A Publication of the McGill Model United Nations Assembly
December 2011 1
If you are interested in participating in McMUN 2012, please visit our website at www.mcmun.org for further information on the many opportunities we provide, or contact Nir Kumar, Secretary General at email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
Contributors: Daniele Curtis Sarah Feldman Stephanie Pietrantonio Carmina Ravanera Jennifer Kim Sam Gregory Chloe Reis Olivia Siu
Charlottetown 2012: Our Home Grown Debate Carmina Ravanera
While the majority of this year’s McMUN committees focus on international issues, crises, and councils, the Charlottetown 2012: Constitutional Review is the sole committee on Canada. Reflecting on the defeated Charlottetown and Meech Lake Accords, this committee has created a hypothetical situation wherein Stephen Harper’s push for Senate reform reopens the Constitution Act, prompting provincial governments to bring up other constitutional concerns. Committee Chair Jess de Santi states that the purpose of this imagined situation is to answer the question, “what would happen if we took the political actors we have now, put them in a room and said, ‘reform the constitution?’ There are certain things that would need to be addressed, were that to happen.” De Santi believes the committee is relevant precisely because it is Canadian. “It is attractive to Canadians because it
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is something we are more familiar with, but it also gives [international delegates] a chance to see how politics somewhere else work,” she says. “It’s really interesting to have a committee...that’s a little more home-grown.” The constitutional review itself begins with Harper’s desire for Senate reform: he aims to re-legitimize this political body by instating elected positions and term limits of 8 years. De Santi believes this is an important topic for Canadians as it has been met with both avid support and intense disagreement. “Shortly after the [most recent, 2011] election, Senate reform was brought up right away...I figured if it was big enough to make the news that early on, it was probably going to be a pressing issue”, says de Santi. De Santi and her Vice Chairs have emphasized Aboriginal rights and Quebec’s status as a nation as two important constitutional concerns that
would naturally arise from reopening the Constitution Act. With respect to Aboriginal rights, de Santi believes that self-government will be a contentious topic. “[Aboriginal] self-government has the potential to change the [government structure] we have now... if it were granted as a right under the Constitution, it will affect the division of power we have,” she says. She also emphasizes that though Aboriginal rights were a driving force for forming previous constitutional conferences, the Aboriginal representatives tended to be sidelined in these discussions. Ideally, they will receive more recognition from McMUN delegates. While the Bloc Québecois was rendered relatively insignificant in the recent election, the issue of Québec’s separatism remains relevant. Parti Québecois, a provincial party, still has the power to push for sovereignty. Also, since the majority of NDP parliament seats are now based in Québec, de Santi states that the party is playing to Québec interests and is likely to support a “yes” referendum on separatism if there is a simple majority in the provincial parliament. She hopes the 2012 conference will make new grounds on this long-lived issue. The untimely death of NDP party leader Jack Layton in August poses the unavoidable question of how the conference will be affected by his absence. De Santi says that though his replacement, Nycole Turmel, has strong experience similar to Layton in Québec politics, it was expected that Harper and Layton would form two forcefully opposing sides in the constitutional review. Now the committee is less sure of what to anticipate. Nevertheless, de Santi still expects first-class debate from delegates. In particular, she looks forward to their fresh perspectives. “I would like to see [delegates] not falling back on previous rhetoric that’s been used on a provincial political level and in previous constitutional conferences,” says de Santi. “These [issues] are not new by any stretch, but it would be nice to get some new ideas flowing.”
A Gathering of Champions Stephanie Pietrantonio
As the global economy continues to plummet into unprecedented lows, major world powers have sunk deeply into debt. Such debts have required the bailouts of various developed nations; including Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and now possibly Spain and Italy. The debt crisis is borderless and has inflicted widespread economic trauma throughout the developing, but more so, the developed world. Italy’s former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, announced his resignation on November 12, bequeathing the country’s 1.9 trillion-euro debt to his lucky successor, Mario Monti. If the world’s real politicians are running from the consequences of massive debt crises throughout the world, how are leadersin-training supposed to grapple with the issues of the current global economic status? The answer to a question of such complexity can only be sought at McMUN’s 2012 Annual Meeting of New Champions at the World Economic Forum in January. Unfortunately, this leaves us all in suspense for two more months. Until then, we will simply have to imagine and speculate the array of innovative solutions that delegates will develop in their approach to the many obstacles struggling countries must overcome. For the first time in McMUN history this meeting will occur as a General Assembly, meaning that leaders of multi-national corporations will join the nations and their representatives for the debate. Brand new to the conference circuit is the social network exclusive to delegates who will interact both online and during committee sessions; the team has literally created a virtual domain only rivaled by Zuckerberg himself! The leaders will be discussing three principal topics: the future of stateowned enterprises, sustainable growth, and how to build a risk response network. The WEF will be led by its Chair, Nida Nizam, a U3 student and former Secretary-General of McMUN. Nida, along with her team of Vice-Chairs: Etienne Cayer, Dina Al-Wer, and Chris Yang, are very busy as they prepare for the meeting of New Champions. They will be in charge of guiding the discussions between the nations and business leaders, whilst following a more liberal set of Rules of Procedure. This new manner of regulating the debate will encourage greater communication and cooperation amongst the delegates as they confront the issues outlined by the committee. A collaboration of the world’s top political and economic actors will provide a unique debate as delegates discuss resolutions to the horrendous economic issues around the globe. The success of this forum will be dependent upon the level of cooperation and active participation amongst individuals throughout different sections of society and economy. If the stress of McMUN’s 2012 Annual Meeting of New Champions at the World Economic Forum seems somewhat
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unbearable, I have one word for you: McParté. This notorious event will relieve you of any debt-related stress, at least until the next morning, when you realize there’s no one to bail you out of a massive bar tab.
