February 21, 2013

WHO takes steps to improve women's health worldwide

            The World Health Organization passed three resolutions on the topic of Women’s Health on Saturday. The first resolution focused on having mobile midwifes for women in need while the other two focused on the NGO Doctors Without Borders.

            Resolution 1.A was sponsored by Saudi Arabia and was a response to the global need for women’s health assistance. Resolution 1.B and 1.C focused on Doctors Without Borders and setting up shelters for women. . During the debate, all three resolutions were discussed simultaneously, and ultimately all resolutions passed through the committee.

            Women’s health and its importance have become major topics for debate. Every day in 2010 approximately 800 women died due to pregnancy and childbirth. Out of the 800, 440 deaths occurred in Africa and 230 in Southern Asia.

            Midwifes became a reoccurring feature of this topic.  A midwife specializes in giving care to pregnant women and lowering pregnancy complications. These resolutions proposed to provide all women in need with a midwife or other means of assistance.

            At the beginning of the debate, there was much clarification that the topic was women’s health, not rights. Some delegates gave their position on women’s rights but were quickly corrected.  The representative of Belarus was quick to correct anyone who made that mistake.

            While countries were giving their position papers, many touched on the related issues of education, women’s shelters, abuse and the dangers of childbirth.  Some delegates did mention that they did not want to infringe on the local cultures.

            At one point, Italy brought up the idea of changing laws about female employment. They were in support of women being able to get jobs in order to receive health care. This idea was quickly shot down by the Middle Eastern and African countries.

            Representatives were worried with the lack of proper health care in less developed countries, such as Ecuador. Many felt that this topic was extremely important and seemed eager to pass a resolution.

            However, many countries of North Africa were opposed to discussing this topic at length. Surprisingly, Morocco put forward a resolution. “We feel that this resolution will help women’s health, especially in childbirth; however it won’t infringe upon the local customs” reported Parker Jackson, the WHO delegate from Morocco.

Parker Jackson, delegate from Morocco, raises his placard to speak on women's health.

             The resolution encompassed many issues about women’s health and included provisions for creating women’s shelters. In addition, Doctors Without Borders was mentioned in the resolution, along with programs for mobile midwifes. The delegate from Morocco was very eager to push his resolution, 1.C forward, although most delegates wanted to discuss the issue at hand longer before voting. It did not take long before amendments were made to the resolutions and shortly after, they were passed.

February 20, 2013

Security Council tackles Syrian civil war

Delegates debate possible measures to resolve the Syrian conflict.

              Since January 26th, 2011 the Syrian people have been rebelling and rioting against their unjust and oppressive regime. The authoritarian nature of the government started with Hafez al-Assad as Syria's dictator, and continued when his son Bashar al-Assad succeeded him in 2000. Al-Assad crushed the Syrian people's expectations for positive change and their hope for a new era of justice and modernization. When Hasan Ali Akleh set himself on fire, his suffering demonstrated the plight of the Syrian people, leading the way for increased protests against the government.

            In response to these uprisings, the Syrian government ruthlessly retaliated against its people with escalating violence, including the use of tear gas, bullets, bombings, and other weaponry. On August 18, 2011, the Human Rights Council (HRC) condemned the Syrian government for its "widespread and systematic attacks against its own people" and called for "an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC)." On Saturday, the Security Council tackled the Syrian issue by passing resolutions 1.2 and 1.4.

            Expressing a deep concern that the Syrian conflict would spill over into surrounding nations, Resolution 1.2 recommended creating a "living buffer zone" to be implemented across the Israel-Syria and Lebanon-Syria borders with the goal of limiting the risk of violence in neighboring countries.

            Resolution 1.4 called for a ceasefire on both sides, followed by peace talks in Switzerland among the parties. The delegate of India, Zoe Allison, expressed her concern over the possibility of the "ceasefire not working" but strongly believed that "solving the issue will improve the image of the United Nations." Because of the dire need for humanitarian aid, both resolutions also worked to distribute assistance to affected civilians.

            In contrast to the two resolutions that were passed, working paper 1.1 asked for the removal of Assad and new elections in Syria. During the civil war, Russia has continually been sending ammunition to Assad, strengthening the alliance between the two countries. Because of this relationship, the delegate of Russia vetoed Resolution 1.1.

            Furthermore, the delegate from Russia expressed his concern that this working paper would infringe upon Syria’s sovereignty since it allowed the UN to restructure the domestic political system. The delegate of Russia, Louis Varriana, argued that the "clauses contained within the resolution would set an irresponsible precedent for future actions."

