1 SPECPOL Background Guide CMUNC 2011 Dear Delegates, Welcome to CMUNC 2011 and to SPECPOL! My name is Julio A. Cabral and I will be your chair for this conference. I am a sophomore in Cornell University majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations with a minor in International Relations. This is my second year working with the Cornell International Affairs Society in conjunction with CMUNC and I am eager to make this committee the best one in CMUNC! Chairing SPECPOL is especially exciting because I have been a delegate of various SPECPOL committees at different universities where I have made some of my fondest MUN memories. I remember last year at the UPenn conference when I represented Cuba dressed up as Fidel Castro. I was speaking Spanish everywhere and driving the Chair nuts with the entire scene (This does not exactly mean I am encouraging you to do this, but be spontaneous). In addition to participating in MUN, I am involved in the Student Assembly and enjoy politics and international affairs. In my free time I like to play tennis and basketball and on the weekends I particularly enjoy hanging out with friends. I expect SPECPOL to be one of the most interesting and dynamic committees at CMUNC. We will be discussing two out of three very relevant topics that are not often discussed in SPECPOL committees: Either we ll be talking about The Political Status of Puerto Rico, The Palestinian Refugee circumstances or the effects of the Space Debris. Puerto Rico is the oldest colony (territory of the U.S.) in the world; initially it was in Spanish possession but in the aftermath of the 1898 Spanish-American War it passed on to the United States. This is a very significant topic because it yet to be resolved, since Puertoricans are divided in three political status ideologies: Statehood, Commonwealth, and Independence. On the other hand, the Palestinian refugee situation is precarious, as many are displaced in different countries and an Israeli-Palestinian agreement has not been reached after 63 years of constant turmoil. Lastly, Space debris has harmful effects on several areas in general, it creates greater risk for any space faring mission. To gain more knowledge on these topics, I recommend that delegates peruse the SPECPOL website, available at and the decolonization committee of the United Nation s resolutions. I also suggest that delegates remain cognizant of current events, especially those that pertain to the three topics. International news sources such as BBC News and The Economist are highly recommended for this purpose. The forthcoming background guide will provide more information on both topics, as well as more sources to utilize. If you have any questions about our committee, CMUNC, or anything else, or if you just want to introduce yourself before the conference begins, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to a hugely exciting and productive conference in March! Go Big Red, Julio A. Cabral Corrada Chair, Committee: SPECPOL CMUNC 2011
2 Topic 1: Puerto Rico s Political Status: An Unending Struggle Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto, is a beautiful territory of the United States located at the northeast of the Caribbean Sea, just about 1,000 miles away from the coast of the state of Florida. Puerto Rico is composed of 78 municipalities, two of which are adjacent islands, Culebra and Vieques, which along with other islands, such as Mona, Monito and Caja de Muertos make it a unique archipelago. It measures about 100 miles long by 35 miles wide, giving it a premier geographical location right at the center of the Antilles 1. This has allowed Puerto Rico to be a crossroads of Latin and Anglo cultures, where an influx of diverse backgrounds---taíno, Spanish, African and American--- has shaped its society, governing bodies, and beliefs throughout its history. There are 3.9 million American citizens that reside on the island, of which about a third live in the greater San Juan area. Puertoricans enjoy warm weather year round to the extent that many believe it is always summer and look for every opportune moment to jump into the clear waters the islands offer. Since its foundation, the people of the islands have been exposed to Spanish, African, Taíno and U.S. influences, which have shaped their political discussions and history 2. Nevertheless, it has been the present relationship with the United States that has had the most salient effect on the political scale. Hence, different political ideologies have come to exist and frame the political arena in the islands, which is the core and most important issue that influences people s lives. Some believe that Puerto Rico should stay as it is, as a territory of the U.S. (confusingly named a commonwealth, such as the states of Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and its sister territory of the Northern Marianas Islands), others advocate for its 1The GreaterAntilles are Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. 2Scarano, Francisco A. Puerto Rico. Cinco siglos de historia `. Santafé de Bogotá: McGraw-Hill Interamericana, S.A, 2009
