BMUN 5 Security Council Briefing
1. The Question of the South China Sea Dispute
The South China Sea is located on the south coast of China, the west coast of the Philippines and the east coast of Vietnam. The South China Sea contains the island chains the Paracels and the Spartlys, and the Scarborough Shoal (a collection of rocks and reefs), which are under territorial dispute. It is a major shipping lane and fishing ground and is believed to be rich in crude oil and natural gases.
⁃ The South China Sea is thought to be a huge resource of crude oil and natural gas from both under the seabed and in the contained islands and landmasses.
⁃ The main claimants of the territory are China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
⁃ The Paracels have been occupied exclusively by China since 1974, however they are also claimed by Vietnam.
⁃ The Spartly islands are claimed by both Vietnam and China.
⁃ The Scarborough Shoal, a collection of rocks and reefs located 100 miles from the Philippines and 500 miles from China, is claimed by both China and the Philippines.
⁃ More than half the amount of oil transported by sea passes through it, a figure rising steadily with the growth of Chinese consumption of oil.
China has estimated that it is possible for oil reserves to be as high as 213 billion barrels (10 times the reserves of America), although American scientists estimate is at 28 billion barrels. It is estimated that the area holds around 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources. This is equal to that of Qatar who has the third largest reserves in the world.
- 1974, China forcibly removed Vietnamese troops from the Paracel islands. This resulted in the death of several Vietnamese soldiers.
- In 1988 conflicts between China and Vietnam flared again on the Spartlys. 64 Vietnamese sailors were killed.
- This year the Philippines and China were involved in a standoff at the Scarborough Shoal involving a Philippine Navy ship, Chinese fishing boats and two Chinese marine surveillance boats.
- The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has not resolved the dispute over whose territory the South China Sea is and says that countries involved in conflicting claims must use good faith negotiation to resolve the issue.
2. The question of the rightful use of UVA’s
An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), or a drone, is an aircraft with no pilot on board, instead they may be remote controlled (pilot flying them from a ground base), following a pre-programmed flight or on a more complex dynamic automation system.
An UAV differs from a missile due to its ability to be controlled at a level flight and is powered by a jet or similar engine.
Cruise missiles may also be likened to UAV’s as long as it is understood that the latter is the weapon.
- Have the ability to be used by crew miles away for reconnaissance, combat and support roles
- However, in the same way they can be used by groups seeking to create hostile aerial incursion
- Example of Hezbollah (Lebanese extremist group) in 2004 who flew a UAV over Israeli airspace for half an hour creating paranoia in Israel though it caused no casualties
- UAVs have the ability to be used by terrorist groups to use chemical or biological weapons, or even act as machine ‘shaheed belts’
- However, the US views the drone program as one of its most effective weapons against al Qaeda and the Taliban, because of the damage on the enemy with few risk to personnel
- The unmanned drones pose a substantial threat to civilians, relatively unheard of due to the lack of media coverage states such as the US receive on using drones
- Recently during use in Pakistan an American MQ-1 Predator was able to kill al Qaeda operatives but also resulted in the deaths of civilians
- RQ-1 Predator were also the primary unmanned aircraft used for offensive operations by USAF and CIA in Afghanistan
- Limits are needed to contain this ‘targeted killing’ to ensure neither terrorists or those seeking to protect unrightfully use UAVs, while still allowing their use on operations as the skills of drones are needed for the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban according to the CIA
- Since 2006 82 drone attacks have taken place in Pakistan killing 250 to 320 civilians, 1 civilian death to every 3 militants killed
- The US declared all their armed UAVs compliant with Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty and other international agreements however, the government still needs to conduct a review to ensures that the targeted killings that take place are in accordance with international law
- A lack of attention to drone wars and the legal and moral issues they create has affected perception of these weapons
- The media needs to be more aware of attacks and focusing on publishing this information to the public so they are aware of the targeted killings their countries are committing