Category: Topic Overview Utrecht 2021

  • AFET


    Topic Overview for the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET)

    Polar Express: “Given the sudden accessibility of previously isolated natural resources and unattainable sea trade routes, how can the European Union alongside its Member States guarantee the protection of the fragile ecosystem as well as its economic and military interests?”

    Sofia Gonzalez (ES)

    1. Relevance of the Topic

    An accelerated path of climate change has tremendously raised the Arctic’s profile over the last decade. Formerly remote and of little relevance, the region now attracts significant political and economic interest as melting ice opens possibilities for the exploitation of Arctic natural resources and access to new trade routes. Rapidly rising temperatures and sea levels also provoke global security concerns. Consequently, interested states increasingly link the Arctic more closely to their security and foreign policy strategies. 

    The Arctic is currently heating up faster than any other region in the planet, which is also increasing the rate of the melting of the Arctic’s permafrost. This will have climatological consequences around the globe. Scientists expect the melting of the Arctic to cause a rise as much as seven meters in the oceans by 2100, causing great devastation.

    Another reason why the European Union (EU) and its Member States (MS)must safeguard this environmentally fragile region is to protect the Arctic’s citizens. 4 million inhabitants live in the Arctic, 10% of whom are indigenous.

    The Arctic is also experiencing an increase in toxic substances, such as high levels of mercury in fish and the appearance of nuclear and radioactive sources.

    Lastly, it’s worth remembering that the EU uses the Arctic’s natural resources for several purposes, such as fishing, obtaining fresh water, mining, and it exploits its sources of oil and gas. The Arctic is estimated to contain 16%, 30% and 26% of the world’s undiscovered oil, gas and natural gas resources respectively.

    2. Key Terms 

    Arctic region: covers the area around the North Pole north of the Arctic Circle. It includes the Arctic Ocean and territories of the eight Arctic states: Canada, Denmark (including Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and USA.

    Permafrost: any ground that continuously remains below 0°C for two or more years, located on land or under the ocean. Permafrost does not have to be the first layer that is on the ground. It can be from an inch to several miles deep under the Earth’s surface. Arctic permafrost has been diminishing for many centuries. When permafrost continues to decrease, many climate change scenarios will be amplified.

    Arctic council: a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic (see their website for ongoing projects and work).

    The EU’s application to become a “permanent observer” in the Arctic Council was blocked in 2009 by Canada in response to the European Union’s ban on the importation of seal products.

    Indigenour Arctic population: Indigenous people are considered to be those communities that live within, or are attached to, geographically distinct traditional habitats or ancestral territories. 10 percent of the total population living in arctic areas is estimated to be indigenous. There are over 40 different ethnic groups living in the Arctic. There is a great variation of cultural, historical and economical backgrounds among the groups. Check the Arctic Council Indigenous people secretariat for more information on all the different indigenous groups.

    United Nation’s (UN) convention of the law of the sea (UNCLOS): asserts jurisdictional rights in the various maritime zones and provides the basis for the settlement of disputes, including delimitation, as well as containing rules related to the establishment of the outer shelves of the continental shelves of coastal states. The EU participates in this international treaty.

    3. Stakeholders

    The EU is part of the Arctic through three of its Member States: Denmark, Sweden and Finland. The EU also maintains close relations with Iceland and Norway through the European Economic Area. Other Arctic countries such as Canada, Russia and the United States are strategic partners of the EU. As an EU body, the European Commission is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions and upholding the EU treaties.

    Another key stakeholder is the Arctic Council. This is the main international body directly concerned with the Arctic’s sustainable development and environmental protection. However, it does not address boundary or resource disputes or any other issue related to security matters. Represented in the Council, a rather unlistened party is the Arctic’s population and, especially, indigenous population, who account for 10% of it. It’s especially important to preserve their traditions, culture and language in order to protect the cultural richness of this fragile Earth region.

    On the sustainability side, the European Environment Agency provides independent information on the environment for those involved in developing, adopting and evaluating environmental policy, and also the general public. 

    Lastly, as an area surrounded by ocean with high security and resources potential, we find two main organisations: the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The EMSA is charged with reducing the risk of maritime accidents, marine pollution from ships and the loss of human lives at sea. Similarly, the IMO veils for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of maritime pollution by ships. All EU MS are IMO Members. 

    4. Conflicts 

    Due to the nature of the Arctic region, conflicts between countries, even if unrelated to Arctic issues, have to be taken into account when policymaking. For example, there has been a cooling of relations between Russia and the US since the annexation of the Crimea area in 2014. While the Arctic Council is seen as a success story in maintaining stability in the region, the last round of admissions for new observer states created some consternation. The EU was denied the observer status because of the ban on hunting seals. On the other hand, Russia is especially vocal about questioning Asian non-Arctic observer states. These types of tensions complicate productive discussions regarding Arctic matters.

    There have been some disagreements about maritime boundaries which added to speculation that the region was going to be subject to contests over economic and political sovereignty. The incident in 2007, when a Russian flag was placed under the ice by a Russian submarine, was the catalyst for this ongoing speculation. 

    A potentially more complicated disagreement involves the North Pole itself, and more specifically the competing claims to the underwater Lomonosov Ridge, which extends well into the Central Arctic including the North Pole. The ridge’s area is claimed by Canada, Denmark and Russia, which have all asserted the region is part of their continental shelves.On the military side, previously abandoned Cold War-era military installations have been reopened. In addition, incursions by Russian aircraft and submarines into other countries’ Arctic spaces have become more frequent.

    5. Measures in place & status quo

    The EU is geographically located in the Arctic, because three of its MS belong to it, namely Finland, Sweden and Denmark (with Greenland and Faroe Islands). Therefore, the legislation of the EU has a direct effect in the European Arctic. In addition, the EU is an active fighter against climate change, which is a matter of great importance in the Arctic due to the thawing of the permafrost and the rise in temperatures. 

    As such a major stakeholder, the EU has had a policy document on the Arctic since 2008. It has been updated twice, in 2012 and 2016. The latter called the Joint Communication to the European Council and the Arctic highlights three pillars for the EU involvement in the Arctic: environmental protection, sustainable development and international cooperation. Norway, which is part of the European Economic Area (EEA), expressed its agreement and approved of this document.

