) and its Protocols and the International Convention on the Suppression of the Financing for Terrorism (A/RES/54/109), all of which address various aspects of the international drug problem. Dimensions of the Illicit Drug Problem There are three major areas in which the spread of illicit drugs poses serious problems to the international community: public health, the development of new markets, and the development of illicit economies. The challenges in the field of public health are both treatment of affected people and the reduction of the consumption of illicit drugs. Special attention should be drawn to the single most consumed illicit drug – cannabis – which is used by an estimated 162 million people or 80% of all users of illicit drugs.224 In contrast to various national governments’ policies, the INCB and UNODC claim on the basis of recent studies that the health risks posed by consuming cannabis are significantly higher than sometimes argued. New and more potent cannabis has lead to more health episodes and long-term psychological problems, such as psychosis, schizophrenia, and altered brain functions, leading to a higher demand for rehabilitation measures for cannabis users. Along with increasing public health concerns, the development of new markets poses an increasing threat to containing the spread of illicit drugs. While there have been significant changes in global cocaine consumption, the United States still remains the single largest market in the world. Two regions – Europe and Africa – face growing cocaine consumption rates, which has increased concerns for safety and stability in these regions. The main trafficking route to European markets is from Latin America via Western Africa to Europe, where it enters mainly through Spain, which now has the highest cocaine consumption rate in the world. To address this concern, the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union has announced to give priority to increased cooperation with West African States on border controls. While growing European demand and prices attracts drug traffickers, Western African States mirror this development as they are used as a trans-shipment point and thus also explored as a potential market. Within Western Africa, the lack of strong law enforcement and border controls, in combination with low human development and prevalent corruption provide a conducive environment for the trafficking of cocaine to Europe and opiates to North America. The view of the cultivation of drugs as an illicit economy problem has two basic implications: a) it serves as a source of income for different persons involved; and b) a sustainable solution must provide a viable alternative income, or else farmers will soon return to former habits. The basic goal of alternative development strategies is the substitution of illicit drugs with legal cash crops as a mean to reduce the supply of drugs with the support of law enforcement, as well as preventive and treatment measures to reduce the demand for drugs. In order for the successful implementation of alternative development strategies, adequate security and stability must be achieved throughout a country. Overall, the success of alternative development is remarkable. Throughout the international community the area cultivating coca has fallen to 43% from 1995 till 2003; the area cultivating opium poppies – excluding Afghanistan – has decreased from 1994 till 2004 to 32%. The most remarkable reduction cultivation was achieved in the Golden Triangle region, where the opium poppy producing area dropped by 85% between 1998 and 2006 due to eradication measures by the governments and a decreasing potential opium production on poor soils. The main reason that global opium production in total has not fallen, and even increased in 2006, was the huge annual growth in Afghan opium production that today accounts for 92% of the potential heroin production. Afghanistan Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has been on a steady increase for the last twenty years, with 2001 being the only true exception. This development is dominated by Afghanistan’s southern provinces, which account for more than 60% of total Afghan opium cultivation. In contrast to South-East Asia, environmental conditions for opium cultivation in Afghanistan are good and are expected to lead to a further increase in cultivation in 2007. The UNODC furthermore noted that more secure regions have cultivated less opium poppy and vice versa, also citing evidence that in fragile regions insurgents encouraged and even threatened the local population to grow opium. Surveys have shown that cultivation is mostly driven by the economic needs of the farmers, and 98% of them are willing to substitute opium cultivation for alternative crops, if they can provide a decent income. Farmers that aren’t growing opium explained their decision that it is either against Islam, against the decisions by the village council, or the general adherence to the government’s prohibition of cultivation. