After intense discussions yesterday and brief overviews today, the Human Rights council signed its culmination with the acceptance of a new resolution on the topic Violence against Peacekeepers which was completed without as much clashing and burning unlike the previous resolution during which new amendments were discussed, dismantled and reconstructed repeatedly.
The new resolution compiles the following articles: definition of immunity falling on the members of the peacekeeping operations as being insusceptible to to legal prosecution from acts performed by them within their official functions; a list of actions to be taken to reduce the misconduct of the peacekeepers such as promoting adequate training to the area they will be deployed in and would include language, culture and knowledge of the conflict; provision of interpreters to soften the language barrier; an article of ten subpoints was added describing the correct and acceptable behaviour of a peacekeeper such as displaying dignity, respect, care, maturity and consideration to everyone and everything in their surroundings; no indulgence in any types of abuse imaginable against the population; respect the human rights of all; no excessive consumption of alcohol and trafficking in drugs; expelled peacekeepers would not have the possibility of returning to the cause; the countries are encouraged to promote the psychological preparation of officials, defense of gender equality and the promotion of female leaders; crimes committed by peacekeepers will face more severe legal actions than regular civilians; creation of a High Commission for the Surveillance of Peaceekeping Missions that would apply legal measures where they are necessary; promotion of education and information among civilians in order to acquaint them with the peacekeeping forces; a reminder of the importance of executing legal action towards prosecuted peacekeepers; fight against corruption; endorsement of the China-UN Peace and Development Fund aimed at supporting the UN's work and further actions to maximise security.
The countries presenting the resolution were the United States of America, Russia and India – the final draft of the agreement was accepted and received intense support by all the countries in the room.
Today’s session was initiated with an already finished resolution concerning human trafficking and proposed measures USA, Russia and India posed as signers and Yemen, France, Japan, China, Syria, Qatar as sponsors.
The resolution itself was composed of 12 articles which directly addressed the prevention of human trafficking, its suppression and punishment of the perpetrators; assistance provided to the victims with respect to their rights, encouragement of the prosecution of those benefiting from human trafficking, maintenance of a certain series of standards for maximum efficiency, promoting cooperation; replacement of “trafficking in persons” to “human trafficking” as a term and include sex tourism; promotion of equal educational system, provide the population with tools to recognise cases of human trafficking, using the Internet as a targeting tool; different measures for the protection of victims of human trafficking; sharing of resources, information, feedback and expertise between states, the promotion of triangular cooperation to help the purposes of the resolution, ensuring the implementation and effectiveness of said measures; annual reports of achievements, an impartial Body of Experts to assess the data, analyse it and recommend programs that would lead to a solution; establishing of a common UN Frontier Police Investigation Body, creating a common database concerning known criminals, the signing countries would have to introduce the crime of human trafficking as a criminal offence in their criminal laws as well as to consider it as an extraditable offence, reduction of the length of legal procedures, ensure compliance with the standards of fraud and corruption; the creation of an international fund proportional to the countries’ GDPs and the creation of a representative and egalitarian assembly where all states parties would represented – they would vote on aspects proposed by the Body of Experts.
And as expected, a few issues, questions and doubts were raised. Some were clarified, found and reread in the resolution and other important issues were added to the final draft such as organ trafficking, distribution of financial efforts depending on the size of donations, the size of donations or the inability to donate to the fund affecting the equality of voting, assuring the unchangeable nature of the voting equality, the inclusion of a hotline as a tool to report cases of human trafficking, the High Commission would have the ability to declare individual responsibilities to states which promote the prosperity of human trafficking and finally, a 13th article was created underlining the need for an independent court of judges.
The final draft of the resolution was scrutinised once more and has been approved by the vast majority of the committee.
The Co-chair reminded the least satisfied that without idealism, there’s no point in trying. Things would never get done as fast as you want or the way you want them to but you have to start somewhere and even the little steps forward make a drastic change for some.