    The EU is currently working towards updating its Arctic policy. It needs to respond to two major changes that affect the region and pose challenges to the role of the EU in the Arctic; accelerated climate change and increased geoeconomic and geopolitical competition. Circumpolar geopolitics are currently defined by the growing assertiveness of the United States, China and Russia and their complex – and at times deteriorating – relationships. While some of these geopolitical realities are closely related to competition for resources, they are equally connected to larger strategic thinking about global roles.

    Separately, a number of MS have their own Arctic policies. Apart from the Arctic Council members Denmark, Sweden and Finland, observer nations in the Arctic Council have also issued policies or policy guidelines. These include France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. The increased global interest in the Arctic has resulted in a number of countries all over the world developing their own Arctic policies, such as Korea, Japan, India or Switzerland, with different interests in mind.

    6. Food for Thought & Brain Munchies

    • The large number and variety of stakeholders in the Arctic raise the question: who should have a bigger say in the Arctic and its future policies? How can we ensure fair representation of ideas and the Arctic’s inhabitants?
    • How can the EU ensure productive communication and dialogue in a topic where so many different unrelated interests come into the game?
    • How can we ensure the sustainable use and extraction of resources found in the Arctic?
    • How can the EU enforce its measures on the Arctic while maintaining a confidence-building dialogue with Russia?

    7. References and further research

    🎵 Soundtrack for when reading the TO: link

    📽️ The European Union’s new Arctic policy: Short topic introductory video to get in the mood of the topic!

    📽️ Interview: Future of the EU in the Arctic → The whole interview is worth watching but if you don’t have time, some interesting questions to skip to are: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14.

    📽️ Melting arctic ice fuels climate change and extreme weather events → How natural changes in the Arctic affect the rest of the world’s climate

    Short papers and documents worth having a look at:

    • 📃 EU Arctic Policy Q&A by the European Commission: link → Addresses FAQ regarding the EU and the Arctic.
    • 📃 The changing shape of Arctic security, NATO Review: link

    More thorough research papers and reviews. You shouldn’t need to read the entire paper, just read the index and find the sections that might interest you:

    • 📃 Committee of AFET, A Balanced Arctic Policy for the EU: link
    • →This is what I would consider to be the Bible for this topic. It gathers all the relevant information and policies up to date. Published in 2020
    • 📃 Weber, Romanyshyn, Breaking the ice: the European Union and the Arctic: link
    • 📃 European Environmental Agency, Arctic environment: European perspectives, Why should Europe care?: link
  • CULT


    Committee on Culture and Education

    Come to my window: “Across Europe’s school systems, education about gender identities is not yet commonplace, leading to members of the LGBTQ+ community being marginalised and invisible. How can the EU support and promote adequate education about LGBTQ+ identities in education?

    By Leonoor Wijdeveld (NL)

    1. Relevance of the Topic

    Currently, many schools and other educational institutions actively advocate against the LGBTQ+ population or ignore the needs and issues of this community. Although there have been some efforts towards bigger acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, 80% (pg. 15) of students witnessed negative attitudes towards someone perceived as LGBTQ+, 68% (pg. 57) of students experienced homophobic and transphobic violence and 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ students (pg. 35) felt discriminated against by school or university personel in the last 12 months. As the lack of acceptance, knowledge and support for the LGBTQ+ community, especially in adolescence, is harming the health, safety and societal participation pf LGBTQ+ youth (pg. 24-31), the urgency to tackle this problem is clear. The challenge to solve this matter lies in the limited competence of the European institutions, heterogeneous framework by Member States and major differences in perception of the LGBTQ+ community. The question remains how can the European Union (EU) weigh in on the variance in conservative or religious beliefs opposed to the LGBTQ+ community to support teaching vital information and supporting equality?

    Recent articles on the attempted erasure of the LGBTQ+ community at reformed schools raised the question of what should be the role of LGBTQ+ information in education and how does this shape us? Organisation 113 Suicide prevention, together with the University of Groningen, published a factsheet in 2017 stating that 50% of Dutch LGB individuals and up to 70% of transexuals have had suicidal thoughts. Suicide attempts are 4 times as likely in LGB community and 5-10 times more likely in transgender individuals. In this fact sheet,  82% of LGBT individuals indicate school/work environment as important to them feeling comfortable and confident in their daily lives. 

    Due to the lack of LGBTQ+ inclusion, LGBTQ+ youth experience exclusion through perpetuation of heteronormative views (pg. vii) within textbooks and materials and division by binary school uniforms (pg. 2-3), to name a few institutional biases. Consequently, LGBTQ+ youth often experiences a similar rejection by peers facing more bullying and harassment at school which is detrimental to their physical and mental health as well as their school performance. Finding creative solutions to support and stimulate LGBTQ+ education in Europe and its school systems, might aid lack of LGBTQ+ representation and integration, create more understanding among cisgender straight peers reducing bullying and bring more acceptance.

    2. Key Terms

    LGBTQ+ community: LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, +. The + stands for other orientations or identities not defined by the previous 5 words.

    Gender: The WHO would define this as “Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed. This includes norms, behaviours and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl or boy, as well as relationships with each other.”

    Sub-definitions of gender include Cisgender (Identifying with the sex you were born with), Transgender (identifying with a different sex than you were born with), Gender Fluid (identifying with different genders at different moments in time. Some days you might identify more feminine or masculine) and Non-binary/Agender (not identifying with any gender).

    Sexual orientation: The group of people a person is (romantically and) sexually attracted to. 

    Sub-definitions of sexual orientation include Heterosexual (female-identifying individuals attracted to male-identifying individuals and vice versa), Homosexual (male-identifying individuals attracted to other male-identifying individuals), Lesbian (female-identifying individuals attracted to other female-identifying individuals), Bisexual (being attracted to both genders), Pansexual (being attracted to a person regardless of any gender characteristics).

    Sex (noun): biological determination if you have female, male or intersex anatomy. Sub-definitions of sex are Male, Female and Intersex (individuals born with a variation in sex chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones or genitals).  

