2013 Topics at a Glance.
This year's topics will be posted shortly.

 
Economic:
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EC001: Regarding Egypt’s Economic Crisis
On July 4, 2013 President Mohammed Morsi was ousted by a military coup. Adly Mansour was installed as interim president, resulting in an increase in Egypt's benchmark index of 7.31% to 5,334.5. However, the spike in stocks is not an indication of economic recovery. Since Hosni Mubarak's ousting in 2011, Egypt's economy has seen a drastic downturn due to frequent protests, violent outbreaks, and a tumultuous political transition, creating deterioration in political stability. There has been a steady rise in unemployment rates to 82% for Egyptians under 30, 13.2% overall, and the increase in the populace living under $2 dollars a day from 40% to 50% since the revolution in 2011. Much-needed reforms must be implemented in order for there to be a real economic improvement within the domestic economy. These reforms will also restore confidence in the global community to resume foreign invesment and trade relations with Egypt.

EC002: Regarding Strengthening the Global Economy
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has been pushing for all G20 nations to achieve less than 25 percent debt per GDP. This puts other nations under even more fire, seeing as Canada’s debt-per-GDP is about half that of others. Italy has been going through something of a financial crisis. The GDP has dropped 7 percent since 2007. The government forecasts the growth at -1.3 percent. 15 percent of the country’s industrial capacity is gone. G20 nations promised not to devalue their currencies to adversely affect Japanese exports, to their relief. This comes on the heels of a recent near 20 percent sag of the yen value. There is some concern among G20 countries that the impending plan by the United states to terminate its stimulus strategies will have extreme ramifications for the global economy and cause market turmoil and capital flight. There are also concerns that if the United States economy continues to creep into turmoil that, newly emerging countries will be unable to pay their debt load. The current global economic crises is indicative of the concerns with close interdependence.

EC003: Regarding the Use of Wealth for Military Use
The role of the military is commonly viewed as the many requisites to creating and maintaining stability and safety in a country. This view is due to the fact that the military can be beneficial in a crisis and help with the development in technology and law enforcement. The military can be excessive and, in many cases, abused in many parts of the world. China retrieves 30% of the oil that fuels its factories from Sudan and endorses friendship with the Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir. The Chinese oil installations are guarded by Sudanese troops armed by Chinese-made weapons in order to dissuade the armed rebels from attacking or destroying the installations. In this case, the military weapons and funding are used for China’s personal benefit rather than to benefit its people showing that countries like China should have limits on their military if they are going to use it for selfish profit. The United States of America is at a record deficit and unemployment. Despite this, it still funds its military, which is already one of the largest in the world. America, like many third world countries cannot, afford to keep their military at its current levels. Africa is rife with conflict fuelled by the export of highly valued natural commodities whose revenues fuel further conflict. War has the impact of draining an economy as funds are diverted to war instead of the social needs of the people.

   
Environment:
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ENV001: Regarding the Use of Bituminous Sands
Bituminous sands (oil sands) are an unconventional petroleum deposit which naturally contain bitumen, a dense and viscous form of petroleum. Oil sand reserves are present in several G20 nations, including the United States of America, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Canada. Canada and Russia have begun to work on environmentally friendly exploration of oil sands. There is a need for the rest of the G20 countries to get on board and to consider how to reduce greenhouse emissions with the exploration of bituminous sands. Air pollutants, including greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, which are released during the process, deteriorate air quality as well as visibility in the vicinity of the oil production. Traditional oil production process can lead to oil spills which eventually contaminate valuable drinking water, as these sites are found in regions bountiful with wells. The drilling occasionally used to create these wells can impact the land; and these impacts, along with other factors, such as the noise involved, can disturb wildlife. It is strongly recommended that G20 countries consider all means possible to protect the environment surrounding oil sand production sites.

ENV002: Regarding the Deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest is a broadleaf forest, covering most of the Amazon Basin of South America. 5,500,000 square kilometers of the basin are covered by the rainforest. The Amazon represents over half of the planet's remaining rainforests, and it is the largest and most species-rich tropical rainforest in the world. The most recent survey on deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions reports that deforestation in the Amazon is responsible for as much as 10% of current greenhouse gas emissions. Increase in global emissions is due to the removal of forests. Over 400 000 barrels of oil are exported each day from the reservoirs located under the Amazon rainforest to first world nations from the developing Amazonian countries increasing both the danger to this eco-environment and greenhouse emissions.

