Head Chair: Emma Calderone Vice Chair: Rudy Besikof Moderator: Esmeralda Flores
Position papers will be due on February 2, 2018. The position paper format, and all other important conference documents, can be found on our conference website, http://lhhsconference.weebly.com/. Email all position papers to our committee email: email@example.com. Feel free to contact us via email if you have any questions or concerns!
Hello delegates! I am Emma Calderone and I am your head chair for the Advanced WHO committee at our Laguna Hills MUN 2018 Conference. I am currently a senior and have been in the MUN program for the past four years. When I’m not doing homework or participating in church events, you’ll find me at the piano bench or sketching and painting. One of my favorite school subjects is biology and I am genuinely excited about the topics as they relate to the intersection of science and global policy. Serving as vice chair is Rudy Besikof, who is a junior and is in his second year of MUN. He likes to spend time with his family and listens to music during his free time. Our moderator is Esmeralda Flores and she is a sophomore in her first year of MUN; after tennis practice, she spends most of her time studying and completing her homework, but in the end, family is most important to her. We truly look forward to hearing your country policy and creative solutions during committee!
Topic A: Human Cloning
Background Human cloning is a process, occurring artificially, in which genetically-identical duplicates from living entities are produced. The process of cloning humans for reproductive and research purposes remains underdeveloped as there has been little to no scientific evidence that supports the cloning of individuals, for there has been a considerable amount disapproval regarding that topic. As of today, scientists have able to clone genes, cells, tissues, and even organisms, but human beings have yet to be cloned due to ethical debate. With the idea of human cloning, there have been tensions between religious beliefs and the moral cost surrounding future research. There are arguments concerning human dignity and the loss of freedom, individuality, and one’s identity. As a matter of great controversy involving advancing human studies and losing social values during the process, the study and practice of human cloning was firstly discussed internationally in 1997 when the Health Assembly considered ethical code with cloning human beings. According to the Health Assembly, “the use of cloning for the replication of human beings is ethically unacceptable and contrary to human integrity and morality” (World Health Organization). Globally, 35 countries have developed laws forbidding any research of human cloning, including many European nations, while others prohibit the study and creation of cloned embryos all together. However, there has been exceptions - in 2004, authorities in Great Britain and that of Northern Ireland have allowed researchers to use cloning as a means for embryonic stem-cell research. As the controversy regarding cloning continues there has still been countries that only allow the cloning of human embryos for the purpose of future research.
UN Involvement While human cloning is a concern in genetic areas of study, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the General Assembly (GA), and the International Bank of Commerce (IBC) have helped to keep this issue out of many nations’ politics. The first major step in tackling “human cloning” was the OHCHR’s formal recognition the “UN Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights” in 1997. Its main intent included telling countries why human replication is unacceptable and enforcing rules against victimization in this aspect. According to the UN, the GA presented a solution in 2005 that requested that countries pass laws against conducting hazardous genetic tests. Countries that supported it felt an obligation to protect people and advocate UN ideals. The GA also mentioned that countries against the ruling had concerns as the document failed to specify what types of cloning were permitted. Ten years later, the UN temporarily banned DNA tweaking and had a discussion on whether or not eugenics sets a good example. As with many controversial issues, the proposed solutions got mixed approval. According to the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “Gene therapy could be a watershed in the history of medicine and genome editing is unquestionably one of the most promising undertakings of science for the sake of all humankind” (UN News Centre). Contrary to the positive support of the UNESCO, the IBC showed significant concern for human cloning saying that it would “jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics” (UN News Centre). While countries are succeeding in completely keeping human cloning prohibited, all workers in genetic fields should be made aware that human cloning has serious ramifications and should be trained how to prevent it.
Bloc Positions Western Bloc: Countries in the Western Bloc monitor human cloning research closely, as it conflicts with current conventional religious dynamics. The concern of “playing God” has risen as Western countries delve further into the reproductive cloning of humans. While Mexico and Canada have banned human reproductive cloning, the United States has not enacted a specific policy promoting or denouncing the practice. However, the United States has established in 2007 that cloning through the implantation of a clone into a woman is illegal.
Middle Eastern Bloc: Legislation has been enacted outlawing the practice in some countries, feeling it goes against the “natural order” of human development. The U.N. General Assembly established a ban on all forms of human cloning in 2005, but the country Oman abstained from the final vote. Oman’s neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, has banned practices of human cloning. Human cloning continues to be a controversial topic in Middle Eastern countries.
African Bloc: Believing that human cloning is a violation of a human’s inherent dignity, as well as their autonomy, freedom, and self-determination, African nations are staunchly against human cloning practices and research. While most African countries have not enacted policies concerning the genetic modification of humans, cloning has been viewed as both a religious and ethical offense.
Asian Bloc: The technology to clone humans is within grasp in Asian nations; the primary setback to conducting human cloning experiments is public opinion. In general, Asian countries have a more relaxed attitude regarding the bioethics of cloning and there have been false claims in human cloning advancements particularly in South Korea. China and several other Asian nations are opposed to human reproductive cloning but in favor of embryonic stem cell research. However, some nations still debate whether or not a ban should be enacted to restrict human experimentation with cloning.
Latin American Bloc: Embryonic stem cell research has been permitted, but human cloning is still being investigated. Even so, Latin American countries appear to hold an inclination towards the prohibition of cloning due to a predominantly Catholic religious base with bioethical concerns about the dignity of human embryos and genetic modification. Policies banning human cloning for research may be considered a hindrance to the scientific development. Others may view it as a necessity to prevent unethical scientific work.