3 independence from the U.S., while a yet to be proved majority support the full integration with the U.S. through statehood. The island was officially discovered by the Spanish-financed voyager Christopher Columbus in However, it is believed that since the 8 th century the Indian, Taíno, tribes had already been established on the island, laying a foundation of traditions and cultural aspects that Puerto Ricans enjoy nowadays. When the Spanish colonized Puerto Rico, these Arawak Indians were forced into slavery, as well as many blacks that were brought from Africa. The Spanish constantly abused them in order to obtain as much gold as they could. Nonetheless, this scenario changed after the Spanish-American War in 1898 in which Puerto Rico ended up as a colony of the United States, establishing its present and long-standing relationship with the U.S. This crucial turning point forever transformed Puerto Rico s political and socio-economic history. For example, in 1900, the U.S. Congress approved the Foraker Act, which provided Puerto Rico with a civil government administered by presidentially-appointed governors, the last of which was a native Puerto Rican. It also provided for a popularly-elected nonvoting delegate in the United States House of Representatives. This newly-established form of government would resemble the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the U.S. government. Afterwards, in 1917 the U.S. government enacted into law the Jones Act, which granted U.S. citizenship to Puerto Rican residents, and created an elected Senate. In 1947, the political scenario kept transforming, as the U.S. government afforded Puerto Ricans with the right to elect their own governor. Right after in 1950, both the local and federal government made a joint effort to start a process that would begin the path to the local drafting and Congressionally-enacted local constitution, which is still today s foundational legal document at the heart of Puerto Rico s politics 3. Even though the islands first elected Gov. Luis Munoz Marin stated in Congress that the authorization to draft a local constitution in no way altered the islands relationship with the nation, 3U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Natural Resources. Political Status of Puerto Rico: Options for Congress 112th Cong., 1st sess., March 16, H. Rep. RL32933.
4 after 1952 he espoused the theory that Puerto Rico thereafter enjoyed a new political status which he called Commonwealth. Although Puerto Rico would be locally self-governed with its own constitution and flag, it would continue to be governed by a Congress in which it had no voting representation, founded in the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution 4, Art. IV, Sec. 3, cl. 2, which states that Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the Territory belonging to the United States. As a consequence, this special and unique political relationship with the U.S. has been the subject of recurring debate in Puerto Rico for many years. During the decades following these major events that defined Puerto Rico s political status, three major differing political ideologies have prevailed at the center of Puerto Rico s political life: Independence from the U.S. 5, Puerto Rico s current relationship with the nation (which the majority of voters consider a territory or colony), and Statehood. The cause for statehood is sponsored and promoted by the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico. Since its foundation in 1967 by former Governor Luis A. Ferre, the NPP has increased the support for statehood at the local level, as well as on a national scale. His advocacy for statehood dramatically altered politics in Puerto Rico, as soon as it formally appeared on Puerto Rico s political spectrum through the NPP. The political beliefs of the people, the voting tendencies in elections and referendums, and the governance/political agenda of the island were revolutionized by this political party, and ultimately transformed the political development of the island. In the elections of 1968, the Puerto Rican people elected Luis A. Ferre as the first statehood supporter who became Governor of Puerto Rico, ending 28 years of uninterrupted rule of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), which promoted non-statehood. This demonstrated how the people s political beliefs were changing as statehood gained support from those who originally sympathized with other ideologies. Nonetheless, statehooders have never won a referendum in the island and the PDP is still a serious contender. 4U.S. Const., Art. IV, Sec. 3, cl. 2. 5This ideology represents only 2% of the population and is not an actual contender in elections.
