Washington State Model United Nations 2005 Special Political and Decolonization Committee

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Washington State Model United Nations 2005

Special Political and Decolonization Committee

Dear Delegates,
Greetings WASMUN delegates and welcome to the General Assembly’s Special Political and Decolonization committee! My name is Chris Blair and I will be your chair for this exciting conference.
How do I know this conference will be exciting? I have never been to a dull WASMUN… and I’ve been to all of them! I started Model United Nations (MUN) in the 9th grade with the first WASMUN and I was so blown away by the fascinating international issues, my amazing fellow delegates, and the professional tone of all those who were involved that I have attended every year since. If this is your first MUN experience, then the conference that awaits you may be quite the foreign experience. Unlike your usual high school classroom, everyone in a MUN conference room wants to talk, and be the first to talk, and to talk the most. While it is good to be modest in MUN, it is more important to make sure your voice is heard. Something else that will be foreign to you is the sense of urgency. Maybe you have had a English paper to write the night before it was due, or a big test to study for—but these will not compare to the hurried rush to type a resolution and submit it to the chair before the other coalitions of nations can. However, what may be most different than high school, and ultimately most valuable, are the caliber of people you will meet. I have seen students leave committee for a lunch break and immediately strike up a political conversation that lasts the entire hour. I’ve personally met people through MUN that have sparked my interest in political activism and springboarded me into volunteering. I know these experiences will happen with you too.

Since that first conference I have participated in about a dozen conferences all over the country, from Georgetown to UC Berkeley. Hard as it is to believe, the conference right here in Washington State, at the UW, has been my favorite. Perhaps it was the hard work put in by the college students who volunteered their time, but I believe that it was my dedicated, informed, and uniquely polite co-delegates that made the WASMUN conference the best. From my experience, conferences at other colleges are either too aggressive or too relaxed. I’d rather tell you about the too relaxed conferences in person, but as to the idea of a conference being too aggressive, I have a couple things to say. First, listening to others is extremely important. Talking over others will only leave you with less information. Second, winning awards may make you feel good initially, but the award means nothing if you did not earn it by working with others and being polite to others.

I hope you will be intrigued by the topics for our committee—Chechnya and Kurdistan. These two regions are fascinating to me, and they are important areas of concern in the world right now. Good luck researching these two topics!
If you need to contact me for any reason whatsoever here is my UW email address:



Chris Blair


Overview of the Committee
The Special Political and Decolonization (SPD) committee is part of the General Assembly (GA), the largest and most significant part of the United Nations. Since the General Assembly is the only UN organization in which all members are represented, it is usually the place where new ideas are proposed and where the most debate happens. Chapter IV of the UN Charter clearly lays out the responsibilities of the GA, and I will paraphrase it here. First and foremost, the GA discusses ideas and makes recommendations to its members or to the Security Council. This means that if there is a conflict between Nation A and Nation B, our committee can make recommendations to A or B, or make a recommendation to the Security Council for action. However, neither SPD nor any other part of the General Assembly can make direct decisions for the nations involved or instigate actions that the Security Council would normally make decisions on i.e. sanctions, military actions, etc. This is very important! This means most resolutions that come out of the General Assembly concerning conflict usually propose ideas or pass on a solution to the Security Council.
Due to the large number of debated items, the General Assembly allocates most questions to six Main Committees, the 4th of which is SPD. Decolonization was one of the biggest mandates of the UN after World War II, but has decreased in urgency. However, SPD also deals with conflicts between large and small entities, of which there are many. While decolonization has been successful, the solving of “special political” conflicts has been an unending, noble struggle that SPD must deal with.