    Heteronormative is an adjective to describe anything that presents being heterosexual and cisgender as the default. Heteronormativity classifies alternative gender identities and non-hetero sexualities as abnormal and unnatural. 

    Visibility describes the presence of a community in the larger scheme of things. This entails representation of open LGBTQ+ people in corporations and politics, the possibility and presence of open conversation about the LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ issues as well as general attention for the LGBTQ+ community. 

    3. Stakeholders

    European Commission promotes the general interest of the EU by proposing and enforcing legislation as well as by implementing policies and the EU budget. The European Commission aims to promote equality, safety and active participation of the LGBTQ+ community in accordance with EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (article 19 and 21). Currently it is mainly supporting Member States and NGOs with funding, information and training programmes.

    Member states governments  since the EU has only the competence to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States in this area (supporting competences), each State is responsible for its own legislation regarding LGBTQ+ regulations.

    There are varying degrees of LGBTQ+ inclusion into national policies and variant levels of acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in each member state. Different proportions of religious groups and beliefs within a member state might influence the stance of the government and what the government could do whilst also representing the people that put them in office.

    Educators teach and influence students daily and in this case, they would be the implementing party of LGBTQ+ education. Even though some could be very willing to implement LGBTQ+ education. Widespread education programmes might conflict with some educators’ own conservative or religious values against the LGBTQ+ community or the values of the community they are serving. They have to deal with parents and children from different backgrounds that could possibly be against these education programmes.

    LGBTQ+ people and communities might feel unsafe to express their identity at school and might be bullied or excluded. Neglect or disregard of LGBTQ+ people within education, such as heteronormative study materials, absence of LGBTQ+ communities in (sex) education and unawareness of LGBTQ+ needs, may lead to being misunderstood by peers and educators with subsequent bullying. This alone has a severe effect on their mental health and ability to develop to their full potential in their school career. In their adult lives, they are likely to experience disparities and inequality due to stigma, misconception and lack of understanding among the population.

    LGBTQ+ activists, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Networks and Movements aim to provide information regardless of school systems. They publicly support and fight for LGBTQ+ rights and bring their issues and needs to the attention of the public.

    4. Conflicts

    There is still a portion of society that is not supportive of LGBTQ+ relationships and identities. Non-heteronormative relationships and identities may clash with their own moral values or the perceived values of their specific (religious) community. When it comes to supporting LGBTQ+ education, this might bring conflict between schools and parents or the community and the larger school system enforcing LGBTQ+ programmes. 

    Source: Special Eurobarometer 493 – “Discrimination in the European Union”. Fieldwork: May 2019

    The different levels of recognition for LGBTQ+ people might also come into play. Only 16 Member States legalized same-sex marriage, whilst other member states merely have registered partnership. Unfortunately, inequality doesn’t stop at institutions like marriage or partnership, as some EU member states, like Poland or Hungary. 

    As the European Commission has the supportive competence and only a very limited legislative competence regarding LGBTQ+ emancipation (mostly pertaining to recognition and family rights and not education), it will be more difficult to find some form of consensus among Member States that will bring about more widespread change. The European Commission can not actively enforce any programmes on member states nor schools. 

    5. Measures in place & status quo

    In alignment with the European Commissions “action list” for 2015-2019, the European Commission followed the 2018 recommendation of the council of the European union on inclusive teaching and currently supports various inclusive education projects financially through Erasmus+. This year, the European Commission presented a 5-year strategy (2020-2025) on LGBTIQ+ equality aiming to fight discrimination through legislation, making LGBTQ+ hate crimes punishable and funding anti-hate speech initiatives but the possibilities for education in this strategy are limited. Regarding education, the European Commission only has a supportive competence entailing funding NGOs and other organisations, providing information and research findings or trainings.

    The European Commission also directly supports the organisations the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) and Transgender Europe (TGEU)

    ILGA (Europe) is an NGO that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights through widespread communication, strategic litigation and training of member organisations and LGBTQ+ groups. ILGA works on education by supporting projects by member organisations or related NGOs through knowledge sharing and offering trainings. They also advocate for inclusive education with different stakeholders, internationally, nationally and to schools directly. An example of such a project is  RAINBOW (Rights Against INtolerance: Building an Open-minded World), a project to connect LGBTQ+ associations and educators to built an educational toolkit for inclusive safe education.

    IGLYO is a larger students organisation supporting 95 local member organisations with trainings, international events, information and resources. Inclusive education is one of the pillars of IGLYO and they promote this topic through raising awareness and gathering information on the current status of LGBTQ+ education. IGLYO publishes the LGBTQI Inclusive Education Index, which is a rainbow map showing how inclusive education is in every Member state, every 2-3 years. From further data collection, IGLYO published the Inclusive Education report which gives a quick overview on the status of inclusive education in Europe. 

    TGEU specifically advocates for transgender rights and needs throughout Europe and Central Asia by organising events and trainings, raising awareness and advocating for trans rights. 

    6. Food for Thought & Brain Munchies

    • What aspects of your academic life do you take for granted that could be very different for LGBTQ+ students?
    • What parts of the school environment are set into the educational system and what parts are formed by the teachers, students and programmes? How do these factors impact LGBTQ+ youth?
    • How can the EU support LGBTQ+ education when member states possess such diversity regarding both beliefs and legislation? 
    • In what ways could the EU make Europe a more safe environment for LGBTQ+ individuals whilst respecting or at least taking into account religious groups and traditional values of the member state?

    7. Links for Research

    • Hear some experiences and information on LGBTQ+ inclusive education made by IGLYO

    Link: Read the Stonewall article

    • Hear some personal stories of how LGBTQ+ education would have helped them, their kids or their students and what it could do in the future. 

    Link: Inclusive Education Report (8pg)

    • Clear understandable overview of the LGBTQ+ education issues plus some suggestions for solutions.

    Link: Rainbow map (legislation) and Rainbow Map (education)

    • Here you can see levels of LGBTQ+ friendly legislation or lack of LGBTQ+ legislation per European country. In the second map this is applied specifically to education.

    Link: Fact sheet Download

    • Read this Fact sheet (2018) on LGBTIQ+ equality in the EU. 

