Registration for the Spring 2020 MAU is now OPEN! The of the 2020 High School Model African Union Conference is Wednesday, March 25, 2020. If you have questions before then please email us at AfricanStudies@pitt.edu.
The Model African Union (MAU) for high school students will take place on Wednesday March 25, 2020 and cannot happen without the help of volunteers!
The following roles are available:
7:00 am - 8:00 am - Setup- Moving breakfast and supplies for lunch to facility, miscellaneous preparation - 5 Volunteers Needed
8:00 am - 9:00 am - Registration- Routing students, registration, and potential additional setup - 10 Volunteers Needed, and African clothing is encouraged
11:00 am - 1:00 pm- Setup and serve lunch, and maintain a clean venue - 5-7 Volunteers Needed
All Day - We need individuals to help us with miscellaneous things throughout the day. Students are welcome to bring homework and hang out in the William Pitt Union during committee sessions - 5 Volunteers Needed.
We also need MODERATORS - If you have experience with Model United Nations, Model European Union, or a similar event and would like to volunteer, email African Studies at AfricanStudies@pitt.edu.
If interested in volunteering this year please fill out this form.
8:00 am – 8:45 am: Registration/Check-In/Breakfast
8:30 am – 8:50 am: Welcome Remarks
8:50 am – 9:00 am: Rules of Procedure and movement to committees
9:00 am –12:00 pm: Committee Session 1: Climate Change
10:15 am: Teacher's Meeting
12:00 pm – 12:20 pm: LUNCH
12:20 pm – 12:50 pm: Cultural Performance, and Music and Dance Workshop
12:50 pm – 1:00 pm: Short Break and Move to Committee Rooms
1:00 pm – 2:45 pm: Committee Session 2: Displacement
2:45 pm – 3:00 pm: Closing by moderators
3:00 pm: Departure
Sponsored by: University of Pittsburgh's African Studies Program
I. Climate Change
Climate change refers to changes in the environment and its properties such as rainfall, and extreme temperatures that persist over an extended period of time, typically decades or longer. The changes can be caused by natural or human activity. Climate change can also refer to the process in which increases in the volume of gases responsible for trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere leads to an increase in the earth’s temperature. Climate change also arises because the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) produced by human activity has increased significantly. Climate change is a pattern of change affecting global or regional climatic conditions, as measured by changes in such factors as average temperature and rainfall, or an alteration in frequency of extreme weather conditions.
Studies suggest that Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change and variability. This vulnerability has been attributed to the continent’s high poverty levels, low adaptive capacity, its dependence on rain-fed agriculture as well as its limited economic and institutional capacity. Research suggests that food production and related livelihoods will be disproportionately affected by climate change and variability in sub-Saharan Africa. Climate change has even been described as a new security threat for Africa. Climatic projections suggest that prolonged and more intense droughts are likely to cause SSA to become drier. Increasing mean annual temperatures will increase evapo-transpiration losses resulting in a reduction in soil moisture content. It is projected that climate change will reduce net crop revenues by 90% by 2100. This is likely to exacerbate poverty and underdevelopment in many countries and lead to significant migration both within countries and internationally. Other challenges include intensified natural resource degradation, increased flooding, storms, excessive and erratic rainfall, droughts, invasive weeds, pest-and-disease epidemics, infrastructure damage, and increased risk of resource use conflicts, reduced agricultural production and increased food insecurity. While vulnerability to these impacts is differentiated and context-specific, it has the potential to result in significant economic costs that can derail attainment of development goals.
In Africa, policy makers do not seem to have recognized the political and policy dynamics of climate change and therefore have not done enough to address climate change related issues and effects. They have not for example, put resources or adequate technology to address climate change and its effects either at a continent wide or in individual countries.
This is despite the fact that climate change, coupled with demographic growth affect the availability and quality of resources in already vulnerable regions, worsens environmental degradation, changes the frequency and the intensity of extreme climate events leading to natural resources depletion, such as food security and cause potential economic, social and political conflicts and inequalities.
Climate change affects the lives and livelihoods of millions of poor people. In fact, minor changes in precipitation amount, short periods of extreme temperatures, or localized strong winds can harm livelihoods Climate change further, affects natural assets on which certain livelihoods depend directly, such as rivers, lakes, and fish stocks. During the 20th century, water temperatures increased and winds decreased in Lake Tanganyika. Since the late 1970s, a drop in primary production and fish catches, a key protein source, has been observed, and climate change may exceed the effects of overfishing and other human impacts in this area. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) face dwindling water resources due to less precipitation and rising temperatures combined with mounting water demand due to population and economic growth resulting in rapidly decreasing water availability.
