browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

Security Council (2023)


The topics covered in this chapter are a guide to help direct your research on your State’s positions. Updates on likely topics for the Contemporary Security Council will be posted online throughout the fall. The Contemporary Security Council topics below are current as of July 2022 and may not include all topics that the Council might discuss at Conference. With the ever-changing nature of international peace and security, what is important to the Council may change between now and the start of Conference.

For each topic area, Representatives should consider the following questions, which should assist them in gaining a better understanding of the issues at hand, particularly from their country’s perspective:

How did this situation begin?

Is this a new conflict or a re-ignition of a previous conflict?

How have similar situations and conflicts been peacefully resolved? What State and regional actors are involved in this conflict?

If there are non-State actors involved in a conflict, are there any States supporting them? If so, which ones?

How does this conflict indirectly affect my country? (regionally, alliances, economically, etc)

Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine

From 2007 to 2011, the European Union (EU) and Ukraine negotiated a comprehensive free trade agreement. The agreement was widely popular with Ukrainian citizens but became politically problematic when Vladamir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, announced his opposition on the grounds that the trade agreement was a threat to Russia. Political pressure from Russia mounted until Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych abruptly abandoned the trade deal in November 2013. In response protests known as the Maiden Revolution erupted across Ukraine. Protests continued for months and involved increasingly violent clashes between protesters and security forces, the eventual formation of an interim government, and the formal ouster of Yanukovych and his exile to Russia on 22 February 2014.

Protests against the new interim government began the next day in Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea. The Crimea region is 90 percent ethnically Russian, and a majority of its citizens backed Yanukovych and his pro-Russian policies. Protests continued throughout the week and on 27 February, unmarked forces began occupying key government buildings in Crimea. Under occupation, the Crimean parliament voted in an emergency session to form a new regional government around the Russian Unity party. Russia has since confirmed the unmarked forces were from its own Black Sea Fleet, which is headquartered in Sevastopol by treaty. With the Russian Unity party in power, Russia formally incorporated the southern peninsula of Crimea on 18 March 2014.

Also in March, separatists in the eastern region of the Donbas on the Russian border, including the major cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, seized control of the regions from the national government. The Ukrainian army attempted to retake control, but suffered a crippling defeat in the battle of Ilovaisk on 2 September 2014. The Minsk Protocol signed on 5 September 2014 and the Minsk II signed on 12 February 2015 established a tenuous cease-fire between Ukraine and the separatists groups in the self-governing regions of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR). The agreements also restored national border security and maintenance to the Ukrainian government resulting in a period of relative stability and peace from 2015 to 2020.

On 14 September 2020, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy approved a national security strategy that involved increasing partnership with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with the eventual aim to gain membership. The approved strategy was followed by a year of increasing tensions between Ukraine, Russia and NATO members, with Russia declaring that such an alliance posed a national security threat and limited skirmishes between Ukrainian and Russian forces throughout the year. By November 2021, the international community reported a renewed build up of Russian forces on the Ukrainian eastern border. After Ukraine rejected Russia’s proposal to reject NATO partnership on 17 December 2021, Russian troops also began to consolidate in Belarus on Ukraine’s northern border. Fighting began to escalate in DPR and LPR regions earlier this year on 17 February, and on 21 February Russia became the first United Nations Member State to officially recognize the regions as independent states. Minutes after a speech on 24 February by Russian President Vladimir Putin, wherein a “special military operation” was declared seeking the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine, Russia invaded Ukraine from the north (Belarus), east (Donbas) and south (Crimea).

Members of the United Nations Security Council drafted a resolution on 25 February deploring the Russian Federation’s actions, which was subsequently vetoed by the Russian Federation. On 27 February, in response to the veto preventing the body “from exercising its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” the Security Council successfully passed a procedural motion to call a rare emergency special session of the General Assembly to address the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine. The session has since passed non-binding resolutions deploring the invasioncalling for protections of civilians, humanitarian personnel, and journalists; and suspending Russia’s membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council. The emergency session of the General Assembly has been adjourned since 7 April.

