General Assemblies are large committees which simulate the largest bodies of the UN.
They are a great place to start if you're new to Model UN.
Commission on the Status of Women
The international movement for women’s rights has seen a recent resurgence, taking the world by storm. The 2017 Women’s March was the largest single-day protest in the history of the United States. Later that same year, the #MeToo movement brought mainstream attention to the widespread sexual harassment of women, and led to men in otherwise unquestioned positions of authority being held accountable for their actions. The Commission on the Status of Women will work to combat violence against women of all forms, focusing specifically on the most vulnerable, such as indigenous and trans women. In addition, the CSW will promote equality through looking at the economic autonomy of women across the globe, and how it can be improved, particularly through the use of technology. Mobile banking, women-only banks, and biometric ID systems for those receiving social assistance payments have been shown to increase women’s economic participation in less-developed countries. The CSW will be tasked with promoting the implementation and proper regulation of technologies that can support economic gender equality worldwide. In addition, the rise of the social media industry has given women across the globe a new means of promoting themselves and their work, under their own control. However, there is controversy surrounding the content being created and there is an emerging body of research on its psychological effects on audiences. Questions of regulation have been raised. The CSW must find a way for social media to serve the best interests of women worldwide, whether they be creators or consumers.
World Health Organization
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been the subject of international debate since their introduction into the agricultural industry in the late 20th century. There is a plethora of misinformation regarding the effects of GMOs, both positive and negative. As a result, policies on GMO agriculture vary greatly between nations. A case study in controversy is Golden Rice, a genetically modified rice crop designed to combat vitamin A deficiency (VAD). VAD is a leading cause of child mortality in regions experiencing food insecurity. While Golden Rice would alleviate VAD, it is not yet available due to concerns over the control it would give large corporations over the food supply of less economically developed countries (LEDCs). The World Health Organization will examine how the global use of GMOs can promote public health, while mitigating their potential negative consequences. The WHO will also focus on policy regarding global mental health. The global response to conflicts and natural disasters in LEDCs usually focuses on medical aid for physical ailments, but often what falls to the wayside is the effect these traumatizing experiences and hardships can have on mental health. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the incidence of depression skyrocketed, and the occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in those affected by conflict has been well documented. The WHO will work to improve the resources available to those with suffering mental health following disasters in LEDCs.
The Special Political and Decolonization Committee will handle two key topics regarding peacekeeping and decolonization: the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh, and the long-standing border dispute between Guatemala and Belize. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group located primarily in Myanmar. For decades, they have been denied citizenship and state violence against them has caused many of them to flee their homes to refugee camps in Bangladesh. Overpopulation of these camps has led to the sterilization of many Rohingya women. SPECPOL will decide if international intervention to assist the Rohingya is appropriate, and what form that intervention could take.
In Belize, a huge amount of the landmass of their country is claimed by Guatemala, in a dispute dating back to 1821. Guatemalans voted in April 2018 to send the issue to the International Court of Justice with over 95% support, and a similar referendum is to be held in the spring of 2019 in Belize. In the meantime, illegal activities such as poaching and forestry has been taking place on the disputed land. SPECPOL will mediate this land dispute, and seek to put an end to its harmful implications for conservation.
United Nations Development Programme
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will tackle three main issues prevalent today in the quest for sustainable development. In light of the United Kingdom’s ban on plastic straws, and the coming World Summit on the Oceans in 2019, the committee will be tasked with finding ways to reduce the negative environmental impact of the use of plastics. Furthermore, the rapid expansion of the middle class in low- and middle-income countries raises important environmental and developmental questions. The global growth of the middle class is driving a sudden boom in the purchase of consumer goods, many of which have harmful environmental consequences. It is up to the UNDP to strike a balance between supporting economic growth in LEDCs, and protecting the environment. Finally, the UNDP will examine the trend toward privatization of water resources in developing countries, and its impacts on both sustainability and access to clean water.
Specialized committees are smaller and more intimate than General Assemblies, and typically deal with issues specific to a region, conflict, or period in history.
United Nations Security Council
In a sight unseen since the most arctic days of the Cold War, the world is once again held breathless at the prospect of nuclear winter. For the first time in the hostile history of their two nations, the firebrand American President and the “rocket man” of North Korea have stood side by side, hand in hand, amongst the tropics of Singapore. They have committed to an expansive agenda geared towards the final, lasting achievement of peace on the peninsula - but it remains to be seen whether each side will truly hold up their end of the deal. The doors have been blown open. Old assumptions no longer hold. In this brave new world, the United Nations Security Council must manage a volatile reality and prevent nuclear nightmare. Amidst this dynamism, they must also consider the possibility of expanding UNSC permanent membership (and the coveted veto power) to one or more of the new great powers on the international stage. Can the delegates of the Security Council create a better, more representative United Nations while also building the foundation for real peace in the Koreas?