Topic 1: Conflict in Chechnya
Statement of the Problem
Chechnya is a region that has faced a brutal and tragic history of attempted autonomy and repeated oppression. Now regarded as a Republic with the Russian Federation, a strong independence movement still exists which virtually guarantees further conflict. The independence movement has tried several methods in the past, but the possibility of a peaceful political change of power has been hard to achieve. In the past decade the region has seen two wars between the Russian military and the Chechen separatists and constant terrorist activity in the countryside and urban centers. The capital city of Grozny is in a constant state of ruin and is occupied by both the Russian Army and several militant Chechen groups. Abductions, organized crime, and terrorism have prevented normal economic activity and few foreigners ever enter the region.
The recent presidential elections have been openly questioned by several organizations, and the current president, Alu Alkhanov, has clearly intimate ties with Moscow. The best evidence of this is Alkhanov’s loyalty in defending the capital city from separatist attacks in 1996 for which he was decorated by the Russian Government. The leader of the resistance, Aslan Maskhadov, was once elected President of the republic, but is now barred from running. Alkhanov left Chechnya when Maskhadov was elected, most likely fearing for his security. However, Alkhanov returned in 1999 once the Russian Army had returned and has now worked his way up to the presidency. His presidency has ushered in a new period of Moscow influence in the region, but he has promised some moderate concessions to the Chechen people. These have included a new look at the oil policies, attempting to keep the profits of Chechnya’s rich oil reserves within the Republic’s borders. Attempts to reduce poverty may help both sides of the conflict; by increasing the wealth of the Chechen people they will both fund separatists and theoretically reduce the push factor for the recruitment of new terrorists. Another concession was specifically to the separatists: Alkhanov stated that he might consider amnesty for rebels who lay down their arms and reject their separatist cause. Despite these efforts, intense hatred still exists for Moscow’s influence in the region and Alkhanov could face the same fate as 3 out of 4 of his predecessors—assassination. This possibility looms large, especially following a declaration from Maskhadov that any new president would be killed. Alkhanov’s response to Maskahdov has been cold and reasonable, stating, “Maskhadov has only one chance—to apologize to the people whom he plunged into war and face a court.”
Compounding on this political conflict is the myriad of organized crime and vendetta-based organizations that add to the general chaos of the social and political structure of Chechnya. Most notable is the warlord Shamil Basayev, who has claimed responsibility for the recent Beslan school hostage-taking as well as several other extreme acts of terrorism. As a point of comparison, resistance leader Aslan Maskhadov condemned Basayev’s attack on the school and called the terrorists involved “madmen” for taking their anger towards Russia out on fellow Chechens. Meanwhile, as recently as October 31st 2004, Basayev has warned that he will continue his fight against Russia for a decade and that civilians will remain a target. Basayev and his rebel forces justify their extreme actions by pointing to Russian violation of international law by committing human rights violations and war crimes. In a recent interview Basayev stated, "If Putin doesn't want peace, we'll wait until he leaves, or if we can we'll send him directly to hell. Five years of war have gone quickly; another five or 10 years will go just as fast." This kind of extremely dedicated rebellion/terrorism exists on many levels in Chechnya, and has existed for quite some time.
History of the Problem

Chechnya has been fighting for independence from Russia since 1858 when Czarist Russia conquered the region before it could be established as an Islamic state. Eventually an autonomous region was established in the new Soviet Empire, called the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. This was not to last for long, and ten years later in 1944 Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin exiled the entire Chechen and Ingush populations to Siberia and Central Asia under a ruse of alleged collaboration with the Nazis. Thousands of Chechens died in this forced exodus. It would not be until 1957 when Nikita Khrushchev, a gentler Soviet premier in a kinder Soviet Union, restored this autonomous republic.

Chechnya existed in this form until the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 when the Chechen independence movement attempted to secede and create a new nation. A man named Dzhokhar Dudayev won the presidential race and announced a new Chechnya independent of Russia, later Chechnya would adopt a constitution creating a secular state with a president and parliament. This all comes crashing down in December of 1994 when the Russian military enters Chechnya in an effort to overthrow the independence movement. An estimated 100,000 people were killed in this 20-month war. Faced with an overpowering Russian military, the Chechen “rebels” seized hundreds of hostages in a hospital in southern Russia. More than 100 hostages were killed in a botched Russian commando operation. By 1996, Dudayev is assassinated in a Russian missile attack. Later that year some attempts at peace agreements were made, but they lasted only a few months. Eventually a successful ceasefire is called, and Aslan Maskhadov is elected.