5 Moreover, statehood organizations were progressively being created all over the island, as well as in the mainland U.S. An example of this is the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association, which was founded by the current Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, and Secretary of State, Kenneth McClintock, when both were studying on the mainland U.S. in the late 1970 s. Other organizations that have evolved in recent years to support the cause for statehood that became increasingly popular are the U.S. Council for Puerto Rico Statehood, Mission 51, and Center for Puerto Rico Equality and Advancement. Although supporters for the status quo have decreased, the island is still practically divided equally between these two ideologies (statehood vs. status quo), with a 2% that supports total independence (Puerto Rico becoming its own country). This also opened the doors for a shift in the voting tendencies of elections and referendums. The percentage of the vote for statehood has increased over the years. Although Congress has never approved a federally-sanctioned plebiscite where the people of Puerto Rico could have the opportunity to express their political views on the status of the territory, the Puerto Rican government considered the initiative by doing three referendums in which the vote for statehood increased each time. At the end of the 1960 s in the first referendum, statehood obtained 274,300 votes, as whereas in the 1990 s the vote for statehood reached a high of 788,300 votes. Even though it did not surpass the amount of votes supporting the status quo, it did narrow the differential margin between them from a 21.6% in 1967 to a 2.3% in Consequently, this pattern became evident in the last elections when Governor Fortuño, whose platform s ultimate goal is to achieve statehood within the next years of his governance, won by the most prolific landslide margin that any gubernatorial candidate had ever reached, 224,894 votes. Governor Fortuño promised during his campaign that a vote for him would be a vote for holding a Congressionally-mandated referendum in which Puerto Ricans could choose their future. He obtained over one million votes, an accomplishment no other parties' candidates have ever realized in Puerto Rico s elections history. Thus, he attained a winning margin of 11.58% against the
6 commonwealth incumbent, Anibal Acevedo Vila 6. Nevertheless, it is yet to be seen if statehooders are a majority in the island, because, as mentioned, they have never won a referendum. As explained earlier, it took the NPP only one year after its founding to be in power and govern Puerto Rico. The advocates for statehood have been in power 2 more years than the originally predominant PDP, the supporters of the status quo. Moreover, the statehood movement has reached a point where today two thirds of the House, two thirds of the Senate, the Congressman representing Puerto Rico and over 60% of the municipalities are held by statehooders. Hence, the political agenda of the government has changed significantly from the one in earlier decades. Over the years, the Puerto Rican government has augmented their efforts to allocate more funds from the federal government, in regards to issues such as health care, transportation, and education. At the same time, Puerto Rico has sent more military men than ever into the U.S. armed forces against the war on terror. Lastly, the political agenda of Puerto Rico has notably focused on seeking support from Congress for the implementation of a congressionally-approved plebiscite where the people of Puerto Rico will be able to determine their political uncertainty and decide their future. A bill to that effect was approved by the US House on April 28, Nonetheless, the bill, HR2499, died in the Senate, as midterm elections passed in November and the issue has yet to be heard. In this piece of legislation Congress would have granted what it has never given to Puerto Ricans in 112 years: the sanction to vote regarding their preference on the island s political status. The author of the bill, Pedro Pierluisi, is a statehood leader and Congressman for Puerto Rico. After 1967, there have been over 35 federal reports and pieces of legislation that have touched upon the question of the status of Puerto Rico 7, 6Comision Estatal de Elecciones de Puerto Rico (State Electoral Commission), "Elecciones Generales 2008, (accessed April 21, 2010). 7U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Natural Resources. Political Status of Puerto Rico: Options for Congress 112th Cong., 1st sess., March 16, H. Rep. RL32933.
7 certainly characteristic of the impact the movement of statehood has had on the political agenda of the island. Although the cause for statehood has progressed over the years and has shaped the political life in Puerto Rico, it is still yet to reach its final goal of converting Puerto Rico into a state. The statehood ideology is at its peak at this moment, but there is a cultural factor that creates a division around this political cleavage, preventing it from succeeding. The argument of those who generate this ideological division is that there are strong differences between the cultures of Puerto Rico and of the United States, making it impossible for Puerto Ricans to consider themselves Americans or even assimilate into American culture. Specifically, they argue that the U.S. could not accept a state with Spanish as its official language. These opponents say that statehood would result in the loss of national Puerto Rican identity. However, these arguments are countered by statehooders who say that the U.S. is a place where the cultures of the world come together. For instance, since its declaration of independence in 1776, the United States of America has always been a diverse and multicultural nation that encompasses races and ethnicities from all around the world. Some predict that by 2050 the white race will no longer be a majority. The U.S. is rich in its ethnic variety from coast to coast, forming a nation where anything is possible for anyone, regardless of their personal background. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, and over 8 million live, work, and raise their families on the mainland. In terms of the language concern, English has already been made the official language of Puerto Rico. Additionally, federal activities in Puerto Rico such as legal proceedings are carried out in English. The education and usage of English in Puerto Rico are growing and starting to return to past levels of fluency, since Puerto Ricans are staunch supporters of their children learning English as the language of progress. Similarly, the situation is somewhat analogous to that in Hawaii, where Hawaiian is an official language, but it is still a state. Thus, statehooders argue that it would be irrational to say that Hawaiians stopped being Hawaiians because they joined the union.
