The Fourth Committee is one of the six main committees of the General Assembly. Originally, it dealt with trusteeship and decolonization matters. But as more and more colonies gained their independence, the issue of decolonization lost its importance within the United Nations.
In the 1990s, the First Committee’s scope was changed from Political and Security into Disarmament and International Security. As a result of the reform the special political tasks were handed over to the Fourth Committee. Today, the Fourth Committee works on open questions concerning decolonization, peacekeeping operations, and the administration of Non-Self-Governing Territories. For Morocco the issue of the Non-Self-Governing Territories is of special importance as the question of Western Sahara is being dealt with under this topic.
For the NMUN 2007 conference, the Secretary General had proposed the following provisional agenda for the Fourth Committee:
- The improvement of regional partnerships in peacekeeping operations,
- The economic activities which affect the interests of peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories, and
- The implementation of the declaration on granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations.
At the conference in New York, one of the most remarkable moments was when we entered the large conference room for the first time. In our committee, every member state of the United Nations was represented which meant that there were almost 400 individuals trying hard to make as many allies as possible right from the beginning. With every handshake we were feeling more and more confident and at the end of our first session we perfectly enjoyed to act as diplomats.
After relatively few statements the agenda was adopted as proposed. The Kingdom of Morocco welcomed this decision as we thought that it was of great importance to have a look at peacekeeping operations, especially in African countries. On the one hand, we felt relieved because the topic of Regional Peacekeeping was supposed to be more “peaceful” for us than the other topics. But on the other hand, we were also a bit disappointed because we had prepared the problem of Western Sahara so intensively and felt like real Moroccan diplomats that we would have liked to take up the challenge to explain our autonomy plan for Western Sahara to our fellow delegates.
After having set the agenda, we started to discuss the topic. Due to the size of the committee it was hard to deliver statements in formal session, therefore most of the time the committee worked in informal session. The regional groups gathered quite quickly, which turned out to be rather problematic as we had hoped to work with the G77 and the Non-Aligned-Movement on this topic. Nevertheless we found partners in Arab States such as Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan, as well as Afghanistan and Iran. We immediately started our work on a working paper concerning the improvement of regional partnerships in peacekeeping operations. We had agreed on our position and the Moroccan policy to leave the responsibility with the UN while intensifying the relations between regional organizations and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. This was enclosed in our working paper. After some improvements concerning its content but also wording and structure, our working paper was accepted by the chair and became a draft resolution.
At the end, as there were many drafts on the floor containing similar ideas and proposals, the time had come to negotiate with other countries to try to merge some drafts in order to have larger support for our ideas. Regrettably this figured out to be very hard. Most of the other delegates stuck tightly to their draft resolutions and were not willing to compromise as we would have liked. Nevertheless we were able to promote our own draft and received a lot of support in the committee. During the voting procedures, the Fourth Committee voted on 13 resolutions of which none was rejected.
Looking back, we were satisfied with the outcome of our work and are very grateful for this outstanding experience.