By Lisa Martin, Head of THIMUN Qatar
This year’s conference theme for THIMUN Qatar 2016 is Peacebuilding and Reconciliation, a challenging but vitally important topic that cuts across multiple disciplines, is global in nature, and had enough ‘umpf’ to guide a myriad of specific committee topics. But practically speaking, when a conference theme is chosen, other concerns come into play: will it be of interest to students? Has the theme been done before? Have you stolen your competitor’s idea? In discussions in the THIMUN Qatar office, we narrowed down the choices, spending some quality ‘google time’ combing through various UN sources. At the end of the day, the topics needed to be accessible to delegates, and what we found was a treasure trove of material, often unglamorous work being done by committees and agencies at the United Nations, much of it focused on building stable societies and moving countries away from war and towards peace.
Good MUN delegates know that there are many factors that make stable and prosperous societies possible. Signing a treaty to bring conflict to an end is not enough. The right conditions must be there to allow peace to take root: former combatants, particularly young men, need jobs. People must trust authority again, and institutions like the police must be rebuilt. There might be the issue of repatriating refugees. Schools must be opened and infrastructure improved. Unhappy, hungry people with no options is not exactly a recipe for building peace, and so the concept of peace-building is a highly dynamic, highly complex topic that requires stability, political will, transparency and the input of many stakeholders. That’s what makes this year’s theme such an important and exciting one.
As a TQ delegate, if you have not spent time combing though actual UN sites, you will be missing the best resources out there. So I’ve shared a few of them here to get our participants thinking about this larger theme.
You should have stumbled across the work of the PBC very early in your research. The UN has a mandate on peacebuilding, and some concrete ideas on what that looks like. This cuts across committees, and knowing what the UN thinks and says on the issue is probably a pretty important place to begin your search. This website has links to the mandates, the agenda, past actions, and the actual structure of the Peacebuilding Commission. Who leads it? Do some digging here. Do not enter the QNCC until you have a passing knowledge of the work of the committee! (OK, joking, but others will know about the PBC, so you probably should too!)
One of my favorite documents is from 2010, and a quick glimpse through the first 10 pages gives you a good overview of the challenges faced by nation’s moving out of a period of conflict. This document talks about priorities, coordination, and being sensitive to HOW things are done as much as WHAT is done. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find the topic of women’s participation in peace-building (page 30) or the role of mobilizing and engaging youth (page 13). And if you want to know how the UN evolved its agenda to include peace-building (hint: it occurred under Boutros Boutros-Ghali in the 1990s) it’s in there too.
The Root Causes of Conflict: Report to the Security Council
Prevention, inclusivity and coherence: This is what the the Peacebuilding Commission sees as the three most important preconditions for building peace. See the speech here:
17 Nov 2015 – Statement by H.E. Mr. Olof Skoog, Permanent Representative of Sweden and Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, at the Security Council open debate on Security, Development and the Root Causes of Conflicts.
Peacebuilding and West Africa: The impact of Ebola
What is the connection between the devastation Ebola wrought and the challenges this places in those societies? You’ll hear some common themes from Mr. Per Thoresson Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden, on behalf of Mr. Olof Skoog, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission