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 the 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 is still determined to address.
Topic A: Promoting Sustainable Foreign Investment in Formerly Colonized States
Foreign investment is an integral part of globalization. Private companies and governments alike direct money and resources to other countries, creating the sense of global interconnectedness that brings peace and stability to the world. Foreign investment refers to the flow of capital from one country to another, creating a system in which the investing country has a stake in the political and economic situation of the country in which they invested. However, developing economies may also become dependent on foreign investment, making them vulnerable to corruption and graft. This risk is of particular interest to the Fourth Committee, as it leads to a state of decreased accountability of a state to its citizens, leading to instability and weak institutions. Being wary of dependent relationships is especially important in the context of former colonies. Former colonies were already in a dependent relationship with their colonizers, as their political system was controlled by the colonizing state and their economic activity existed solely to enrich the colonizer. Thus, foreign investment—specifically when it is flowing from former colonizing states and into former colonies—must be considered carefully to discern whether it truly promotes economic development, or if it reinforces a historical dependent relationship. Delegates will be tasked with evaluating the current situation of foreign investment in former colonies and providing solutions to ensure that future foreign investment aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Topic B: Addressing Political Violence in Contested Territories
The State Fragility Index evaluates 58 countries in the “warning” or “alert” stages of instability due to conflict and poor socioeconomic conditions. Political violence, in particular, is often exacerbated in regions where contested territories exist. Contested territories, by definition, are regions or areas where two or more entities are fighting for political control over an area deemed essential by all actors. This focus on a specific territory often amplifies the levels of violence that are used, with some contenders promoting policies of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Some examples of contested territories include Kashmir, Palestine, and Western Sahara. These conflicts are deeply rooted in history but see ongoing political campaigns for autonomy and self-determination. Yet, in order to try to limit levels of violence in both regions, it is essential for delegates to understand the differences in policies that led to their respective continuations. Among these include restricting due process rights, extrajudicial killings, and military occupation. Delegates will investigate what factors have led to political violence in these territories, including the historical, geopolitical, and religious roots. The committee will need to establish a strong vision for how states and the UN can mitigate political violence in these areas and ensure the protection of human rights.