Countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Mexico, Niger, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, Yemen
Topic A: Tackling child marriages as a cultural and social institution
Believed to be something of the past, child marriage is still an active custom and a worldwide issue, covering all continents, as currently 13% of girls under the age of 18 around the world are married, and over 60% of girls marrying under the age of 18 in six nations across the world. Child marriage is often an integral part of the cultures in which it is still practiced, a step for a young girl to take into womanhood. Many of these situations are not the choice of the child, and directly infringe upon their rights (specifically, Article 12 of Convention on the Rights of the Child). This issue has been addressed on multiple occasions, with some governments implementing laws restricting the minimum age of marriage to between 16 and 18. However, change has been limited and underwhelming, as the custom is rooted deeply in localculture: to many marriage is a tool to improve social standing, relieve a family of an economic burden, and provide protection for their child. Child marriage leads to numerous issues, including harming health of the mother and potential children due to domestic violence, continuing illiteracy as girls are taken out of school to take care of their new families, and the decrease in women’s expected earnings in the labor market. Thus, delegates of the UN Children’s Fund are invited to propose a resolution which addresses measures to tackle these issues.
Topic B: Providing mental health resources and reducing trauma aggravation for child refugees
Child refugees often do not have any stability in their lives; they have lost their home, their friends, their toys, their pets and potentially their family. Having endured such dangerous, turbulent and traumatic situations – those they went through during their time in the refugee camps but also before this whilst still being in their home countries, they then need to acclimatize to a new home; a new social situation; a new educational model, should they be fortunate enough to have access to education. The circumstances these children endure cause increasing levels of psychological morbidity, especially post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety disorders; which have damaging results including but not limited to: withdrawal, hyper-alertness, emotional numbness and re-experiencing. These psychological morbidities can have long-lasting effects on school performance, social development (and consequently, on later functioning in the workplace and/or as a parent), and long-term mental health. With reports coming in of children as young as 10 committing suicide by the masses, and with the numbers of international refugees worldwide being at 25.4 million – of which half are under the age of 18 – this is a matter of extreme importance. Crucial to working on a holistic way to deal with the situation is the discussion on increasing the mental health resources for child refugees in countries with a big number of refugees and finding methods that simplify and smoothe the integration process of child refugees.