A Question of Implementation: The Passed UNHRC Resolution Addresses Far Too Many Issues

By Sofia RISCHIO

The UNHRC began the day by submitting a Draft Resolution with a total of 42 Operative Clauses — a massive undertaking. Encompassing far too many aspects, including the refugee crisis and equal access to education, the paper was extremely broad. After an entire session was dedicated to going through and improving the paper with the help of the Chair, the delegates were able to slim it down and finally submit it.

However, the Draft Resolution still covered a vast range of issues (perhaps too many) concerning Women in Conflict Zones. Financial aid, problems of refugees, an international conference for women, medical centers for women, staff training and education were just some of the ideas mentioned in the paper. The main problem was the lack of specific methods to implement the proposed ideas. Although thorough, the propositions were unclear in terms of their execution. No specific methods were stated in the Resolution, leaving many questions for the press during the UNHRC Press Conference.

Nigeria, the Philippines and Germany took part in the Press Conference on behalf of the UNHRC. The main question posed was how so many aspects of education, the group’s main concern, are expected to successfully be addressed. The representatives, nominated and voted to represent their committee, were asked what, specifically, they imagined should take place in the affected regions. The question, however, was more or less avoided and no clear answers were presented. In regard to the finances of such a big undertaking, the delegates referred to working with local and international NGO’s and requested ECOFIN to monitor the money flow to prevent corruption.

The United Times pushed forward, trying to understand how the UNHRC truly believes such a broad Resolution could lead to real results. The delegates were insistant, that the Resolution is a step in the right direction, as they have found common ground after a day and a half of debate. It is still unclear whether this resolution will lead to a betterment of the situation of Women in Conflict Zones.

At the end of the day, the committee parted ways with their first topic, moving to a topic which is very interesting to us at the United Times: Free and Independent Press in the 21st Century. As this is a relevant issue in our world today, we are eager to see in which direction the committee will go, looking forward to the last day of debate.

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Tackling All Aspects of Women in Conflict Zones Without Observing Current Issues: Mission Impossible?

By Sofia RISCHIO

The UNHRC has had a productive day. The committee chose the topic, The Situation of Women in Conflict Zones, seeing the urgency in this global issue. The committee’s Honorable Chair, Arun Joseph, shared his opinion during the lunch break where he expressed his satisfaction with the delegates’ progress in the first session and how efficiently they had been working. He revealed high hopes for the committee’s working papers and expects the group to move to the second topic tomorrow.

Nearly all of the delegates have come together and have drafted a working paper focusing on three major aspects of Women in Conflict Zones. The group has divided to address different issues, which they plan on drafting together into a single working paper. The topics are: Education/ Awareness (Argentina, Germany, South Korea, Nigeria, among others), Refugee Camps (Ethiopia, India and Croatia) and Impunity (Mexico, China, the UK, among others).

There are a few interesting aspects of this working paper. First, it is quite surprising that nearly every nation is willing to work together. As a huge part of the issue stems from the actions of government officials and military members themselves, it is interesting to see delegations express positions on the solutions, which do not quite represent their nation’s actions.

Additionally, the group is attempting to address a lot in a single working paper. From the development of an online-platform for women to share experiences to the division of regions into declared or non-declared conflict zones the span of issues is quite wide. Such an extensive paper may lead to difficulties when implementing the solutions in the field.

Lastly, the group has refrained from observating current situations of women in conflict zones. Current global issues include, for example, the fleeing women of the Rohingya Muslims, the Syrian women and children escaping their worn-torn homeland, the women stuck in the middle of the Mexican drug-war and the Oromo conflict in Ethiopia.

Seeing as many of the UNHRC delegations’ nations are currently facing conflict, it has been surprising to hear little testimony to the occuring atrocities. This leads to the question: are delegations referring from pointing the attention on themselves? Or perhaps ignoring their nations’ own wrongdoings? Tomorrow’s continuation will surely give more insight. Stay tuned!

Can the Freedom of Press be ensured by the United Nations Human Rights Council?

By Yucheng GU

Freedom of speech and expression is considered as one of the most vital and inviolable human rights. At CologneMUN 2018, the United Times press team is very eager to learn how the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will decide on it’s topic “Promoting a Free and Independent Press in the 21th Century” as it lies in tone with the spirit of United Times. Being a journalist is a dangerous profession in many parts of the world; more than 80 deaths happen globally each year with most of them happening in areas connected with regional armed conflict or complicated political climate. UNHRC together with the General Assembly, United Nations Security Council and United Nations Education Scientific Cultural Organization adopted, since 2012, 12 resolutions in order to ensure safety of journalists.

Beside the safety of journalist, the biggest concern of the United Times, during CologneMUN2018, must be what kind of effort the UNHRC will make to ensure that press can be free from political influence and how that information can be accessed by the public without restriction. At the United Times, journalists will try their best to report with neutrality, dignity and integrity. Yet a huge amount of world population still only has access to state endorsed media while other press mediums are restrained by the government.

In the past, the UNHRC has often condemned practices that monitor or straight up manipulate public media. However, not much can be done to raise awareness. Either in the general public or on the governmental level in order to further enforce the existing freedom of information laws in more than 110 countries. The United Times hopes to see solid progress during CologneMUN 2018 concerning this issue.

Refuge for Rohingya Women

By Sofia RISCHIO

Myanmar has been a nation filled with ethnic conflict since its early independence. The United Nations has reported numerous human rights violations due to not only ethnic struggles, but also the nation’s continuing civil wars. In 1991-1992, over 250,000 Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic group in Myanmar, were forced out of their villages by military forces.

Violence struck again in 2012, when the Human Rights Watch accused the Myanmar government of ethnic cleansing, as Rohingya Muslims were killed in masses. More recently in 2017, according to the Deutsche Welle, around 700,000 Rohingya Muslims left Myanmar for Bangladesh. Among these displaced peoples, women have continuously been victimized for both being women and of an ethnic minority. The Human Rights Watch has reported numerous rape and sexual assaults on women and girls by military forces. Not only are Rohingya Muslims being denied proper citizenship and freedom of movement, but the group’s women are being assaulted while fleeing from violence and conflict.

At the Human Rights Council 37th Session, which took place in February and March of this year, this crisis was addressed and violations of a Resolution adopted in the previous year were discussed. The session considered an EU-led resolution which has been proposed to address the Myanmar’s ongoing ethnic conflict.

Quick to Report – Quick To Accuse

By Sofia RISCHIO

In our globalized world, information can be shared and received within moments. News of natural disasters, political issues, and global concerns are spread mere minutes after occurring. Online media outlets and social media promote this spreading of information, made possible by free and independent press. However, journalists around the world are being imprisoned and charged by government authorities who are looking to censor media.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 2017 set a new record for the amount of journalists imprisoned worldwide. Most journalists were charged with anti-state crimes or accused of terrorist actions with generally little proof to back up the accusations. This new record sheds light on the global crisis that needs to be addressed. All nations must fight for journalists’ freedom and right to report without prosecution. After all, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.”

In February and March of this year, the United Nations Human Rights Council addressed the most critical freedom of expression violations of 2017. A focus was placed on Turkey, Myanmar, Iran, Eritrea and South Sudan. Continuous pressure has been placed on Turkey, where the most journalists have been imprisoned, in order to release currently imprisoned journalists and work towards more freedom of press.