ENV003: Concerning the Loss of Coral Reefs
Coral reefs make up less than 1% of the ocean but they support more than 25% of all marine life. Coral reefs have an abundance of biodiversity. They are located all over the world, but large concentrations occur along the coast of the Australia, up and down the eastern coast of Africa and in southern U.S.A and Mexico. Mining of the coral reefs has provided an abundance of revenue and attracted thousands of tourists and sea creatures but unfortunately have been decimated by overzealous tourists and unscrupulous entrepreneurs. Australia is one of the only countries that protect at least 10% of its coral reefs. Globally over 30 million people depend solely on the coral reefs for their livelihoods. The coral reefs are at risk of total destruction.

 
 
Human Rights:
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HR001: Regarding the Force-Feeding in Guantanamo
Guantanamo Bay, a US military prison situated in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Its prisoners face horrendous living conditions - they are confined for most of the day without any personal items or even hygiene products, sometimes even taken to their showers in the middle of the night. In addition to that, most of the detainees have already been held there for over a decade. A majority have been cleared to leave, but instead, they are still behind prison bars, having no idea when they're going to be freed. Because of all this unjust treatment, its prisoners have decided to revolt by going on a hunger strike. The strike officially began on February 6th, 2013, and had reached 106 participants at its peak out of the total 166 prisoners. Force-feeding treatments have been activated for prisoners who have lost 15% of their normal body weight and after 21 days of consecutive fasting. More and more people and organizations are condemning the practice, and have found ways to protest.

HR002: LGBT Rights in Russia
The fight for equality has been a constant issue in history, ranging from women's rights, to the rights of visible minority communities. In the past few years, the push to create equal rights for the LGBT community has spread worldwide. In an effort to combat the growing support of LGBT rights, the Government of Russia recently passed a bill banning "gay propaganda." The law in effect makes it illegal to equate straight and gay relationships, as well as to distribute material on LGBT rights. It introduces fines for individuals and media groups found guilty of breaking the law, as well as special fines for foreigners. Officials from other countries including the United States, France, and Australia have condemned the recent bill from Russia.

HR003: Regarding Syrian Human Rights Crisis
Over the past months Syria has been in a state of turmoil. Beginning with clashes from rebel forces within the country, the severity of the situation has heightened. Since the use of chemical weapons in highly populated areas, the conditions have become strenuous. This has caused tension between government and rebel forces. On August 21st, 2013, the nerve agent Sarin was delivered by surface-to-surface rockets in the suburbs of the Syrian capital, Damascus. The use of chemical weapons is a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Although Syria is not among the 189 countries that are party to the 1993 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, it is a party to the 1925 Geneva Gas Protocol. Customary international law bans the use of chemical weapons in all armed conflicts. By the middle of next year, all chemical weapons material must be destroyed, as per the agreement. The Syrian Government has not yet complied with these terms.

 
Technology:
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TECH001: Regarding a Government-Funded Public Wi-Fi Network
In the year 2012, about 85% of the world's population had access to the internet, and more than 1 billion people in the world owned a Smartphone. A hotspot is Wi-Fi that is available in public areas. The concern is that, without consistent and universal hotspots internationally, individuals engaged in global business and communication may be stranded without service. This contradicts the idea of portable Wi-Fi. Perhaps the only way to make free Wi-Fi available to everyone, everywhere, is to create a closed public Wi-Fi system. With government support, Wi-Fi networks in large cities could be secure and closed. By using a closed system, there could be heightened security, and illegal infringements of protocol could be punished through the criminal justice system.

TECH002: Regarding Surveillance
Government surveillance has been used as a security mechanism for its operations and its buildings in order to prevent theft and damage. It is used to monitor the behaviour and actions of the people within its scope so that anything that happens would be caught on tape. Surveillance has been increasingly needed following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers, to identify perpetrators of further terrorist threats. Metadata is defined as data that is about data and the fashion this data is collected. In the case of the metadata surveillance programs commissioned by the government, metadata was collected from citizens of their own countries and often other countries At risk through surveillance of internet usage, emails, and other communications, among other things, of each citizen, is the privacy and security of these communications, or the source and receiver of the information. Surveillance of ordinary citizens by their governments has become a global concern. There is a call for G20 countries to curtail unlimited, expansive and unknown surveillance of its citizens.