8 Another factor that has effectively managed to hinder the efforts leading to the statehood of Puerto Rico is the structural factor of the tax argument. Supporters of the Popular Democratic Party deliberately argue that Puerto Rico should not enter the union as a state due to the fact that the people would have to pay federal taxes, leading to an increase in the poverty line. Nevertheless, statehooders denote that this is wrong, because the amount of money the federal government would tax the Puertorican resident would never compare to the amount of money that same citizen could have earned if he had received a paycheck in the mainland. The American family s income per capita in the mainland is three times as much as that of a resident of Puerto Rico, making the permanent union a better deal. Some say that if Puerto Rico becomes a state most families would be better off at the end of the day than they actually are now. Also, the Secretary of State of Puerto Rico, Hon. Kenneth McClintock, mentioned that last April 15 th, when tax payers filled out tax forms, 48% of American families did not have to pay federal income taxes, and 10% of the populace with higher incomes were the ones who paid 3% of the total payroll of federal contributions. The federal government established that a family with four members and annual income of less than $50, 000 would not have to pay federal income taxes ] 8. Additionally, adversaries of statehood claim that if Puerto Rico becomes a state it would damage the relative voting strength of congressmen, create an imbalance between party officials, and cause the loss of one seat in the House of Congress to six states. Critics say that this issue should not be a subject of concern due to the fact that it is an inalienable right of every U.S. citizen to have full representation by those who govern them. This raises the question of whether politicians should or should not deny an inherent right, because they might believe that the acceptance of a new state into the union would diminish their power or produce a disparity between partisan alliances. U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico have only one non-voting member in Congress and no representation in the Senate. If Puerto Rico were to come as a state it would have six representatives in the House and two in the 8See Reference # 6. Kenneth McClintock is the Secretary of State of Puerto Rico.
9 Senate. When Alaska and Hawaii where admitted in 1959 and 1960 the House was temporarily increased to Nonetheless, it is said that the number would be decreased again to 435 members because the next decennial Census would provide for such arrangement. For instance, the 2010 Census depicted that nine states 10 will lose a seat relative to the current allocation of House seats. Since Puerto Rico would be assigned six representatives when entering as a state, Congress could consider increasing the amount to 450 members in the House. This way the people of PR and of those states who will lose representation could be treated fairly, living up to the standards of the U.S. Constitution of 1 representative for every 30,000 constituents. Puerto Rico s U.S. citizens have been under the U.S. flag for 112 years. Since being granted such citizenship, many have worn the uniform in every conflict the United States has endured. Congressman Pierluisi has stated: we currently send a greater percentage of our sons and daughters into the U.S. military than all but one state, yet they cannot vote for their commander in chief. Congress determines PR s legal rights and has the power to decide its ultimate political status, but there is no fair representation, statehooders argue. It is poignant that residents of Puerto Rico have waged war and shed their blood in defense of American democratic values for over nine decades, but in that time have never been given the opportunity to express their stand about their political association with the United States in the context of a democratic process approved by Congress. However, commonwealth and independence supporters have an agenda, to prevent this from happening. Status quo supporters say that Puerto Rico cannot lose its Olympic committee and opportunity to participate in Miss Universe. On the other hand, independence followers, although a small percentage, say that Puerto Rico is a nation with its own identity and Caribbean culture. This has been an ongoing issue for 112 years. Is it time to end the unending struggle? 9U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Natural Resources. Puerto Rico Statehood: Effects on House Apportionment Congress 112th Cong., 1st sess., March 11, H. Rep. R California, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania
10 Information: Any concerns you might have please contact me, as this topic is my specialty and I highly recommend taking a stance in this issues. Countries should take a position of statehood, commonwealth or independence. Thus, then there should be an exciting and enriching debate putting forth the pros and cons of each one. Why one status and not the other, according to your country? 4. Although SPECPOL would not normally concern itself with such a topic as Puerto Rico, the U.S. has agreed to allow the committee to discuss it and take a position. Your resolutions and position papers may recommend courses of action, but cannot infringe on national sovereignty by forcing the United States to act in a certain way. The U.S. will take SPECPOL's recommmendations into consideration, and subsequently decide what course of action is appropriate. Topic 2: Displacement of Palestinian Refugees Statement of Issue As a result of Israel s 1948 War of Independence, between 500,000 and 750,000 Palestinian refugees fled what is now Israel between the years Today, this group of refugees has expanded to include more than 4 million, and has become the victim of one of the world s largest and most enduring refugee crises. UNRWA, or the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, is responsible for providing relief support to individuals defined as persons "whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 and 1967 conflicts.