The next topic swooped in like pendulum around the room – the heavy issue of Violence against Peacekeepers had the delegates swinging back and forth with theories, accusations and despair. But we can’t blame them – creating a resolution that could save thousands of lives is not an easy process.
First of all, it had to be pointed out that peacekeepers are neutral and impartial; their sole mission is to help the citizens of the countries in crisis. However, as we all know, that is not the case in reality. Many peacekeepers take advantage of people’s suffering, committing violations against women, children and simply the people they were supposed to protect. It is not just a topic of external violence against them, it is also very important to address the myriad of issues created within the peacekeepers organisation.
And indeed, peacekeepers are usually not seen as impartial or neutral by either party: the citizens and the rebels/terrorist groups.
Many, many countries raised the matter of education but is it enough to simply educate them? Saudi Arabia pointed out that the peacekeepers are seen as enforcers of power. Nigeria, followed by many others, suggested that the nature of peacekeepers has to be explained to the citizens in order to avoid them from being attacked at least from one side and Norway completed the statement by explaining the importance of promoting peace and how the organisation might need a solid improvement of command and control.
Congo hit the delegations with another idea: why not reduce the number of peacekeepers so they seem less imposing? A troop of 20 000 (the biggest peacekeeping mission) is a little bit too excessive. It’s a number that poses a threat. Senegal wisely pointed out the stricter control of access for peacekeepers as they operate in very dangerous environments as a single violation could turn whole countries against them.
Two caucuses to clarify the difference between peacekeeping and peace enforcing and peacekeeping training highlighted the aforementioned opinions: further education and training for the peacekeepers is needed. They should familiarize themselves with the language and culture of the country they’ll be based in in order to lessen the intensity of cultural barriers. Russia suggested the addition of interpreters to the troops, so they could serve as a connection.
The next caucus – Immunity of peacekeepers as a cause of violence against them – produced a lot of noise and arguments. Should the peacekeepers be denied immunity? Many representatives agreed with that point of view – peacekeepers commit crimes and they should be punished. Some would prefer to punish their own citizens according to their national laws and others preferred that another series of laws be created in the UN to be punished by everybody.
Peacekeepers who have committed crimes would never be able to be peacekeepers again, was another point of balance and agreement. Some even voted for the creation of a whole different jury to judge the violators of the peacekeeping code such as Japan, but India found it to be a bit too excessive.
Some demanded the creation of military laws within the countries of crisis where the peacekeepers operate, but how could those laws be even taken into consideration if the peacekeepers pose a threat to the people?
Accusations started flying too, even if indirect ones: it is widely known that some countries finance terrorist groups, so how could they properly address the violence against their own peacekeepers? Interesting, indeed.
“Are the other countries waiting for permission from their companies?” and how the Human Rights committee plunged into deep theories which were finally sliced by demands for practical solutions
Day two of the Human Rights committee would've gone disturbingly calm, had it not been for the Russian delegation to stir up the waters (as quoted in the title) by addressing the important issues and determinedly reminding the present of the need to discuss practical solutions and waste less time on already established theories.
Germany was the first one to take the floor and continue the discussion from the previous day, bravely reminiscing about their not so distant history, an unforgettable human tragedy storming amongst the fires of WWII, and brought up the 3P paradigm: prosecution, prevention, protection. Then they sliced through it by saying that too much attention is paid to those three and the questions of reintegration and regression need to be developed further. Russia was not pleased with the history speech and demanded to hear of their plan of action instead. Germany countered the demand with an explanation of their actions: focusing on the victims, not only perpetrators, and giving assistance and developing the necessary tools to prevent further victimisation.
Sweden broke the tension with a sizzling question that had been lingering on the minds of many: What about Russia? How many refugees had Russia taken in? Then Sweden refreshed everyone's memory on the raw facts – 47% of the refugee influx in Europe was divided between the Swedish and German territories. No one else had taken such an initiative and indeed, their solidarity needs to be recognised.
