WORLDMUN DAILY MARCH 24, 2009 Volume 1
Social and Humanitarian Council
World Health Organization
By Allison Roy A finger was pointed in the direction of Dutch policy-makers this morning. The first committee session of the Social and Humanitarian Council began with a speech by Radboud University professor, Kees Groenendijk, on the topic of European immigration barriers. In his speech, Groenendijk questioned the intentions and outcomes of the various civic integration tests within the European Union. The Netherlands became the first European country to assert that the process of integration should begin in the migrant’s home country and introduced the Integration Abroad Act in 2006. This legislation stipulated that certain foreign nationals that wished to migrate to the Netherlands to join family or to marry must pass an integration test before they are granted entry to the country. This was subsequently emulated by the British, French, German and Danish governments, yet the Netherlands continues to receive a barrage of criticism from the media as well as other countries about the test’s difficulty. According to a BBC report in 2005, the Dutch government argued that these tests were implemented to cut down on so-called “import brides;” however, professor Groenendijk offers a dissenting perspective. “The main dishonesty about these tests is that their main goal is exclusion,” Groenendijk said. A research specialist in EU asylum law and the privatization of immigration control,
Groenendijk suggests that an underlying sentiment that multiculturalism threatens Dutch social cohesion may provide the foundation for such immigration policies. The tests are administered in the migrant’s country of origin, in Dutch, over a series of intricate questions and often cost over €1,000-. Groenendijk indicated that part of the reason why Dutch policy-makers are quick to instate such a requirement is the threat of the immigrant vote. While countries like Germany and the UK feature small parties with little influence and function off a 5 percent threshold, countries like the Netherlands and Denmark are at the mercy of large parties with strong influence. “Immigrant voters can easily sway the outcomes of elections and this makes Dutch politicians very uneasy,” said Groenendijk. The Human Rights Watch repeatedly requested that these tests be eliminated from the immigration process, and in 2008, the Dutch government conceded to a few alterations. Although the HRW has voiced appreciation for the efforts of the Dutch government, Groenendijk urged delegates of the Social and Humanitarian Council to continue to question the nature and intent of such immigration proceedings and encouraged them to make the distinction between integration and immigration control in the resolutions they would write this week.
International Atomic Energy Agency By Jochem van der Veen The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) commenced with two expert speakers Monday. Ho Nie, a representative from the actual IAEA, discussed current and past IAEA efforts regarding commercial exploitation of atomic energy. Ewoud Verhoef discussed the various ways of storing nuclear waste. Verhoef explained there was no reason to doubt the quality of the storage canisters for nuclear waste. IAEA viewed footage of nuclear testing progress, impressing many delegates. The video showed many things, such as: the dropping of a canister from a helicopter flying at 1km; a rocket propelled train ramming into the canister; and an enormous metal rod shooting through the canister. The metal rod totally vaporised and the test-canister was indistinguishable from a new canister. Clearly, Verhoef said, packaging is not an issue. Safety and security were the focus of Nie’s speech. A nuclear facility should be secure for obvious reasons. But if you make a secure barrier, this barrier shouldn’t prevent people from reaching critical safety switches during crisis situations.
The Chernobyl accident showed the world that nuclear guidelines are necessary. The IAEA exists to give these guidelines, Ho Nie explained. Yet the IAEA is not a regulator. The most important thing is that there is a safety culture, a constant awareness from all involved parties of the dangers involved. The other topic focused on during the IAEA opening session was the storage of nuclear waste. Waste sometimes emits radiation for thousands of years. Medium and light radioactive waste can be stored above ground in secure building. Highly radioactive material however can’t be trusted to society. This material sometimes emits dangerous amounts of radiation for 100,000 years. Societies change too often to plan anything for that amount of time. The only option is to store the waste in earth formations. Suitable locations are scarce and legislation prohibits exchanging radioactive waste as well as storing it offshore. Solutions for this problem can only be found in international partnerships in the whole atomic energy chain.
By Heleen Struyven Two interesting speakers gave an inside look into various topics yesterday during the first committee session of the World Health Organization (WHO). These speeches allowed delegates to make an even better choice on setting the agenda afterwards. Stefan Uhlenbrook gave a presentation about water scarcity and health. Uhlenbrook is an expert in this matter due to his hard work at UnescoIHE. According to Uhlenbrook, 10,000 to 20,000 people die every single day from preventable water-born diseases. Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a disease caused by lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene. 42% of the East and 37% of South Asia don’t have access to water sanitation. Uhlenbrook said there are two key components to the water issue: climate change and population growth. 70% of water use goes to agriculture,
and in the future more water will be needed to meet demands of a growing population. To provide this, new technology is needed. Agriculture could be managed more effectively by increased irrigation. Change is also needed in international diet, primarily concerning meat. 1 kg of beef requires 20 liters of water. One delegate noted access to ground water is an issue because it necessitates a lot of energy. More research is required in this area as ground water is a very stable source (no dams are needed). The extraction of ground water offers a lot since it is already purified in a natural way. Uhlenbrook said he was very pleased to see that the water issue was put on the program and that through Monday’s discussion at least the 200 people of the committee learned more details of the problem.
