Topic A: The Situation in the Lake Chad Basin
Boko Haram is a militant Islamic group based in the Lake Chad Basin, a region that includes territory belonging to Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Following Boko Haram’s pledged allegiance to ISIL in early 2015, significant international implications arose as to the interwoven nature of global terror. This obscured alliance gives Boko Haram increased weight, resources, and access to a well-developed propaganda machine. Central to Boko Haram’s activities in the Lake Chad Basin are children, who are used not only as tools of violence – child suicide bombers are commonly used by the group – but as symbols of their political message, often through kidnapping students, killing teachers, and destroying schools to denounce westernization. This severe humanitarian crisis is compounded by food insecurity in the region; the majority of the population depends on agriculture, fisheries, and livestock, yet the region has missed three consecutive agricultural seasons. Though the organization has lost territory since 2014, it has resorted to hit-and-run style attacks as well as expanded its activity beyond its usual focus (primarily, Nigeria). While local leaders have been quick to call victory, issues of security and stability in the Lake Chad Basin are far from over. Here, delegates will deal with a multinational and complex conflict with many facets and related actors, all of which combine to play a significant role in the behaviors and outcomes in the Lake Chad Basin.
Topic B: The Situation in Mali
The Republic of Mali was founded with bold intentions for national unity: its motto is un peuple, un but, une foi – one people, one goal, one faith. However, national fractures are also a formative part of Mali’s legacy. The country’s national divisions were underscored in early 2012, when Tuareg rebels declared their independence from Mali, simultaneously announcing the formation of the state of Azawad. What began as an ethnic conflict developed quickly, and religion began to play an increasingly important role, further complicating the crisis. Forces which had once fought side-by-side became split on Muslim-secular lines, some pursuing goals of independence for the northern region and others preferring to develop a region in which they could impose Islamic law. Though peace efforts in Mali come regularly, there continue to be new sources of instability, concerns about the impact of terrorism on civilian life, and significant instances of serious human rights violations. Now, violence is picking up once again: In May 2017, an attack left nine civilians injured and one peacekeeper dead, a reflection of the recent increase in Jihadist attacks and shortcomings by the United Nations action in the region. Mali is again at a critical turning point, struggling to stay the course towards stability, which has devastating implications for not only its people, but also the region. This topic will engage delegates in creative solution development, particularly to avoid the failures of prior attempts to address peacebuilding.