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 recommendations for the promotion of international cooperation and fundamental freedoms for all.
Topic A: Access to Education for Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous people represent only 5 percent of the world’s population but 15 percent of the most impoverished. One cause of this poverty is their unequal access to education, most notably culturally responsive education. Article 15 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) states that Indigenous peoples have “the right to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination.” Sadly, the world has failed to live up to this promise. Most Indigenous peoples do not have access to education in their traditional language. Their studies often do not include topics about Indigenous culture or history, and that knowledge is increasingly forgotten. This alarming trend has even greater effects on the entire community as Indigenous identities erode. This educational inequality is the latest example of a long history of marginalization. While the UN cannot solve every abuse, it can help ensure everyone receives a fair and culturally responsive education. In this committee, delegates will work to fulfill the promises made in the UNDRIP. If successful, delegates will create a path towards a better future for Indigenous children and their communities.
Topic B: Violence Against LGBTIQ+ Communities
Although public attitudes towards LGBTIQ+ people have improved, violence remains a major issue. In 2002, only 1 percent of people said that homosexuality should be accepted. By 2019, that number had grown to 14 percent. Still, LGBTIQ+ people in Kenya still report experiencing violence from police and other civilians. Sadly, their experience in Kenya is not unlike other countries. 32 percent of all LGBTIQ+ people in the Republic of Georgia report having been violently attacked. In Honduras, local groups documented 31 targeted murders of LGBTIQ+ individuals over 18 months. When LGBTIQ+ people and communities reach out to the police for help, they are sadly often ignored. Sometimes, the police even become the abusers. As violence in the developing world grows in general, it is important to protect this marginalized group. Delegates in this committee will act on SOCHUM’s commitment to LGBTIQ+ communities by finding ways to ensure everyone enjoys protection under the law.