Links to other sites on the Web:
Back to the 1999-2000 Team page
Back to the Mini-MUN 2000 page
Back to the Briefing Book Library
Back to Teams
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy without a written constitution. The House of Lords, (the Upper non-elected House of Parliament), comprises over 750 hereditary peers and peeresses, over 20 Lords of Appeal (non-hereditary peers), over 370 life peers, 2 archbishops and 24 bishops of the Church of England. The House of Commons consists of 651 members elected for five years by universal adult suffrage. The sovereign appoints a Prime Minister who commands a majority in the Commons.
The monarch is the head of the UK, even though the crown is seen as a symbol above and beyond the monarch. Despite this, the monarch only has minor legislative power. Legislative power is based on constitution in parliament, with the royal assent needed for a bill to become law. The monarch, on the advice of the Prime Minister, dissolves parliament. After a general election, the monarch appoints the head of the winning party as the new Prime Minister, although if no one party had a working majority, the monarch would have to seek advice on whom to ask first to try and form a government.
Local government does much of the work of governing Britain. Local authorities (county councils and district councils in England and Wales, regional and district councils in Scotland) are responsible for services such as education, social services, local authority housing, and the fire brigade. There has been some loss of tasks by local government in the 1980s, with some metropolitan authorities (notably the Greater London Council) being abolished and schools being allowed to elect for direct funding for central government.
The land divides into a highland region and a lowland region. The highlands occur north and west of a line from the Tees River, in northern England, to the Exe River, in the southwest. The lowlands lie to the south and east. All of the highland region and most of the lowland region were glaciated during the last Ice Age. In the highlands the massive sheets of ice scoured and eroded the land, leaving rounded summits and barren rocky areas. On the lowlands they left extensive deposits of clay, sand, gravel, and other glacial material from which the UK’s economy benefited.
The coast of Great Britain is often irregular and deeply indented by numerous bays, sounds, broad estuaries, and long, narrow arms of the sea. Among the large bodies of water jutting into Britain are the estuaries of Forth, Moray, Lorne, Clyde, and Solway, in Scotland; and The Wash, Thames estuary, Bristol Channel, and Morecambe bay, in England. All these bays provided natural harbors for the UK. Lakes are mainly of glacial origin and lie in the highlands. The highest summer and lowest winter temperatures are usually recorded in southeastern England, which lies in the direct path of occasional hot and cold air masse from the continent.
Lying near vital North Atlantic sea-lanes and only 35 km from France, the United Kingdom is now linked by tunnel under the English Channel to France. Due to a heavily indented coastline, no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters.
The natural resources of the United Kingdom are coal, petroleum, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, and silica. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves; primary energy production accounts for 10% of GDP, one of the highest shares of any industrial nation.
The native peoples of the British Isles, (English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish), are the descendants of a long succession of invaders and colonizers, the last of whom were the Normans, who arrived in 1066 AD. Earlier invaders included (in reverse order) Danes and other Norsemen, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Romans, and Celts. The English achieved political dominance but the other tree peoples did not lose their sense of identity or their determination to preserve their own cultures. Persons of each component nationality have risen to prominence in the central British government ad have gained recognition in various fields of endeavor.
After World War II there was an inflow, especially into England’s larger cities, of blacks and East Indians from various parts of the former British Empire. The English found it difficult to absorb them into their society, and Great Britain suffered instances of racial conflict for the first time in its history. The total population of the United Kingdom in 1991, according to census results, was 55, 729, 341 people. Nearly 85% of the population lived in England.
The native languages of the United Kingdom are Indo-European. The predominant language is English of Germanic origin. Celtic languages include Welsh, widely spoken in Wales, and forms of Gaelic, used very slightly in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Law guarantees the freedom of religion. The Church of England, one of the Anglican churches, is the legally established, or state church in England and the dominant one in Great Britain. The established church of Scotland is Presbyterian. Wales and Northern Ireland have no established churches. Other Christian groups in Britain include Roman Catholics, and the so-called free churches, mainly Methodist, Baptist, Congregational, and the United Reform, (a merger of Congregational and English Presbyterian churches).