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has expressed its support for the Afghan Government’s hybrid strategy to increase the number of alternative development projects, such as legal rural livelihoods, and to continue the eradication of poppy, particularly in remote mountainous regions where infrastructure rehabilitation is too expensive. ECOSOC further recommended a need to focus on the expansion of state institutions to support the national counter-narcotics policy, the reduction of demand for opium, and the fight against the drug trade. At the same time, ECOSOC has rejected, in accordance with the INCB, the proposal by the non-governmental Senlis Council to license opium cultivation in Afghanistan in order to meet the medical needs for morphine in undersupplied developing countries. The Afghan example also shows the connection between the economic dimension, instability and the financing for terrorism. Instability and war have lead in the past to circumstances, in which the cultivation of illicit crops has remained the only viable option for farmers to secure their survival. Further, research provides evidence for the direct and indirect involvement and benefiting of groups such as the FARC in Colombia and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Topic 2: Role of Natural Resources in Fueling Armed Conflict Natural resources, such as oil, diamonds, iron ore, coltran, timber and even water, are often used as a methods of funding as well as reasons for initiating both inter and intra- state armed conflict. These “resource wars” are attributed to rising needs of people and countries, and the scarcity that naturally exists in the world. During the coming decades, environmental scarcity could plausibly produce five general types of violent conflict affecting these countries. Moving from the most local to the most global type, these are: 1. Disputes arising directly from local environmental degradation, 2. Ethnic clashes arising from population migration and deepened social cleavages, 3. Civil strife…that affects economic productivity and, in turn, people’s livelihoods, the behavior of elite groups, and the ability of states to meet these changing demands, 4. Scarcity-induced interstate war, and 5. North-South conflicts over mitigation of, adaptation to, and compensation for global environmental problems The natural resources that may or have already become sources of conflict include petroleum, natural gas, timber, fish, hydropower, coal, diamonds, precious metals, other gems, illegal drug plants, and water. Regrouped into categories, they can be broken down into (1) energy sources (i.e., petroleum, natural gas, coal and hydropower); (2) precious metals and gems (i.e., diamonds, precious metals, and other gems); and (3) agriculture (i.e., timber, fish, and illegal drug crops). Energy resources are predominantly developed on the basis of petroleum, coal, natural gas and hydropower. World economic production is based in these resources. For example, the price of oil affects the market for all other products, but the reverse is not always true. Precious metals and gems are all cash generating natural resources that are dependent on mining and natural availability. Agriculture-based natural resources, which include timber, fish and illegal drug crops, are those natural resources, which are not found, but produced or raised. Illegal drug crops may be a part of an informal and illegal economy, but nonetheless are commodities capable of raising cash to feed, shelter and provide arms to guerrilla and paramilitary forces, such as the case of Colombia, Afghanistan, among others. Interstate Conflict Where resources are scarce, competition for limited supplies can lead groups, communities, and even nations to see access to resources as a matter of highest concern. This aspect falls into the most traditional Cold War framework where resources can be a defining factor in the wealth and power – and in the economic and political strength – of a nation. Access to resources may serve as a focus of dispute or provide a justification for actual conflict. While it may never be the sole reason for conflict, history suggests that it has at times proven to be an important factor. Four important conditions influence the likelihood that resources will be the objects of military or political action: 1. the degree of scarcity; 2. the extent to which the supply is shared by two or more groups; 3. the relative power of those groups; and 4. the ease of access to alternative sources. Resources are unevenly distributed throughout the world. Known reserves of fossil fuels are concentrated in only a few areas. Water resources are unevenly distributed by the natural hydrological cycle, with some regions receiving enormous amounts of rainfall or river flow, while others are extremely dry. Human factors, such as high population densities or intensive industrial development may cause conditions of relative scarcity. The problem of shared resources complicates the problem of scarcity. When a resource base extends across a political border, misunderstandings or lack of agreement about allocations are more likely. Oil was the ostensible cause of the Iraqi-Kuwaiti conflict. Fresh water is very widely shared because political borders rarely coincide with watershed boundaries. At the international level, over 260 river basins are shared by two or more nations, but even countries with few or no internationally shared rivers or aquifers often have internal water disputes among states, ethnic groups, or economic classes trying to gain access to additional water supplies. If there are great disparities in the economic or military strength of the parties involved, unilateral and inequitable decisions are more likely. A weaker party will rarely provoke or initiate military action - and even more rarely prevail - against a stronger adversary, but if a weaker nation either controls a resource or is dependent on resources from an outside source, disputes and conflicts may occur. The heavy dependence of the industrialized nations on imports of petroleum has always been a source of political and military concern. When adversaries are equally matched economically or militarily, negotiation and cooperation are more common outcomes. Finally, if there are few technologically or economically attractive alternative sources of supply, the potential for conflict is higher. If an energy or water resources are scarce and shared, but alternative sources exist, such as renewable energy systems, alternative suppliers, other rivers, groundwater aquifers, or even expensive desalination, conflicts are less likely to occur. There is a high economic, social, and political cost