Committee overview

The Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, or the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM), focuses on issues dealing with fundamental human rights in the international community. SOCHUM was founded in 1945 in reaction to the establishment of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The Third Committee promotes and enforces basic freedoms and ideals meant to be enjoyed by the entire international community such as the right to life, the expression of cultures, the freedom of political participation, the protection of children’s rights, and the promotion of social development, among many others. SOCHUM derives its legitimacy from the original United Nations Charter and operates with the goal of designing peaceful settlements for issues within the large spectrum of social, humanitarian, and cultural complications in the international community. This body does so by initiating studies that encourage the proposal of recommendations for the promotion of international cooperation and fundamental freedoms for all.

Topic A: The Disproportionate Impact of Environmental Degradation in Developing States

Between 400,000 and 1,000,000 people in developing countries die each year due to diseases caused by mismanaged waste. Waste dumping can include a plethora of pollution types including industrial waste, run-off, plastic waste, construction waste, and radioactive waste. This kind of pollution taints the water and air that people rely on, and can even polluting the soil, harming their ability to grow food as well. This waste can also damage the health of those working industrial jobs as well if proper protective equipment and procedures are not in place. Some of the health effects that waste can cause include respiratory issues, cancer, birth defects, genetic mutations, behavioral abnormalities, and physical deformation, among others. Globally, 93 percent of waste is dumped in developing countries and only two percent in the most developed countries. Therefore, developing regions such as South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are working to curb excessive dumping in their borders in an attempt to prevent these issues affecting their people. By examining the impact of these dumping practices, the international community can ensure that everyone’s universal right to good health is being respected.

Topic B: The Stigmatization of Victims of HIV/AIDS

According to the data from Avert, around 37.9 million people around the globe are currently living with HIV/AIDS and 21 percent of them are not even aware of their status. After the number of global cases started increasing dramatically in the 1980s, the stigma against AIDS/HIV patients became more common. Stigma rises from misconception and lack of knowledge in a particular subject. In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, the global public did not have a clear idea of what was or how it was contracted, which led to the creation of many misconceptions and myths that would even shape policy at the highest levels. Most of these misconceptions were damaging to people suffering from the disease, particularly members of the LGBTQ community. Although this used to be the community that suffered the most stigmatization during the AIDS pandemic, currently there are now other groups who are also affected by these misconceptions. The international community is active in the fight against this pandemic, as treatments are becoming more available and affordable. Until the disease is eradicated, though, people with AIDS will continue to be discriminated against, which the Third Committee must address.