About one sixth of the British labor force is involved in manufacturing. The principal industries include iron and steel, motor vehicles, electronics and electrical engineering, textiles and clothing, and consumer goods. British industry relies heavily upon imports of raw materials. The UK is self-sufficient in petroleum (from the North Sea) and has important reserves of natural gas. The coal industry declined as seams became uneconomic. As Britain is a major trading nation, London is one of the world’s leading banking, financial and insurance centers, and the "invisible earnings" from these services make an important contribution to exports. Tourism is another major foreign-currency earner. Agriculture involves about 1% of the labor force and is principally concerned with raising sheep and cattle. Arable farming is widespread in the east, where the main crops are barley, wheat, potatoes, and sugar beet. Economic problems have included repeated crises of confidence in the value of the pound, credit squeezes, and high rates of unemployment. Since 1980 most major nationalized industries have been privatized. The currency in the United Kingdom is the Pound sterling.
As far as the current economy is concerned, the UK is one of the world's great trading powers and financial centers nowadays, and its essentially capitalistic economy ranks among the four largest in Western Europe. Over the past two decades the government has greatly reduced public ownership and contained the growth of social welfare programs. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with only 1% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves; primary energy production accounts for 10% of GDP, one of the highest shares of any industrial nation. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account by far for the largest proportion of GDP. The Blair government has put off the question of participation in the Euro system until after the next election, not expected until 2001. But Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown is committed to preparing the British economy for eventual membership.
The three branches of British armed forces are the army, the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Navy (which includes the Royal marines). Civilian control is exercised by the secretaries of state for war and air and the first lord of the admiralty. All three are responsible to the minister of defense, a member of the cabinet. The military manpower availability of males of ages 15 - 49 is 14,458,646 (1999 estimate). As for those fit for military service, the military manpower for males of ages 15 – 49 is 12,053,320 (1999 estimate). The military manpower of the UK is fairly large for a country of its size and population, (app. 55,729,341 people). Thus, the military manpower availability of the UK makes up approximately 26% of the population. The military expenditures of the United Kingdom in a dollar figure are $36.7 billion (FY98/99).
The United Kingdom has declared its intention to destroy all air-delivered nuclear weapons by 1998, retaining only a sea-based deterrent. They will destroy their existing estimated 100 WE177 bombs (carried by the Tornado GR.I attack aircraft). Their sole nuclear force will be based on four new Vanguard-class SSBN’s armed with US-supplied Trident II D-5 missiles. While only retaining one means of delivery (nonetheless a flexible and a reliable one), the UK will also reportedly use a mixture of strategic and smaller tactical warheads. The UK now possesses 100 strategic nuclear weapons and100 tactical nuclear weapons, making up a total of 200 nuclear weapons that they now possess.
The UK is the Security Council country with the least nuclear power. It may be the fifth most powerful country, (nuclear-wise), in the world, but, again, it is not even close to the other four world powers. For Russia possesses between 14,500 and 23,000 nuclear weapons. The US possesses between 12,000 to 19,000 nuclear weapons. France possesses 482 nuclear weapons, and China possesses 410 nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom’s main strategy with all this and with the show they’re putting on of being on the US’s side is to have the United States pay all the expenses of weapons for the UK, and literally protect the UK.
Views on World Problems:
The United Kingdom is a member of the United Nations (UN), EU/EC (European Union/European Community), NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), G7 (Group 7), OECD, OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), WEU, and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Its Crown Dependencies, associated with, but not part of the UK, are:
Guernsey and Dependencies (Alderney and Sark), Isle of Man, and Jersey. Its Dependencies are: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falklands Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, St Helena and Dependencies (Ascension and Tristan da Cunha), South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands.
On the international stage, the United Kingdom is mainly a follower of the United States of America. It also seeks what is in the best interest of all world countries. It works to be a main contributor in solving world problems. The United Kingdom is on good terms with members of the Commonwealth of Nations, especially ex-colonies such as St. Kitts and Nevis. The United Kingdom is very unsure and doubtful about the European Community, (EC); due to this, the UK has not partaken in the Euro "unity" program, of which the first step was unifying the European currency and making it the Euro dollar. This is not due to any disputes or such between the UK and any other member of the EC; it is simply due to the fact that the UK wishes to push its economy a further step up. It’s also due to the UK being uncertain about the whole EC experiment since the very beginning.
As for its international disputes, they are as follows: Northern Ireland issue with Ireland (historic peace agreement signed on the 10th of April 1998); Gibraltar issue with Spain; Argentina claims Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas); Argentina claims South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Also, Mauritius claims island of Diego Garcia in British Indian Ocean Territory; Rockall continental shelf dispute involving Denmark, Iceland, and Ireland (Ireland and the UK have signed a boundary agreement in the Rockall area). Going further, territorial claim in Antarctica (British Antarctic Territory); and Seychelles claims Chagos Archipelago in British Indian Ocean Territory.
