Captured from Syria by Israeli forces during the Six-Day War in 1967, the Golan Heights has long been an area of contention between Israel, the Middle East region, and the wider international community. Declarations made last year by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel would never relinquish the Golan Heights have again brought the annexation of the area to the attention of the United Nations Security Council, which reiterated its rejection of Israel’s claim to the territory. The continued political deadlock over the Golan Heights is representative of the wider Middle East situation, further complicated by the spillover from the Syrian Civil War and the rise of armed groups like Al-Nusra. While UN peacekeeping forces have for several decades maintained a tenuous ceasefire line in the Golan, the involvement of non-state actors and a lack of state accountability for violations have continued to threaten the peace.
The council should consider the legality of Israel’s occupation of the territory, but more pertinently delegates need to seek a sustainable diplomatic solution to the escalation of tensions and instability in the Golan. To what extent can UN decisions on the issue be enforced, and do current resolutions sufficiently address new challenges posed by the scourge of war and terrorism in the Middle East? The stability of the region depends on how delegates tackle this multi-faceted issue while negotiating with the complex interstate relations in the region.
The Middle East is host to a disproportionately large migrant worker population compared to the rest of the world, particularly in rich Gulf States where migrant workers outnumber locals in some states. Under the Kafala system adopted by many of these states, migrant workers are beholden to their sponsors, which leaves them highly vulnerable to exploitation. Many migrant workers are unaware of such risks, and those who are aware might believe they are still worth taking in light of the economic opportunities present in these countries. Many argue that many Middle Eastern countries have not done enough to hold companies accountable for upholding the fundamental human rights and dignities of the migrant workers that they hire. This council will be tasked with addressing the root causes – both cultural and economic – of this issue. Delegates should also discuss how such solutions might be enforced, such that these national economies can continue to benefit from migrant labour while also protecting the basic rights they are entitled to.
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