Within two months from starting the invasion, Russia abandoned its push from the north and the objective to quickly take Kyiv. Instead, Russia has focused on taking the entirety of the Donbas region to the east and to cut off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea to the south by taking the cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa. Ukraine has been able to advance against these offensives, with significant foreign aid in materiel, but has withdrawn completely from the Luhansk region. On 27 June, European leaders formally accepted Ukraine’s EU candidacy, signaling continued support from western nations, though full membership is expected to take up to a decade to achieve.


United Nations Documents

The Situation in Afghanistan

The Afghan government, established and supported by the United States and its allies since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, collapsed in mid-August 2021 amidst the final withdrawal of American and allied soldiers. The withdrawal was in accordance with an agreement concluded between the Taliban insurgents and the United States. As foreign forces withdrew from each province, Taliban fighters rapidly overran the Afghan National Army, allowing them to easily seize control of the country. The capital Kabul fell on 15 August 2021, and the United States Armed Forces completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan on 30 August 2021.

The Taliban are now the de facto rulers of Afghanistan, and have begun forming a government. International observers have criticized the government’s lack of inclusivity, and raised concerns about the rights of women and girls under a Taliban regime. The Taliban has said it will address concerns about human rights only after it is recognized as the government of Afghanistan. It has also challenged the credentials of Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United Nations and nominated a new permanent representative.

Afghanistan faces a serious humanitarian crisis. The Afghan healthcare system is severely underfunded, and the World Food Programme estimates that only five percent of all Afghan households have enough food to eat every day. The United Nations has expressed a commitment to remaining in the country to help coordinate and deliver humanitarian aid; to this end, the Security Council authorized two consecutive six-month extensions of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on 17 September 2021 and 17 March 2022. The Taliban government has offered assurances that the safety and security of UNAMA personnel will be respected.

On 22 June 2022, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck Afghanistan’s Khost province killing an estimated 1,150 people. Special Representative Ramiz Alakbarov of UNAMA briefed the Security Council on humanitarian efforts after the earthquake. He also addressed ongoing concerns regarding human rights and the ongoing economic crisis since the Taliban assumed authority, as well as the country’s subsequent increased vulnerability to climate change. “We firmly continue to believe that a strategy of continued engagement and dialogue remains the only way forward for the sake of the Afghan people, as well as for regional and international security,” Special Representative Alakbarov stated, affirming patience is required for UNAMA to provide more than direct support of basic human needs.


United Nations Documents

The Situation in the Middle East (Yemen)

After a revolution in 2011–2012 that drove longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power, Yemen experienced several years of civil unrest and instability. In 2014, a civil war erupted when the Ansar Allah movement, commonly known as the Houthis, captured the capital city of Sanaa and drove the internationally-recognized government of Yemen to the southern Yemeni city of Aden. President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is in exile, living in Saudi Arabia.

In 2015, in support of the exiled Yemen government, a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia launched its first bombing campaign against the Houthis and imposed a naval blockade. Since 2015, coalition forces have inflicted massive damage to Yemen’s infrastructure and have caused substantial civilian casualties. The Houthis often responded to coalition airstrikes by firing ballistic missiles across the border into Saudi Arabia. As a result, over 23 million people in Yemen face a critical shortage of food, water and medical care. The damaged infrastructure was a major contributing factor to cholera and polio outbreaks in 2019 and 2020, respectively, while massive flooding exacerbates the famine and causes further displacements.

Concurrent with the Houthi rebellion, secessionist movements threatened to divide the government. In January 2018, the Southern Transitional Council (STC), composed of government leaders in southern Yemen, seized control of Aden, confining the President’s cabinet to his presidential palace in Aden. The STC was able to maintain complete governmental control of Aden, at times with direct intervention of international allies. Since 2018, Saudi Arabia has led negotiations between President Hadi’s government and the STC, culminating in the Riyadh Agreement in November 2019 for shared control of Yemen. As a result of the Agreement, a new cabinet was sworn in in December 2020, composed equally of northern and southern officials.