    Link: Press Release New Strategy

    • Press Release and summary of the new 2020-2025 action plan

    Link: Dutch News: Protestant schools

    • Recent hot topic on LGBTQ+ acceptance in the Netherlands and its place in education. (English article)


    Topic Overview for the Committee on Legal Affairs II (JURI II)

    Out of the shadows: “About 215.000 violent sexual crimes were recorded in the EU in 2015. With outdated legislation and a culture of victim-blaming leading to a lack of prosecution across Europe, how can the EU tackle the high number of sexual crimes in its Member States?”

    By Jana Gietman (DE)

    1. Relevance of the Topic

    2 Minutes – that is the average time another sexual crime is reported to the police anywhere in the European Union (EU). A sexual crime, generally spoken, is a crime involving sexual assault or a sexual motive. However, what constitutes a sex crime, differs by culture, law and legal jurisdiction within Member States (MS). Even though anyone can become a victim, women are far more prone to be targeted: 9 in 10 rapes and more than 8 in 10 sexual assaults targeted girls and women, while nearly all perpetrators were male (99%). However, what most people do not know is that these crimes affect the entire population, and not only children and women: 10% of the  victims of rape are, indeed, male. 

    Official sources like Eurobarometer indicate that the awareness of sexual crimes is very high across the EU, with 78% of European citizens recognising that sexual violence is a common problem. But even with increasing awareness, there is no decrease of cases: 1 out of 4 European citizens know a woman among friends or in their family circle who is or was a victim of sexual violence. While most people believe that the law in place prevents sexual violence, only 14% of EU citizens are familiar with EU measures to tackle the problem. Moreover, data on sexual violence often fails to capture the extent of the crime committed: Only 5-15% of women in MSof the EU who suffer rape report it to the police. 

    2. Key Terms

    Sexual Violence: Sexualised violence and sexualised abuse of power describe actions with a sexual reference without the consent or ability to consent of the person concerned. In particular, they are superordinate to offences such as sexual coercion, rape and sexual abuse of children.

    Sex Crime: A crime involving sexual assault or having a sexual motive, e.g. rape or child abuse. However, what constitutes a sex crime differs by culture and legal jurisdiction.

    Consent: Consent means actively agreeing to be sexual with someone. It also means that the person consenting agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Without consent, sexual activity is sexual assault or rape.

    Harassment: Harassment covers a wide range of behaviours of an offensive nature. It is commonly understood as behaviour that demeans, humiliates or embarrasses a person, and it is characteristically identified by its unlikelihood in terms of social and moral reasonableness.

    Molestation: Sexual abuse, also known as molestation, is abusive sexual behaviour by one person towards another. It is often committed with the use of violence or by taking advantage of another person. If violence is used immediately, of short duration or rarely, it is called sexual abuse. The perpetrator is called a sexual abuser or sexual harasser.

    3. Stakeholders

    The European Commission (EC) promotes the general interests of the EU by proposing and enforcing legislation as well as by implementing policies and the EU budget. It plays a significant role in fighting against all forms of sexual violence by e.g. providing specific funds or supporting different NGOs or civil movements.

    Since the EU has only the competence to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States (MS)  in this area, each State is responsible for its own legislation regarding sexual crimes.

    Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) strive to support people that have been victims of sexual crimes, while also fighting for their rights. For example, Amnesty International collects data on sexual violence in various countries and issues independent recommendations to the MS.

    Other non-governmental movements can have a great influence: #MeToo, a movement to raise awareness of the prevalence and harmful effects of sexual violence, has generated a huge social discourse and contributed to awareness-raising.

    The Council of the EU is an essential EU decision-maker. It adopts legislative acts in most cases together with the European Parliament in policy areas where the EU has exclusive or shared competence with the MS.

    Europol is the EU’s law enforcement agency. It aims to make Europe more secure by supporting and coordinating MS’ law enforcement agencies.

    The European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics is an initiative for the comparative presentation of European criminal justice systems. It provides comments on the different criminal justice systems, notices of legislative changes and trend analyses of the various numerical developments.

    4. Conflicts

    In the attempt to combat the problem throughout the EU and capture it in its entirety, it quickly becomes clear that firstly, effective data must be collected. To collect effective data, however, it must first be clearly defined what exactly needs to be discussed. To highlight some of the challenges when comparing official criminal justice data, the example of data on rape is exemplary.

    The European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics has tried over several years to systematically compare official crime data in the EU. They lay out the definition of rape in such a way that it can adapt to almost all criminal justice definitions. But even with that being given, official data on rape from each MS cannot be interpreted as representing the true extent of the crime. MS’ definitions of rape differ, as do reporting rates and prosecution and conviction rates. Data from MS cannot, therefore, provide a comparable result, but reflect e.g the extent to which a country has a narrow or broad legal definition of rape, the rate of successful prosecutions and if there is a culture of confidence in the authorities.

    Concluding, official crime statistics say more about the mechanisms of official data collection and the culture of reporting on rape than about the “actual” extent of rape. This lack of comparability manifests national differences and makes an EU-wide strategy quite difficult. What we are also facing is a diverse array of legal systems, institutional structures, and support services, all embedded in different and hardly comparable socio-cultural traditions. 

    5. Measures in place & status quo

    It quickly becomes clear that there is no unified sexual violence legislation in Europe, which is also a result of the limited competences of the EU. However, the EU has provided a common legislative framework for MS to guide its commitment to combating sexual violence against women, manifested in country-specific strategic objectives and legal measures. Whilst the main responsibility for promoting and protecting human rights lies with national governments, the EU supports its MS in taking action and implementing measures in this field. 

    In 2009, the Council adopted the Stockholm programme, aiming to better address violence against women and children, including legal protection and comprehensive legislation on victims’ rights. The most recent and all-encompassing instrument has been the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention, adopted in 2011. The Convention obliges its Parties to criminalise psychological violence, stalking as well as physical and sexual violence including rape and sexual harassment.

