An International Conference on the Future of Africa
April 10-13, 2003
We are looking forward to welcoming you to this critical and timely conference on "African Sovereignty, African Perspectives". Below are the questions that we will be discussing during the weekend -- please consider them carefully prior to arriving at the conference.
We also request that each delegation prepare a 3-4 minute opening statement addressing what your country or organization hopes to see emerge from these deliberations -- specifically focusing on your goals and what you see as your role in effecting their outcome.
"The time has come that we say enough and no more, and by acting to banish the shame, remake ourselves as the midwives of the African Renaissance."
--Thabo Mbeki, President, South Africa
Committee on Conflict and Intervention
Committee on Humanitarian Issues
Committee on Debt and Aid
Committee on the Environment
Committee on Refugees
Committee on Sustainable Development
AIDS and Other Pandemics
Committee on Conflict and Intervention
The delegates are asked to develop two doctrines of intervention for Africa, one for security purposes and one for humanitarian purposes; as well as a blueprint for nation/peace building in the post-conflict phase.
In the charter of the Organization of American States, intervention is called for by the signatories if any of the countries suffer a coup that overthrows a democratically elected government. Under what conditions would African states call for intervention? What role should countries and multilateral organizations external to the continent play in either intervention or nation/peacebuilding? What are the necessary components for nation/peacebuilding that the delegates see as integral to every mission, noting that each mission will also have its own individual characteristics?
Congo's peace process is at a crucial stage of its life after a four and one-half year conflict in its eastern region that has cost the lives of more than 2.5 million people. Uganda and Rwanda sent troops into the eastern Congo in 1998 to support Congolese rebels fighting a civil war against then President Laurent Kabila. At the time, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia also sent in troops, but to back Kabila. Uganda and Rwanda ultimately split and sided with two separate rebel groups. Lengthy peace talks culminated in pacts between Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda, and power-sharing deal with their leading rebel proxies. Nearly all foreign troops withdrew from Congo by the end of last year as part of a 1999 cease-fire agreement. At the beginning of this month, several thousand Ugandan troops crossed the Congolese border to stop tribal violence and to root out rebels that they say are plotting against Uganda. Uganda was then supposed to withdraw its troops per a cease-fire signed in March calling for them to withdraw from the region at the end of April. Rwanda has warned it would send its troops back to Congo if Uganda did not withdraw. The Congolese government, rebels, political parties and civil society representatives are soon scheduled to ratify a power-sharing agreement and institute a transitional government. The groups signed the agreement Dec. 17, but since then fighting in eastern and northeastern Congo has intensified as rival rebel factions and tribal groups fight for control of mineral rich areas, which have been exploited by all parties. The Third Party Verification Mechanism, the team monitoring the peace process, is concerned about the fragile nature of this peace.
The delegates are asked to develop a peacemaking/peacekeeping plan that would ensure the security of the civilians caught in this conflict and the security of the countries involved in this conflict, as well as contend with the tensions over the control of the mineral resources.
(Collaborate with the Committee on Refugees.)
Who is authorized to act on behalf of a people whose sovereign interests are not represented by their government, or who have no government at all, or who are a minority facing extreme repression by a government claiming to represent the will of the majority? Should state sovereignty be compromised for humanitarian reasons? Africa has faced many of these challenges in the past, for legitimate and illegitimate reasons. Given UN peace operation failures in Africa, increasing attention is being paid to the development of continental peace operations and intervention models. When and to what degree should African states intervene in the affairs of their neighbors? What role do their special interests (political stability, territory, ethnic concerns) play in the decision on whether or not to intervene? Should individual African states be allowed to intervene at will? If not, with whose authority can they intervene? The United Nations? The African Union? The delegates are asked to reconsider the African Union's Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, and Resolution, the primary objective of which is "the anticipation and prevention of situations of potential conflict from developing into full-blown conflicts," and to develop standards for its implementation. The delegates are also asked to review the US-initiated Africa Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI), the France-initiated Renforcement des Capacites de la Maintien de la Paix (RECAMP), and the United Kingdom-initiated Peacekeeping Training Support Program -- all designed to train an African peacekeeping team for use on the continent for "African solutions for African problems".
The delegates are asked to design a single, new program that would take the place of these multiple efforts. Who would provide the troops and how would they be deployed in times of conflict, knowing that some concerns have centered around creating a regional hegemon in Africa? How and who should train the troops? What should be the mandate of the troops, would they be peacekeeping? Peacemaking? A combination? Who would fund this initiative? Who would equip this initiative? Who would provide oversight of both the decision-making process and of the conduct of the troops?
