Since the invention of plastic in the 1800s, it has grown to play a huge role in the globalised era. With this abrupt spike in the usage of plastic across the globe, the idea of plastic pollution seemed inevitable. This idea was first identified in the early 1960s by scientists who took ocean samples whilst doing a study on plankton. Since then, the problem of plastic pollution has increased in prevalence, making it a major environmental concern. Plastic pollution poses great impacts on the environment due to the fact that it is both durable and non-biodegradable. Ultimately, our attraction to plastic, accompanied by the undeniable behavioural tendency to over consume products in our lifestyles, has resulted in this becoming a problem of great concern.
In this council, delegates can expect to tackle multiple facets of this problem ranging from the shortcoming of existing international policies to the stakeholder positions of non-state actors.
On the militarization of the Arctic region
In recent years, there has been a rise of territorial disputes between countries over the Arctic Circle -- and militarisation is soon to follow. Such instances have already been carried out by Russia as they re-opened and resumed operations at a major northern naval base. Other countries have also been actively ramping up their military presence in the Arctic. Canada executed military drills in various Arctic regions while the NATO bloc engaged in a collective exercise known as Operation Cold Response, the latter much to Russia’s chagrin. Dispute management mechanisms have been proposed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as the Arctic Council. However, even in the face of these demarcated conventions and international standards, countries are still engaged in what is widely perceived as a “mad dash” for the resources and territory in the Arctic. This has led to countries either challenging the definitions or clauses in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), especially the definition of a continental shelf, or undermining what little legal authority the Arctic Council possesses.
Hence, how should the Security Council proceed in dealing with the militarisation of the Arctic in order to ensure peace and security in the region? Is a long-term solution for dispute management in the Arctic possible and how can the Security Council participate in the design and implementation of such a solution?
Universal health care coverage and mental health
Universal Health Coverage (UHC), a system designed to ensure that all citizens have access to healthcare, has three main goals. Firstly, it should ensure that everyone in need of healthcare services can access them. Secondly, the cost of healthcare should not put anyone in risk of financial harm, and lastly, the healthcare services provided should be good enough to improve the health of patients. As first established in the WHO constitution of 1948, health is a fundamental human right. Even so, as of 2015, there are still 400 million people with no access to basic healthcare, and 6% of people in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) are pushed further into extreme poverty because of healthcare spending. At the same time, while UHC covers basic healthcare needed for survival, mental health is rarely acknowledged and provided for. Mental health is related to mental and psychological well-being, and the WHO also aims to promote mental well-being, the prevention of mental disorders, the protection of human rights and the care of people affected by mental disorders. This includes the distribution of appropriate and accessible treatment for those suffering from mental disorders, as well as the prevention of human rights violations in mental health facilities.
Hence, delegates need to discuss how they can work on and improve existing policies in order to achieve UHC, and how one should incorporate mental health under this system.
On the issue of cryptocurrency
Since Bitcoin was introduced in 2009, cryptocurrencies have expanded to over a thousand different tokens. The introduction of Bitcoin was only possible with the creation of several new technologies, mainly blockchain and the proof-of-work function. These burgeoning technologies enabled the boom in cryptocurrencies. As of April 2018, over 1600 cryptocurrencies are being tracked by the CoinMarketCap website. These cryptocurrencies vary in their implementation of the technologies, and are intended for different uses. As cryptocurrencies gain traction, there is a whole host of issues to address, including but not limited to: regulation, its use in tax evasions and bypassing sanctions.
Hence, with the rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies as an investment, the interest in the potential uses of cryptocurrency and its underlying technologies in the financial world, authorities have a responsibility to action to protect consumers from the high amount of risk currently present in the cryptocurrency market, as well as provide basic guidelines to ensure future implementations are secure.
Africa is the second-largest continent in the world by population and landmass, encompassing roughly 20% of the Earth’s total land area. As of 2016, Africa has a population size of 1.2 billion people, about 16% of the world’s population. With that many human resources, the region as a whole has the potential to become an even more robust and vibrant economy in the global arena.
Thus, the SADC was established with the primary goal to promote regional integration and poverty eradication by means of economic development, as well as ensuring relative peace and security. Over the course of the convention, delegates will discuss policies with regards to matters like international relations, uplifting the economy and tackling violence in Southern Africa.
Improving Tourism in the Region || The Bay of Bengal
Established in 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising eight member states in South Asia. It aims to advance economic growth and social development with greater cooperation in the areas of economics, culture, science and technology. In addition, the organisation works towards deepening understanding and appreciation of one another’s problems, as well as presenting a united front in international forums on matters of shared interests.
Most notably, a special feature of SAARC is that decisions at all levels are subject to unanimous consent and contentious bilateral issues are usually not brought up at its meetings. For this SAARC session, delegates will be dealing with two topics in particular: improving tourism in the region as well as the issue of the Bay of Bengal.
Roundtable on the Future of Oil
As of 2017, 5 nations have declared end dates for the sales of gas and diesel cars, namely: Norway (2025), Germany (2030), India (2030), France (2040) and the United Kingdom (2040), with many more getting ready to follow suit. These actions emphasises the fact that electric vehicles are likely to be well sought after globally in the future. However, whilst this may be a step towards environmental sustainability, it leaves a bleak outlook for the future of oil. Goldman Sachs recently announced that peak oil demand could occur by 2024. This is shocking considering that it is a major departure from research done in the past which predicted that oil demand would continue to rise beyond 2040. If this is indeed true, it will be a cause for concern for the member states of OPEC as lower oil demand would lead to stunted economies for them, due to their high reliance on oil.