Climate change effects also erode farming livelihoods, through declining crop yields compounded by increased insect attacks, and parasitic weeds and less availability of and access to non-timber forest products, and medicinal plants and biodiversity. Impacts include homes destroyed by flood water and disrupted water and sanitation services. Flooding has adversely affected large cities in Africa in predominantly dense informal settlements due to inadequate drainage, and health infrastructure. Such changes have already led to harvest losses and food shortages, loss of biodiversity, landslides, and soil degradation. The range of pests for humans, plants and animals are increasing and a reduction in the number of cold days and nights is also contributing to a wider range for malaria across the country. Diminishing water sources and decreasing and sometimes erratic rainfalls have also reduced the availability of water.
The fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) explicitly shows that the world is warming faster than estimated and that human activity has caused most of that change over the past several decades. It is evident that climate change will continue, at a pace surpassing past and future emissions predictions for heat-trapping gases. The effects of climate change have been widespread and significant, affecting agriculture, energy, human health, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, water resources, and some industries across the world and especially the African continent.
Climate change will continue to affect people, economies, and the environment differently in different places across the continent. Some African countries have and will confront risks from sea level rise, extreme weather, including stifling heat, intense rains, and powerful storm surges. Others have and will continue to face risks of more challenging conditions for food and agriculture, water, health, fisheries, infrastructure, transportation, and other livelihoods. Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate variability and change, a situation that is aggravated by the interaction of ‘multiple stresses,’ including high dependence on rain-fed agriculture, widespread poverty and weak adaptive capacity. We know climate change acts as a threat multiplier, tipping difficult situations over the edge or narrowing options for solving problems.
In order to counteract the numerous risks associated with climate change, we ask Member States to develop strategies to address the challenges of climate change at the national, regional and global level. Africa’s climate policy should seek to enhance the adaptive capacities and resilience of Member States with a view to minimizing their vulnerability, pursue a low carbon growth path dictated by principles of the Green Economy, sustainable development, and poverty reduction; and orient governance, knowledge systems, planning, and national regional/international structures to treat climate change as a development imperative. Therefore, Member States must draft regional resolutions that effectively address the challenges associated with climate change risks, disasters and sustainable development.
The Executive Committee of the African Union calls upon the heads of state of all African Union members to produce regional resolutions combatting climate change on a national, regional and global level. The resolutions should address what steps Member States will take to reduce the effects of climate change on the African continent including but not limited to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, accountability measures, capacity development, monitoring and reporting.
II. Displacement (Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons)
The term “displaced people” means people who have left or have been forced to leave their home or usual place of residence in order to escape from any form of hardship, persecution, armed conflict, or human rights violations. There are two types of displacement. The first occurs within the same country in which people are forced to leave their usual place of residence and to move to a different one, but within the same country. These people are referred to as “internally displaced persons” (IDPs). The second form refers to those who move across borders to a different country. These are called refugees. When either refugees or IDPs who had been displaced return to their community (for IDPs) or their country of origin, they are referred to as “returnees”.
Africa has some of the highest number of both refugees and IDPs. Of the estimated 9.5 million refugees and 25 million IDPs in 2005, over a third of the refugees (about 2.7 million) and a half of the world’s IDPs (7.5 million) are believed to be in Africa. This means that the total number of displaced people in Africa is over 15 million. The numbers of both refugees and IDPs have increased tremendously. Although wars in other parts of the world (Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Myanmar) have produced more refugees than the world has experienced since the end of World War 11, the number of refugees in Africa have also increased.
Africa as a continent still has some of the highest number of IDP/refugee producing countries and the highest number of IDP/refugee hosting countries. For example, five of the ten top refugee producing countries are in Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has the highest number of internally displaced people in Africa (4.3 million. 1.9 million of them were displaced in 2017 alone), and many more are refugees in several African countries. South Sudan has 4 million displaced, half of them refugees, while Somalia has 986, 400. Burundi and Liberia have also produced over a million displaced people. By 2015, five of the world’s ten hosting countries were also in Africa. They are Ethiopia (702, 500), Kenya (552, 300), Uganda (428, 400), Chad (420, 800) and Sudan 356, 200).
This means that displacement of people, whether internally within their countries of origin or as refugees in neighboring countries, has become an important defining characteristic of Africa. As shown above, in the last few decades, millions of people throughout the continent have been forced to flee from their homes to seek refuge elsewhere, which courses problems both to the refugees as well as the hosting countries—refugees have to be fed, sheltered, but more important protected from harm (especially from the leaders of the countries they flee from). This is an expensive undertaking. Since the refugees and IDPs hope to return to their homes, both the African Union and the rest of the international community have designed policies governing not just how refugees and IDPs get treated (protection, security,) but also on how they can be returned and reintegrated to their homes. Several documents/policies and frameworks have already been circulated on this. Kindly read them and understand the various issues they address.
