The United Nations Human Rights Council is a UN committee dedicated to human rights, dealing with the promotion, protection, and improvement of human rights where they may not be so prevalent. Frequent talking points include the freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

The UNHRC is benevolent in its strides to ensure equality through human rights across the globe. Conducting checks on all 193 member nations, the UNHRC plays an important role in advising and ensuring nations are up to standards on their human rights, and is quick to point out any breaches. Drawing often on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and independent experts (part of the UNHRC’s special procedures), the UNHRC is a strong council within the UN.

The UNHRC is often a fantastic committee to be part of, given its controversial member states, and thus will be the platform for some of the most exhilarating debate at SPSMUN20.

Topic 1 – The Question of Human Rights Abuses in Kashmir: how can UN diplomacy prevent such abuses?

Many reports have emerged over the years about human rights abuses within the Kashmir region. Notably, since the Indian government revoked the autonomy of Kashmir and Jammu in August 2019, claims of brutality and abuse have emerged from what might be one of the most militarised areas in Asia. The UN must work to support the civilians who make the region their home, but it must also take note of the tricky geopolitics of the situation.

Territorial disputes over the region began only a short time after the current belligerents were founded as nation states. Since 1947, there have been multiple armed clashes between Indian and Pakistani forces over the region. Each government has a different, overlapping claim to portions of the region, further complicating matters. In the north-west, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir lie under the jurisdiction of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; in the south, the eponymous Kashmir Valley and Jammu—the only Hindu-majority area—in addition to Ladakh and the Siachen Glacier are administered by India; and in the north-east, the People’s Republic of China controls the sparsely-populated Shaksgam Valley and Aksai Chin region.

Questions delegates may wish to ask when writing their resolutions:

  • What can be done to de-escalate the situation in Kashmir? 
  • Ideologically, which involved party is your country most similar to? Does this affect what solutions your country will seek? How does your country value ‘moral’ solutions compared to pragmatic ones?
  • What are the relations like between your country and each of the three countries in the region?
  • How have each of the parties treated both each other and the inhabitants? What are their goals in the region? Would your country support them?
  • What are your country’s stances on the various religions present? Do they agree with the treatment of religious groups in each of the jurisdictions?

You can find a more detailed briefing pack on this issue here.

Topic 2 – The Question of Cultural Genocide in the Amazon

The Indigenous People’s land within the Amazon has come under threat in the last decade, especially with the increase of deforestation. The recent forest fires have not proved helpful either. The developmental policies of the regions surrounding the Amazon, especially Brazil’s, prioritise business, possibly with legal ambiguity. It is important that your country takes on a strong stance on this issue, as it could lead to one of the most significant erosions of Indigenous and Cultural lifestyle to date.

A solution to this could be to introduce significant international intervention into the Amazon. This could impede upon the sovereignty of nations surrounding the Amazon, and could result in a direr crisis, with those nations refusing, or even blocking humanitarian aid. One could also implement laws sanctioning or banning deforestation companies who have actively contributed to the cultural genocide. This could be successful; however, it would cause great unrest with those working for those companies, who rely on this work to provide for their families.

Questions to ask when writing your resolution

  • What can be done to alleviate the cultural genocide? Are any of these actions immediately something my country must rule out?
  • Has cultural genocide taken place in my country? Is it occurring right now? Has it been threatened with cultural genocide previously? Why might this affect my country’s stance?
  • Which party/political ideology is most prevalent in my country? How might their current policies or standpoint impact my country’s stance at the UN?
  • Have there been any developments in this case recently?
  • What are my country’s diplomatic relations to countries surrounding the Amazon?
  • What are my country’s diplomatic relations with the sitting countries on the committee?
  • What conditions must be avoided when coming to an effective resolution on this issue?

You can find a more detailed issue briefing pack on this topic here.