On 1 April 2022, the United Nations brokered a two-month ceasefire between the Yemen government, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and the Houthis, the first coordinated cessation of hostilities since 2016. Parties agreed to stop all offensive military actions within Yemen and across its borders, while limited commercial flights could resume in the still Houthi-held Sanaa. In the first month of the ceasefire, civilian casualties dropped by 50 percent. On the final day of the negotiated truce, United Nations Special Envoy Hans Grundberg announced that the parties were able to come to agreement once more and the ceasefire was extended an additional two months, to 2 August 2022.

Special Envoy Grundberg briefed the Security Council on 14 June 2022. Civilian casualties are greatly reduced; “however, casualties from landmines and unexploded ordnance are increasing.” There are reports from both sides of violations of the agreement, including some armed clashes, and all parties are meeting regularly to address these issues as part of the ceasefire framework. Full implementation of the agreement has still not been achieved. A critical outstanding issue is opening Houthi-controlled roads throughout Yemen, especially to the southwestern city of Taiz. Delayed implementation, and the ongoing humanitarian crises of water, health and education, threaten the truce and the crisis could soon deteriorate.


United Nations Documents

The Situation in Libya

It has been 11 years since the uprising in Libya that toppled the government of Muammar Gaddafi. Following the outbreak of the First Libyan Civil War in 2011, the Security Council passed Resolution 1970, which required Member States to prevent the supplying of weapons to parties in Libya or their representatives. The following month, the Council passed Resolution 1973, which authorized Member States to take all necessary measures to protect civilians, establish a no-fly zone and enforce an arms embargo. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) used Resolution 1973 as the legal basis for military intervention to assist the anti-Gaddafi uprising. Later that year, the Council passed Resolution 2009, which created the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), a political mission with a mandate to support the new transitional authority in establishing the rule of law. UNSMIL remains active today, last extended for 6 months on 29 April 2022, as does the arms embargo, last extended for 12 months on 3 June 2022.

After Gaddafi’s ouster, divisions among the participants in the uprising undermined efforts to create a new national unity government. A Second Libyan Civil War broke out in 2014 between the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the capital city of Tripoli, and the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalifa Hifter, which controlled (and still controls today) Benghazi and much of eastern Libya.

The LNA launched an assault on Tripoli in April 2019, but were defeated and forced to retreat after 15 months of fighting. Hifter’s campaign against Tripoli is reported to have received substantial foreign assistance in the form of weapons and mercenaries from Russia and the United Arab Emirates, though both governments deny direct involvement. The LNA’s failure to take Tripoli has been credited to intervention by Turkey, which supported the GNA with advisors, airstrikes and mercenaries. In October 2020, after a week of talks hosted by the United Nations in Geneva, the two sides agreed to an immediate ceasefire. Further talks in February 2021 resulted in the creation of a new interim government led by Abdul Hamid Dbeiba as an interim prime minister and a three-member presidential council.

Nationwide elections were scheduled for December 2021. However, they were postponed by Parliament days before elections were to occur, citing “inadequacies in electoral legislation and challenges and appeals related to candidates’ eligibility.” Dbeiba remains interim Prime Minister of the Supreme Council of State. Despite international pressure, elections are still not scheduled. Prime Minister Dbeiba has stated parliamentary polls may be held at the end of 2022.

Significant challenges remain despite this progress. Foreign forces, mercenaries and weapons are ever-present, threatening the peace and the establishment of a stable Libya. Both the GNA and the LNA have violated the arms embargo. Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Libya (ISIL-Libya) also continue to operate in Libya, fighting to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state. The years-long conflict has severely damaged Libya’s economy and healthcare system—the poor security situation and a lack of funding have reduced the number of functioning health facilities in the country by 50 percent since 2019.

Against this backdrop of ongoing humanitarian crises, the United Nations held talks on 28 June 2022 between Parliament and the Supreme Council of State to work out a roadmap for late 2022 elections. United Nations Special Advisor on Libya, Stephanie Williams stated, “despite the progress in this week’s negotiations between the heads of the respective chambers, disagreement persists on the eligibility requirements for the candidates in the first presidential elections.” In response to continued stalemates in elections and deteriorating living conditions, Libyans stormed the parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk and protests erupted nationwide. On 3 July 2022, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged peaceful demonstrations and restrained security forces.


United Nations Documents