Preventing the use of torture as a means of coercion
Article 5 of the United Nations Declaration of Human condemns torture by stating “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” However, what exactly is the definition of torture? Various international and national conventions seem to have a different definition. According to the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, torture is any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions. Despite the comprehensive appearance of this definition, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and misuse. Thus, while both international and domestic law denounce the use of torture, both illegal and legally sanctioned torture continue to be prevalent in both military and public institutions. Our role as we discuss this agenda in the Human Rights Council will be to address this pertinent issue and help find tangible solutions to prevent the use of torture as a means of coercion.
Improving Minority Representation in the UN
UN Secretary-General António Guterres once stated, “With the structural aspects of the reforms now well consolidated, it is imperative to keep the foot in the pedal to achieve the cultural change we need for greater collaboration across pillars and tangible results for people on the ground.” Indeed, the matter of UN reformation, and the intergovernmental organization’s position in the world of international relations, has increasingly become a topic of great discussion and debate. Although UN reformation is a substantial and lengthy process there have been many management reforms since its creation in 1945, but the current UN structure continues to possess its own flaws: and in particular in its lack of non-state actor representation. Although this is a relatively new matter brought to light, it is important here today in the Human Rights Council, to discuss the matter of improving minority representation in the UN and the possible new reformations needed in order for this cultural and political change to be possible. The matter of improving minority representation is also one that will necessitate much personal reflection in regards to different country positions and will thus call for much imagination in regards to, perhaps, a complete reformation of the UN? It is up to you delegates, in this session of the Human Rights Council, to take matters into your own hands, as you have the possibility to change the course of history for minorities and for all, to strive towards equality and equity.