Committee on Humanitarian Issues
Food security has been an on-going concern in Africa over the last few decades. Famine, resulting from both natural and man-made causes, has affected the lives and the health of millions over the last 20 years. The World Food Program currently estimates that 14.4 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are on the verge of starvation; six million of those in Zimbabwe, which had previously been a food exporter. In December, the WFP launched its Africa Hunger Alert campaign to assist more than 38 million people. While many countries around the world are expected to donate either food or funding to meet this crisis, there are many challenges to its effective distribution. Who should be responsible for the distribution of the food aid? The national governments? Local governments? International NGO's? Local NGO's? Who will be accountable for the distribution and provide oversight? In many cases, food distribution has depended on power politics and political affiliations within countries? How should the aid community contend with this dilemma? Another issue raised is the use of genetically-modified foods. Should sovereign African nations be allowed to decide what forms of emergency aid they are being given? Should a nation be forced to accept any and all food aid? To what extent can a poor country be sovereign? Another issue is short-term aid versus long term assistance. While immediate famines and droughts bring much needed assistance, should the international aid community be focusing its efforts on providing Africa with the means to withstand and predict the droughts and provide for its own subsistence?
The committee is asked to make recommendations for a food security plan for Africa that addresses all of these issues, from causes to long-term solutions.
(Collaborate with the Committee on Refugees.)
There is an ongoing debate within the humanitarian aid and human rights communities about the role of aid workers in humanitarian crises. While humanitarian aid workers often see their responsibility as providing assistance to all people in need and not getting involved in or criticizing the politics of the conflict, of the country, or of the refugee camp; human rights advocates believe that aid workers must get involved, otherwise the risk is run of perpetuating humanitarian crises. If human rights abuses or the manipulation of aid is not addressed, there will always be a population at risk, they argue. Human rights workers cite the situation of the teeming refugee camps following the genocide in Rwanda -- aid was provided indiscriminately, to both non-participants in the genocide and to those who had killed. The camps were used to re-arm the Hutu militias, and the militias often used access to food as a means to increase their numbers. The humanitarian aid workers counter that only neutrality allows them to help those in need, otherwise they run the risk of being expelled from the country or the territory where aid is most needed. They argue that by the time international aid workers got to the camps, people were already dying from outbreaks of cholera and other diseases and that they did not have the time to distinguish between the combatants and the civilians. The International Committee of the Red Cross is one of the few, if not the only humanitarian aid organization, that has continually advocated for neutrality since its inception. Human Rights Watch continually advocates to address human rights abuses.
As a committee you are asked to construct a policy that will govern humanitarian assistance and address human rights abuses and dictate the boundaries within which aid workers must work; this policy will form the basis for a new African Union Agreement on Humanitarian Assistance that all signatories will be expected to uphold.
Non-governmental organizations, both international and local, often play a critical role in addressing humanitarian issues, from environmental advocacy to human rights, from food aid to developing civil society. However, by their very nature, NGO's are often accountable only to themselves and potentially to their donors. Their motives are generally altruistic in providing services to those in need, but they also must compete for funding with other organizations and must find ways to distinguish themselves. Sometimes NGO's might not see it in their interests, consciously or subconsciously, to develop local capacity and assist communities in becoming more self-sufficient. How well are local NGO's integrated into the process? Are they overwhelmed by the international NGO's? Another concern is the lack of coordination of the many NGO's that often flock to crises. What is the best way to organize all of the organizations on site? Should there be an umbrella body? Also, once NGO's receive the funding, there can be varying amounts of oversight from funders as to whether or not the money is used for the stated purposes.
The delegates are asked to develop an oversight and coordination body for NGO's operating in humanitarian crises in Africa.
As many countries are increasingly less likely to commit their troops to humanitarian endeavors, especially given the debacle in Somalia in 1993, the potential use of private military companies and mercenaries come to the fore. Are these PVC's an option for peacekeeping? For peacemaking? For separating combatants from civilians in refugee camps? For maintaining order and distributing aid in refugee camps? For protecting the resources and workers of multinational corporations?
The delegates are asked to determine guidelines for the use of private military companies.
