League of Arab States
A. Assessing the state of press freedom and proposing changes to strengthen freedom of the press within the Arab League.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights under Article 19 states that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Nearly all members of the Arab League have signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights yet, yet only two members are in the top 100 of the World Press Freedom Index. 2020 has already seen five journalists killed in the region.
As we approach the tenth anniversary of the Arab Spring, what role does a free place play in stabilizing the region and promoting peace? What challenges do the Arab League’s goal of ensuring independence and sovereignty present?
UN: Demand to shut Al Jazeera a threat to media freedom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Thwp61FycTI
B. Evaluating the impact of the political isolation towards religious minorities throughout the League and its impact towards extremist group’s recruitment efforts.
The Middle East and North African region are over 93% Muslim. Over 90% of Muslims of Sunni, leaving small pockets of religious minorities throughout the region. Shia, Christian, and other religious minorities are targets of violence by terrorist groups and used as part of their recruitment strategies.
According to the United Nations, young people are recruited by extremist groups through the use of “real or perceive exclusion, grievance, or cultural threat,” which can often stem from generations of perceived threats or hatred of religious minorities within one’s nation-state. This is especially true for those whose nation has been engaged in conflict with religious minorities. (See NCUAR.org).
The Global Extremism Monitor (GEM) in 2017 recorded 6,310 civilian deaths deliberately caused by 47 violent Islamist militant groups in 1,510 attacks across 28 countries.
As the Arab League looks to curb terrorism and increase safety in the region, what protections do member nations have to protect religious minorities? What can the Arab League do to prevent recruitment by extremist groups?
A. Improving cooperation and information-sharing to fight terrorism and cross-border crime
Terrorism and cross-border crimes pose a persistent threat to the security, prosperity, and democratic norms of European Union members states.
In 2005, the European Council committed to a counter-terrorism strategy consisting of four pillars: 1) Preventing people from turning to terrorism; 2) Protecting citizens and infrastructure; 3) Pursuing terrorists to inhibit terrorism-related planning, communications, and funding; and 4) Responding to terrorist attacks in a coordinated manner to minimize the consequences of such attacks. Despite a shared commitment to these pillars, achieving outright success on these fronts remains formidable, in part due to varying political priorities between member states, commitments to civil liberties and the freedom of movement, and uneven coordination with nations outside of the European Union, among other reasons.
Due to many of these same reasons, combatting cross-border crime remains a tall order. Cross-border crime may include the smuggling of illicit goods, trafficking in persons, environmental crimes, cybercrime, terrorist activities, and illicit money transfers and laundering. A comprehensive response to the wide variety of cross-border crimes taking place requires a coordinated effort between all elements of the European Union, each respective member state government, international organizations, and third party countries. This coordinated response requires shared commitments to common ideals and practices around law enforcement, border management, and information-sharing.
European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) 2020: https://www.europol.europa.eu/activities-services/main-reports/european-union-terrorism-situation-and-trend-report-te-sat-2020
European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy:
European Commission Migration and Home Affairs: Counter Terrorism and radicalization:
European Commission Migration and Home Affairs: Organised Crime & Human Trafficking:
Frontex Cross-Border Crime:
B. Improving the quality of our air and waters
The degradation of European air and water quality pose a threat to human health and the environment. While the collective actions of the European Union (often in concert with non-EU nations) and actions of the individual member states have improved air and water quality in recent decades, air and water quality issues remain. These challenges are exacerbated by the global nature of air and water pollution, as the actions, or lack of actions, by partners beyond the European Union’s external partners can have a direct effect on European air and water.
Despite some success in limiting emissions of air pollutants, concentrations of such pollutants still exceed public health guidelines in many EU member states, especially in cities. According to the European Environmental Agency, air pollution results in a lower quality of life due to illness and an estimated 467,000 premature deaths per year. Air pollution can also have adverse effects on biodiversity and agriculture, threatening species and the livelihoods of individuals across the European Union.
Similar to air quality, European water quality has seen improvements in recent decades, but challenges persist around waste water treatment, contaminants and marine litter, the effects of climate change, and the sustainable use of freshwater resources. Clean water is an essential resource for human health, biodiversity, and economic activity across and beyond the European Union.
Improving European air and water quality requires sustained, coordinated efforts in the European Union and beyond, with the regulation of pollution-emitting industries and infrastructure and incentivization of improved environmental practices being at the center of all efforts.
European Environmental Agency: Air Pollution:
European Environmental Agency: Air quality in Europe – 2019 Report:
European Environmental Agency: Water and Marine Environment
European Parliament: Water protection and management:
Annesi-Maesano I. The air of Europe: where are we going? Eur Respir Rev 2017; 26: 170024:
Security Council Rules of Procedure
A. Armed aggression against the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Opposition leader Félix Tshisekedi was declared the winner of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) presidential elections held in late December 2018 and was inaugurated in January 2019. The transfer of power from former President Joseph Kabila, who ruled for eighteen years and had delayed elections multiple times, marked the first peaceful transfer of power in the DRC’s history. However, election results have since been questioned. Technical issues and irregularities, including a delay in voting for more than a million people, marred the election itself and polling data indicates that a different opposition leader, Martin Fayulu, may have actually won.
Tshisekedi inherited a number of crises across the DRC, including an Ebola outbreak in the east and ongoing violence across the country, particularly in the Ituri, Kasai, and Kivu regions. More than one hundred armed groups, such as the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces, are believed to operate in the eastern region of the DRC. Despite the presence of more than sixteen thousand UN peacekeepers, these groups continue to terrorize communities and control weakly governed areas. Millions of civilians have been forced to flee the fighting: the United Nations estimates there are currently 4.5 million internally displaced persons in the DRC, and more than 800,000 DRC refugees in other nations.
B. The Yemeni Crisis
Yemen faces its biggest crisis in decades with the overthrow of its government by the Houthis, a Zaydi Shiite movement, and the resulting offensive led by Saudi Arabia. The fighting, and a Saudi-imposed blockade ostensibly meant to enforce an arms embargo, has had devastating humanitarian consequences, causing more than one million people to become internally displaced and leading to cholera outbreaks, medicine shortages, and threats of famine. The United Nations calls the humanitarian crisis in Yemen “the worst in the world.”
While the Saudi-led coalition and pro-government forces have recaptured some territory, the Houthis retain control of the capital, Sanaa, and the ongoing chaos has allowed al-Qaeda’s Arabian Peninsula franchise to establish a foothold. The Saudi intervention is driven by Iranian backing of the Houthis, and the involvement of other outside powers, including the United States, raised worries that the conflict has become a proxy war. With numerous armed factions at odds over any potential settlement, UN-led efforts to broker a halt to the fighting have faltered.