The United Nations Security Council
After the two World Wars, in June 1945, Chapter V of the United Nations Charter established the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as the primary and permanent authority of the United Nations (UN) system charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. The UNSC, which is composed by fifteen members, five permanent members (the People’s Republic of China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States of America) – the five victorious powers of World War II, that are granted with a veto power – and ten non-permanent (temporary) members, elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly (GA), encourages international peace and security. The main purpose is to prevent war by settling disputes between nations. Whenever peace is threatened, the Security Council meets. The Charta of the United Nations commits that all member states are obligated to comply with council decisions.
The Security Council’s powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states. But along with this power comes a high responsibility. Therefore, the Security Council is the most powerful body in the United Nations.
At the MainMUN conference, delegates of the SC should be aware that debates are often intensely political in nature. It is therefore important to balance the need for a resolution with the heated rhetoric of international politics.
The Use of Natural Resources as Weapons in Conflict Situations
Over the last centuries warfare has changed tremendously. From swords to automatic weapons, chemical weapons and atomic bombs to modern warfare which involves the internet, such as denial of service attacks, hacking and viruses.
One type of warfare which should not be overlooked is the use of natural resources as weapons. This can include the withholding of metals and minerals which are important to different industries (such as the production of computers and cell phones) but also the building of dams to limit water supplies downstream. The latter is increasingly important as climate change increases droughts around the world, making it a successful tool in controlling states.
The issue concerning most of the world, however, is the gathering and distribution of natural oil and gas. The common denominator of these resources is the fact that they are finite. Once they have been used up, we need to either find new ways to replicate them or find options to live without them. This makes them effective as weapons in national and international conflicts. In addition, the use of natural resources as weapons is intertwined with other warfare such as arms and armed forces are usually involved.
The Security Council of MainMUN 2021 will need to find solutions to curb the use of natural resources as weapons and examine the role of armed forces and arms in the different resource sectors. The delegates will need to look at different resources, how they are used and how they can be governed to promote peaceful trade.
De-escalating Tension in the Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf and especially the economic and strategically important choke point, the Strait of Hormuz, faces increased tensions between the bordering state of Iran and a coalition led by the United States of America (USA), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Israel.
With the Strait of Hormuz being the only passage from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean, it is a vital route for the international oil and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) trade from the Middle East, amounting up to 30% of the world´s consumption of these resources. The strong dependency of the world economy towards fossil fuels could lead to a global recession if the trade is hampered.
The recent escalation was triggered by an increased military presence of US troops, as contingency measure of Iranian military ambitions in the region. The sanctions, predominantly upheld by the US against Iran, burdened diplomatic relations additionally. These economic sanctions are mandated by the Resolution 1696 by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) released in 2006 with the intention to bring the Iranian uranium enrichment program to a halt. The sanctions led to an isolation of the Iranian economy and result in an ongoing recession.
In May and June 2019, several commercial ships and oil tankers were damaged with explosive devices with the perpetrators remaining unknown. Military escalation happened in December 2019 when the Iran-backed Hezbollah attacked an Iraqi base, killing an American contractor. The responding drone strike by the US killed the important and popular general Qasem Soleimani with Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei calling for revenge and the retreat from the Nuclear-non-proliferation agreement following UNSC resolution 2231. During following missile attacks in January and March, US-military personnel was killed and injured. Since then, sanctions have tightened but military escalation has declined.
The escalation at the Gulf has shown the instability within the region. Alliances change, as the diplomatic approximation of Israel and Saudia Arabia shows. This might be an opportunity to establish peace and security in this region of enormous international relevance. The effectiveness and consequences of sanctions will have to be discussed as well as the prevention of military escalation in this smoldering conflict.
Chair Security Council