    The EU also supports increased protection through soft law by communication through awareness-raising campaigns or by the exchange of best practices, for example given through the EU Justice Programme. Recently in October 2020, Europol has launched the campaign “Europe’s most wanted” in 18 countries across Europe in order to put the spotlight on the perpetrators of violent sexual assaults and to search publicly for some of Europe’s most dangerous sex offenders. In 2017, they also launched a campaign called “Say No!”, addressing the issue of online sexual coercion and extortion affecting minors.

    Already in 1997, the European Commission launched the Daphne Initiative, a one-year funding line to fund NGO projects that support victims of sexual violence and combat the violence against women, children and vulnerable groups. The initiative was continuously renewed and financially restocked until 2013 and now continues as one part of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme. The project also offers a toolkit of reports, studies, tools and awareness-raising and training materials.

    6. Food for Thought & Brain Munchies

    • How can the EU adopt a common approach to solving the problem whilst supporting the  MS individually?
    • How can the EU foster better comparability of offences, while noting legal and socio-cultural differences in its MS?
    • How can the EU-wide comparability of data be enhanced and ensured?
    • Facing how highly sensitive this topic is, how can public communication be cautiously yet effective?

    7. Links for Further Research

    – An important report stuffed with a lot of useful information. Especially important: Chapter 1.4

    – Please carefully read chapter 1.3 from this report.

    – Make yourself familiar with the Istanbul Convention

    – A factsheet on the extent of sexual violence

    – A useful guide on legal definitions of different types of gender-based violence used in EU Member States, according to their legal terminology and national legislation

    – A good introduction to the problem of gender-specific sexualised violence

  • FEMM


    Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

    She’s the Man: “The principle of equal pay for work of equal value has been established in Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Nevertheless, women in the EU earn, on average, almost 15% less per hour than men. How can the EU guarantee fair pay for all its citizens?”

    By: Stella Imo (DE)

    1. Relevance of the Topic

    According to article 157 of the Treaty on Functioning of the European Union (TFEU): “Each Member State shall ensure that the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value is applied”.

    Nevertheless, in 2019 women earned, on average in Europe, 14.1% less per hour than men. There are countries with a really small gender pay gap such as Romania, which recorded a difference of only 3.0 % in 2018, and those with a high one such as Estonia with 22.7 % in 2018. And the situation has not improved during the last decades. 

    Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the situation does not seem to become better. In contrast, it is getting worse. Overview of the gender pay gap in the EU Member States

    During this time, people tend to care more about their health and livelihood, and businesses have to worry about the economy and their future. Important issues such as combating the gender pay gap do not receive the necessary attention. Due to the second wave, the tense situation and next to the lockdowns in the European countries, citizens are still worrying more about the above-mentioned points than about the gender pay gap. Also with a successful vaccination and a new normal, the politicians will first talk about how to tackle the next pandemic, what we can learn from this one and about the ongoing strive about the European budget and the behaviour of some countries. Important topics such as the gender pay gap will stay behind. 

    Equal pay is not only a matter of justice but also an issue of the economy. If women earn more, they spend more money, have to pay more taxes and thus exonerate the welfare system from the burden. Thus also during the pandemic, this topic should not be swept under the carpet. 

    2. Key Terms

    Gender pay gap: difference in the average of the hourly earnings between women and men 
    Part-time working: workers are considered to be employed part-time if they work fewer than 30 hours per week
    – ‘Glass ceiling’: an invisible obstacle keeping qualified female employees from climbing the career ladder
    Salary factor: the decision of employers on how much their employees earn, depends on various factors, such as experience and education
    STEM sector: science, technology, engineering and mathematics; mainly occupied by men

    3. Stakeholders

    The European Commission serves as the executive branch of the EU. It is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing EU policies and the budget regarding ongoing topics. In general, it represents the EU’s interests. In order to combat the gender pay gap, it has passed several resolutions and action plans with guidelines and initiatives and supports EU countries to properly implement those and already existing rules. The Commission also undertook a thorough evaluation of the existing framework on equal pay for equal work or work of equal value published in March 2020.

    Since the EU has only the competence to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States (MS) in this area, each state is responsible for its own legislation regarding the gender pay gap. Each country has to regulate the minimum wage and other regulations that have to do with pay. So the Member States (MS) may implement initiatives to combat the gender pay gap in their own country or follow the guidelines and recommendations given by the European Commission.

    Women working all in all MS are primarily affected and the most involved in this topic. 

    When employing people, companies are the ones that finally decide how much they pay their employees. This should be based on the quality of work and their individual competences, but often employers also take into account their gender.

    Businesseurope is an umbrella organisation for 40 member federations which together represent 20 million companies in 34 countries. Its main task is to ensure that the interests of these companies are represented at a European level.

    The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) represents 82 trade union organisations in 36 countries, along with 12 industry federations. It also fights for gender equality and equal pay. For ETUC trade unions have a crucial role to play in eliminating the gender pay gap as these can pressurize the companies in the MS. 

    4. Conflicts

    As they are less likely to study or apply for a job in the STEM sector, women are underrepresented in this field and thus in the digital sector. Here the representation of men with more than 80% is very high. Meanwhile, women are overrepresented in fields such as care, sales or education. In these social sectors, employees are often paid less than in jobs part of the digital sector.

    Women often have fewer paid employment due to their traditional roles in families. In addition, they frequently work a second job as a mother, housekeeper or carer of relatives. So, they do not only earn less per hour but also do fewer hours of paid work. Here they often have to make a decision between their job and their family.

    Thus women often have to decide what they prefer – a steep career or bearing children. Choosing the second option, women have career breaks and the possibility to be promoted afterwards is relatively low. To CEOs, employing a mother or a woman with the wish to become pregnant means part-time working, absence, maternity leave and little focus on the job. Thus they often do not employ or promote them. Men are promoted more often than women and thus paid better.

    In consequence, management and supervisory positions are primarily occupied by men. In 2019, only 4.7% of the CEOs at Europe’s top companies were women. 

    Due to a lack of wage transparency in a lot of companies, women are often unaware of their situation and the pay discrimination at work. They cannot compare their salary unless they know what their male colleagues earn.

    Infographic with statistics about women and men on the labour market in the EU 

    5. Measures in place & status quo

    The EU directive of the European Parliament and the Council deals with the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation, it regulates equal pay and supports the member states to implement existing rules.