Committee on Debt and Aid
Africa's debt incursion is a topic that has been debated for decades and has yet to be exhausted. The complexities of the circumstances under which the current seemingly unsurmountable debt has accumulated is one that leaves many economists stymied at how to begin untangling the intricacies. Sub-Saharan African countries spend about $13.5 billion a year to service their foreign debt. Since 1996, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), together with bilateral creditors, have managed a program for debt reduction for heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC). Even World Bank analysts agree that implementation of this has been slow and that today the remaining debt burden of most countries is still unsustainable. Almost all of the remaining debt is owed to the international financial institutions themselves, the result of perpetual recycling of earlier debt with new loans being used to pay off old ones. Can African nations simultaneously service these debts and develop? Have conditionalities placed on African countries by initiatives like HIPC hurt countries more then they have benefitted them? Does the term "development" need to be re-defined to fit Africa's current and long-term situation? Is agricultural resource development in sectors where the largest part of African populations work, worth investing in, or should Africa invest in educational and professional development?
The committee is tasked with developing a Debt and Aid Plan for Africa that addresses these issues.
As the role of multinational corporations grows in Africa through foreign direct investment (which doubled in the 1990s) and through the continued extraction of natural resources, should these businesses have a social contract with the countries in which they operate? How should the profits be divided? Should some of the profits be placed in a special account devoted to development (education, health care, access to clean water and other social development projects), to infrastructure development, and to the paying back of the international loans? Are companies obligated to withhold payments from corrupt governments and officials and to seek a third party to distribute funds? Can they enforce a management plan without the use of force? How should the workers be treated? Should governments sign over the rights to their natural resources if it means alleviating poverty and providing for social needs in the short-term?
The committee is asked to determine a policy that would guide the operation of multinational companies and foreign direct investment in African countries.
(Collaborate with the Committee on Sustainable Development on this.)
"The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is a pledge by African leaders, based on a common vision and a firm and shared conviction, that they have a pressing duty to eradicate poverty and to place their countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development, and at the same time to participate actively in the world economy and body politic...The continued marginalization of Africa from the globalization process and the social exclusion of the vast majority of its peoples constitute a serious threat to global stability. Historically accession to the institutions of the international community, the credit and aid "partnership" has underlined African development. Credit has led to the debt deadlock, which, from installments to rescheduling, still exists and hinders the growth of African countries. The limits of this option have been reached." NEPAD has far-reaching goals that would affect the sovereignty of all those involved in the effort to eliminate poverty. It calls for governing mechanisms that would delve into the domestic affairs and governance of the participating countries as well as regional cooperation to pool resources to attract more investors.
The delegates are asked to review the guidelines for NEPAD and to determine if its political goals should be separated from its economic goals. The delegates are also asked to determine what the regional cooperatives would be and how the investments and funding would be shared among the member states and the central, organizing body.
Committee on the Environment
The UN estimates that by 2025, almost half of the world's population will experience severe water scarcity and as much as two-thirds of the planet may be living under "water stress". Water management and the development of water resources today will determine water availability in the future. Better management of irrigation water would increase income of rural people and free up flows to be used for other purposes, like drinking water and environmental preservation. Inadequate financing for the development of modern water infrastructure is one of the biggest hurdles for many developing countries, but for any financing to be effective, it needs to be complemented by policy improvements and an approach that considers each country's specific circumstances and long term poverty reduction objectives. Water lies at the center of all development. Poverty reduction is not possible without delivery of clean water. In Africa, roughly half of the population does not have access to clean drinking water. Water can also be a bridge to conflict or partnership and peace as rivers and aquifers often cross or forms borders. This latter sentiment is echoed by Sergio Vieira, the director of Mozambique's Zambezi Valley Planning Office, who cites the evolution of the European Coal and Steel Community into the European Union, and suggests that the resource of water be used as the foundation for regional cooperation in Africa. Please consider the following issues in your deliberations: What are the major sources of fresh water in Africa? What specific challenges does Africa face in relation to water scarcity? To what extent can and should water provision be privatized and who should own the rights (there has been an explosive growth of three international water utility companies; they are just moving into Africa)? What tradeoffs should be made to ensure that a lack of water won't deter the expansion of industry? Is it acceptable for a country to forbid other nations to dam a river that flows through all their territories? Is it legitimate for a state to intervene in the affairs of another state if they fear that their water security is at risk? How might it be possible to persuade outside actors that it is in their best interests to promote a reliable water supply in Africa?
