Disarmament and International Security Committee

Topic 1: Managing the Disarmament of Leftover Weapons Caches

Disarmament has been a central topic of UN discussion from its inception. The UN Charter expresses the goal “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. Many have questioned where the massive stockpiles of weapons following the Cold War and WWII ended. Huge amounts of weapons were abandoned in the ocean, deserted in remote areas such as the Libyan desert, or hidden in European caches [1]. On top of  gross negligence in terms of secure disposal, these leftover weapons caches are not properly accounted for. Some weapons caches remain undiscovered or hidden. 

Any successful moves towards global peace come with the question of how to handle the weapons and stockpiles that were created during, or in anticipation of, turmoil. Moreover, it raises the question of what methods of state disarmament are justified — as well as how much say and oversight from the UN is justified. 

Even within the camp of pro-disarmament, there is potential for large degrees of difference in policy regarding how the disarmament is mechanized. This discrepancy is only further amplified when considering leftover weapons caches, often hidden and of high-value. 

Leftover weapons caches, especially when left unmonitored and unaccounted for, can pose an enormous threat to safety and security in the international community. Objective oversight and secure disarmament is key to managing this troubling situation. 

Topics to Consider:

  • What should be done with the weapons post-disarmament?
  • To what extent should individual nations have a right to mandate disarmament based on their definitions in their country?
  • To what extent are other nations able to enforce the United Nations’ definitions onto other nations?
  • What avenues should be available to ensure hidden caches are appropriately and fully handled?

Further Reading:

UN register on conventional arms fact sheet: 

https://front.un-arm.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Transparency-UN-Register-Fact-Sheet-July2020.pdf

UN disarmament web page:

https://www.un.org/disarmament/

UN page on the UN Disarmament Commission:

https://www.un.org/disarmament/institutions/disarmament-commission

References:

[1] https://www.warhistoryonline.com/instant-articles/wwii-ended-what-happened.html

Topic 2: State Interactions with Violent Non-State Actors

The commitments of the United Nations to not interfere with internal state affairs presents a unique challenge when it comes to addressing Violent Non-State Actors (VNSA). A focus on international affairs alone means that there is often some grey area when it comes to how one is best able to handle violent non-state groups. 

Often these VNSAs rise to prominence through attacks on either states, or their governments. Situations like these put the UN into an inopportune situation as the necessity of preserving human life is overshadowed by the necessity to allow individual states to be free from external intervention. For example, the rise of ISIS in Iraq and northern Syria presented an immediate international security risk that expanded well beyond national borders. Therefore, it can be argued that the international community should be able to actively combat this VNSA regardless of national borders. However, any intervention must also respect the nation’s sovereignty. In addition, some nations fail to address VNSAs and may even tacitly support them. Saudi Arabia has long been accused of failing to stop the financing of jihadi terrorism that some of their citizens partake in. This could mean that the international community should explore punishments for nations that have relationships with VNSAs. 

The crux of the argument boils down to how much freedom a state in the UN should have to conduct its own business with its own goals in mind. It can be argued that support for these actors can function as a state interfering with the internal affairs of another, flying in the face of the justification being the necessity to allow states sovereignty. 

Topics to Consider:

  • Importance of sovereignty and security.
  • How should violent non-state actors be considered?
  • Why are state interactions with VNSAs occuring?

Further Reading: 

UN resolution on VNSAs:

https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12628.doc.htm

Article on inclusion of VNSAs in peacebuilding:

https://reliefweb.int/report/world/armed-non-state-actors-need-be-included-pragmatic-peacebuilding#:~:text=The%20UN%20is%20currently%20enhancing,non%2Dviolent%20force%20for%20peace.

Article on VNSAs:

https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12355.doc.htm

Saudi Arabia and Terrorism:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/saudi-arabia-still-isnt-doing-enough-to-fight-the-financing-of-terrorism/2019/02/19/bdb300d4-3454-11e9-a400-e481bf264fdc_story.html