Displacement in Africa (both IDPs and refugees) has also taken an important regional dimension. Concerning both refugees and IDPs, two principal sub-regions of displacement have emerged in the course of recent years: the five neighboring States of Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in the west of the continent; and the vast area of central Africa which stretches from Eritrea in the north-east to Angola in the south-west, encompassing the DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Both of these sub-regions have been affected by interlocking patterns of war and human displacement, in which the movement of refugees, IDPs, and returnees constitutes both a consequence and a cause of social and political violence. In many instances, moreover, displacements have been deliberately used by warring parties as a means of securing or reinforcing their control of territory, resources, and people. This regional nature of the problem of displacement has forced states to organize a regional approach to it.
It is for the above reason that African countries have taken a multi-faceted approach to addressing the displacement problem—country-specific (where each country addresses it unique displacement issues), regional (where countries in the same (sub)-region take a collective approach to the problem) and a continent-wide approach, where through the AU, Africa takes a common stand or takes a common approach by developing a continental policy on displacement. The United Nations Organization (UN) has also a policy for dealing with the issue of displacement. These IDP/Refugee documents developed by the AU are distributed as well.
At the same time, some countries have opted to close their borders against refugees and to close down camps housing IDPs. African countries that had been generous admitting as many refugees as they came to their borders are reconsidering their position. Either they have had already too many refugees or the international community is not helping to meet the cost of hosting them. Others have already received refugees who have stayed for decades without being returned and are not sure what to do with them. Thus, without a repatriation plan, certain countries are reluctant to accept more. Finally, as resources for resettling refugees reduce, fewer countries are willing to host them.
In spite of the fundamental principles which constitute the pillars for the protection of refugees as established by the 1951 Geneva Convention and its 1967 Protocol and the Organisation of African Unity Convention of 1967 governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (OAU Convention), in particular the principle of non refoulement and non-discrimination; the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) is beset with many obstacles, including, police crackdowns, unjust or arbitrary detentions, xenophobia, racism and sometimes expulsions.
To be a refugee or an IDP is not an option but a fate that can befall any human being at one time or another in their lives. It is therefore important that Member States take steps to ensure that the rights of refugees and IDPs, especially the rights bordering on human dignity, are respected.
In the face of the multiplicity of internal armed conflicts, weather-related disasters and terrorist attacks which contribute to the increase in the number of refugees and IDPs on the continent, Member States have a responsibility more than ever before to abide by the principles and rights guaranteed by the 1951 Refugee Convention, its 1967 Protocol and by the Kampala Convention, in particular at a time when the temptation to undermine it is growing in the face of challenges posed by the protection of refugees and IDPs.
For some decades now, countries have necessarily become host countries par excellence; either due to their geographical proximity to the countries in conflict situation or due to their reputation as hospitable countries. However, this is not accomplished without consequences, especially in the long term. Thus, the presence of a growing number of long-term refugees and IDPs on the territory of these countries currently poses a real challenge in the area of protection, treatment and assistance, including the related economic, security and legal concerns.
Furthermore, the weaknesses in the area of resources available to the host countries, coupled with unequal distribution of the burden posed by hosting refugees and IDPs are persistent concerns. One of the major causes of this state of affairs is the non-existence of national policies or rigid or weak policies governing the granting of asylum which depends on the sovereignty of States; and also the lack a common policy at the regional level concerning refugee and IDP issues.
Thus, the Special Rapporteur asks Member States of the African Union to create a humanitarian plan of action at the regional and continental level to address issues of protection, treatment and assistance, including the related economic and security concerns. Member States should draft resolutions to organise national and regional consultations in order to ensure an improved protection of refugees and IDPs. Furthermore, Member States should identify long-term solutions to existing refugee and IDP problems.
On Behalf of Burundi On Behalf of Djibouti On Behalf of Rwanda
On Behalf of Ethiopia On Behalf of Egypt On Behalf of Chad
On Behalf of Morocco On Behalf of Nigeria On Behalf of S. Africa
On Behalf of Madagascar On Behalf of Burkina Faso
AFRICAN UNION PROTOCOLS
Please refer to the following Protocols from the African Union when preparing for the 2020 MAU.
Last Year's Topics
Topic 1: Climate Change
Topic 2: Refugees
Topic 3: Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)