Topic A: The Arctic Silk Road
Ever since the Age of Discovery, it has become obvious that not only is trade one of the fundamental pillars of human activities, but also that new trade routes can be worth their weight in gold to their founders. Naturally, centuries of technological and scientifical advancement have exponentially facilitated the process of shipping goods across the globe, but recent shifts on geopolitical factors, economical prowess and climate conditions have opened doors to prospects of future development, which some countries are already putting on paper.
One of the most ambitious projects of our era has to undoubtedly be the Belt and Road initiative brought forward by the People’s Republic of China, aiming to build newer, more efficient trade routes all around the globe. This year’s conference has all its focus on the idea concerning the establishment of a new global trade route through the Arctic, the project carrying the name of the Arctic Silk Road (or the Polar Silk Road, or even the Ice Silk Road). The initiative has attracted attention from many countries, many arctic states seeming to be open to the idea, but most remaining sceptic of China’s involvement as a non-arctic state. States which might take significant damage in their economic sector after the completion of the project have been reticent towards it., as China’s increasing prominence in the region has prompted concerns over its long-term strategic objectives, including possible military deployment. However, the promising aspects of the new route cannot be overlooked, as shipping through the Northern Sea Route would shave almost 20 days off the regular time using the traditional route through the Suez Canal.
The dilemma looming over this bold projects stems from the concerns gravitating toward the threat the establishment of the Arctic Silk Road can pose for the countries willingly, or not, involved, be it of economic nature, or of the instability and uncertainty that can fall on them, national security and management of the natural resources being points of focus.
Topic B: The accountability of private military companies in creating and sustaining conflicts
Providing armed combat or security services in exchange for financial compensation, private military companies (PMC) seem to be the very product of our era’s main drive: securing an efficient and successful job whenever the need arises. PMCs are traditionally hired with the purpose of replacing or backing-up an army or an armed group or in order to enhance overall effectiveness, and so they can be classified as such: active PMCs, willing to carry weapons into combat and passive PMCs, that focus on training and organizational issues.
In the last few decades, the use of private contractors has seen a significant rise, author P. W. Singer stating that the private military industry, “in geographic terms, it operates in over 50 different countries. It’s operated in every single continent but Antarctica.” The increase in demand for such services has naturally determined the number of private military contractors that emerge on the market to bloom, now the Circuit being more diverse than ever. This business, however, carries a great deal of controversy due to the activity of certain PMCs in war zones in the last two decades. In October 2007, the UN published a study in which it criticized private contractors performing military duties, in spite of being originally hired as “security guards”, which opened the debate of the accountability and power which should be invested in PMCs. Taking into consideration the fact that there is no international court that has jurisdiction over there corporations and that many countries, world powers such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom included, are not signatories to the 1989 United Nations Mercenary Convention banning the use of mercenaries, the question whether the presence of PMCs in active or post-conflict areas is justified and, furthermore, efficient and not being the vessel for carrying out a hidden agenda, as the situation in Iraq has brewed the suspicion.
The question of the role of PMCs remains valid and asks for common ground in the form of a solution to be found, be it further regulating the use of them and the responsibility and powers invested in them or taking even more strict measures.
|1. Canada||10. Indonesia||19. Sweden|
|2. Denmark||11. Italy||20. Switzerland|
|3. Egypt||12. Japan||21. The Netherlands|
|4. Finland||13. Norway||22. The Russian Federation|
|5. France||14. People’s Republic of China||23. The United Kingdom|
|6. Germany||15. Poland||24. The United States of America|
|7. Greece||16. Singapore||25. Ukraine|
|8. Iceland||17. South Korea|
|9. India||18. Spain|