11 One third of registered Palestinian refugees, about 1.4 million, currently live in 58 recognized camps throughout Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. A camp, according to UNRWA's working definition, is a plot of land placed at the disposal of UNRWA by the host government to accommodate Palestinian refugees and to set up facilities to cater to their needs. UNRWA also maintains schools, health centers and distribution centers in areas outside camps where Palestinian refugees are concentrated, such as Yarmouk near Damascus, Syria. The plots of land on which camps were set up are either state land or, in most cases, land leased by the host government from local landowners. This means that the refugees in camps do not "own" the land on which their shelters were built, but have the right to "use" the land for a residence. Socioeconomic conditions in the camps are generally poor, with high population density, cramped living conditions and inadequate basic infrastructure such as roads and sewers. i While administration and policing of the camps is the responsibility of host authorities, UNRWA is responsible for providing services and administering its installations. Due to the circumstances listed above, and increasingly deteriorating conditions for Palestinian refugees, the issue of their displacement has reached an unprecedented need to be addressed. Additionally, other issues like education, health care services, overall human development, and the sustainability of the UNRWA require attention.
12 History and Discussion of Issue UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), also known as the UN s Refugee Agency, is currently mandated to assist and aid refugees worldwide. Considering UNRWA s dwindling funds, ii it may prove important in the near future to discuss the UNHCR s possibly increased role and accountability in the issue. iii Additionally, the hosting of Palestinian refugees by nations like Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria poses various security concerns. For one, refugees are often targeted for recruitment by militant organizations including Hamas and Hezbollah. While many have argued the extent to which these organizations are terrorist groups or legitimate governing bodies, Israel and the United State continue to view them as high security threats. Recent complications in the situation include rapidly increased Israeli settlement activity in Occupied Palestinian Territory. iv As recently as November 15, 2010, the UN SPECPOL Committee has discussed everything from extending the mandate of UNRWA until June 30, 2014 to demanding an immediate, complete halt to Israeli settlement activity. In regard to the extension of the UNRWA, the committee recorded a vote of 163 in favor to 1 against (Israel), with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States). v Fruitful discussion of the issue will include recent developments as well as an examination of the varied interests nations may have in voting on SPECPOL mandates. Lex Takkenberg, Senior Ethics Officer of the UNRWA writes that it is important to engage in reflection and debate that might foster the Agency s continued success in fulfilling its mandate and help the refugees live in dignity pending a just and comprehensive solution to their plight. Indeed, his advice addresses one of the most fulgent aspects of the topic, ensuring dignity for the displaced refugees.
13 Major Past UN Action The displacement of Palestinian refugees and their right to return is often painted as more controversial than reality suggests. The UN has continually reaffirmed article 11 of UN General Assembly Resolution 194, first passed December 11, 1948, since its inception. Article 11: Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible. x Israel, considered to be in violation of international law, has continually contested the Resolution s guarantee of what is commonly referred to as the Palestinian right to return. In discussing this issue, it may prove vital to examine viewpoints of all blocs on the right to return, and the status of its enforcement. Questions a Resolution Must Answer As you begin your research, it will be necessary to keep in mind the following questions that all resolutions must be able to answer. Hopefully, there will be several valid answers, ensuring a lively and productive debate.