to conflicts; they are likely to be avoided if acceptable substitutes can be found. History provides a wide range of examples of this kind of conflict in the area of shared water resources. Forty-five hundred years ago, the control of irrigation canals vital to survival was the source of conflict between the states of Umma and Lagash in the ancient Middle East. Twenty-seven hundred years ago, Assurbanipal, King of Assyria from 669 to 626 B.C.E., seized control of wells as part of his strategic warfare against Arabia. In the modern era, the Jordan River Basin has been the scene of a wide variety of water disputes. In the 1960s, Syria tried to divert the headwaters of the Jordan away from Israel, leading to air strikes against the diversion facilities. The 1967 war in the Middle East resulted in Israel winning control of all of the headwaters of the Jordan as well as the groundwater of the West Bank. In these cases, water was certainly not the sole issue precipitating conflict, but it was an important factor in both pre- and post-1967 border disputes. Water remains an important factor in the politics of the region. The multilateral and bilateral peace talks conducted in the 1990s, which led to the interim agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians and to the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, explicitly included negotiations and agreements on the shared water resources of the Jordan River. Israeli and Syrian concerns over the Banias, which originates in the Golan Heights, remain an important unresolved issue. Jordanian concerns about Syrian dams on the Yarmouk, the major tributary to the Jordan, are still unanswered. Resources as an Instrument or Tool of Conflict The usual tools and instruments of war are military weapons. But the use of resources, such as water, as both offensive and defensive weapons has a long history. In recent years, newer examples suggest that the use of water as a weapon continues to be considered. North Korea announced plans in 1986 to build a major hydroelectric dam on the Han River upstream of South Korea’s capital, Seoul. The project would provide electricity to the North, but is viewed by South Korea as a potential weapon. South Korean hydrologists calculated that the destruction of the dam by the North and the sudden release of the reservoir’s contents would destroy most of Seoul. While the project currently remains on hold due to serious political and economic difficulties in North Korea, South Korea has built a series of levees and check dams above Seoul to defend against any such threat. Another use of a large dam and reservoir as a weapon of war was proposed during the Persian Gulf war. The allied coalition arrayed against Iraq discussed the possibility of using the Ataturk dam in Turkey on the Euphrates River to shut off the flow of water to Iraq, which is highly dependent on flows in the Euphrates for water supply. No formal request to Turkey was ever made, and Turkey subsequently stated that it would never use water as a means of political pressure, but the possibility remains a concern in the region. Both Syria and Iraq continue to have an ongoing dispute with Turkey over the operation of Ataturk and the level and quality of flows in the Euphrates reaching both downstream countries. In 1997, a fresh dispute arose between Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore has never been self-sufficient in water because of its high population density and small size, and it depends on piped water from Malaysia for nearly half of all its needs. In addition, Singapore imports water from Malaysia that it then treats and sells back under an agreement signed in 1965. Relations between the two countries have long been clouded by economic competition, and religious, political, and ethnic differences that have flared periodically since their separation in 1965. In early 1997, these relations soured again after comments were exchanged by senior politicians about mutual concerns, leading to Ahmed Zamid Hamidi, the head of the youth wing of Malaysia’s ruling party urging the government to review the basis of water agreements with Singapore. Chief Minister of Johor state in Malaysia went further, suggesting that they appropriate two of the three water-purification plants operated by Singapore in Johor. Singapore is clearly worried that Malaysia might use water as a political and strategic weapon against Singapore - a point made to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad by Singapore’s Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong: “an agreement by Malaysia to meet Singapore’s long-term water needs beyond the life of the present water agreements would remove the perception in Singapore that water may be used as a leverage against Singapore.” Singapore has also launched a campaign to increase water supplies and to reduce consumption through an aggressive conservation program. Among their supply plans are new desalination plants that would produce water at about eight times the cost of current supplies. Inequities in Resource Distribution, Use, and Development Tensions and conflicts may also result from such indirect factors as the inequitable distribution, use, and development of resources. Energy, water, food, minerals, and other resources are shared by two or more nations, unevenly distributed, or inequitably used. Water provides a good example. Approximately half the land area of the world, and perhaps 70 percent of the inhabitable land area, is in an international watershed, where river flows or lakes are shared. These include the Nile, Jordan, Tigris, Euphrates, and Orontes rivers in the Middle East, the Indus, Mekong, Ganges, and Brahmaputra rivers in Asia, the Great Lakes, and the Colorado, Rio Grande, Amazon, and Paraná rivers in the Americas, and Lake Chad and the Congo, Zambezi, Lake Chad, the