The First Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC), deals primarily with challenges to international peace. Working closely with both the United Nations Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament, DISEC strives to reach comprehensive solutions to a plethora of global security issues. At the 2014 Hofstra University High School Model United Nations Conference, the First Committee will (1) address the proliferation of private military and security companies and (2) further define the concept of “responsibility to protect.”
The term “private military and security companies” (PMSC) encompasses any organization that is used in managing violence on land, sea, or air. Despite international law that restricts the use of PMSC as mercenary forces, such companies are growing in number and strength. Further, the general lack of oversight of these companies has led to tremendous human rights abuses going unpunished. Complicating matters is the growing usage of PMSC by the U.N. in its peacekeeping missions around the world. Important questions to consider are the following: Under whose jurisdiction do PMSC fall? To what extent may PMSC participate in armed conflict? What role should PMSC play in U.N. peacekeeping and peace building operations?
Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is the theory that governments have a responsibility to protect people from the gravest violations of human rights, including genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and other crimes against humanity. Currently, the U.N. system and international law provide that the international community should use appropriate, peaceful measures to protect populations. Should those methods fail, the 2005 World Summit maintained that the Security Council had the responsibility to intervene with force if necessary. As questions arise about the scope of R2P, this topic has become more and more relevant to the First Committee. It is imperative that DISEC address this issue so as to promote global security and lasting peace.