United Nations Security Council UNSC
GROUP: SPECIALIZED AGENCIES
- Topic A: Burundi
- Topic B: Myanmar
TOPIC A Burundi
TOPIC B Myanmar
DELEGATION SIZE Double
- Grace Park
- Elisa Bayoumi
The unrest in Burundi has escalated into a humanitarian crisis with regional consequences that demands action. After a contentious election and a failed coup d’etat attempt in 2015, the country has been consumed by violent conflicts between the government and its opposition, mainly from security forces and allied militias. While the violence has not extended to the ethnic tensions between the Hutus and Tutsis that lead to the country’s brutal 12-year civil war that ended in 2005. The conflict has also caused a refugee crisis in the surrounding areas of Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that about 430,000 people have fled to the underfunded and overcrowded camps. As more refugees arrive, and there seems no end in site for Burundi’s violence, many experts believe that the refugees will need support for years to come as such refugees believe that they can never return to Burundi.
Therefore, international action is imperative for addressing the current crisis and preventing it from getting worse; however, action has proved difficult to achieve. The government has banned numerous human rights groups from operating in Burundi, as well as refused United Nations investigations into the ongoing conflict. Burundi further shocked the international community by becoming the first nation to leave the International Criminal Court despite a current investigation into reports of “killing, imprisonment, torture, rape and other cases of sexual violence, as well as other cases of enforced disappearances” within the country. Therefore, the actions of the United Nations Security Council must be swift, innovative, and effective in order to address the ongoing crisis in Burundi.
The UNSC can harness the might of the whole world to condemn and provide aid and assistance. However, to justify its use of power, the UNSC needs information. Without such information, confirmed by the UN itself, corroborated by international human rights organizations, and supported by its 15 representatives, even the UN Security Council can be powerless in the face of catastrophe.
This may very well be the case in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. In August of 2017, a insurgency groups comprised of Rohingya attacked Myanmar border guard posts. Myanmar’s government responded with what UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called a “clearly disproportionate response” that has spiraled into what “seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” Since then, eighty non-governmental organizations, including the Human Rights Watch, have appealed the UN Security Council to respond to the “genocide” taking place in Myanmar, and allow immediate and unrestricted humanitarian access to Rakhine. Due to the lack of information on the situation, the UNSC has yet to take concrete action or condemn Myanmar’s use of force.
In thirty days, after the first UN visit to Myanmar since the conflict began, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is to report on the situation in Myanmar. Regardless of what he finds, the UNSC must be prepared to concretely address the question of Myanmar.