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Disarmament and International Security Committee.

The Disarmament and International Security committee deals with disarmament, global challenges and threats to peace that affect the international community and seeks out solutions to the challenges in the international security regime.


Foreign Intervention in Civil war

Disarmament and International Security (First Committee)

The First Committee deals with disarmament, global challenges and threats to peace that affect the international community and seeks out solutions to the challenges in the international security regime.

It considers all disarmament and international security matters within the scope of the Charter or relating to the powers and functions of any other organ of the United Nations; the general principles of cooperation in the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as principles governing disarmament and the regulation of armaments; promotion of cooperative arrangements and measures aimed at strengthening stability through lower levels of armaments.

The Committee works in close cooperation with the United Nations Disarmament Commission and the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament. It is the only Main Committee of the General Assembly entitled to verbatim records coverage.

The First Committee sessions are structured into three distinctive stages:

  • General debate
  • Thematic discussions
  • Action on drafts
  • It is the only Main Committee of the General Assembly entitled to verbatim records coverage pursuant to Rule 58 (a) of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly.

Working Methods

Over the years, efforts have been made to rationalize the work of the Committee, concentrating on rearranging its agenda and improving its organization of work (see resolution 42/42 [N] of 30 November 1987).

During the 48th session of the Assembly, in 1993, the item entitled “Rationalization of the work and reform of the agenda of the First Committee” was included in the agenda of the Assembly. Thereafter, the Assembly has focused on improving the effectiveness of the methods of work of the First Committee (see resolutions 48/87 of 16 December 1993, 49/85 of 15 December 1994, 57/300 of 20 December 2002, 58/41 of 8 December 2003, 58/126 of 19 December 2003, 58/316 of 1 July 2004 and 59/95 of 3 December 2004).

During the 59th session, in response to a request of the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States on improving the effectiveness of the methods of work of the First Committee, a report compiling those views was submitted by the Secretariat (see A/59/132 and addenda 1 to 6).
Since the 60th session, under the item “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly”, the Committee has adopted its programme of work and timetable for the forthcoming session. Please also see the note by the Secretariat (A/C.1/68/INF/4).

Landmark Documents

Resolution 1 (I): The very first General Assembly resolution, entitled “Establishment of a Commission to Deal with the Problems Raised by the Discovery of Atomic Energy”, was adopted on recommendation by the First Committee on 24 January 1946, in London.

Resolution 1378 (XIV): The very first General Assembly resolution that was co-sponsored by all Member States at that time.

Special sessions on disarmament (resolutions and decisions adopted at the 10th, 12th and 15th special sessions of the General Assembly)

  • A/S-10/4 (23 May – 30 June 1978)
  • A/S-12/6 (7 June – 10 July 1982)
  • A/S-15/6 (31 May – 25 June 1988)


Since the end of the Cold War, civil wars have received greater attention. The sheer number of international conflicts is not comparable to that of internal conflicts. There were 225 general conflicts in the world from 1946 to 2001, 163 conflicts can be identified as internal conflicts. Experts argue that internal conflict has been the dominant form of conflict since World War II. As internal wars have become more serious both in intensity and duration than interstate wars, scholars and practitioners have tried to determine the influence of domestic, regional, and international factors on the initiation, duration, and termination of civil conflicts.

Civil wars have become the most important subject for scholars of international relations, since the effects of those civil conflicts have not been confined to those states alone. International law, norms, and institutions have traditionally banned intervention in the internal affairs of states.The United Nations Charter specifically indicates that domestic issues are not the jurisdiction of the organization’s reach.

Historically, when foreign states intervened in other states, they sought to provide extraordinary justification on the basis of security or to embed intervention in an organized system of competition, as during the Cold War. The legitimacy of intervention has always been the subject of heated debate. Let us consider the example of Vietnamese intervention in Cambodia in 1979. In early 1979, Vietnam militarily intervened in Cambodia and overthrew the Pol Pot regime. Vietnam did not try to gain legitimacy by claiming that in intervening they were exercising some right to humanitarian intervention (Akehurst 1984). Instead, Vietnam denied that its forces had entered Cambodia and said that Pol Pot had been overthrown by the Cambodian people.

There was a Security Council debate on this matter. The Soviet Union, which backed Vietnam, argued that Pol Pot had been overthrown by the Cambodian people and, thus, not by Vietnam. Vietnam’s allies—including Bulgaria, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Mongolia, and Poland—supported this argument. Almost all of the other states that took part in the debate said that Vietnam had acted illegally by intervening in Cambodia’s internal affairs. Several of these states also mentioned that the

Pol Pot regime’s massive human rights violations should be condemned. Nevertheless, those states did not attempt to support Vietnam’s intervention, instead arguing that those human rights violations did not give Vietnam the right to overthrow that regime.