Italy showed full support by promising to provide less fortunate countries with all possible means of help in order to fight the human trafficking such as education, financial aid, legislative advice, etc. Then turned to the developed nations with a plea for them to also take the lead and help as much as they can. China retorted by stating the obvious: different situations, different data in every country and of course, different or lack of differentiation between migrant smuggling and human trafficking.
“Why are we all here today?” Syria asked the present and startled them out of the pervading monotony, “We should focus on the common points we all share and work from there.” then proceeded to explain the lack of application of the laws against human trafficking in their country due to their current crisis situation.
Israel informed everyone of their increase of convictions in forced slavery, which is always good news, and expressed their predisposition to negotiate further strategies to improve the situation.
Yemen recognised their position as a country of origin for the traffic of children and laid out the plan of action they had taken which mainly consisted of promoting awareness, creating shelters and organisations that would fight against human trafficking. Internal practical solutions were also done, such as workshops, but Yemen agrees that it is not enough and further international cooperation is needed.
A moderated caucus was set in motion by Congo: The exploitation of natural resources by foreign countries and its impact on human trafficking.
Congo expressed its willingness to punish companies for their crimes.
Russia did not oppose the exploitation of natural resources in other countries but did underline the importance of abiding by the laws of the country their businesses were located in and being fully respectful to the employees.
China included a rather bitter remark: they feel incredibly exploited by the Western world and due to the rising production, the incredible contamination had become a number one priority. The western countries would have to pay for the incessant and long-lasting damage inflicted upon the Chinese citizens and the environment. The Chair reminded China of their own lack of control and assessment of work conditions and advised them to concentrate on that issue before pointing fingers.
South Africa suggested that national legislation should be stricter to face these problems.
USA suggested the use of the Pigovian tax to soften the impact inflicted by private enterprises.
Afghanistan pulls everyone's feet back to the ground and reminds them that this is not simply a matter of money, therefore further sanctions and penalisations should be developed to face this.
Congo brought up the idea of creating a brotherhood, a union that would protect the vulnerable countries in Africa and Asia from the west.
Nigeria provided another solution: tackling the problem from within the enterprises' countries of origin to minimise the damage.
In conclusion, a lot of bitterness, a lot of disdain for the west became apparent in the committee and not without logical reasoning, however, if the affected countries wish to shake off the human loss in this matter, they would have to also be stricter about their own rules and protect their people better.
The committee was ready to tackle yet another very important and finally, practical caucus: Measures to combat human trafficking.
Sweden listed the influence of several factors in this matter: inequality, poverty and discrimination. And who else fights for equality more than Sweden? In 2007 programs were launched to help the refugees integrate better (find jobs and courses) and to Sweden, immigration is not a problem but a force. Thanks to including new additions in the legislation regarding prostitution in 1999, the issue has gone down 66% since.
USA added an interesting idea: the creation of a common fund, so other less fortunate countries could afford to take the necessary measures.
Japan requested more regional commitment and less global approach, so every country could adapt to their own reality and circumstances and the enforcement of the borders between neighbouring countries. Congo, however, disagreed with this statement and pointed out that different countries would handle things different and some countries could not be able to address the issues as well as others.
Germany provided three steps of action: sentencing the perpetrators, empower the victims and work with third parties. In their opinion, stricter border laws would make victims even more vulnerable.
A few countries expressed the need for the problem to be attacked from inside the country and catch it in its inception by educating their people, creating laws that highlight the difference between migrant smuggling and human trafficking and the dire need for supervision in order for the laws to be correctly implemented in their full potential.
USA suggested the restriction of passports belonging to people with criminal history in sex offenses.
Many countries agreed on increasing the number of border police, making the sentences even more severe, reducing the military presence in their countries, concentration on victm integration, backing up America's idea of launching a fund, the creation of international standards and separate, independent commissions which would control the functionality of said standards, monitoring the Internet data, creating more shelters
The next caucus focused on the topic of sex tourism and its inclusion as a definition by the UN.
