The Fourth Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations is the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, otherwise known as SPECPOL. Established in 1993, SPECPOL is a combination of the Decolonization Committee (formerly the Fourth Committee) and the Special Political Committee. These committees were merged in 1990 when the United Nations established 1990-2000 as the “International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.” This was particularly important considering at the time of the creation of the United Nations, 750 million people lived in colonized territory. Over 80 former colonies have become independent since 1945. Today, in part due to the work of the Fourth Committee, this number has drastically decreased to approximately two million people living in colonized territory, which SPECPOL remains determined to address.
Topic A: Combatting Terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa, especially the Sahel, has become a hotspot for global terrorism. Poor economic conditions have made it easy for terrorist groups to recruit in the area. Without clear futures and safe employment, many young men feel despair and fall victim to propaganda. The deadly result is that terrorism-related deaths have grown by more than 1,000 percent since 2007. Furthermore, nearly half of all terrorism deaths globally in 2021 occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa. Islamic extremist groups like Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and Jama’at Nasr al’Islam are among the most widely-known groups, but there are dozens of active groups. These attacks have led to widespread political instability. Mali’s government has repeatedly collapsed because of how it has handled terrorism. The situation remains precarious, so the General Assembly must act now to bring stability to the region. Only with focused action can the UN avoid further avoidable death and destruction.
Topic B: Neocolonialism in the Lesser Antilles
Decolonization is the process in which colonial powers granted independence to their colonies. This process led to over 100 new states formed after World War II. Although colonies were granted independence, the new states still relied politically and economically on others. This is particularly true in the Lesser Antilles, a chain of small islands in the Caribbean Sea. Islands like Antigua, St. Kitts, and Trinidad still suffer from weak institutions and fragile economies dependent on tourism. While governments have tried to create stronger, more diverse economies, centuries of colonial rule left these islands with difficult structural challenges. Today, many of these countries rely on strict International Monetary Fund programs to survive. These programs allow other governments to dictate how their economies are run, continuing the harmful cycle of dependence. For the states in the Lesser Antilles to be truly independent, they must achieve economic independence. Many countries will find that their post-colonial experiences are similar to those in the Lesser Antilles. The lessons and frameworks developed to assist these island states will benefit the entire global community. SPECPOL managed the process of decolonization after WWII. Therefore, it is SPECPOL’s responsibility to ensure that the legacy of decolonization is not tarnished by a new era of imperialism and servitude.