European Bloc: After a 2015 policy banning the cloning of animals was enacted by the European Union, the question of human cloning is still under debate. European countries are split in their policies of banning human cloning practices for research. Some see its value in furthering research of human development using stem cells while others have outlawed it entirely. The European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine has permitted cloning for research purposes, but lacks the support of Germany and Britain, two of Europe’s most influential countries. The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have banned human reproductive cloning, seeing it as a violation of the autonomy of an individual.
Questions to Consider
Does your country have a set standard permitting or banning human cloning? If so, why?
What prominent figures in your country have the most influence when determining the validity of human cloning?
Is your country’s policy of human cloning tied to any political or religious beliefs?
Are there certain circumstances where human cloning is acceptable or unacceptable?
If human cloning is acceptable in some circumstances, what limits should be placed on it and how will those limits be enforced so that bioethical boundaries are not violated?
Background According to the World Health Organization, “neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions.” (Neglected tropical disease, World Health Organization). Broadly speaking, NTDs include approximately 17 or more parasitic diseases and infections. Their impact spreads to 149 countries, affecting more than 1 billion people each year and killing an estimate of 534,000 people per year - greatly affecting those in Latin American countries, but targeted mostly at those who live in African countries. In fact, these diseases rapidly spread to people who live in close proximity to domesticated animals and greatly affect those living in poverty without the sufficient means of sanitation. These effects are predominantly centered in African and Middle Eastern countries. Individuals, therefore, often living within the same region suffer from more than one type of parasite or infection. This goes hand-in-hand with drinking unsafe water and living in insufficient housing conditions with poor sanitation; this circumstances result in neglected tropical disease infections. These illnesses target the poorest demographics living under the poverty line who have been ignored at a community level, for fear of being outcasted in society; at a national level as those affected barely have any voice in society and these diseases are not exactly terminal diseases; and at an international level since little has been done to combat NTDs as they do not travel widely from country to country.
UN Involvement In an attempt to increase awareness about NTDs, the UN has passed many critical resolutions. According to Margaret Chan, the chief-executive of the WHO, “These are debilitating, sometimes horrific diseases that are often accepted as part of the misery of being poor” (UN News Centre). Consequently, the UN wrote an account in 2010 addressing processes keeping the diseases from manifesting and discovered that NTDs are located in places with high levels of destitution and abysmally low levels of sanitation. Five years later, the UN wrote another account requesting nations to control their financial budget with regards to the diseases. The WHO also reported that “More than 70 countries are already implementing or are ready to kick off national plans for accelerated control...” (UN News Centre). While the UN and WHO succeeded in trying to increase insight on these diseases, the World Health Assembly (WHA) has been able to enact the most change. The organization has made and authorized several proposals addressing NTDs for nearly 70 years. In May 2013, the WHA issued a statement applauding Member States and the WHO for making and properly integrating efforts to root out the NTDs and asked nations to continue to fund, treat, and oversee the fight against NTDs. With the help of the UN, the WHO, and the WHA, more people living in exposure to humid areas have been living without the harmful effects of NTDs.
Bloc Positions Western Bloc: NTDs have largely spread to countries possessing hot and humid climates, particularly in impoverished areas. Western Bloc countries and the WHO have collaborated and developed the “NTD Regional Action Plan for Neglected Tropical Diseases in the Western Pacific Region” to emphasize research and monitoring of NTDs. Additional NTD programs requiring annual reports of NTD activity have been instituted for proper surveillance of these diseases. North American countries strongly support extensive vaccination research and encourage public awareness of potential infections and outbreaks.
Middle Eastern Bloc: Often considered as the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, the Middle Eastern bloc is gravely affected by the spread of NTDs. Emigration away from conflict and epidemics is a key way for the people most vulnerable to tropical diseases to escape provided the limited resources. To remedy the issue, MENA stresses the importance of vaccination, drug administration and distribution, and increased surveillance and tracking of the spread of neglected NTDs.
African Bloc: The African END program (2010-2018) aims to partner with multiple countries and nongovernmental organizations while increasing the integrity and transparency of reported efforts combating NTDs. This program has been very successful in past endeavors to heal those affected by NTDs and its extension will allow for further benefits. An international agreement between the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases established international support for operational research and small grants for countries suffering from NTDs.
Asian Bloc: The WHO South-East Asia Regional Committee submitted a resolution in 2006 requesting countries to focus on the eradication of NTDs. The resolution emphasized collaboration between international, national, and local governments, as well as wider distribution of diagnostic devices. Multidrug therapy has proved to be especially effective in curing NTDs, such as leprosy.
Latin American Bloc: With Latin America being a hotbed of poverty, disease, and underdeveloped infrastructure, a new system of public health legislation, adequate funding, and programs combating NTDs are viewed as the most effective tools to preventing the spread of disease. Immediate treatment and monitoring of NTDs is imperative with increased complications stemming from the disease itself and the decreasing quality of life in Latin American nations.
European Bloc: The WHO European Region has been successful in nearly eradicating every leprosy infection. However, other NTDs continue to plague all of Europe. The European Union has dedicated financing of over 100 million Euros to its 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development and Horizon 2020 to subsidize research efforts of NTDs. European bloc nations advocate the prevention of NTDs as well as increased controls over transmission of NTDs.
Questions to Consider
Does your country suffer from NTDs? If so, what efforts has your country made towards reducing NTD distribution and curing those already affected?
What circumstances encourage the spread of NTDs of in your country?
How can your country implement guidelines already outlined in WHO and UN resolutions?
How will your solutions eventually eradicate an NTD?
What contributions can your country make to fighting NTDs on a global scale?