Maskhadov has ideas of Chechen independence, but this issue is not addressed in the formal peace treaties that are signed in the upcoming year. In the following years of Maskhadov’s presidency, chaos continues to expand and many groups are impatient with Russia’s continued control of the region. A state of emergency is declared in 1998 when Maskhadov decides Chechnya has descended into lawlessness. Kidnapping and assassination are rampant. By October of 1999, the Russian government establishes a State Council of the Republic of Chechnya in Moscow and refuses to recognize Maskhadov’s authority. At the same time, the new prime minister, Vladimir Putin, begins a military campaign into the region under the banner of stopping terrorism. An estimated 200,000 Chechens flee the area to neighboring regions. By February of 2000, Russian troops capture Grozny. In may, Putin declares direct rule of the region from Moscow. Separatist/terrorist acts continue for several months. In the wake of the September 11th attacks in the United States, Putin clamps down harder on the region. Nonetheless, terrorism continues and so does Russian oppression. Human rights activists point out several dubious actions by the Russian Army, yet Putin has a continual supply of terrorist acts as evidence for the necessary military involvement. In October of 2002, Chechen separatists take control of a Moscow theater and hold 800 Russians hostage. 120 of these hostages are killed when Russian forces storm the building. This pattern continues to this day—Chechen extremists being faced by an even more extreme Russian military.

Past UN Action

So what has the UN done about this situation? The United Nation’s World Food Program has been in the Chechen area since January of 2000 helping an estimated 290,000 people affected by the conflict. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has helped out in the recent Beslan school tragedy, providing medical supplies. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has worked closely with Russia to improve the education system in Chechnya. The recent displacement of Chechens refugees to neighboring Ingushetia has been closely monitored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Concerning refugees the UN has been closely involved, supplying aid and applying pressure to Russia and surrounding nations to keep refugee camps open. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has personally condemned the recent assassination of the Chechen president and condemned Chechen terrorism in general. But the United Nations has refrained from condemning Russia in any way or proposing solutions that involve the apparent desires of the Chechen people. Significant room for improvement therefore exists. Should the UN take a harder approach?

Proposed Solutions from Two Bloc Positions

What possible solutions could end this conflict? Historically speaking, this conflict seems to be comprised of extreme action and reaction. The separatists are employing, by all accounts, extreme measures to get what they want. A good long term solution would try to offer alternative, peaceful avenues for attention for the rebels. However, peace talks have rarely worked between Russia and Chechnya, simply because of the imbalance of power between these two entities. In the recent climate of anti-terrorism, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has, some would say, hijacked this concept to fight against the Chechen rebels. What this has meant is renewed difficulty on the international stage to question Russia’s possible oppression of Chechnya. Due to the recent questioning of elections in Chechnya by several human rights organization, however, the UN must look into the possibility that Russia is not only denying Chechnya sovereignty, but denying Chechnya the basic right to democratic representation. This kind of human rights violation only fuels the separatists’ fire. Perhaps by loosening Russia’s iron grip on Chechnya the separatists would be more willing to come to a peaceful solution. The nations that have this viewpoint are nations that follow human rights organizations or do not have strong ties with Russia.

On the other hand, Russia may have a completely valid viewpoint of the situation. While some rebel groups seem to be reasonable, others led by warlords or vendetta-seekers are not. Many nations, including the United States, can see this problem through the context of 9/11 and sympathize with the Russian cause for peace by any means necessary. Does Russia have the right to protect its citizens in and out of Chechnya? Would a militaristic elimination of the rebels/terrorists be a solution? Or would this simply create more anger among Chechens and cause another mass uprising? These questions have no simple answers. Yet what does seem clear is that the United Nations should have a stronger voice in this conflict.

Topic 2: The State of Kurdistan

Statement of the Problem

Kurdistan, a region in Northern Iraq, is ambiguously autonomous. While still technically part of Iraq, the strong presence of a united Kurdish minority, as well as the strong desire for autonomy, has virtually created a separate nation within Iraq. The Kurdish region covers nearly 14,000 square miles and is home to about 3.5 million or Iraq’s 25 million people. To understand Kurdistan, one must understand the century-long desire for a sovereign Kurdish nation. In general, the Kurds are currently feeling optimistic about the recent overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, but there are several things that still stand in the way of a sovereign Kurdistan.

