Committee Overview

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: Ensuring the Safety of Journalists in Conflict Zones

Information is a powerful force, especially when manipulated or withheld during conflict. Journalists and members of the press constantly risk their lives to spread accurate information worldwide. However, in recent years, the dangers that journalists face have become more prevalent. 90 percent of murders of journalists go unsolved, while imprisonment of journalists is at a record high. Outside the safety of the press themselves, it is vital to ensure the accurate spread of information. Media coverage is a critical humanitarian and political concern, as inaccurate information can destabilize societies worldwide. Additionally, journalists are often prosecuted by governments that attempt to censor information. This is especially dangerous during the state-building process, where citizens must be informed when voting  or participating in elections. Without accurate news sources, interference in elections, the jailing of political opponents, or the restriction of political freedoms typically goes unchecked. The Special Political and Decolonization Committee (SPECPOL) seeks to protect the press and its vital role in the democratic and state-building process. Delegates must collaborate to ensure the safety and security of journalists while developing a strong communication infrastructure to reduce disparities in the flow of information.

Topic B: Safeguarding Peacekeepers in Armed Conflict

Since the first United Nations peacekeeping operation in 1948, nearly two million peacekeepers have served in over 120 countries. Today, over 75,000 peacekeepers are currently in service. UN peacekeepers often take on the difficult, but necessary, task of transitioning countries from conflict to peace. This is achieved through protecting civilians, monitoring ceasefires, and strengthening the rule of law. However, UN peacekeepers are regularly the victims of violence, with just under 5,000 losing their lives while in service. Of those, over 1,000 were due to violent attacks. Peacekeepers are constantly targeted through explosive devices, direct assaults, and criminal attacks. The risks taken by UN peacekeepers are only increased during armed conflicts. In conflict-affected countries, solutions to protecting UN peacekeepers are often vague and are worsened by existing tensions between local governments, national governments, and the UN. Delegates must re-evaluate current legal frameworks that protect peacekeeping operations, the role of peacekeepers in democracy and stability, and strengthen ties between the UN and countries in conflict.