    The Commission submitted a recommendation in 2014 containing guidance for the MS about combating the gender pay gap through transparency and asks them to implement these transparency measures.

    In 2017 the European Action Plan was adopted by the European Commission and consists of 24 concrete action points. Those points contain activities to tackle the gender pay gay through reinforcing legislative and non-legislative initiatives. It was planned to put these theoretic points into practice until 2019. In 2019 the Commission had actually granted the majority of these points and is now working on implementing the rest.

    In order to tackle the problem that men are the dominating gender in the digital and the STEM sector, the European Parliament passed a resolution in 2018 on empowering women and girls through the digital sector. The Members of the Parliament called upon EU countries to put in place measures to ensure the full integrity of women into the STEM sector, as well as foster education and training in those fields.

    Ursula von der Leyen, the current Commission President, also states her approach to fight the gender pay gap in her political guidelines (‘my agenda for Europe’).

    An implementation every citizen can notice is the so-called “Equal pay Day”. This day is symbolic for raising awareness about the still existing gender gap and for revealing this often unknown problem. From this day on, women work for free for the rest of the year, compared to their male colleagues. The Equal Pay Day differs from country to country and also changes each year

    6. Food for Thought & Brain Munchies

    • What is the traditional role of women in conservative families and countries? How does this role affect the problem of the gender pay gap? 
    • Why are women less represented in the STEM sector?
    • How do the discrepancies of the gender pay gap happen in the different MS of the EU? 

    7. Links for further Research

    A short overview of the topic made by the European Commission, summarizes all the essential information.

    Another short overview about the topic made by the European Commission answering the fundamental questions concerning this topic. 

    A comprehensive website of the European Commission about the situation in the EU presenting the problems, measures and best practices – also have a look at the documents added to each page in order to have a good overview of the measures already in place, especially this one demonstrating the best practices in the Member States that could be adopted in the other states as well. 

    A short video that introduces the Equal Pay Day.

    A website from the EU that summarizes the situations in the different MS and the latest news about the gender pay gap in each MS

  • JURI I

    JURI I

    Topic Overview for the Committee on Legal Affairs I (JURI I)

    Prison break: “With imprisonment posing an intrusion upon the freedom of movement and an uncertain outcome for short term jail sentences, which steps could the European Union and its Member States take to ensure an effective yet purposeful criminal justice system?

    By Stephanie Reisinger (AT)

    1. Relevance of the Topic

    Bearing in mind the consequences a jail sentence has on a convict’s life and the restriction of their most fundamental rights, detention, in particular pretrial, should be regarded as a last resort. The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Offenders state that “the purposes of a sentence of imprisonment or similar measures […]are primarily to protect society against crime and to reduce recidivism.” In order to achieve this, jail sentences should be aimed at ensuring “the reintegration of such persons into society upon release so that they can lead a law-abiding and self-supporting life.” Social rehabilitation thus forms a crucial part of criminal justice systems. 

    While the duration of imprisonment decreased by 6.8% to an average of 8.2 months in Europe, the percentage of pretrial detainees increased from 17.4 to 22.4% of the total prison population in 2018. However, the European Court of Human Rights (p.62) notes that authorities have to be able to sufficiently justify pretrial detention, which should merely be the exception. In case of a severe crime, pretrial detention authorities can justify pretrial detention more easily. Despite these recommendations, studies depict that Member States lean towards detention over alternative sanctions.

    Moreover, the effectiveness of short-term jail sentences in general has to be questioned. In England, almost two-thirds of people who were in prison for less than 12 months re-offend within a year. Additionally, it has been proven that the recidivism rate (p.7) of people who undertook alternative sanctions was lower than among people who spent their total jail sentence in prison.

    3. Key Terms

    Detention: A state legally holds a person by depriving them of a majority of their civil rights at that time. The reasons for this are (pending) criminal charges and the protection of civil society from another criminal act. 

    Pretrial detention: People who find themselves in pretrial detention are accused of a specific crime – however, their trial has not begun yet. They are detained in order to restrict the possibility to flee the country or commit another criminal act.

    Social rehabilitation: measures taken to ensure that the detainee reintegrates in society after their detention and that they will not re-offend. This may include educational training or support in finding work.

    Recidivism: Describes the acts of an habitual criminal. It means that after being released, he or she commits a crime another or several time(s).

    3. Stakeholders

    Convicts are deprived of some of their most fundamental rights included in the European Convention on Human Rights. Deprived rights in detention are in particular their freedom of mobility and their right to respect for private and family life. After spending time in prison, they might be subject to discrimination and struggling to find a job. Thus, access to housing, employment and social reintegration into society is of utmost importance for them. Detention for considerably vulnerable groups, such as children, parents with young children, people with disabilities and transgender people, poses even more serious risks and the need for it has to be investigated carefully.

    Certain Member States (MS) see the most effective way to restrain convicts or accused persons from fleeing the country or committing another felony in detention. Their priority is the protection of the rest of the population from any further crimes committed by this very person. However, the detention also comes at a cost. In 2014, MS spent on average 95€ per day and detainee (p.56), while some countries, such as Sweden, pay as much as 356€. Despite the fact that alternatives to detention (p.17) account – in most cases – for lower costs, MS still lean towards detention. Moreover, social reintegration of ex-convicts means additional costs and effort.

    Due to the increasing cross-border nature (p.17) of crimes, the European Union has an interest in a coordinated justice system that restricts trans-border criminal activity, and that shows similarities across the MS. Moreover, social rehabilitation is likely to be more efficient in the country of origin or in a country, where the person has closer family ties and/or work or study connections.

    Social rehabilitation of convicts is also of great importance for society at large. Taking a more inclusive stance towards former convicts not only reduces divisions within society, but also reinforces its cohesion and solidarity. This, in the long run, leads to more peace and stability.