The Daring Dozen: Your McMUN Secretariat Stephanie Pietrantonio & Natasha Racco No easy task, but finally after some meticulous scheduling and only a little bribery, we sat down with the McMUN Secretariat to find out what lives they lead in both the MUN and outside worlds. A colorful bunch of characters and self-described sleep lovers, it’s hardly an effort to get these 12 to talk; on the contrary, you usually want to have some back pocket flash cards to keep up with their banter. Don’t be mistaken by the almost tangible testosterone levels of the group, the two female members hold their own against their ten male counterparts and this dynamic has seemed to work for the past several months that they have spent mulling over every detail of January’s conference. If you’re going to talk to any of them, I suggest treating their names like tongue twisters because with spelling variations alone, some are averaging 40 letter names. I believe one of the pre-reqs for being on the Secretariat is being able to say “Julien “Dikembe” York-Angelo Galiano Celestino” five times fast. Their passion for international issues is however, what truly
unites them. Each member came to the MUN community with something different to offer, and whether it took a stretch of the truth (Andrew), being the Secretary General in 8th grade (Nir) or simply being a keener (Matias), they all feel the experience extends beyond the debate and the drinks. Elegantly put by Adit, the Director of Public Relations, McMUN is really about the emotional attachment to the world around you and gaining an understanding of where and whom you live with in the greater community. In Justin’s staffing-geared mind, a conference is a dynamic opportunity to gain exposure to the wide-scoping discourse on international affairs because you can become involved through paging, writing, event coordination or whatever interests you. There’s also a push to take the increasingly archaic image of the UN experience from the 1940’s into the future, as the UN is not the only forum through which important, world-changing
decisions are made. Honing any number of skills is something you are sure to walk away with, whether that is public speaking and networking or the ability to negotiate about FIFA politics and business deals. It seems almost too simple to ask the group why there is a need to be informed about world issues because they are the ones who advocate to their fellow students its importance on a daily basis. But it’s just that, it’s about stepping outside that little bubble you’re all too comfortable with and discovering your niche in society, or as Nikhil explains: finding your reason for being. Abdaal believes that knowledge of international issues allows the youth to know where to go and what they have the capacity to change. So, if any one of them could control the UN’s agenda, where would they want the focus to be? First of all, get rid of the nukes. No questions asked, Andrew says just find a way. Once that’s underway, the stir is on poverty being put as a top priority.
Through Daniel’s eyes, education needs more attention, but beyond just the basics, in order to eradicate ignorance. As Nikhil and Julien elaborate, overcoming struggles of discrimination, pre-conceived perceptions and close mindedness could have the power to affect great positive change and religious tolerance is the biggest challenge in that respect. Yet, how can this be put in action without equality in political power, or as Mickaela puts it, the inequality of access? It is this stark gap between the rich and the poor that Matias believes needs to be addressed. Justin asks us to consider the declining trend in an average person’s attention span and the subsequent desensitization to the world’s problems and how this growing detachment may affect the ability of our generation from addressing the world’s problems. For Nir, there’s a lack of consideration of the basic human and moral level, especially when international relations are based entirely on political, economic, and military dimensions. To complicate the question even further, Adit questions how anything can be
appropriately handled when the UN itself has internal working problems and is critiqued on its inefficiency? Finally, the tiniest and from my encounters, feistiest member Eujee pipes up and reminds everyone that no problem acts as an independent variable, and to focus on one issue globally just doesn’t make sense. A conclusion that, unlike the others from the Secretariat, somewhat validates the large and ambitious methods and goals of the UN today. This year’s Secretariat is sleek, smart and unafraid to question the UN and its role in the 21st century. While all of them can easily point out the many flaws it has, they also agree that it is imperative that the world has a UN and that it is their responsibility to improve it. It’s hard to imagine them without the suits or even as average McGill students laden with heavy knapsacks and bloodshot eyes. I have it on good authority though that they are also quite capable of causing a raucous, and January will pay testament to that.
