United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
Topic 1: Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen
Believed to have had roots from the Arab Spring when Pro-democracy protesters took to the streets in a bid to force the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to end his 33-year rule. He responded with economic concessions but refused to resign. By March 2011, tensions on the streets of the capital city, Sana’a, resulted in death of the protesters at the hands of the military. The crisis has been escalating since the start of the Saudi-led intervention in March 2015. Having claimed that Iran was smuggling weapons to Houthi rebels, Saudi Arabia imposed a partial blockade of Hodeidah port—the gateway to northern and central Yemen—and has since tightened it, restricting the supply of staples such as wheat, rice, and cooking and fuel oil. Combat has worsened the crisis leading to cataclysmic catastrophe.
The key issues in Yemen are manifold. The country and the government is unstable due to the ongoing civil war and heavy shelling and sea blockades disrupt every aspect of civilian life. The situation in Yemen therefore poses a threat to international peace and security for many reasons: due to a civil war with significant outside involvement, growing terrorist activities, an unparalleled humanitarian crisis, and a refugee crisis.
Topic 2: The Issue of Growing Crimes committed by the Blue Helmets
Sexual violence and exploitation by peacekeeping units have been reported in many countries, including Bosnia, Mozambique, Cambodia, East Timor, Iraq, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Haiti – the abuses occur worldwide. The common theme is impunity and the problem has plagued the UN for decades, but instead of making progress in preventing and punishing sexual violence and exploitation, it has steadily worsened in recent years. This is particularly disturbing in light of the publication of the Zeid report in March 2005, which detailed the organisation’s ‘comprehensive strategy to eliminate future sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peacekeeping operations’.
This resulted in a number of important reforms designed to redress the scourge like the resolution passed by UNSC in 2016, but those instituted have clearly failed.
The council’s objective should be to prevent and ensure punishment of human rights violations -- much less horrific crimes -- committed by its troops and staff. The challenges are immense and daunting.