The committee is asked to develop the African Water Initiative for the 21st Century.
Conflict diamonds are diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council. Three quarters of the world's diamond supply originates in Africa (coming primarily from the countries of Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo). This diamond industry has often been used to finance and prolong armed conflicts, most recently in Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Please consider the following questions: Additional sanctions on trade in natural resources may damage an already desperate economy; what are some ways to address this? How is it possible to prevent the smuggling of diamonds into a third country, where the diamonds may get mixed in with legally-mined diamonds? What is the best way to conduct monitoring efficiently? Who should conduct the monitoring? How should diamond production be controlled, and by whom? How is it possible to keep international diamond companies accountable?
The committee is asked to develop a comprehensive strategy to prevent the illegal mining and selling of diamonds for the purpose of sponsoring and prolonging warfare in Africa.
In December 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was formally adopted by 160 nations as an international effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For over a decade, international efforts to address the threat of human-induced climate change have grappled with the respective roles and responsibilities of different countries at differing levels of development. Under the Protocol, developing and industrialized countries have common but different responsibilities in preventing an increase in climate change. Currently, developing countries are not bound by formal emission requirements. The timing, extent and nature of more formal developing country participation in the efforts to reduce global emissions are highly controversial issues. Developed nations have had their opportunity to industrialize, and while they grew and modernized, the environment suffered‹resulting in much of the current situation. What responsibility do the developed countries have to adjust their own levels of pollution? Should they be able to "buy" emissions from developing countries? What should the developing countries receive in return? What role should technology play in these exchanges? What should be the obligations of African countries as they continue their development and strive to meet the needs of their people?
The delegates are asked to write an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol on the rights and responsibilities of the African states.
Committee on Refugees
Large-scale conflicts produce equally large-scale movements of populations. These internally displaced persons (IDP) face great danger during the period they are moving away from conflict and seeking refuge in other regions. The case of Cote D'Ivoire is a case in point. With the advance of rebel soldiers, civilians often leave their villages, fearing the reprisals of rebels and the violence between the rebels and government forces. How can the movement of IDP's away from zones of conflict be expedited? Once the refugees have relocated, the squalid conditions of camps often present a whole new danger. Not only are disease and hunger prevalent, but the ethnic divides that caused the conflict can put communities of refugees at odds. In the case where protracted conflicts make it impossible for large numbers of refugees to return, when does resettlement become an option?
Develop a doctrine that factors in both the economic and political ramifications of resettlement projects and that gives prescriptions to move IDP from zones of conflict into refugee camps and finally to resettlement as fast as possible? This plan should integrate humanitarian aid and conflict resolution so that the refugee camps do not mirror the places the refugees fled from in the first place.
Refugee children are among the most vulnerable children in the world. More than half of the world's refugees are children yet their rights and special protection needs as children are often neglected. Article 22 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child grants special protection to refugee children. Refugee children who are not being cared for by their parents are entitled to further protections from the state and international agencies. Yet this is rarely the case. In some refugee camps in Africa, Human Rights Watch found that girls as young as 12 may feel that they have no choice but to work as child prostitutes in order to support themselves and their families. Furthermore, refugee children are particularly at risk of being recruited and used as soldiers. In many of the conflicts in Africa, children as young as seven risk being abducted by raiding rebel forces or being used by the government civil defense forces. These child soldiers are separated from their families and once the conflict has ended, often become Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) in their own countries, finding it difficult to re-integrate into school and society.
This committee is asked to make recommendations on how to strengthen the Convention on the Rights of the Child, specifically addressing the issues of child soldiers and post-conflict reintegration.
The ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has produced over 2.3 million displaced persons. In addition, 300,000 refugees have fled conflicts in neighboring countries to seek refuge in the DRC. The nature of the conflict in the DRC is one that is particularly difficult to deal with because of the involvement of many neighboring nations. At the height of the conflict, as many as eight countries and seven insurgent groups were involved. The large number of refugees represent, on the one hand a great humanitarian disaster, but on the other hand a tool that combatants can use against each other.
Develop a plan that identifies the greatest dangers to the safety of refugees in the DRC. As a committee of delegates, how can the numerous different sides be brought to the table to negotiate safe passage for refugees, and further how can the warring parties be convinced to protect non-combatant refugee groups? (Collaborate with the Committee on Conflict and Intervention.)
