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 recommendations for the promotion of international cooperation and fundamental freedoms for all.

Topic A: Improving Rural Accessibility for People with Disabilities

People with disabilities face different challenges, such as stigma, discrimination, poverty, difficulty acquiring a job, and more. Nevertheless, people with disabilities living in rural areas face even more hardships as they are less likely to have attended school, to be employed, to be treated by a health worker, and so on. For instance, people with disabilities living in rural zones are doubly disadvantaged regarding healthcare, as services are more limited in their communities. This is worsened by the lack of transportation and their increased need for medical attention. Significant steps have been taken to improve living conditions for people with disabilities in urban areas. Unfortunately, those actions have not been translated to rural areas. This severely limits their position in society. Out-of-reach infrastructure and limited economic opportunities are the leading causes of these challenges. Delegates attending the Social and Humanitarian Committee (SOCHUM) must work together to ensure proper accessibility in rural areas.

Topic B: Upholding Prisoners’ Right to Healthcare

In 2015, the Nelson Mandela Rules were established, named after the South African anti-apartheid activist. These rules are based on the obligation to provide prisoners with the respect deserved by all human beings and emphasize that the provision of health care is the responsibility of the state. Nevertheless, these rules still need to be implemented globally since laws and punishments within countries differ based on their histories, cultures, and political climates. In 2021 the global prison population reached 11.5 million people, despite decreasing crime rates around the world. This has led to increased crowding in prisons, meaning many prison resources are stretched beyond their intended capacity. Beyond this, healthcare positions in prisons are vacant in many countries. The physical and mental health of all people are fundamental human rights, and the same standard of medical care must be provided to prisoners as to the general public. However, as prisons are enclosed facilities, enforcing these standards is difficult to track, and prisoners’ mistreatment is high. Prison conditions worldwide still show a huge disparity, and the incarcerated population faces challenges on a day-to-day basis that are mostly unknown to those who have not spent time in prisons. These challenges add increased health and mental health risks to prisoners and limit the rehabilitative potential of their time inside, causing additional social and economic burdens on all nations. Delegates in SOCHUM will work together to create resolutions that uphold the human rights of prisoners around the globe through the assurance of better mental and physical health standards.