Historical Security Council: A Window into the Past

Mónica N.

(Image source: https://www.american.edu/sis/news/20171103-55-years-later-lessons-of-the-cuban-missile-crisis.cfm)

The Historical Security Council (HSC) is one of the novelties that has been introduced this year for the 26th Iberian Model United Nations Conference, replacing the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It functions similarly to the Security Council; however, it presents an interesting twist on this type of committee, discussing the issue of the past instead of the present. Specifically, the year that was chosen to inaugurate this committee was 1962, notorious for its political and social tensions worldwide. The President of the HSC, Joyce L., has kindly agreed to participate in an interview to elucidate the remaining delegates on what exactly is accomplished in this innovative committee. 



What is new in the HSC that wasn’t present in the ICJ?
It’s a completely different procedure. The International Court of Justice is a court, as its name suggests, and it consists of a group of judges and two pairs of advocates who are defending or prosecuting a country. Its main focus is on the advocates, with the judges making the final decision, whereas, in the Historical Security Council, major events of certain countries are addressed. It is not particularly focused on any delegate, every delegate has an equal say, apart from the P5, which have a more powerful position like in the Security Council. 

How do students collaborate in the HSC compared to the ICJ?
In the ICJ, from my experience as an advocate, it was of the utmost importance that I collaborate with my teammate and have a certain degree of cooperation with the opposing team as well, because we would not be able to lay the foundation for the debate without coordinating. As a judge, we didn’t have any prior communication, but during the trial it was crucial for us to share the information we obtained from the advocates to arrive at a verdict. In the HSC, the collaboration is similar to the one that we can see in GA and SPC, in the sense that each delegate shares their resolution and their main goal is to write one in collaboration with other delegates as a means of addressing the agenda issue.

Why was the change from ICJ to HSC made?
Due to the pandemic, there were not a lot of applications for ICJ positions, so we were worried that there would be a lack of participants and that they would not be prepared for the procedure. For example, we had worked intensely during the summer to finish the necessary documents and had numerous meetings during the planning process. If the deadline for the ICJ applications had been extended, there wouldn’t have been enough time for everyone to organize what needed to be done. That’s why we decided that holding the ICJ wouldn’t be the best idea, at least for this year. However, we didn’t want to completely remove one of the main organs of the United Nations, so we decided to add the HSC for the first time in the history of IMUN because we felt that it needed less prior planning compared to the ICJ. Additionally, this committee was present in THIMUN, so we already knew how it functioned. 

Do you feel more comfortable with this change?
At first, I was quite apprehensive, because I participated in the ICJ twice before and I knew the procedure well, but I had never been in the Security Council before, so I needed to learn how it worked. Since I have some years of chairing experience, though, I feel that if I’m familiar with the procedure it will be fine for me to chair the HSC.

The year you will be discussing in your debates is 1962. Why was this year chosen?
We didn’t have any alternatives that I can remember. One of the reasons why we chose this time period was because we wanted to include the Soviet Union. Since the HSC is a new committee in IMUN, we wanted to have something which has never been done before in IMUN, which is to have a delegate representing the USSR.

What do you think are the benefits and limitations to discussing events that took place decades ago as opposed to working with current events?
One of the major obstacles is that the delegates are expected to only use resources that were present during or prior to the year of the agenda issue, so it can be difficult to find the necessary resources. For example, for the agenda issue of the US’s use of Agent Orange (see below), 1962 was the first year that herbicides were used in Vietnam and since the health consequences were only fully realized decades after the war ended, it will be difficult to find resources regarding the negative effects of their use. However, I also think this is a good opportunity for delegates to develop their research skills and their ability to search for primary sources since these will be very important in these debates. I think it will be good for them to think outside the box, because if they can’t find a sufficient amount of resources that support their opinion, then they will need to logically deduce what their country would have stood for at the time, which is an important skill to have.

Anything you would like to say to the delegates that will be joining you in HSC?
I would just like to say that this is a new experience for both my vice-president and I, since neither of us have ever been in HSC or SC before, and I’m sure it will be new for a lot of the delegates that will be participating as well, but I believe we will be able to fulfill all the expectations of the HSC. It’s important that we help each other and I hope everyone is willing to contribute and overcome any doubts they have.



South Vietnam, January 9th, 1962

In 1962, the infamous range of herbicides collectively called Rainbow Herbicides were used by the US on South Vietnam in order to diminish the food sources and hiding places of their opponents during the Vietnam War. One of these herbicides, Agent Orange, was strikingly powerful, and human exposure to it could result in cancer, skin diseases, and severe birth complications and defects. These deadly herbicides were applied over the territories of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, contaminating water and food supplies and resulting in the injury and death of around 400,000 people in Vietnam, paving the way for the enforcement of stricter laws on the use of biological warfare and herbicides throughout the world. 


Cuba, October 16th, 1962

With its beginning in 1945, the Cold War was a period of high tension between global superpowers where the threat of nuclear warfare hung over the heads of the entire world. When Fidel Castro overthrew Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, the US grew anxious as the previously amicable relation between both countries turned sour. Meanwhile, Soviet Vice Premiere Anastas Mikoyan formed a trade agreement with Cuba, which was perceived as a betrayal by the US, worsening the relation between Cuba and the US as Castro began asking for military aid from the Soviet Union. To protect their nation from US invasions, Cuba was supplied with missiles from the Soviet Union which the US believed endangered the eastern area of their country due to their proximity.


South Africa, November 7th, 1962

Following the Great Depression and WWII, the South African government began enforcing stricter segregation laws between the Black natives and the remaining white residents, adopting an ideology known as “apartheid” and effectively setting the foundation for discrimination in the country. One of these laws was the Population Registration Act, passed in 1950, which aimed to minimize interactions between members of different races, and later the Group Areas Act, which physically divided the groups. The issue lied in the classification of citizens into different races, seeing as the criteria was ambiguous and used to serve the South African government. National and international outrage towards the apartheid took the form of non-violent protests but quickly escalated when they were met with disproportionate violence, resulting in the formation of multiple military wings, whose leaders were often arrested and executed unjustifiably.