Nearly 30 million Africans could be facing famine within months. Estimates from UN agencies, African governments, and relief charities put the number at risk in the Horn of Africa at about 15 million, over 14 million in southern Africa, and hundreds of thousands in the Sahel region of West Africa. Famine producing factors include drought, armed conflict, corruption, mismanagement of food supplies, environmental degradation, and harmful trade policies. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that every year 40%-50% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa goes hungry and that the region "is worse off nutritionally today than it was 30 years ago". In a list of 18 Africa countries facing food emergencies in 2001, the FAO found that eight were experiencing civil strife and three were suffering the after-effects of conflict, such as internally displaced peoples (IDPs) and returning refugees. This means that the great responsibility of feeding the starving largely falls upon refugee camps and humanitarian organizations.
This committee is asked to make recommendations that address the issues of famine, distribution of food aid, and how to feed populations without creating dependency.
(Collaborate with the Committee on Humanitarian Issues.)
Committee on Sustainable Development
The World Bank holds a contest every year called Development Marketplace. This contest theoretically intends to encourage grassroots solutions to African development problems. The World Bank awards millions of dollars to the company, corporation, NGO, person or group of people who come up with the most inventive and feasible entrepreneurial innovation for eradicating poverty in Africa.
Either as a whole committee or in self-established coalitions based on your delegations' interests, design a business development idea for Africa that would promote economic growth and hopefully also encourage self-sustainability within Africa. Think of this as a business pitch‹your idea can be a new product made from African resources, a new agricultural strategy, a new way to manage foreign investment, etc. (If you do this in smaller groups, then the plans will be presented at the last committee meeting; if you do this as a committee, then it will be presented at the closing ceremony.)
Lack of good, accessible education is at the root of many of the obstacles that stand in the way of sustainable development in Africa (and the rest of the world). However, education is often an area that demands attention from all levels of government‹state, local, national and maybe even international.
It is this committee's responsibility to develop a multi-level education plan for Africa that establishes how communities, nations, regions, NGOs, external aid providers and any other internal or external actor that you may identify as significant are to work together to provide accessible education to all who are in need. This includes addressing the digital divide that continues to grow.
Africa's economy right now is almost entirely based on its agricultural and natural resource exports but it often misuses its own resources or finds itself being exploited by other countries and corporations. One such example is the Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique. Owned jointly by the South African, Mozambican, and Portuguese governments, it was built to electrify Mozambique, but the country remains pitch dark. Based on a 1984 contract, the company operating the dam is obliged to sell most of its output to South Africa at a very low price, fixed until 2030, and Mozambique imports the electricity at market prices, approximately ten times the price that South Africa pays. While Africa clearly needs and openly invites foreign investment, should it stand for being what many would consider exploited for its natural resources? Owevwe and Opherin, communities in Ughelli North, West Africa, recently came together to give the Shell gas company a two-week ultimatum where the corporation must withdraw soldiers currently blocking roads leading to the towns, decrease the number of oil wells they have been exploiting in the area, and provide water to the communities in order to compensate for what they ruined through oil mismanagement.
Prepare an agreement that African countries, multinational corporations and other external actors can all consent to that maintains foreign capital in the continent but adequately reimburses Africans for its resources.
(Collaborate with the Committee on Debt and Aid on this.)
Four of the world's largest agricultural companies have agreed to share their technology for free with African scientists in a broad new attempt to increase food production on that continent, where mass starvation is a recurring threat. The companies, based in the United States and Europe, said they would donate patent rights, seed varieties, laboratory know-how and other aid to help African agricultural scientists who are working with small farmers to battle plant disease, insects and drought. A new organization, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, is being set up in Nairobi to spearhead the project. In an effort to cut through the thicket of patent rights and corporate interests that complicates many research projects in biology, the foundation will aim to identify crop problems in Africa that might be amenable to technological solutions. It then plans to negotiate with the Western companies for assistance and patent licenses and seek support from African governments to help put new resources -- usually in the form of improved plant varieties -- into the hands of small subsistence farmers across the continent. Because the companies involved sell farm chemicals, such as pesticides, and develop genetically altered crops, people involved said the foundation risks being seen as a front for multinational corporate interests. And, in part because the foundation will consider genetic engineering as one potential solution to the problems in any given crop, skepticism is likely from environmental groups, whose influence in Africa is rising. The foundation will be controlled by a majority African board.