            In discussing the failure of working paper 1.1, the delegate of Guatemala, Angad Rawal, believed that the proposal was rejected "because of its very radical views, the amount of unfriendly amendments not passed, and an indirect attack on the Ba'ath party in its lack of consideration of Assad."

SOCHUM legalizes the sale of human organs

The business of human organ trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business that involves numerous countries around the world, developing and developed. Studies by the World Health Organization show that there were more than 10,000 global cases of organ trafficking in 2010, equaling roughly one incident per hour. In these cases, donors, who may be willing or unwilling, are often poor and illiterate, and patients can sometimes die on the operating table.

            Both resolutions that were passed sought to legalize organ sales. A key point brought up during the debate was that, in order to decrease illegal organ trafficking, legal organ sales must be encouraged. As Syria stated during a moderated caucus, “It takes an average of one week to get an organ transplant in Iran [where organ selling is legal] and an average of five years to get an organ transplant in the United States [where organ selling is illegal]. Would you prefer to get a kidney by next Sunday or by 2018?”

Dev Nair of China discusses the pros and cons of legalizing the sale of human organs.
            Resolution 2.B requested that countries provide monetary incentives for the legal sale of organs. These benefits would come in forms of tax benefits or food packages. The resolution was directed aimed towards people in developing and poor countries, since only those living in poverty can qualify for these monetary benefits.

            A major point repeatedly emphasized by the authors of this resolution was that if organ transplants were performed properly and legally, there would be less health risks involved. “If we do this legally, we can still provide monetary benefits and protect the safety of other,” said the Venezuelan delegate Sam Tope-Ojo, who sponsored the resolution.

            Resolution 2.C promoted the legalization of organ sales of people above a minimum age, while also recommending the prosecution of traffickers and purchasers of illegal organs. This resolution encouraged the establishment of a strict process to ensure the safe transplant of organs. It planned to establish a standard code for physicians and hospitals and recommended an in-depth screening process for potential donors. This resolution also offered monetary support for any persons who donate organs.

            During the debate, only working paper 2.A was not passed by the committee. Yicheng Bao, the delegate from Vietnam and the sponsor of this working paper, criticized the other papers put forth by the committee, saying that “putting a price on an organ is like putting a price on human life. This leads to dehumanization of the poor.” Instead, working paper 2.A aimed to increase voluntary organ donations by encouraging every citizen to become a willing donor unless they choose to opt out of the donation process.

SPECPOL implements theocratic government in Somalia

Early in the discussion of the plan for the United Nations to continue peacekeeping efforts in Somalia, countries voiced their concerns. Two working papers were drafted: one proposed the creation of a new Islamic Republican form of government, while another called upon the committee to reinforce the existing transitional government.

Resolution 2.1, implementing a new government in Somalia, was passed with 33 yay votes from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, Japan and Venezuela to 21 nay votes from opposing countries such as Somalia, China, Ecuador, and Cambodia. The resolution entailed that the UN enter Somalia to establish an Islamic Republic and stabilize the country under a unified religious government.

The Venezuelan delegate expresses his support for Resolution 2.1.

The UN’s efforts to stabilize political tension in Somalia date back to the country’s governmental collapse in the 1990s. Somalia has become a failed state facing continued struggles with piracy and lawlessness. SPECPOL passed resolution 2.1 with the hopes of restoring stability and order for the Somali people. The UN previously established the Transitional Federal Government in 2004, which until recently has been the recognized government in Somalia.

With the Al-Shabab insurgents battling for increased control of the war-torn country, the UN felt that it was time to pursue greater efforts to stabilize the political environment. The main religion in Somalia is Islam, and resolution 2.1 used Islam as the foundation for uniting the country under one government.

Yet the Somali delegate remained strongly opposed to this resolution, stating that “the UN should not make efforts to remove established governments [or] implement new ones” and declaring the “ridiculousness” of the resolution. He felt that his country’s sovereignty was being infringed upon. If this resolution is to be implemented, the established transitional government would be entirely changed to a new Islamic republic, bringing in politicians and military forces from the African Union and Arab League. The committee’s Islamic members and Somalia’s neighbors both believed this resolution offered a step towards the stabilization of Somalia because the existing Transitional Government has been criticized as highly corrupt.

A second working paper by North Korea, Russia, Hungary, China, India, and Paraguay called for the consolidation of the existing transitional government. Since the first resolution was passed, this working paper was never seen by the majority of the committee. There were several motions made to show this alternative working paper, but the chairs decided that these motions were not in order. Other motions called for a revote due to allegations that certain delegates had misrepresented their countries, but the initial resolution withstood all challenges.