    4. Conflicts

    Although the imprisonment rate in the European Union declined by 6.6% between 2016 and 2018, the detention rate (p.55) in the European Union is still higher than in other states of the world with a similar high GDP. Furthermore, several MS report overcrowded prisons, and with 95% (p.56), even the average occupancy rate in the European Union is on the verge of reaching its full capacity. Overcrowded prisons (p. 4) not only signify even more limited living space and a reduction of privacy for an inmate, but the quality of services offered to them is also prone to decline. Additionally, the support and supervision of detainees will be limited, which might result in inefficient social rehabilitation processes, radicalisation or increased violence within prisons.

    With more severe crimes comes the pressing need for authorities to protect its civil society from any possible dangers posed by a specific person. In extreme cases, governments therefore prefer to detain the accused instead of considering any alternative measures. In general, alternatives (p.6) to detention comprise restrictions on movement, community service and communication restrictions or removal orders. Especially for vulnerable groups (for example children, parents with young children, people with disabilities, transgender people), the European Union (pp.71) advises considering detention only as the last resort. However, critics state that the lack of sufficiently severe sanctions increases the danger of recidivism.

    5. Measures in place & status quo

    International legislation comprises the Nelson Mandela Rules and 1990 UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty. These fundamental rights for prisoners are ratified by the United Nations. 

    Rules that are in place on a European level comply with these international standards. However, they are more specific and adapted to European conditions. The European Prison Rules are non-binding recommendations, which state that the restriction of freedom must be proportionate and limited to cases in which detention is essential. Moreover, detention has to allow for social reintegration after imprisonment. They determine standards that have to be met in European prisons and services that have to be offered to inmates. For instance, recommendations for allocation and accommodation, hygiene and education are provided.

    The CPT Standards have been developed over time by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture. They aim at preventing torture or degrading treatment of detainees in European prisons. In particular, they attempt to tackle problems such as overcrowding with stating a minimum standard for personal living space in prisons:
    6m2 are the minimum size for single-occupancy cells, while 4m2 per prisoner are the minimum standard in multiple-occupancy cells. 

    The Framework Decision on transfer of prisoners determines the circumstances in which a Member State (= issuing state) can transfer a specific prisoner to another Member State (= executing state). This executing state is in the following responsible for the supervision and imprisonment of the respective person. The Framework Decision on probation and alternative sanctions regulates the transfer of probation measures and alternative sanctions to be conducted in other EU MS. Finally, the Framework Decision on the European Supervision Order (ESO) provides regulations on the transfer of decisions on supervisory measures as alternatives to provisional detention to be supervised in another Member State.
    The main purpose of these regulations is that by transferring inmates to MS where they are more socially rooted, for work, study or family reasons, social rehabilitation is facilitated.

    As the area of freedom, security and justice is a shared competence, both the EU and its MS can adopt legally binding acts. Thus, concerning their criminal justice systems MS have direct legislative power only in those areas, where the EU has not exercised its competence. 

    6. Food for Thought & Brain Munchies

    • Should short-term jail sentences be abolished?
    • What are efficient alternatives for short-term jail sentences that do not pose high risk of the felon committing another crime?
    • How can the European Union ensure that Member States only impose detention as a last resort?
    • How can prisons be managed to ensure humane treatment of detainees?
    • What measures can be taken to facilitate social rehabilitation?

    7. Links for Research

    Report on Prison conditions in Member States, summary of measures in place and current problems present in European prisons

    Article on the discussion on the abolishment of short-term jail sentences in England

    – Video showcasing how a French prison supports inmates to ensure social rehabilitation

    – Video on the philosophy behind architecture of Norway’s Halden prison

    Article on significantly rare cases of detention in the Netherlands

  • SEDE


    Topic Overview for the Committee on Security and Defence (SEDE)

    Bella, horrida bella: “In the autumn of 2020, the conflict surrounding the region of Nagorno-Karabakh has once more flared up into military action, resulting in destruction and loss of life. What strategy should the EU adopt in its efforts to promote peaceful conflict resolution and the suppression of armed conflict?”

    Johann Davies (DE)

    Ein Bild, das Karte enthält.

Automatisch generierte Beschreibung
    A map of Armenia, Azerbaijan and the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh

    1. Relevance of the Topic

    The signing of a ceasefire agreement by the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments in November 2020 ended the most recent eruption of a conflict that has been going on for decades over control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

    Despite having a population that is 90 per cent ethnically Armenian, Nagorno-Karabakh is located within the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan, where – until the ceasefire agreement was ratified – it had a de-facto autonomous regional government with close ties to Armenia. This is going to change with the new deal: While Armenian forces must withdraw from the region, Azerbaijan is going to regain many of the areas it lost control over to Armenia in the first ceasefire of 1994. 

    That original deal could only temporarily end the fighting in a conflict which goes back at least to the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, after which the regional parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh voted to join Armenia, resulting in the first Armenian-Azerbaijani war.

    The 2020 conflict will, however, have reopened even older wounds: on the Armenian side the memory of the 1915 genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of Azerbaijan’s ally, Turkey, and in Azerbaijan the trauma of up to a million internally displaced persons (p. 2) as a result of the war in the early 1990s. 

    Despite this historical hatred between the two nations, a real danger of ethnic cleansing, and Turkish support of Azerbaijan allegedly stretching to the deployment of fighter jets, the European Union has yet to become actively engaged in de-escalating the conflict, let alone in finding a sustainable solution.

    2. Key Terms

    – The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is the general framework for the EU’s foreign policy. According to the CFSP, the EU’s foreign policy goals are to safeguard the Union’s common values, strengthen the EU’s security, preserve peace, and promote respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

    – The Minsk Group is an international conference founded by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) with the goal of creating a forum for international dialogue regarding Nagorno-Karabakh and the negotiation of a peaceful conflict resolution (the “Minsk Process”), as opposed to military intervention by single states. The group is co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States and has a total of eleven members, including both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

    – The Madrid Principles are a peace plan proposed by the aforementioned Minsk Group on how to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The idea is that Armenia relinquishes control over several districts surrounding the actual region, but a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh remains open. Nagorno-Karabakh itself receives an “interim status”  with a peacekeeping operation ensuring its security. Internally displaced persons from the region would be able to return home.