As for illicit drugs, the United Kingdom is the gateway country for Latin American cocaine entering the European market; it is a producer and major consumer of synthetic drugs, synthetic precursor chemicals, a transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin, and a money-laundering center.
a) Early History:
The reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) witnessed the height of British power. Britain, the first country to undergo an industrial revolution, dominated world trade. The British Empire included much of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and Australasia. Parliamentary democracy increased with the gradual extension of the right to vote, starting with the Reform Act of 1832. Representative government was granted to distant colonies, beginning with Canada and Australia, but was denied to Ireland, where nationalist sentiment was stirring. By 1900, Britain’s economic dominance was being challenged by the USA and, more particularly, by Germany. Rivalry with Imperial Germany was but one factor contributing to the causes of World War I.
The ‘old dominions’, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, emerged from the war as autonomous countries, and the statute of Westminster (1931) confirmed their independent status.
The Easter Rising in Ireland (1916) led to the partition of the island in 1922. Only Northern Ireland, the area with the Protestant majority, stayed within the UK, but from 1968 to 1994 bitter conflict resurfaced in the province as Roman Catholic republicans, seeking unity with the Republic of Ireland, clashed with Protestant Loyalists intent upon preserving the link with Britain. British troops were stationed in Northern Ireland to keep order and to defeat the terrorist violence of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Loyalist illegal organizations. In 1994, the terrorist organizations declared a ceasefire and the Northern Ireland peace process began.
In World War II, Britain, led by Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) who had strenuously opposed appeasement in the 1930s, played a major role in the defeat of the Axis Powers, and from 1940 to 1941, the UK stood alone against an apparently invincible Germany. Following the war, the British Empire began its transformation into a Commonwealth of some 50 independent states, starting with the independence of India in 1947. By the late 1980s, Britain was no longer a world power, although a British nuclear deterrent was retained.
b) The European Community (EC):
In 1972, Parliament approved entry of Britain in the European Community. At the beginning of 1974, the Conservative government established a three-day workweek to conserve fuel. Inflation soared. There was a serious concern over the wisdom of Britain remaining in the European Community prior to Britain being left in desperate financial straits. Rich oil deposits in the North Sea and natural gas reserves in the Irish Sea were discovered in the early 1970’s. During 1990-91, Britain came into conflict with other members of the European Community by opposing further economic and political integration. The conflict lessened in December of 1991, when the British government, after being given the choice of "opting out" of certain provisions, approved a treaty that would further integrate the Community. The treaty was approved by the British parliament in 1993.
In 1996, a scientific report was issued in Britain that linked a fatal disease found in much of Britain’s cattle, ("mad cow disease") to a fatal disease in humans. The European Union (EU) subsequently banned the export of British beef worldwide. Britain developed a plan, to be implemented over the course of several years, to slaughter diseased cattle and cattle most likely to be affected by the disease. In response, the EU agreed to lift the ban in stages.
c) The Situation in Northern Ireland:
Meanwhile, the traditional antagonism between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland had flared into violence, with many instances of terrorism. British troops were sent in to restore order, but failed; the British government was forced to take over direct rule of the country in 1972. Attempts to resolve the conflict were unsuccessful, and disorder continued. Although Britain’s economy improved slightly in the late 1970’s, serious problems, including inflation and labor unrest, remained. During 1989-94, the provisional Irish Republic Army (provisional IRA) engaged in widespread terrorist bombings in Britain. Bombings subsided somewhat in mid-1994, and during 1994-96 the British government and leaders from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (including representatives from Sinn Fein, the political arm of the provisional IRA) conducted negotiations concerning the future of Northern Ireland.
d) Margaret Thatcher:
Elections in 1979 brought the Conservatives to power, and party leader Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first woman Prime Minister. In April 1982, Argentina seized the Falkland Islands, a British colony off the tip of South America. She ordered British troops to the Falkland Islands to retake them from Argentina. A British expeditionary force retook the islands in June. The Conservatives called for parliamentary elections in 1983 and won an overwhelming victory. In 1985, Britain and the Republic of Ireland signed a treaty that set up an Anglo-Irish commission through which the Republic would have a consultative role in the affairs of Northern Ireland. She took a strong stand against the trade unions during the miner’s strike (1984-85), and moved Britain toward privatization, selling minor interests in public utilities to the business interests. She also introduced "rate capping" which effectively took control of expenditures out of the hands of city councils; part of her policies aimed at reducing the influence of local governments.