TECH003: Concerning In Vitro Meat Production
In-Vitro meat is the manufacturing of meat products through "tissue-engineering" technology. Cultured meat (= in-vitro meat) could have financial, health, animal welfare, and environmental advantages over traditional meat. The idea: To produce animal meat, but without using an animal. Theoretically, this process would be efficient enough to supply the global demand for meat. All this would happen without any genetic manipulation; i.e., without the need to interfere with the cells’ genetic sequences. This process is garnering more and more support and attention, as recently PETA offered a $1 million reward to the first scientist to produce and bring to market in vitro chicken meat. Unfortunately this process is extremely time-consuming and expensive, and we are still unable to create this type of meat in large quantities. The creation of in vitro meat has the potential to feed millions.

 
Armed Conflicts and Terrorism:
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ACTC001: Regarding Peace Negotiations with the Taliban
The Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist group based in Afghanistan. The Taliban came into power in 1996 after a military campaign in which it captured many provinces in Afghanistan, including the capital, Kabul. The Taliban overthrew the regime of then Afghan President, Burhanuddin Rabbani. The Taliban immediately imposed Sharia law. Following the attacks on the World Trade Centre in September 2001, the Taliban — the ruling power in Afghanistan — was accused by the U.S. of protecting al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden. The aim of Operation Enduring Freedom was to find Osama Bin Laden, remove the Taliban from power, and prevent the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist haven, as thought by many Western nations. . The United States was supported by a broad coalition of international forces, including the United Kingdom and Canada. Kandahar, the last major Taliban stronghold, fell on 7 December 2001, marking the end of the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan. In 2002 the Taliban began a lengthy period of insurgency in an attempt to re-establish its power base. Since 2001, there have been more than 3,000 coalition troops killed in Afghanistan. Civilian deaths since 2001 have been estimated at between 12,000 and 16,000.

ACTC002: Regarding the Uprising in Syria
After a string of successful revolutions in the Middle East in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt, the people of Syria have revolted against their government. The Syrian Civil War started on March 15, 2011 and is now referred to as the “Day of Rage”. The protesters demanded the release of political prisoners, protection for individual freedoms, and the abolition of Syria’s 48-year Emergency Law. In an attempt to subdue anti-government protesters, Syrian officials dispersed the crowds by firing live ammunition at the crowds. Over 50 people were killed and more than 3,000 people were arrested. Since the start of the revolt over 19,000 people have died. Many members of the Syrian armed forces defected and joined the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The frequent clashes between the FSA and Loyalists have resulted in many deaths and casualties on both sides. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are actively supporting the rebels with weapons and munitions while the United States, France and the United Kingdom are helping out by providing communications, money and information. Russia and China, both of which are major trade partners, believe that placing sanctions on the Syrian government is too strict. The international community, and particularly G20 countries, is anxious to see an end to the violence and protections afforded to displaced and injured civilians.

ACTC003: Regarding Terrorist Attacks Against Civilians
Acts of terrorism perpetrated by individuals, groups or as part of state-sanctioned programs have disrupted the peace and security of the entire global community. The indiscriminate use of targeted violence against legally constituted governments or innocent civilians has become the most contentious discussion before many international committees. It is concerning that several G20 countries — Russia and Saudi Arabia — have knowingly supported terrorism through backdoor channels. Secret service organizations in Russia have reportedly been involved in setting up networks, the sale of arms, and giving financial aid to known terrorist connections in the Middle East. It is also concerning that Saudi Arabia has been accused of being the financial backers of many known terrorist organizations, particularly Al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba. In a very idealistic view, the solution may lie in developing a long-term plan — supported and financed by all nations of the world, particularly the wealthier nations of the G20 — that addresses the basic needs of all people on the planet and helps them in an equitable, fair way. This may provide hope, meaning and purpose, freeing many from the despair that leads to fundamentalism and terrorism.

 

G20 Member Nations and Associations

  South Africa Canada Mexico
  United States Argentina Brazil
  China Japan South Korea
  India Indonesia Saudi Arabia
  Russia Turkey European Union
  France Germany Italy
  United Kingdom Australia  

 

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