Topic 1: The right to die. On Assisted-Suicide

Topic 2: Rohingya people. A human rights perspective


Under-Secretary General: George Burelli

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burma, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russian Federation,  Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America.

Topic 1: The right to die. On Assisted-Suicide

A controversial concept, the ‘right to die’ is related to one’s entitlement to end their own life, usually, either through a voluntary euthanasia, a practice commonly known as assisted suicide, or through refusing life-prolonging treatment.


In the first instance, assisted suicide involves a specialized personnel ‘’knowingly and intentionally providing a person with the knowledge or means or both required to commit suicide, including counselling about lethal doses of drugs, prescribing such lethal doses or supplying the drugs.’’To possess such a right, it is argued that one has to be diagnosed with a terminal illness which, in more practical terms, one has very low prospect of a prolonged and dignified living.


Calls to legalize such a right have been made ever since the 1930s but ethical questions arise along with religious, medical and social arguments when comes about the methodology, if that should exist at all, through which a patient can willingly end his or her own life. The advocates for such a right argue that the latter should be guaranteed in the international law arrangements as a universal human right. However, one of the main counterarguments when comes about the legality of such a concept takes centre stage in the proposition of individual states power to regulate such a practice.


As of June 2016, forms of assisted suicide have been legalized in states such as Canada, Colombia, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and some 6 states in the U.S.A.


Questions involving the legalisation of such a right as the right to die stem in general in the belief of personal autonomy and the importance of bodily integrity. Thus, even the Human Rights Committee has attempted to re-interpret the ‘right to life’ as to include matters such as abortion and assisted suicide in the logic described above.

In a draft resolution known as ‘’Draft General Comment on Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Right to life’’, the United Nations respective bodies acknowledge that the Article 6 of ICCPR, namely the right to life, should not be interpreted narrowly and such a right should concern ‘’the entitlement of individuals to be free from acts and omissions intended or expected to cause their unnatural or premature death, as well as to enjoy a life with dignity.’’ Leading a life with dignity would imply the provision of the right to die via methods such assisted-suicide.


The push for such modification comes after ongoing efforts by National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), academia and submissions provided by other observatory bodies to the Human Rights Council.


Given the above, how can the participating nations arrive at a conclusion regarding the provision of the right to die as a universal human right?


Topic 2: Rohingya people. A human rights perspective

In a number of around a million, Rohingya are one of the many ethnic groups in Burma (Myanmar), with a majority, of Muslim faith, living in Rakhine state. With a language and culture of their own, Rohingya claim to originate from Arab traders and other groups in the region.


Given the Buddhist majority of Burma, the government denies Rohingyas citizenship which, in practice, represents a refusal to recognize them as a people. Thus, the plight of Rohingya people is said to become the fastest growing humanitarian crisis in the world. For example, as of 25th of August 2017 more than 670, 000 have fled Rakhine State, Burma to the neighbouring states such Bangladesh due to targeted violence.


Rohingyas fleeing their own homes claim that they were forced out by local Buddhist mobs and troops which were burning down villages and carrying out extrajudicial killings. As of 2018, Bangladesh is hosting over 800,000 refugees of the Rohingya.


The exodus is a direct result of decades of human rights violations such as freedom of movement, healthcare, education, and food.  


From a historical point, the crisis stems from fighting between Tatmadaw, Burmese armed forces and ethnic armed groups, an armed tension which led to the displacement of masses of Rohingya people. Moreover, government forces are responsible for grave abuses such extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, destruction of the infrastructure or torture amongst others. The living is such worsened that U.N. officials call it ‘’ethnic cleansing’’.

Non-Governmental and advocacy groups such as Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have reported grave abuses such rapes against women and girls and torture of children by the Burmese military.


What sort of solution can the participating nations provide to secure the provision of human rights for Rohingya people?