One current problem is that many in Turkey believe that the creation of a Kurdish state would pose trouble for the large Kurdish population in Turkey. This has created a certain amount of international tension over the topic. Another current problem is the large insurgency movement and therefore the continual war being fought for control of Iraq. The Kurdish region, however, has been remarkably free of insurgency and terrorism. Aziz Weysi, the commander of special forces for the Kurdish army, has explained a possible reason for this peacefulness. He says, “If you rule a country with oppression and force, you have to surround it with fortresses. But if the people are on your side, they become your fortress.” What he means by this is that the Kurdish people desire a peaceful Iraq, and therefore there is little reason for conflict. The United States has understood this and therefore there is little American military presence, and this has helped the Kurds feel better about the American occupation. Yet while the current conflict appears to be isolated to the southern region of Iraq, the future outcome of US military involvement in the region still remains a troubling uncertainty for the whole nation.

A third problem is the continual and persistent threat of international terrorism in the region. Kurdistan’s border with Iran has allowed for smuggling of weapons in and out of the region, and the potential for Kurdistan to become home to Al Qaeda cells or groups like Ansar al-Islam or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s group. While Iran has repeatedly denied aiding these groups, many US officials including the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell have hinted strongly at a connection. The new Iraqi defense minister, Hazem Shaalan, labeled Iran his country’s “first enemy”, and conflict between Iran and Iraq can only stand in the way of a peaceful Kurdish state. However, the Kurds are extremely hesitant to label Iran a trouble maker or side with Iraq in any way, as a top Kurdish official named Mohammed Saeed said, “They have been a friend to us. We do not want to have any problem with Iran.”

History of the Problem

The Kurds are a people that have been promised and denied a homeland repeatedly—from the British, from the Iraqi Government, and now from the Untied States. Over time they have established levels of autonomy and unity, but their freedom and sovereignty have always been in question. The Kurds had existed as a people under the Ottoman Empire until the end of World War I, when the British gained control of the region. The new Iraqi state was created in 1919, also under British control, and the Kurds were forgotten until 1920, when the Treaty of Sevres, signed by the defeated Ottoman government, allowed for a new Kurdish state as long as the League of Nations1 agreed. Kurdish people from many different regions could come together under this idea and form a new Kurdistan. Inserting the League of Nations clause into this treaty did little to help the Kurdish people, and eventually a justifiably impatient leader named Shaykh Mahmud Barzinji defied British and Iraqi rule and declared a Kurdish kingdom in northern Iraq. This would be the first of several attempts at sovereignty. This declaration fails to stop British forces, and uprisings continue to happen again in 1932 and 1943. In 1946 the British force Kurdish rebels to flee over to neighboring Iran, where they attempt to found a new Kurdish state in Mahabad. This collapses under assault from Iranian forces, and their leader, Mullah Mustafa Barzani, flees to the Soviet Union. It is not until 1958 that Barzani returns from exile, and he returns to a turbulent Iraq right after the overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy. The Kurds continue to mobilize until 1961 when the Iraqi government successfully dissolves the Kurdish movement.

Nearly a decade later, in 1970, a surprising turnaround led to some much needed amendments to the Iraqi constitution. These included allowing for Kurdish to be an official language, and recognizing that Iraq is made up of two nationalities, Arab and Kurdish. This surprising achievement quickly deteriorated, however, and attempts at an autonomy agreement are overshadowed by an Iraqi stipulation for the oilfields of Kirkuk. Barzani rejects this agreement, and calls for renewed rebellion. A parallel development, war between Iran and Iraq, led to renewed suffering of the Kurdish people. The Kurds side with Iran, and over the long war thousands die at the hands of the Iraqis. Those that are not killed in fighting or by chemical weapons are exiled into the mountains. When the 1991 Gulf War successfully stops Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from moving into Kuwait, the Kurds try again to have an uprising, but without US intervention fail miserably. 1.5 million Kurds attempt to flee the Iraqi military, but with Turkey closing its borders they have no choice but to once again hide in the mountains. The Kurds are then theoretically protected by a U.S. enforced No Fly Zone. International aid agencies attempt to help these new Kurdish refugees, while negotiations are made with Hussein for Kurdish autonomy. These fail and fighting continues, with Hussein enforcing a blockade on the Kurdish region. Conflict continues until the United States moves ahead with the plan to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
Past UN Action
The UN has attempted to aid the Kurdish people, but little has helped so far. One example was earmarking 13% of the revenue from the “Oil for Food” program for the region under Kurdish control. Other examples include UNHCR trying to aid in the voluntary return of Turkish Kurds back to Turkey. What the Kurds are facing currently, however, is the creation of a new government system, and this is the perfect time for the UN to get involved and make sure the Kurds get their say.

