Disarmament and International Security Committee

Topic 1: Managing the Regulation of Underwater Weaponry

Weapons designed to be used on land or in air have long been a concern for international security, and the United Nations has discussed the implications of these weapons since its creation. However as technology has progressed, more and more countries are attempting to design weapons that function underwater as well. While there is no doubt that some of these munitions have been around for a long time, the newly escalated variety and kinds of underwater arms is what makes this a pressing issue.

Underwater weaponry has crucial implications for both the external and internal safety of all countries. As these types of weapons are increasingly used to define borders, the issue arises of how they can be securely located and tracked, so that one more powerful country does not slowly but steadily infringe on another. Moreover, there are many countries that are worried about the possible outcomes of any accidental (or not) disaster; the most powerful underwater weapons being introduced today have the potential to cause massive tsunamis that cannot be controlled, should they be handled improperly. Also, in more of a long term vision, there is the potential problem of biomagnification. Especially near shores, any chemicals released by these arms have the chance to be released into the food web and eventually cause terrible defects in the bodies of humans; rendering whole populations dead or sick.

That is not to say that underwater weapons are not useful. To counter one of the above points, being able to protect a border in the sea can allow countries to live more peacefully, and prosper economically.

Still, as the world advances into a new stage of warfare there also comes a whole list of new problems with regards to international safety. Objective, science-backed solutions are needed as soon as possible.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Who is impacted by potential effects of underwater weapons?

  2. Who are the main aggressors using underwater weapons?

  3. What borders are being protected with underwater weapons?

  4. To what extent should the United Nations be involved?

  5. How can regulations be successfully and peacefully implemented?

Sources and Additional Resources:

Topic 2: Addressing Medical Practices and Research as National Defense Systems From Biological Weapons

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, a virus composed of simple biological molecules, when not contained, can wreak havoc on the entire planet. This fact is especially concerning considering how many modern researchers are working on or with these deadly viruses. With even more potential pandemics at stake, it is paramount that the United Nations can define and regulate these practices to the best of their ability.

One of the most concerning research practices are the “Gain of function” tests. These tests involve highly trained researchers genetically engineering viruses and other diseases to be more infectious or deadly than they already are, in order to gain insight into how they can best be combated. While “Gain of function” research is controversial, it is also clear that a very high level of security and safety is needed should these tests be carried out; if any of these more deadly diseases happened to leak into the population, it would pose a huge national and international security risk. Moreover, there is the ethical question of more advanced countries using these practices as a national security provision to bolster their own self defense against diseases, while not sharing that crucial information with other, less advanced countries.

Additionally, as private biotechnology companies become increasingly popular, there is growing concern over how they handle their testing and practices; many companies now have access to compounds that could be used as biological weapons should they end up in the wrong hands. However, the United Nations has to tread carefully here. Access to dangerous chemicals and proteins is also a responsibility of the country that the company resides in.

Lastly, storage and disposal of dangerous biological molecules is another topic that should be addressed. Should countries with access to technology effectively “disarm” themselves in order to maintain worldwide security, and if so, how?

These are all issues that the United Nations needs to discuss immediately, because the safety of the world is in jeopardy.

Questions to Consider

  1. Who benefits and who is harmed by “Gain of Function” research?

  2. Should “Gain of Function” research be limited, and if so, by how much?

  3. Should private companies have the same access to harmful biological molecules as governments?

  4. What are the best practices for the storage and disposal of potentially lethal diseases?

Sources and Additional Resources:

DISEC Updated Policy Doc - Google Docs