SOCHUM: Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Committee

Topic A: Refugee Displacement from Climate Change and Natural Disasters

Thirty years ago, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested that large-scale global migrations might be an indirect effect of climate change, showing that climate change can impact global security. Worse still, estimates from the IPCC about the future rate of warming continue to increase. These predictions, and the increasing humanitarian concerns that accompany them, have given rise to a new climate change concern: the climate refugee. Numerous humanitarian agencies have attempted to address some of the uncertainties by pointing out the unrecognized category of migrant risk. There are no frameworks, no conventions, and no specific guidelines that provide protection and assistance for people crossing international borders due to climate change. Climate refugees experience many of the problems that other types of refugees face such as access to basic necessities, discrimination, and exposure to violence. Creating policies through which climate refugees can be adequately recognized and providing humanitarian aid to these refugees are important steps that the international community must take to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Topic B: Addressing Sustainable Development Goals through Prison Reform

On 25 September 2015, UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, in spite of the impact of criminal justice and prison reform on development, the rights of prisoners are frequently neglected. Of the 10 million prisoners worldwide, an alarming number endures human rights abuses, ranging from unfair trials to poor prison conditions and torture. Mistreatment of prisoners often stems from their negative public perception as criminals who deserve harsh punishment. However, these issues are closely intertwined with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as prisoners largely come from poor socioeconomic backgrounds and have often been victims of various forms of discrimination. Particularly for the 3.2 million people in prison who have yet to be given access to a trial, the lack or complete absence of proper legal proceedings and imprisonment policies in many countries violates prisoners’ access to justice. By addressing the societal preconceptions and treatment of prisoners, social change can serve to protect prisoners while achieving the SDGs set forth for all UN Member States.

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