Proposed Solutions from Two Bloc Positions
In what ways can the UN help the Kurds? While it seems difficult for the Kurds to ever get their own sovereign nation with the current political climate, perhaps the UN can foster a new political climate—one where Turkey, Iran, and the new Iraq can all be comfortable with a new neighbor. This solution would be giving the Kurds exactly what they want, and hopefully would end any resentment among the Kurds towards the new Iraq. More importantly, this may stop the Kurds from being used as a tool to aid Iran in disputes between Iran and Iraq. Possible nations that would be looking for this kind of solution are nations that have previously been fighting for their independence.
Or perhaps a different solution, one that involves a Kurdish state in a larger Iraq would be more feasible. Many nations, not just Turkey, believe that creating Kurdistan would destabilize an already unstable region. By keeping the Kurds within a larger Iraqi nation, resources will be pooled and borders will be easier to defend. The nations that are looking for this kind of answer might be nations that have something invested in the region, for example the United States or nations that are allied with Turkey. Regardless, the UN needs to find a way to give the Kurds a home, rather than have a constant stream of refugees moving in and out of the region. There are certainly more solutions than the two proposed here, and hopefully they will come out in future UN sessions.

I hope that this synopsis has helped you understand the topics a little better, and sparked your interest. Now the ball is in your court—start reading newspaper articles, editorials, maybe even a good book if you can find one. Remember that you must submit a position paper on each topic from the perspective of your country, so the most important research you can do is to figure out your country’s specific stand on these issues. If your country has had little to say, then your research will help you establish a position for your country when you get to WASMUN. Just try and make sure your new position is not too far off reality. For instance, if the African nation of Mozambique had not made any statements about affordable generic drugs to fight AIDS, as a WASMUN delegate it would be safe to assume they would have the same position as most African nations and would want to lower the cost of these drugs to help their people.
Another note on research: do not plagiarize! This means do not find some other position paper for the same topic online and print it off with your name on it. This means do not copy paragraphs out of newspaper articles without quoting the article (in fact, don’t do that at all). While it is ok to work with others doing research, it is not ok to have someone else write your position paper. All of these points will become very clear once the conference starts and you are unable to discuss the topics you did not research adequately.
I have faith that you will be able to master these topics, and if you have any difficulty researching you can always contact me at my email, blairc2@washington.edu, and I should be able to help. I have included a brief bibliography after this that also should be of some help. Good luck and I look forward to seeing you at WASMUN 2005!

Try using a research tool like ProQuest that can search through multiple newspapers or magazines.
A sample of ProQuest Sources:
Chivers, C. J.. “A Priority as Chechnya’s President Takes Office: Staying Alive.” New

York Times. New York, N.Y.: Oct 6, 2004. pg. A3.

Chivers, C. J.. “Chechen Rebel Leader is Reported to be Close to Surrendering.” New

York Times. New York, N.Y.: Oct 23, 2004. pg. A3.

Fuller, Thomas. “Kurds Enjoy a Calmer Corner of Iraq.” New York Times. New York, N.Y.: Nov 3, 2004. pg. A6.
Thanassis Cambanis, “Along Border, Kurds Say, Iran Gives Boost to Uprising”

Boston Globe. Boston, Mass.: Nov 7, 2004. pg. A.1

Also try searching through the UN website (www.un.org). The News Centre can be particularly helpful.
The UN News Centre
Using a general search engine like Google can also be helpful, but remember—judge the validity of the websites. Just because a website looks official and sounds reasonable does not mean that it is full of facts. Make sure to remember the target audience of the website, and to watch out for websites that offer extremely simple answers to difficult questions or ideas that are not backed up by reputable media sources.
Finally, this website will help you find out more information about your nation’s position on many topics:
Permanent Missions to the United Nations

1 The League of Nations was the precursor to the United Nations, however the League had several crippling problems. These included: lacking armed forces, requiring unanimous votes, and the absence of several key nations. Most notably absent was the United States, even though President Woodrow Wilson proposed the League. In the end, the League was unable to prevent World War II and therefore failed to accomplish what Wilson had envisioned—peace in Europe.

Copyright © 2000-2005 Washington State Model United Nations.

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