International Cricket Council
The umpire signals the start of the fifth day’s play at Lord’s. The bowler runs in from the pavilion end, the look of menace in the eye. A murmur of expectation resounds from around the ground. 174 runs needed, 7 wickets remain, three sessions left on the last day of a tightly contested series. Hopes, sighs, dreams, endless possibility. All results still possible. Halfway around the globe, removed from the steep traditions of that hallowed pitch, a very different and more high stakes game is being played in a boardroom in Dubai. At the 2019 Board Meeting of the International Cricket Council, the future of cricket hangs in the balance. Decisions must be made regarding the host, format, and qualification structure of the 2027 ODI World Cup, and with it, clarification on the ICC’s vision for expanding the sport. Answers must be given regarding the management of global T20 tournaments, the participation of cricket in the Olympics and other athletic events, and the role of Associate Members in governing the great game. Finally, the ICC must look to build an inclusive cricketing community that develops and expands the participation of women in all levels of cricket. The world watches as the match creeps into its final sessions, abundant with hopes, sighs, dreams, and endless possibility. All results still possible.
Organization of American States
The history of the American continent has long been one of exploitation. Exploitation by old colonial Europe, pining after the bountiful resources of the New World. Exploitation in the encomiendas and the mines; exploitation amongst plantations of sugar and fields of cotton. Exploitation by their own, as the United States began its history of imperial meddling in their neighbour’s affairs. Today, through the Organization of American States, this continent of endless potential refuses to be further exploited. Delegates of this committee will grapple with the issues facing North, South, and Central America, as well as the Caribbean region. They must reach a creative, autochthonous solution to the possible failure of the Venezuelan state and the ensuing humanitarian and political crisis. They will debate ways to protect minority rights and conserve the continent’s natural spaces against manipulation and greed. In this land of colourful fauna, vibrant peoples, and loud aspirations, will the Americas finally be heard?
10th SUmmit of the Non-Aligned Movement, 1992
It is a new day. The world has recognized the close of one era, and with it, the beginning of another one. For many young nations, their politics and economy had been shaped for decades by the demands of the Cold War. For international groups such as the Non-Aligned Movement, fostering solidarity and discouraging superpower meddling in the developing world was a raison d’être. As the millenium nears its end, the 10th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement begins in Jakarta, Indonesia, with a bold agenda that will establish policy for over half the world’s population. The Movement must determine its place and purpose in a post-Cold War world, while developing greater economic cooperation within the Global South. As multinational corporations and international financial institutions expand their investments into developing economies, members of the Movement must look for ways to assert state sovereignty, eliminate poverty and debt, and resist forms of neocolonialism. Finally, delegates will discuss nuclear disarmament and ways to peacefully pursue the research and development of nuclear energy. Can the Non-Aligned Movement remain relevant to a new world with new, unforeseen challenges?
27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, March 1986
The people of the Soviet Union were no strangers to hard times. They had seen famine, they had seen war - some claim to have seen the Amerikanski on the other side of the wall. Still, it is a grim time, even for a nation used to grim times. In March of 1986, the leaders of Soviet society gather in time for the 27th Party Congress. For many, this will be an introduction to the new General Secretary of the Communist Party, an ambitious reformer named Mikhail Gorbachev who claims his ideas of Glasnost and Perestroika can save socialism. The Congress must wrestle with these ideas, and the logistics of implementing such major institutional restructuring. The internal unity of the Soviet system is at threat by national movements in the Baltic and Central European satellite states, while externally the Red Army has been engaged for over six years in an unpopular invasion of Afghanistan. To compound these issues, the USSR is being bankrupted by an arms race with President Reagan, who seems hellbent on nothing less than the final destruction of Soviet communism. It is up to the comrades of the Party Congress to build a better socialism and lead the Soviet people out of these dire times. Will they be able to bring the Soviet Union back to great heights and greater glory? Or will the eternal revolution peter out to its ignominious end?
Crisis in the Suez, November 1956
In a gamble to keep the sun from setting on their colonial empires and to maintain their deteriorating status as first-rate powers, the hegemons of the old order took to desperate measures, not yet ready to cede preeminence in the post-war world. This conflict of old and new came to a head at the Suez Canal, when France and Great Britain worked with the recently formed state of Israel to seize the canal from Egyptian forces. As their actions become apparent to all, and the true nature of the crisis is revealed, a joint emergency cabinet session is called, involving leaders from the United Kingdom, France, Israel, Canada, and the United Nations. The cabinet must respond to ongoing developments and deal with diplomatic pressure from the other great powers, all while working to implement a ceasefire and reopen the canal to commercial shipping. Will France and Great Britain face their imperial reckoning, or will the old order manage to cling on to further life?