Parliamentary elections in 1987 reaffirmed Conservative rule. In 1988, Thatcher became the longest-sitting Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool (1812-27). In 1989, she introduced a community poll tax. In 1990, her cabinet was divided over issues including the European Community, which forced her resignation; Thatcher also resigned as leader of the Conservatives following opposition on policy matters by some factions within her party. She was succeeded by John Major. In 1992, she entered the House of Lords, created Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven. In general, Thatcher greatly influenced the British economy, changing it into more of a free market economy than a command economy.
ISSUE #1: The Issue of External Debt Crisis
The United Kingdom has agreed to write off hundreds of millions of pounds owed to it by some of the world’s poorest countries. The move follows a similar move by the US. Despite that, the UK is still reluctant when it comes to canceling debts and writing them off altogether. The UK feels that this would encourage the UK to no longer loan money to those countries who need it, for the UK sees the problem of external debt crisis as that of the countries that owe the money, and not those that lend it. It believes that, yes, some part of debts should be relieved of countries that face trouble paying off their debts with the interest. It also believes that canceling the interests would be an efficient first step. Either that or the interests will remain posted, and only a specified amount of money will be written off the debts. This, of course, depends on the loaners and those who owe the money. Again, the UK, despite agreeing to be a bit lenient, stands firm on its ground that it will not be held responsible for the financial debt problems of other countries.
ISSUE #2:The Issue of the Review and Implementation of the UN Program on AIDS
The United Kingdom’s stance on the issue of AIDS in general is actually in the interest of all world countries. The UK, seeing itself as a country with a population well educated concerning AIDS, and, thus, well aware of the consequences and prevention procedure(s) of AIDS is concerned about AIDS in other less fortunate countries than itself. The UK feels that Third World and Developing nations need to raise AIDS’ awareness within their countries and within their populations. The UK feels that AIDS is a major disease that is killing many people in many regions of the world, and especially Asian and African regions. The UK believes that the UN Program on AIDS needs to concentrate more on spreading awareness of the AIDS virus and how it can be prevented in poor Third World countries. The UK thinks that the UN Program should, after completing the above, enhance AIDS education in rich developed countries.
ISSUE #3:The Issue of the International Cooperation in Drug Abuse Control and Rehabilitation Programs
The United Kingdom firmly believes that the accursed by drugs. Dealing drugs, consuming them, or using them in any way, are major world problems. Anything affiliated with drugs in any way should be considered illegal and should be banned world wide, in all world countries, (including the Netherlands). The UK feels that any country with drug dealers importing the drugs on an international basis should be dealt with. The UK believes that, if the country does not posses the power to stop this DISEASE from spreading beyond its borders, and especially since it then becomes an international issue, then UN forces and organizations should intervene.
The UK believes that the UN forces should stop farmers and dealers in the country from spreading this contagious chaos around the world. As for drug dealing within the borders of a nation, the UK believes that the country should be ordered to stop this illicit killer from spreading by the United Nations. The country should either take care of this by itself, or otherwise ask for the aid and support of UN organizations. The UK feels that the US and itself should take part and be of manual support to the UN in such a grave issue that greatly concerns both countries. The UK also believes that countries known worldwide for handling drugs in any way should be stopped by the imposition of sanctions on them, (especially countries like Columbia and Afghanistan). The UK strongly believes that immediate action, (military if necessary), should be taken to, step-by-step, end the production, import, and trade of the deathly-influential plague of drugs.