    3. Stakeholders

    – The Republic of Azerbaijan is a predominantly Muslim country located between Armenia to the West and the Caspian Sea, an important trade route between Asia and Europe, to the East. The country has invested much of the profits of its most important sector, the oil industry, in defence systems and its military strength therefore outstrips that of Armenia. The country’s authoritarian president, who acquired this  position as a de-facto matter of inheritance from his father, has recently been facing fiercely nationalist anti-government protests.

    – The Republic of Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a dominant regional power and Azerbaijan’s main ally. The two countries routinely conduct joint military drills, and, during the 2020 conflict, Turkey supplied Azerbaijan with military equipment. There are also allegations Turkey stationed jets in Azerbaijan.

    – The Republic of Armenia is a predominantly Christian country situated between Azerbaijan and Turkey. Although the country has its own history of human rights violations, the 2018 pro-democracy protests, dubbed the “velvet revolution” and led by the current Armenian Prime Minister, have led to an improvement in democracy. This, however, has led to a strained relationship with Armenia’s historical ally, Russia. Nevertheless, any violation of Armenia’s national borders will trigger a military response from Russia, as both countries are members of the CSTO defence alliance (comparable to NATO). As Nagorno-Karabakh is not internationally recognised as a part of Armenia (let alone as its own country), it is not included in the CSTO.

    – Next to Turkey, the Russia Federation is the main power in the South Caucasus region. Traditionally an ally of Armenia, Russia seems to have been prioritising her relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan in recent years. Under the ceasefire deal of November 2020, Russian peacekeepers will be stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh for at least five years to ensure a peaceful transition of power.

    – The population of Nagorno-Karabakh has a size of about 150,000 inhabitants of which roughly 90 per cent are ethnic Armenians. As a result of the ceasefire agreement, many of Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnically Armenian inhabitants have resorted to fleeing to Armenia. Dozens, if not hundreds, of civilians of both Armenian and Azerbaijani ethnicity were killed in the 2020 war.

    – The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is the head of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s diplomatic corps, represents the EU in international organisations such as the UN and implements the EU’s foreign policy. He or she works closely with the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), the conference of all foreign, defence and development ministers of the EU’s Member States. Together, the FAC and the High Representative determine the EU’s activity abroad and can launch military or civilian missions.

    4. Conflicts

    At the heart of the Nagorno-Karabakh question lies the conflict between Azerbaijan’s right to territorial integrity, as stated in Article 2 of the UN Charter, and the right of Nagorno-Karabakh’s inhabitants to self-determination, following Article 1 in the same document (see previous link), Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 1 of  the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). As UN Member States, Armenia and Azerbaijan must follow the UN Charter and the UDHR and they are also both signatories of the ICCPR. The result is a clash between two important international legal principles.

    So far, the EU has attempted to abide by both of these principles by emphasising self-determination in agreements with Armenia and territorial integrity in agreements with Azerbaijan. This double strategy has resulted in the EU being regarded as an unreliable actor, especially by Azerbaijan.

    However, despite its lack of activity, the EU does have a stake in the conflict. It is being suggested that Turkey is using the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis as a means of establishing itself as a regional power. Given Turkey’s shift towards an authoritarian state with little regard for democracy, it should be in the EU’s interest to limit Turkey’s influence in the resolution of the conflict. This consideration becomes even more urgent when observing Russia’s reduced activity, which appears to be a reaction to Armenia’s pro-democratic revolution.

    The fact that this conflict spans several decades has infused the question of Nagorno-Karabakh’s rightful ownership with deeply-felt emotional importance for both Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Allegedly placed under Azerbaijan’s rule by the Soviet Union as a calculated way of preventing a joint South Caucasian independence movement, Nagorno-Karabakh has become a symbol for the fight not only between two countries but between two ethnic groups.

    5. Measures in place & status quo

    In the past, the EU has specified its core interests regarding foreign policy, most importantly with the adoption of the EU Global Strategy in 2016, which aims to increase the EU’s presence on the world stage and make it a stronger geopolitical actor. EU priorities with importance for this conflict named in the Global Strategy include an improved and more integrated response to conflicts, with a goal of “being fully engaged in all stages of a conflict, from early action and prevention, wherever possible to staying on the ground long enough for peace to take root” (see previous link).

    In 2003 and, more recently, in 2017 the EU appointed Special Representatives for the entire region of the South Caucasus, emissaries specifically tasked with representing the EU in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and promoting international dialogue. However, there have never been civil (or military) peacekeeping missions in Nagorno-Karabakh, such as the EUMM Mission in Georgia.

    As part of the CFSP, the EU launched the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in 2005, a framework for all bilateral cooperation with Southern and Eastern neighbours, including both Azerbaijan and Armenia. Among the goals of the ENP, which was revised in 2015, are fostering stability, strengthening security and promoting democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

    This approach has been complemented since 2009 by the EU Eastern Partnership (EaP), which is a joint initiative between the EU and six of its Eastern neighbours, again including both Azerbaijan and Armenia, with the objectives of stronger economies, governance, connectivity and societies in the Partner Countries.

    However, none of these programmes directly addresses the peaceful resolution of conflicts among Partner Countries, let alone Nagorno-Karabakh. The most recent joint statement of all the EaP members from March 2020, setting the EaP’s agenda for after 2020, subtly alludes to unresolved conflicts (page 11) but does not propose a strategy for the region.

    The negotiations for a peace agreement in the autumn of 2020, brokered mainly by the Russian Federation, were held without any EU involvement.

    6. Food for Thought & Brain Munchies

    • What are the EU’s interests in the South Caucasus?
    • Are there any non-traditional, more “out of the box”-ways of foreign policy with which one could solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? How could civil society, especially the younger generations, be more involved in the peace process?
    • What role could the United Nations play?

    7. Links for Research

    – This is a short but comprehensive article describing the events of 2020 and unravelling the decades of power politics that led to them.

    – This is a three-minute video showcasing the widespread shock in Armenia after the ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan and raising questions over that agreement’s sustainability.

    – The counterpart to the previous link, this video depicts the celebrations in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, after the announcement of the ceasefire agreement.

    – A photo series showing the effects of war on people and settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

    – Finally, a declaration published by The High Representative after the ceasefire agreement, restating the EU’s commitment to building long-term peace in Nagorno-Karabakh.