14 What can the committee do to uphold UN Resolution 194, and establish a universally accepted definition of the Palestinian right to return? What kind of administrative system could best ensure the well being of displaced Palestinians in refugee camps? Does the UNRWA hold ultimate responsibility for the refugees, and is the livelihood of these refugees incumbent on the agency s existence? How does Israeli settlement building in Occupied Palestinian Territory complicate the possibility of a two-state solution, and the future of displaced refugees? To what extent does a solution to the issue lie in the hands of external agencies like the UNRWA? Is the only true solution capable at the hands of Israeli and Palestinian parties? What can NGOs do to help the UNRWA in its aid to Palestinian refugees? How can the committee help reduce legal discrimination, and improve education for Palestinian refugees in host nations? How important is the past in dealing with the future of displaced refugees? Bloc Positions Israel: Israel has continued to build settlements in OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territory), despite international condemnation. Israel claims that the right of return, guaranteed by UN General Assembly Resolution 3236 on November 22, 1974 as an inalienable right, does not apply to Palestinian refugees. Additionally, Israel views Palestinian refugees as security threats, due to a history of recruitment by militant organizations like Hamas, and Lebanon-based Hezbollah. The presence of these militant groups has led Israel to erect walls and barriers that impede economic growth in Palestinian territories, and leave refugees further impoverished. While Israel remains at odds with the international community on the legality of the Palestinian right to return, it maintains that its actions are in the name of a security threat posed by the influence of militant groups on the refugees. Recent
15 actions, including a widely publicized raid on a Turkish aid flotilla headed to the Gaza strip, have led to an international outcry against Israel s handling of the Palestinian refugee crisis. United States: Quite recently, the Obama administration publicly condemned Israeli settlement activity, but has abandoned attempts to establish a settlement freeze. The United States maintains the position of being a staunch ally of Israel. Therefore, the United States continues to remain ineffective in affecting improvement in the Palestinian refugee crisis as long as militant organizations like Hamas, which as been deemed a terrorist organization by Israel, the European Union, the US, Canada, and Japan, is connected with the refugees. However, the United States continues to offer humanitarian aid to Palestinians. USAID, or the United States Agency for International Development, has programmed $3.3 billion since 1994, and is the leading provider of bilateral and development assistance to Palestinains. viii On the other hand, as recently as 2007, the United States signed a ten-year $30 billion aid agreement in military aid alone. In the midst of an economic crisis, President Obama included a record breaking $3 billion in military aid to Israel in his 2011 budget to Congress. ix Host Nations: Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria: The main recipient of Palestinian refugees, Jordan has long tried to maintain a delicate demographic balance between those of Palestinian origin and other Jordanians. In fact, the UNRWA currently estimates that Palestinian refugees compose 32% of the Jordanian population. Jordan has recently condemned remarks by a UN official who said that Palestinian refugees must not be deluded about their right to return and that Arab countries must resettle them. Wajih Azaizeh, the director of Jordan s Palestinian Affairs Department, deemed the remarks, made by Andrew Whitley, the NY director of the UNRWA, irresponsible. Jordan houses approximately half of all Palestinian refugees, and is the only country that has allowed permanent resettlement to some of the refugees. Lebanon, on the other hand, has long placed severe restrictions on Palestinian refugees in the country, largely as a result of structural marginalization and legal discrimination. According to one Palestinian refugee of a camp in Lebanon, Palestinians are deprived of all human rights, whether in
