- Debbie Adewale
- Juliet Goswami
- Nyah Devalle
One of what is considered to be the United Nations Security Council’s greatest failings is the lack of intervention within the Biafra war, also known as the Nigerian Civil War. For most Nigerians, the war over the breakaway state of Biafra is generally regarded as an unfortunate episode best forgotten, but for the Igbo people who fought for secession, it remains a life-defining event. In 1967, following two coups and turmoil which led to about a million Igbos returning to the south-east of Nigeria, the Republic of Biafra seceded. In response, the Nigerian government declared war and after 30 months of fighting, Biafra surrendered. On 15 January 1970, the conflict officially ended. During the war, there were 100,000 military casualties and between 500,000 and two million civilian deaths from starvation. Great Britain responded by focusing on how to receive the most oil which meant backing the federal government in the war. France, on the other hand, provided weapons and other assistance to Biafra, calling the war a genocide. The United States declared neutrality, but ultimately gave support to both sides. This lack of a unified response, focused on what most benefited the western nations exacerbated the crisis and now the international community looks back onto the military conflict that helped define how the world now views and responds to similar crises.
Many of the current problems in Nigeria can be traced in some way back to the Biafra War. This year, insecurity in the region persisted as Boko Haram and its splinter faction, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), continued to launch attacks against civilian, humanitarian, and military targets. Between January and September of 2020, 363 civilians were killed as a result of these attacks. These have also caused issues as authorities in Borno State in the northeast announced plans to send 1,860,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees back to their communities, even as safety concerns remain ongoing. In the northwest of Nigeria intercommunal violence has continued as herder-allied armed groups and criminal gangs killed hundreds of civilians, kidnapped people for ransom, and raided cattle.
This year on the UNSC we will travel back to 1966 Nigeria, and reimagine what would have occurred had there been international interventions. Delegates will use their crisis abilities and their GA resolutions to influence politicians and policy and accrue the power and resources necessary to shape the future of Nigeria for the better. The format of the UNSC has shifted slightly this year, and rather than the slow build to crisis of the past, the committee will flip between generally assembly and crisis each session. Sessions I, III, and V will be General Assembly while Sessions II and IV will be crisis. We look forward to meeting each of you, and can’t wait to see what direction the committee moves in!