Draft a resolution (a sort of "letter to the world") that details how outside countries, organizations, and corporations can be involved in Africa's sustainable development. Focus on specific areas in need of sustainable development plans (environment, energy, health, agriculture, economy, politics, etc.), decide which can most easily and effectively be supported by non-African investors/aid-workers/governments and describe how these external actors should play their role. What is the responsibility of the UN, of the US and of the former colonial powers in African development? What is the responsibility of African countries in African development?
AIDS and Other Pandemics
AIDS destroys white blood cells, destroys lives, and destroys economies. For two decades, the pandemic has raced ahead of the global response. The destruction of a state's economy has enormous implications, and those implications can spur even more problems. AIDS has been particularly lethal to Africans, and consequently to states, at their most productive ages. Poverty increases the risks and reduces the capacity to respond. Death and illness of people in their prime dramatically reduces a state's work force, depletes its knowledge base, and substantially increases its health costs. As the president of Botswana recently remarked, the survival of entire nations is at risk. Just as the pandemic was taking off in the 1980s, the World Bank and the bilateral creditors that hold Africa's foreign debt were insisting on austerity policies that further weakened health services and accentuated poverty. Many countries were forced to cut health budgets and impose user fees for services that were previously free. If African countries are left to confront the HIV/AIDS pandemic with the small level of outside support they have received to date, few are likely to succeed in checking or reducing the pandemic. And success in any one country can easily be reversed due to the spread of AIDS among neighboring countries. No state is an island when it comes to AIDS, and there are no national fire walls. Are economic policies imposed by international financial institutions and demands for repayment of foreign debt among the causes of the growth of the pandemic? Do African countries need to shift their own budget priorities? What are the ramifications of a state losing its most valuable human capital? What measures can be taken to restore human capital to the region? What can be done to improve the health of Africans within this most productive demographic?
The committee is asked to develop a plan for contending with the economic consequences of AIDS.
AIDS is quickly proving itself to be a global issue, having already spread throughout Western Europe and North America, and looming dangerously over China, Russia and India. Yet until this point, the largest proportion of deaths, highest infection rates, and greatest societal devastation have all been centered in Africa. On who's shoulders should the responsibility of stemming this deadly virus fall? And while AIDS had been the focus of much attention, if not financial support, many in Africa continue o succumb to diseases that no longer threaten the health of populations in developed countries, from tuberculosis to malaria. Is health, as some assert, a basic human right, calling all who are capable into action? Should the high cost of drugs be protected by patent rights or should governments and the World Trade Organization (WTO) give priority to public health and override patent rights, if necessary, to ensure the cheapest production of essential medicines? What is equitable for both the people suffering and the companies? The committee is asked to deliberate on these questions and reach a consensus regarding the question of where the burden of addressing these health issues ought most heavily fall? Should it be based upon ability, want, obligation, all of these things or perhaps none? Can international responsibility for these pandemics be satisfied by those resources wealthy countries are willing to make available as development assistance, or does the international community share a universal obligation to protect the global right to health? And do countries have a national security interest in doing so? Have the countries in the region sought to cooperate to contend with these borderless diseases? Should they? What should be the roles of NGO's, both local and international? Should aid come with conditionalities, such as the conditions initially placed by the U.S. on keeping AIDS funding separate from family planing?
The committee is asked to create a document roughly outlining the proportional contributions of the member delegations to stemming the spread and strain of AIDS on the African continent for the near future, with reference to the fundamental question: is health a basic human right?
Societies assign different roles, expectations, identities, needs, opportunities and obstacles to men and women. Socio-cultural standards in many parts of the world often relegate a lower status to women. In Africa, this can translate into the sexual exploitation of women. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are often transmitted to victims of sexual violence and to women who are often forced to prostitute themselves to make a living. AIDS prevention is difficult within such a context. If African gender dynamics are one cultural barrier to successful AIDS prevention in Africa, what are some others? How is the cultural position of women indicative of other cultural barriers that make AIDS prevention so difficult? Can these barriers be overcome to improve regional health practices? Indeed, should they? Is it the place of Western countries and NGO's to encourage their own values in Africa, even if such values will yield improved health on the continent? Does Uganda provide the basis for a model of how to respond since the government has become strongly engaged in reinforcing early responses by the health sector and community groups?
The committee is charged with writing a comprehensive document, Cultural Barriers and Solutions to AIDS Health Education, addressing the aforementioned questions.