The General Assembly Third Committee – the Social Cultural and Humanitarian Committee (SOCHUM) – serves as an organ of the General Assembly that focuses on human rights. Since SOCHUM is an organ of the General Assembly, any member of the GA is also a member of SOCHUM. The way that this committee runs its voting process is similar to many other bodies, in which, any issue presented is dealt with by a majority vote. SOCHUM has made its way to being one of the most vital bodies in the General Assembly. This is because the main purpose of the committee organ is to focus on the examination of human rights question and the promotion of fundamental freedom. SOCHUM today focuses on many different areas that can affect the rights of many. The committee looks into the treatment of children, the advancement of women, and protection of refugees. The committee also addresses important social development questions such as the treatment of refugees, juvenile delinquents, crime, drugs, and any other issue that can corrupt the individual right of a person. Since many of the issues involving human rights are so wide ranging, the committee works with other organizations such as WHO, UNICEF, and UNHCR to ensure that resolutions are strong enough to affect real change, and moreover, that they are effectively implemented. Coordination with other committees is essential for SOCHUM because the issues it deals with requires coordinated policy solutions across a variety of fields (i.e. Refugees, peace keeping development). One of the many successes of SOCHUM includes the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights during World War II. This draft emphasizes freedom, justice, peace, and overall human rights.
Another recent accomplishment of the committee occurred during the 63rd Session of the United Nations when SOCHUM passed [A/RES/63/117], which established ‘Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.’ An obstacle this committee faces is that resolutions are not binding to individual state members. Consequently, implementing resolutions can be quite difficult. Another obstacle that a fully implemented resolution encounters is the committee’s inability to impose sanctions and authorize armed intervention. At times it is simply a country’s uncooperative mindset that leaves issues unresolved despite the committee’s efforts. Nevertheless, resolutions passed by SOCHUM are significant and instrumental in effecting positive change. The social, humanitarian, and cultural issues brought to the GA Third Committee by all of the Member States have an impact on individuals throughout the world. The negotiations and draft resolutions are the result of Member States working together to create solutions that will ideally be implemented on a global scale. Every action of the GA is influenced by the national sovereignty of Member States, and although vital, this element has proven to be a significant source of disagreement within the General Assembly and its Main Committees. Creating resolutions that provide actions and solutions to global issues while preserving national sovereignty has proven to be a formidable task for the GA. Keeping in mind the words of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the start of the 62nd General Assembly, it is important that Member States maintain flexibility in negotiations for the purpose of “getting things done” in the UN and around the world.
*Please note that this committee will be split in half during HAMUN 43, and only the P5 countries will have spots in both rooms. SOCHUM 1 and SOCHUM 2 will discuss the same topics.*
1. Enforcing Accountability of UN Peacekeepers in Conflict Regions:
UN peacekeepers work in overseeing peace initiatives in war torn areas of the world and in areas subject to conflict and turmoil. Unfortunately, peacekeepers both recently and in the past have run into trouble due to sexual abuse charges and other harassment charges while they are stationed at work. Allegations of child sex rings created by peacekeepers in the Congo have surfaced recently leading to harsh criticism being placed on the UN for their laws and standards of accountability for UN peacekeepers. Furthermore, many accounts of sexual abuse by peacekeepers without any trial or punishment for the action have been noted in the past. Given the magnitude of this issue, there have been many calls by the global public to enforce stricter adherence to peacekeeper laws and holding peacekeepers accountable for their actions.
2. Empowering Developing and Underdeveloped Nations to Combat Human Trafficking:
The third committee of the General Assembly has had a long history of dealing with issues related to worldwide human trafficking. The topic of human trafficking stands as one of the foremost issues the General Assembly hopes to eradicate and many resources have been dedicated towards stopping the influx in human trafficking cases. Namely, one area that the General Assembly must put more focus on is assisting developing and underdeveloped nations in combating trafficking. Many developing and underdeveloped nations face rampant human trafficking problems and lack many of the necessary resources to tackle the problem head on. With this issue being a systemic problem that has plagued the developing and underdeveloped world, the General Assembly must step in and think of methods in which the combat against human trafficking can be taken to the next level.