Crisis committees are our most challenging type of committees. They follow a slightly different procedure and often involve role-play. Every decision made by delegates has a direct impact on the outcome of the committee.
When going into a crisis, you never know who will win, who will lose... and who will make it out alive.
Second United Front
This committee is set during the Japanese invasion of China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Second United Front was the alliance between the Chinese Nationalist Party and Communist Party of China (CPC) which suspended the Chinese Civil War from 1937 to 1941. The CPC agreed to accept the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek and received financial support from the central government. However, the Communists were only under Nationalist command in name. The CPC still acted independently, proved more efficient in guerilla warfare, and hardly ever engaged the Japanese in conventional battles. The committee will be split in two. Half of the delegates will be Communists and half will be Nationalists. They will have to work together to repel imperialist Japanese forces, and if they fail to do so they will be defeated. On the other hand, the two sides will be aiming to push their own interests forward to gain a stronger position in the struggle for influence in China.
House of HabsBurg
The House of Habsburg was one of the most influential royal houses of Europe and produced emperors and kings for various kingdoms all over Europe. Dynastic marriages allowed the Habsburgs to expand their control to include Burgundy, Spain and its colonies, Bohemia, Hungary, and other territories. The Habsburgs were involved in countless diplomatic crises and wars. An announcement of which crisis this committee follows will come later this year.
This committee will focus on the era of the constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States from 1920 to 1933. There will be representatives from various mafia families all working together to make sure that there is a steady flow of contraband alcohol. These families and representatives will also work against each other to maximize their profits and influence. There will also be representatives from France, England, and Canada as underground networks from these countries provided champagne, gin and, whiskey to the United States. The crises will revolve around avoiding law enforcement making the most profit for the delegates’ own crime syndicate. Delegates will be encouraged to make secret alliances and pacts between each other.
This committee is suitable for only the most experienced delegates. This committee is designed to challenge delegates to engage in a high level of debate in one of UTMUN’s most creative and innovative committees. The topic of the committee will not be released prior to the first committee session and neither research nor a position paper is required to participate.
Joint Crisis Committees
Joint Crisis committees are a twist on the familiar Crisis committee. In a Joint Crisis, multiple Crisis committees meet simultaneously. The decisions of one committee will impact the scenario in the other committee(s).
Based on the 2011 video game of the same name, this simulation places delegates within the continent of Tamriel, which is largely ruled by two powerful entities. The Septim Empire, or simply “The Empire,” once conquered the entire continent, but now only rules over the central and northern provinces. In the south, a union of elven nationalists known as the Aldmeri Dominion reigns supreme, after years of warring with the Empire for dominance. The last such war ended with the signing of a peace treaty, whose terms heavily favored the Aldmeri Dominion. Among these terms was a stipulation outlawing the religion of the Nords, a people who reside in the cold, northernmost province of the Empire, known as Skyrim. One such nord, a jarl of Skyrim named Ulfric Stormcloak, has since taken up arms against the Empire for admitting defeat and allowing the Aldmeri Dominion to dictate the lives of Skyrim’s citizens. He has succeeded in bringing many Nords onto his side, and with his “Stormcloak” army has seized nearly half the province from the Empire. With a large part of the Empire in open rebellion, delegates in each committee must consider what this means for the tenuous peace between elves and humans, and must act decisively to ensure their faction is able to achieve its goals.
ROOM ONE: The Empire
“The Stormcloaks will fight like cornered rats. They will be fierce and crafty. But they are no match for Legionnaires.”
ROOM TWO: The Stormcloaks
"When the Empire surrendered to the aldmeri dominion, they shamed us all!"
ROOM THREE: The Aldmeri Dominion
“That we are superior to men is an established fact.”
The Demands of Muhammad Ali Pasha
At the turn of the 19th century, the once glorious and formidable Ottoman Empire is beset with innumerable challenges. European armies, governments, and businesses all seem to be carving up the Ottoman world for themselves. Internal struggles also threaten the Empire; the Mamluk rulers of Egypt, after centuries of de facto control of the province, are becoming more openly hostile towards their own Sultan. But with the arrival of a modern, European army led by Napoleon in 1798, Mamluk control in the area has been devastated. After Napoleon’s sudden retreat, a power vacuum has been left in the ancient lands of Egypt, providing an opportunity for the Ottomans to seize the bounteous province once and for all. Among the forces sent to retake Egypt is an ambitious and experienced Ottoman commander named Muhammad Ali, whose success in wresting control away from the Mamluks soon poses its own challenges for the Empire.
ROOM ONE: Cabinet of Muhammad Ali Pasha
“I am well aware that the Ottoman Empire is heading by the day toward destruction. On its ruins I will build a vast kingdom.”
ROOM TWO: The Ottoman Empire
“We are not afraid of the owl, we are the hawks.”