Niger, Senegal, Okavango, and Orange rivers in Africa, to name only a few. This geographical fact has led to the geopolitical reality of disputes over the uneven distribution of shared waters. Equally uneven is the level of water use. Many industrialized nations and nations with extensive irrigated agriculture withdraw more than 1,500 cubic meters of water per person annually for all uses. At the other extreme, nations with limited supplies or low levels of economic development may use fewer than 100 cubic meters per person per year. Table 1 lists the fifteen countries that use the most water per capita and the fifteen countries that use the least. A low level of water use has direct and undesirable human consequences, including adverse impacts on health, the inability to grow sufficient food for local populations, and constraints on industrial and commercial activities. In all fifteen countries with low levels in Table 1, domestic water use falls below the basic water requirement of 50 liters per person per day. One of the most important water constraints facing many regions is insufficient water to grow food. Sandra Postel suggests that, as annual water availability drops below 1,700 cubic meters per person, domestic food self-sufficiency becomes almost impossible and countries must begin to import water in the form of grain. The number of countries in this category will continue to rise with population growth, and overall dependence on grain imports will deepen and spread. Food insecurity is a political concern and can lead to economic weakness and other regional problems. Finally, there are often adverse consequences of water development and use, and people who do not receive the benefits from water projects may feel these consequences. Examples include contamination of downstream water supplies or groundwater aquifers, dislocation of people because of dam construction, and the destruction of fishery resources that support local populations. What is the connection between these issues and conflict? For the most part, inequities will lead to poverty, shortened lives, and misery, but perhaps not to direct conflict. But in some cases, they will increase local, regional, or international disputes, create refugees that cross or try to cross borders, and decrease the ability of a nation or society to resist economic and military aggression. Even local governments may experience unrest and controversy over equity-related issues. In February 2000, one person was killed and over 30 hospitalized in Bolivia when 1000 police and army units met public protests over water privatization and increased costs of service. Intrastate Conflict Since 1980, over 50 countries have been involved in major protracted intrastate conflicts with over 35 million people displaced as a result. More than 90 percent of casualties in these conflicts have been civilians, and more than 100 million land mines have been laid, causing further causalities and preventing economic development long after the guns are silent. Intrastate conflicts need to be addressed due to their significant negative effects, as well as the role of natural resources in initiating and continuing intrastate conflicts. The use of ‘conflict diamonds’ to fund intrastate conflicts have been repeatedly used by a number of non-state actors. Diamonds were used to fund both sides of the intrastate conflict in Sierra Leone and are a prime example of the allocation of resources to fund unnecessary conflicts. Another example is the illegal export of diamonds from northern Côte d’Ivoire to help fund arms purchases. Oil is also used to fund and prolong intrastate conflicts in states, such as Nigeria, because factions fight for control of the fields and the military resources such a commodity can purchase. The United Nations has issued certain initiatives in an effort to aid in the prevention and cessation of intrastate conflicts that are funded by diamonds specifically. For example, the Kimberley Process is a joint initiative of Governments, the international diamond industry and civil society that imposes extensive requirements on participants to certify that shipments of rough diamonds are free of conflict diamonds. This program is useful in helping to filter out the use of diamonds that fund intrastate conflicts. Donor-initiative programs are being established by the United Nations in an effort to ensure that natural resources are being used for poverty alleviation and development programs rather than procured to fund intrastate conflict and other such corruption. The Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline and the Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program (GEMAP) established in Liberia are two examples of such donor-initiative programmes. The United Nations also has sanctions that are in place that condemn the movement and trade of natural resources that will fund intrastate conflicts. These sanctions should be maintained and enforced and a proper method should be established to ensure that they are upheld. These sanctions should be specific in what they order and maintain to be accomplished. Consideration should also be given to the peace building initiatives that the United Nations has established for countries after intrastate conflicts have ended. Every single program or organization that deals with the problem of natural resources in intrastate conflicts should bear in mind these initiatives and attempt to incorporate them in the procedures that are established. Different organizations and governments should come together and establish a working agreeable framework for procedures that can be used to address the issue at hand. The United Nations Peacebuilding initiatives should be an important part of the reconstruction process in countries after intrastate conflict had subsided.
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