The Special Political and Decolonisation Committee (SPECPOL) is the Fourth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly and is responsible for a broad range of issues including decolonisation, peacekeeping, mine action, Palestinian refugees, and human rights. The committee also creates special political missions, coordinated by the Department of Political Affairs, that are crucial to the UN’s peacemaking and preventative diplomacy missions. This year, SPECPOL addresses maritime territorial disputes, intervention and the responsibility to protect, and slums and urbanization.
A draft resolution was formulated at SPECPOL and sponsored by the People’s Republic of China, Central African Republic, Hellenic Republic of Greece, and Pakistan. This resolution affirms the United Nation’s right to intervene in situations that threaten international peace and security, and it emphasizes the need for intervention to be a responsibility to both protect and rebuild. The sponsors urged the EU to consider the perspective of local actors to assess the situation. These regional actors can consider the question of intervention when the state has manifestly failed to protect its population (i.e. government has completely lost control and/or is clearly corrupt.)
The sponsors suggest that the situation be evaluated with a tripartite risk awareness system. At the first level, the possibility of conflict will be identified in a certain region (with the consideration of various factors such as ethnic tensions, political instability, or territorial disputes). At the second level, existing tensions within the zone will have escalated to a point where one or more parties are armed and there have been cases of minor crimes related to the tensions. At the third level, the tensions will have degenerated into armed conflict, with instances of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, or crimes against humanity.
The sponsors also suggest the creation of a Database Exchange Protocol (DEP) as a quantitative source of information when evaluating the conflict zone. This database would track the movement of militant factions, weapons, and terrorist groups. It would also track essential resources (such as fuel, drinking water, and fertile land) and evaluate the presence of local NGOs and available medical personnel. The database would also keep track of less exigent information – such as diplomatic ties between the zone in conflict and other nations through the presence of embassies and consulates. Historical information regarding past conflicts will be recorded as well as geographical information regarding the spread and density of population with regards to ethnic minorities and marginalized peoples.
Finally, the sponsors called for a restructured framework of the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions prior and post-conflict through UN researchers and reporters that will evaluate the degree of need. Cultural experts and linguists will assist in the troop’s learning, and educational courses will educate them on the local culture and morale of the victims of the conflict. Technological support will be provided through a Sexual Assault Prevention Program and street phone systems that will connect directly with regional UN headquarters and emergency centres.
While the Fourth Committee certainly moved slowly and took time to draft its resolutions, the resolutions thoroughly considered the needs of civilians and the circumstances in which intervention is warranted. By streamlining information (through the DEP) and communication (through troops and phone systems), the EU will have a direct impact on the country’s social and political climate.