As experts note, “Not a single state spoke in favor of the existence of a right of humanitarian intervention.” As seen in the above case, even though sovereignty and non-intervention in domestic affairs of states are the most fundamental principles of the current international system, many cases have been observed in which third-party states became militarily involved in civil wars.

In recent history, we have observed that intervention by third-party states has generated widespread discussion and intense debate in both the domestic political arena and the international one. Foreign military intervention, let alone the legal and ethical debate over

humanitarian intervention, has brought the issue into the international and domestic political arena. Decisions by government leaders to militarily intervene in a foreign country’s civil war, such as the US’s decision to involve itself in Vietnam, have inspired sharp divisions not only among politicians but also among ordinary citizens. The Vietnam conflict set an example for both the military and policymakers, demonstrating that they should avoid future foreign military quagmires.

Based on previous studies as well as the above case, it is obvious that third-party intervention can affect the outcome and the duration of civil wars. Thus, we can assume that the intervention of third parties in civil wars has meaningful consequences for the manner in which those wars evolve. However, it is not only the decision to intervene that we find academically and practically interesting. If every civil war featured some sort of foreign intervention, then it would not be of much interest to us academically. This issue became very interesting, however, because we have found that the propensity toward intervention by third-party states varies. That means that we also have observed many cases in which no third-party intervention was made. Non involvement by foreign states in certain civil wars has also brought about huge debates among scholars, practitioners, and even ordinary citizens. The existence of many failed and troubled states has required

some sort of intervention and, particularly, intervention on humanitarian grounds. Those cases would be considered legitimate in the sense that no violation of the principle of sovereignty would be perceived as having occurred. However, we can see from history that there have been cases where no foreign involvement was attempted despite the voice of the international community.

Armed conflict can be divided into three subsets according to their intensity :

  • Minor Armed Conflict: at least 25 battle-related deaths per year and fewer than 1,000 battle-related deaths during the course of the conflict.
  • Intermediate Armed Conflict: at least 25 battle-related deaths per year and an accumulated total of at least 1,000 deaths, but fewer than 1,000 in any given year.
  • War: at least 1,000 battle-related deaths per year.

Conflicts by type

  • Interstate armed conflict occurs between two or more states.
  • Extrastate armed conflict occurs between a state and a non-state group outside its own territory. (extrastate war is subdivided between colonial war and imperial war, but this division is not used here.)
  • Internationalized internal armed conflict occurs between the government of a state and internal opposition groups with intervention from other states.
  • Internal armed conflict occurs between the government of a state and internal opposition groups without intervention from other states.

Post Civil War Development

It is to be noted that the answer to the burning question, why some states succeed in improving social wellness in the aftermath of civil war and others fail to do so, is still unknown. Although many other factors can influence post-war Quality Of Life (QOL), The UN expert panel on development have proposed that intervention methods and civil war outcomes are likely to make differences in post-war social development.

The types of intervention are reflections of interveners’ motives, self-interest or humanitarian concerns. Different motives result in different consequences. Unilateral intervention is likely to have negative impacts on the improvement of post-war QOL. The negative effects are associated with the formation of a less-respondent government and limitation of available resources, which are likely products of unilateral intervention seeking self-interest. On the other hand, multilateral intervention on humanitarian grounds tends to promote post-war social development because it can increase the resources available for post-war social policy. Also, the use of force is likely to impede the improvement of post-war quality of life. Another causal path to post-war development is associated with war outcomes.

It is to be noted that a military victory is more likely to improve post-war QOL than a negotiated settlement. However, the effects of a military victory depends on whether a victor was supported by foreign interveners. Biased intervention tends to cancel out the positive impacts of military victory on post-war QOL improvement. In particular, when a rebel group supported by foreign powers wins a victory, post-war QOL is likely to significantly decrease. On the other hand, neutral intervention is likely to significantly improve post-war social wellness. As a result, the empirical findings imply that multilateral intervention using nonviolent methods and holding an unbiased position is the best way for the international community to promote the improvement of quality of life in war-torn states.

Questions A Resolution Must Answer (QARMA)

Although certain definitions related to civil wars are currently present in existence, the difference between them is unknown. The background guide can be used as the starting point of your research but it should not be your entire research itself. The delegates are requested to research beyond the background guide and find answers for the following questions :

1) Difference between an armed internationalized conflict and non internationalized conflict ?

2) The impact of non-state actors in civil wars?

3) Why, when, and how do third parties intervene in civil wars?

4) How do third parties influence the duration and outcome of civil war?

5) How do third parties affect post-war development?

The delegates are also requested to visit https://unausa.org/model-un/ to know more about the concept of Model UN.

Profile of Chairperson:

DISEC : Srinivasan

Having graduated from KCG college of Engineering, Chennai, Srini is known for his extreme knowledge of security related topics. Having won several delegate awards across several national MUNs. Having chaired at SM MUN 2018 he’s set to make a comeback to serve as a Chairperson at SM MUN 2019.