Brazil and Russia agreed on the need to stop the crises at its core – the clients from rich countries.
Border control was opened as another topic of discussion and the creation of minimal standards (USA), empowering women (India), organisation in African countries to control the borders but be regulated by Scandinavian countries and Saudi Arabia, treating every country's borders as an equally important matter (Russia), Brazil's desire to strengthen the Triple Frontier.
The lobby, unmoderated caucus and random negotiations between the delegates were enthusiastic and very extensive – large groups were gathered around the Russian, American and the African representatives.
Keep tuned to find out more about the agreements shaped by the countries and their objectives; only mere outlines were gathered today, so why spoil the surprise and not wait until the culmination of these alliances?
Human Rights Day 1
The Human Rights committee commenced with a very helpful and detailed insight provided by professor Pilar Trinidad Nuñez who addressed the criminal and human rights side of the main topics to be discussed: Violence against the Peacekeepers and Human Trafficking.
Once we had brushed over our technical knowledge and rules of procedure, the delegates were set loose: the time to present their positions has come.
But moments before their time to shine has come, a few instants were dedicated to a brief preparation during which a few impressions were gathered: Russia presented a desirable partner to many, especially to other ex communist countries; whereas Japan expressed their preference for neighbouring countries like China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. Colombia confessed its support to the US, Argentina was ambiguous but confident when it came to picking the US over Russia. And Russia was determined to negotiate with the Arabic countries.
At five pm sharp the Chair formed by Arjun Praveen and Alba Orche opened the session and the vote of majority went to Human Trafficking as the first topic to be addressed. Russia explained the inefficiency of the protocol accepted in 2000 and requested that it be adapted to real life situations. This claim received Germany's support, however they were unclear about what measures Russia wanted them to take in order to translate the laws into action. Russia then mentioned the problem of sex tourism in their country and in Ukraine and that it needed to be defined by the protocol and taken more seriously.
Qatar's position on the matter was cooperative; they were willing to expand their communication in order to resolve the issue. India inquired about their priorities to which Qatar replied with the weak implementation of said laws and until those are enforced, it would be futile to extend the legislation. The Chair asked about Qatar's measures concerning the identification of domestic service abuse and Qatar explained the difficulty of spotting the victims due to its near impossibility to be proved but offers protection to the victims.
China had a strong statement wrapped in a brief array of words: the West needs to be held accountable for its capitalism and its greed which pushes the growth of slavery among Chinese workers due to the high demand of products.
Japan highlighted their important position in solving the matter, informing the committee of their financial donations.
India also stated their great efforts to solve the problem but unfortunately, there was an increase in abuses of a tremendous 38%. However, they plead the present countries to put as much effort into eradicating the issue as they have. Russia expressed support. The Chair mentioned the incompetent implementation of child labour laws to which India replied with openness: they were accepting of advice and suggestions.
Afghanistan defined themselves as a country of transit and being so close to the human trafficking reality, they fiercely apply their laws to condemn those who benefit from it with a life sentence in prison. Afghanistan also mentioned the existence of various NGOs fighting against the trafficking and helping the victims.
Congo took the scene with their honesty: they were concerned about their country and were open to advice and international cooperation. Russia pitched in to express their support and offer advice.
The Central African Republic repeated the aforementioned issues of the application of the existing laws but are convinced they would reach the required standards by the UN.
The United States of America based their position on being the world's promoter of peace and told the committee of their measures in 2013 to prevent child trafficking and forced and underage marriage as well as providing services to the victims.
The US was the country that received the highest amount of reactions from the present delegates.
France made a very good point about one of the principal factors of these tragedies: poverty as the road that leads to such radical alternatives. They expressed their plans to decrease poverty, increase equality and awareness.
Cuba requested the creation of more organisations that would offer support and ease the suffering of millions. Russia showed interest in furthering the debate in private.