SPECPOL: Special Political and Decolonization Committee

Topic A: Protecting Minorities in Myanmar

Ethnic and religious tensions have troubled Myanmar since its independence in 1948, both through violent conflict and humanitarian crises. The country is home to more than 135 state-recognized ethnic groups, with dozens more seeking recognition. These 135 groups are generally divided into eight divisions, with the largest by far being the Bamar. Among the seven minority divisions, several are involved in ongoing conflicts with the central Burmese government, usually in the form of nationalist movements seeking independence from a Buddhist- and Bamar-dominated government. Additionally, the unrecognized Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim group in Rakhine state, have been victims of both communal and state violence. Their plight reflects the larger problem of religious violence across the country, in part due to rising Buddhist nationalism. SPECPOL’s delegates must address whether the international community has a responsibility to protect (R2P) certain groups in Myanmar. R2P affirms that states have the primary responsibility to protect their own populations; however, “should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations,” collective action by the international community is necessary. As UN reports argue that there exists a “very likely” possibility that acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing may be taking place in Myanmar, SPECPOL must make clear the international community’s stance towards these conflicts and extent of any collective action that must be taken.

Topic B: Preventing State Failure in South Sudan

South Sudan, the world’s newest UN-recognized country, has recently been ravaged by a civil war and an ensuing humanitarian crisis. If the war continues on its current course, half of the country’s population will have either fled or died of starvation by December 2017. Ranking first out of 178 countries on the 2017 Fragile States Index, South Sudan is on the verge of joining a long list of failed states. The UN has declared a famine in South Sudan, and 5.5 million people are expected to be considered “food insecure” by July, and gross human rights violations as a result of the conflict occur on a daily basis. Especially considering the other troubling conflicts in the region, SPECPOL must take action now to bring stability to the country and create a roadmap towards peace.

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