16 regard to work, health, education, safety, residence or shelter. Palestinians live in constant fear. However, recently, Lebanon s stance on the refugee crisis has changed. As of June 15, 2010, the Lebanese Parliament has considered a series of draft amendments that would Palestinian refugees in Lebanon with an increased measure of basic rights. While this may improve the situation for refugees residing in Lebanon, it is not a long-term solution. Syria has long attempted to help Palestinian refugees, and has been thanked by the UNRWA for hosting more than 400,000 refugees. Along with Jordan and Lebanon, Syria continues to support the Palestinian right to return. South America: On December 6, 2010, Argentina declared recognition of a Palestinian state. They announced that they were recognizing Palestine as a free and independent state, and that they were agreeing with Uruguay and Brazil, who had recognized the state of Palestine based on its pre-1967 borders. vi While they did not explicitly comment on the status of Palestinian refugees, the decision of these South American countries to recognize a free and independent state of Palestine represents a growing global response to Israeli settlement building activity. It is also important to note the heavy presence of the Palestinian diaspora in Chile, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras and Peru, although many of the Palestinians in these countries are not refugees of the 1948 War of Independence, but rather Christians who left Palestine during Ottoman rule. vii Possible Solutions: Possible lasting and durable solutions to the problem may include a further extension of the mandate of what was initially meant to be a temporary UNRWA. The UNRWA could play the role of highlighting the urgent need for a solution as a result of its long experience and knowledge of Palestinian refugees. Additionally, it may prove vital to foster a climate of inclusion in the international community s engagement with Palestinian issues. If the international community feels engaged with the peace process, and is lent a sense of culpability for the lives and futures of the refugees, progress may be be achieved. Most apparently, it may be important to provide Palestinian
17 refugees with the dignity of acknowledgement. If they are given a say in the process, political action may arrive faster, as the imperative nature of their situation is voiced. viii Host states also need to address security concerns posed by a population of malnourished, and impoverished refugees. Efforts need to be made by the UNRWA, and other NGOs, to help the host nations provide education and basic human rights to the refugees. Suggestions for Further Research While this background guide should serve as an introduction to the topic, it is by no means comprehensive of all information available on the subject. Further research should be done on the history of the conflict, especially in relation to your respective member state. It will prove essential to sift through un.org and unrwa.org for recent UN actions, in order to maintain a relevant and effective committee. Additionally, news organizations like Reuters, the Associated Press, and BBC news offer useful information on recent developments. It may also help to read political commentaries on the subject from a wide range of viewpoints. These can be found at the Huffington Post, the Economist, Haaretz, Al Jazeera, and Foreign Policy. If you really want to dig deep, it may help to consult electronic databases and journals at websites like oxfordjournals.org.
18 ihttp://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=86 iihttp://www.un.org/news/press/docs/2010/gaspd468.doc.htm iiiturk, Volker, and Elizabeth Eyster. "Strengthening Accountability in UNHCR." International Journal of Refugee Law 22.2 (2010): Print. iv"at a Glance: Occupied Palestinian Territory." Web. 23 Nov vhttp://www.un.org/news/press/docs/2010/gaspd472.doc.htm. vi Williams, Dan. "Israel says S.American Palestine nods hurt peace Reuters." Business & Financial News, Breaking US & International News Reuters.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec <http://www.reuters.com/article/idustre6b61v >. vii Gassner*, Ingrid Jaradat. "Palestinian Refugees Living in Diaspora." (PMC)-ãÑßÒ ÇáÅÚáÇã ÇáÝáÓØíäí. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec <http://www.palestine-pmc.com/details.asp? cat=3&id=1228>. viii ix x BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. "Fourth Committee Hears Palestinian Relief Agency s Funding Crisis on Knife Edge ; Nearing Conclusion of Work, Approves Texts on Atomic Radiation, 2011 Work Plan." Welcome to the United Nations: It's Your World. Web. 23 Nov <http://www.un.org/news/press/docs/2010/gaspd471.doc.htm>. 2. "Fourth Committee, Concluding Main Part of Session, Extends Mandate of Palestinian Relief Agency until 30 June 2014, Forwards Total of 27 Texts to General Assembly." Welcome to the United Nations: It's Your World. Web. 23 Nov <http://www.un.org/news/press/docs/2010/gaspd472.doc.htm>. 3. "At a Glance: Occupied Palestinian Territory." Web. 23 Nov Turk, Volker, and Elizabeth Eyster. "Strengthening Accountability in UNHCR." International Journal of Refugee Law 22.2 (2010): Print. 5. " UNRWA-Palestine refugees." UNRWA. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov <http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=86>. 6. Doing, By So. "Refugee Returns Possible Doorway to Resolving Arab-Israeli Conflict, Say Fourth Committee Delegates, as Israel Touts Cynicism of Israeli Practices Committee." Welcome to the United Nations: It's Your World. Web. 23 Nov <http://www.un.org/news/press/docs/2010/gaspd470.doc.htm>. 7. "Israel s Pursuit of Peace Façade, as Human Rights Violations, Untold Suffering, Blockade Persist Even in Life-and-Death Situations, Fourth Committee Hears." Welcome to the United Nations: It's Your World. Web. 23 Nov <http://www.un.org/news/press/docs/2010/gaspd469.doc.htm>. 8. "Severe Financial Shortages, Persistent Blockade of Gaza Strip Hamper Ability of Palestinian Relief Agency to Assist World s Oldest Refugee Population." Welcome to the United Nations:
19 It's Your World. Web. 23 Nov <http://www.un.org/news/press/docs/2010/gaspd468.doc.htm>. 9. Imseis, Ardi. "Legalizing Palestinians: The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law. Lex Takkenberg." Journal of Palestine Studies 29.1 (1999): Rsq.oxfordjournals.org, 31 May Web. 23 Nov Bartholomeusz, Lance. "The Mandate of UNRWA at Sixty." Refugee Survey Quaterly 28.2 & 3 (2010): Rsq.oxfordjournals.org. Oxford University Press, 10 May Web. 23 Nov "More Funding Needed to Rebuild Palestinian Refugee Camp in Lebanon UN Official." Welcome to the United Nations: It's Your World. Web. 23 Nov <http://www.un.org/apps//news/story.asp?newsid=36590&cr=palestin&cr1=>. 12. Williams, Dan. "Israel says S.American Palestine nods hurt peace Reuters." Business & Financial News, Breaking US & International News Reuters.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec <http://www.reuters.com/article/idustre6b61v >. 13. Gassner*, Ingrid Jaradat. "Palestinian Refugees Living in Diaspora." (PMC)-ãÑßÒ ÇáÅÚáÇã ÇáÝáÓØíäí. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec <http://www.palestine-pmc.com/details.asp? cat=3&id=1228>. 14. The Associated Press and Haaretz Service. "Jordan slams UN official for urging Palestinian refugees to resettle in Arab states." The Associated Press, 28 Oct Web. 8 Dec <www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/jordan-slams-un-official-for-urgingpalestinian-refugees-to-resettle-in-arab-states >. 15. LONG, TAYLOR, and ALISTAIR HARRIS. "The Silent Palestinian Refugee Crisis - By Taylor Long and Alistair Harris Foreign Policy." Foreign Policy - the global magazine of economics, politics, and ideas. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec <http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/07/16/the_silent_palestinian_refugee_crisis> vi vii viii Topic 3: Western Sahara Statement of the Problem The future of Western Sahara is an important one, and an issue that should be brought to international attention. Western Sahara is a disputed territory in northern Africa, which is also considered a Non-Self-Governing Territory by the UN (Non-Self-Governing Territories Listed by GA in 2002). The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples states that independence should states that "the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the United Nations Charter, and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and cooperation, and that steps should be taken to transfer, unconditionally, all powers to the Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories so that
20 they might enjoy complete freedom and independence." (Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples) The Declaration also states that the people of these territories should be allowed to achieve sovereignty through self-determination. However, Western Sahara has been unable to achieve self-determination. This is because of its nature as a disputed territory. Currently, Western Sahara is partially controlled by different groups. The nation is partially annexed and controlled by Morocco. Other parts of the nation are controlled by the Sahrawi national liberation movement, the Polisario Front, in the name of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which it believes it is the legitimate government of Western Sahara. It is currently in exile. The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples would seem to indicate that the people of Western Sahara should be able to achieve self-determination through free elections in order to decide who has the legitimate rule over the nation. However, Morocco and the Polisario have not been able to come to an agreement over which persons would have the right to vote in elections, and have reached an impasse. One issue is the question of whether Moroccan settlers in the lands of Western Sahara should have the right to vote in order to achieve self-determination. The two competing parties are under a UN-brokered ceasefire, but there is the fear that guerilla fighting could break out once again. In order for an agreement to be successful, the problem of who gets to vote will need to be resolved, while maintaining the security of the country. History and Discussion of the Problem Overview In 1884, Spain seized control of the area now called Western Sahara as part of its sphere of influence. In 1939 it became a Spanish province in 1934, called Spanish Morocco. In the mid 1970 s, Spain began a process of decolonization amongst its territories, including Western Sahara (Berke). The Polisario Front was established in 1973 as the representative of the people of Western Sahara.