International Court of Justice By Samuel Vermeulen The International Court of Justice was in session today with Judge Dasher presiding. Situated in the small court room of the Peace Palace, all the robe wearing justices enjoyed the beautiful paintings and sculptures around them, while deciding on setting the agenda. With a narrow majority the court decided to discuss the Pakistan v. Poland case on extraordinary rendition before going into debate on the Avena case between the United Mexican States and the United States of America later. Then suddenly, the court was trashed by an army of journalists who might put us on the front paper of the major Dutch
newspapers. Subsequently, the court had to set its priorities for the coming days. While this occupied the court for quite a while, eventually it came to the conclusion that it first should decide which acts were actually committed and under which legal definition they could fall. Near the end of the session, the Court summoned Mr. Muhammed Rafiq as an expert witness on torture. Being tortured himself, Mr. Rafiq gave a graphic display of the horrors involved with this process. For the coming days, the International Court of Justice will be very busy with preparing the delivery of its judgement on Friday.
Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminial Justice By Paula Gil Dr. J. Prins introduced delegates of the Commission on Crime Prevnetion and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) to the specifics of regulating, enforcing and preventing internet-based identity theft and fraud. Prins showed how internet vulnerabilities could lead to crime and how the specifics of a country (culture and law e.g.) could be a barrier to regulation. “On the internet there are no borders, no countries, and states need to learn how to combine their efforts,” Prins said. Emphasizing deforestation, Dr. W. Douma discussed international
deforestation law. Douma stated that although the debate has focused the public’s attention on environmental problems there is still much to be done on the state umbrella, which is closely connected corporate and industry interests. Affan Taj, delegate of Comoros, wishes to “lay foundation of a framework to protect environment hand-in-hand with the increase of transparency to prevent corruption; the control of illicit traffic of timber; and the protection of local communities highly dependent on resources.”
To intervene or not to intervene By Heleen Struyven Humanitarian intervention is a topic that for discussion at a MUN conference. As it is a very complex, interesting and controversial theme, the delegates of the Legal Committee had the opportunity to get an interesting introduction to the subject by professor Nico Schrijver, who teaches International Law at Leiden University. His résumé of the issue provided a clear vision of the different stakes at hold and we are glad to share them with our readers. For years now, the UN has debated on how to define the circumstances under which the international community and some states have the right or the opportunity to intervene. The historical examples are multiple. France had intervened in Lebanon to protect its Christian values, India fully supported the Bangladeshi guerrilla forces in their independence struggles against Pakistan and, more recently, NATO started up its Kosovo campaign, without the authorization of the UN Security Council, in order to hold suppression of the Albanian people. At the other hand, the list of international con-
flicts where there was no humanitarian intervention at all, is even more extended and the number of casualties in Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Darfur, Myanmar and many more sadly shows that the concept of humanitarian intervention is applied selectively. Professor Schrijver identified three clashing concepts. First, you have the sovereign state structure of nearly 200 countries opposes to the international community that has its own regime. Then you have the principle of non-intervention, one of the foundations of the UN emphasized by article 2.1. of the UN Charter, that sometimes conflicts with the need to protect universal human rights world-wide. And last but not least, the principle of prohibition to use force clashes with the right to provide humanitarian protection, with violence when needed. Two out of three problems were particularly highlighted, as the professor believed them to be not as absolute as people usually think. To begin with, the concept of sovereignty does not have the same meaning
in 2009 as it had in 1648, when the system of sovereign states was established. Today, states cannot rely anymore on the argument stating that “its” citizens are not the business of the international community. In addition, the use of force is one of the most difficult topics in international law as it is extremely different to regulate. It was only after the second World War, that article 2.4. of the UN Charter put a ban on the use of force. Nevertheless, there are still exceptions in the Charter, such as art. Besides the Charter, there are other essential criteria that can be taken into consideration. According to a prevailing opinion, humanitarian intervention can be lawful when the sole purpose is humanitarian, without political side objectives, when it’s proportional, realistic (when it comes to the probable effectiveness of the operation) and in accordance with international humanitarian law. In addition, there can be a humanitarian necessity to use military force in case of mass, flagrant and objectively reported violations of human rights, when all other
peaceful means to react are exhausted and the Security Council machinery is used to its last extend. Finally, professor Schrijver explained that there were two angles in the movement to justify humanitarian intervention. Firstly, peace is not considered anymore as just the absence of war. Today, we agree that international peace is also in danger when there is a mass violation of Human Rights and when there is a great threat to the safety of citizens. The second justification is the responsibility to protect. And when a state isn’t able to protect the life of its citizens, there is a secondary obligation of the international community to help in case of very serious situations such as genocide. It should be the responsibility of the Security Council to act but often it is paralyzed due to a lack of agreement. The responsibility to protect theory is then a method of pressure on the Security Council to make sure human life and safety are protected.
WorldMUN Daily Second Edition