Aware of the increasing negative effects of external debt crises on the financial, political, and economical statuses of countries,
Aware of the disable state of many Third World and developing nations to repay their debts with all the interest,
Affirming that no loaner country should be held responsible for the financial troubles of the country in debt,
Clarifying the debt problem in Asia, where over $300 billion were borrowed in its private sector since 1990, this money was used to create very over-leveraged balance sheets, then the lending policies of the bankers were altered so abruptly,
Realizing that the whole aspect of loaner countries knowing that there’s a chance that they might not get their money back creates a dislike towards the idea of loaning money to other countries in the attitudes of the loaner countries,
Emphasizing that many loaner countries are willing to relieve countries in debt of several hundreds of dollars of debt,
Further Emphasizing the need for a solution to the worldwide financial problem of external debt crisis, faced by many nations, and especially African and South East Asian nations,
Expecting the cooperation of all world countries, rich and poor, in reaching an all-win solution to this financially chaotic issue,
1. Notes the vast areas of a nation’s financial aspects that external debt crisis gravely affects, which include: a) stock markets, b) increasing limitations on the country’s imports, c) increasing the country’s annual exports, which causes: i) shortages of local products within the country, ii) financial ruin of the country’s local economy,
2. Emphasizes the financial and economical ruin of countries that suffer from external debt crisis, especially the downfall of the country’s economic, financial, and political relationships with other countries,
3. Congratulates all loaner nations willingly compromising for either: a) cancellation of all interest on debts, or b) a cancellation of a considerable amount of the debt, to be specified by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and a decrease in the interest rate on the debt, also to be decided upon by the IMF,
4. Calls Upon the IMF for aid in this particular situation, whether it be in the form of: a) financial support, b) counseling and advisory to financial ministers of countries suffering from external debt crisis, c) direct loans to countries meeting IMF conditions,
5. Urges the cooperation of the countries in debt in that they: a) are willing to cooperate, b) don’t ask too much of the loaner countries or of the IMF: i) in terms of relieving debts or interests, ii) in terms of asking for extra financial aid from the IMF, which would only: reduce the chances of the country getting relieved of its debts to a bare minimum - increase the IMF’s unwillingness to aid the country at that time or at any other time
6. Further Urges all rich nations and organizations to contribute as donators to solving the problem of external debt crisis, and especially in Third World and developing countries in order to: a) help better the relationships between the country in debt and the country/countries it owes, b) improve and broaden relationships between the country in debt and the donor countries and organizations, c) get the country in debt back on the right track in terms of: i) exporting less provincial goods so as to consume them locally, ii) importing only merchandise and goods that are very significant to the country and its population,
7. Resolves that the IMF will specify:
a) 15% of the monetary debt of one country to another to be deducted from country’s debts, and b) a 15% decrease in the annual interest rate that the loaner countries initially set for the countries in debt,
8. Further Resolves that, for loaner countries not willing to compromise for the above, the IMF will eradicate all interest rates set by those loaner countries on the debts of other countries as of two weeks of the passing of this resolution. Thus the country in debt would only have the principal amount left to pay,
9. Demands that all new debts and annual interest rates on the debts be confirmed with the IMF and that the IMF have a role in determining the fore-mentioned elements so that it be in the best interest of the country in debt and the loaner country,
10. Further Demands that bankers, political or other figures, countries, organizations, and any other figures or bodies that lend money do not alter/change the interest rate(s) on the debts unless it is done either every ten years under the supervision of the IMF and under the distinct condition that all the money owed to it, from previous loans before the change in the system, has been: a) paid back, or b) the country/body that still hasn’t paid back the money will pay it back in accordance to the conditions and interest rates of the previous system, unless c) the country/body that still hasn’t paid back the money agrees to pay it back in accordance to the new system’s regulations and proceedings.
Most honorable Secretary General,
Good morning/afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the house, fellow delegates, and attendance. The United Kingdom would like to take this chance to welcome all member nations of ECOSOC to this conference. The UK hopes that we will all part as we have gathered, in a friendly manner with thy smile on thy face, and with the only significant goal of mutual benefit. The famous British Litterateur William Shakespeare once said "To be or not to be". The United Kingdom affirms that this body, the United Nations, was formed to be, and not not to be.
The British Empire was spread out over many different areas and regions of the world. That is why we used to be called the land where the sun never set. Despite the changes that the UK has underwent over the period of time from the past world war, the UK still firmly believes in its significance amongst all world countries in resolving conflicts and international disputes.
The UK would also like to take this chance to speak on the third issue of the agenda of ECOSOC: the Issue of External Debt Crisis. The UK feels that leniency of loaner countries is a big matter in this issue, yet it still believes that loaner countries should not be held responsible for the financial problems of countries in debt. The UK has devised a plan that will satisfy all sides involved in debt crises. This is what the UK means by mutual benefit, reaching a point that makes everyone happy and comfortable on this big stage, for "the world’s a big stage" according to Shakespeare, and the UN is the world’s stage according to the United Kingdom.