McMUN is grateful to Reza Aslan and Aslan Media Initiatives for being an integral part of last year’s conference and is pleased to announce their return for McMUN 2012 as Media Sponsors. As such, Aslan Media has graciously agreed to invite all of McMUN 2012’s participants to become a part of their organization’s Global Community by writing for them. This is a call for contributors to all those who are interested in becoming part of the global conversation on world issues that they are interested in, with potential for contributors to become regular writers. If you’re interested, please contact Aslan Media Initiatives at firstname.lastname@example.org with your CV/Resume and writing samples. *Please note that all contributions are voluntary and are not compensated.
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McGill makes the Ivy League Rounds Keagan Tafler
Columbia The twelve members of the McGill team headed for Manhattan on the morning of October 6, and the fun began! At the conference, Alex Damianou took control of the Palestinian Underground Council as Mahmoud Abbas, Keagan Taffler became the Chief of Police in the Cuban province of Santiago de Cuba, Chloe Reis reinvented the pirate struggles for power with genetically engineered creatures, and Nick Benjamin and Sebastien Forte made sure that the Swiss Confederacy (and Swiss chocolate) played a very important role in the Peace of Westphalia. Luis, Nayab, Isabelle, Enis, Elliot, Kirsten, and Jawad had exciting committee experiences as well, participating in committees that included the Arab League, Thailand: Red Shirts v. Yellow Shirts, and Ashoka’s Court: 270-232 B.C. While in New York, the team bonded over subway travels, dinner at Popeye’s, and a conference club night at Havana’s. CMUNNY 2011 was a great weekend to kick off the new-year on the conference circuit! McGill proudly took home the following awards: Best Delegate Alex Damianou Honorable Mention Nick Benjamin Honorable Mention Sebastien Forte
Yale IRSAM sent eight people off to the Security Council Simulation at Yale. Etienne and Rohan took on the role of the United States in the UN Security Council, Matt became Janet Napolitano in the United States National Security Council, Nikhil took on the position of Hobbes in the Philosophers’ League, while Yasmine, Eve, Nick, and Alyssa also had fun, interactive committee experiences. It was the first collegiate conference for the majority of the team, but overall, a rewarding weekend!
Georgetown Twelve members of IRSAM left Montreal on a Wednesday night, with a twelve-hour car ride to go. At the conference, Keagan and Casey rewrote the history of the IRA, Misha and Kegan became politicians in Kosovo, and Sabrina became a member of Juan Peron’s Senate. Meanwhile, Nida controlled the budget of Afghanistan, Mike became an advisor to the Pope during World War II, Maanasa and Abhinav took part in opposing sides of
the Joint Crisis: Khalistan, Dan served as Khruschev’s Minister of Defense, Justin served as a Lebanese Cabinet minister, and Hamid took part in the National Assembly of Pakistan. As always, our delegates bonded over everything from research to hunting for restaurants in Bethesda to the usual conference social adventures. The team became Greek gods for Halloween and partied into the wee hours of the morning at the conference’s club night. Although the ride home was a little harrowing, due to an unexpected snowstorm in October, everyone returned to Montreal safely, looking forward to the conferences ahead in the Spring! McGill cleaned up the competition and took home the following awards: Honorable Mention Keagan Tafler Honorable Mention Casey Minnes Honorable Mention Nida Nizam Honorable Mention Daniel Stysis Verbal Commendation Misha Dauphinais-Matheson Verbal Commendation Abhinav Gupta
negotiations with Egyptian forces. As Colombia and India stepped up to the plate they were prepped to discuss issues of preventing the development and usage of biochemical weapons; a fairly high stakes scenario and all without breaking a sweat. Other committees were as busy, bustling with activity and maintaining a high-pressure and focused atmosphere. Delegates in GAs, eager to voice their opinions and concerns, frenetically wave their country’s placards in the air, vying for the Chair’s attention. In a particularly engaging GA, delegates travelled back to 1956 and were thrown in the midst of the Suez Crises that shook up the international community just following on the heels of WWII. The UN’s first ever Emergency Session saw Egypt’s status as a selfdetermining nation come under question, the Arab-Israeli conflict deepen and both French and English “oil fever” persist. The high-level of debate was facilitated by the fact that delegates did not fall into the trap of following history page by page but that they actively engaged with each New York Times bulletin they received or an amendment raised by an ally nation.
“There’s a fire, starting in my….. SSUNS 2012 ignites!” Daniele Curtis On November 11th, the Delta Centre Ville Hotel was invaded by delegates from across the globe, coming to discuss some of the modern and historical world’s most pressing issues. Over the next few days, this group of engaging and pro-active individuals would not only address but also attempt to resolve the problems faced by the international community. As delegates ignited their passion for solving global problems, what was arguably the most impressive aspect of such a convening was the fact that this international set of smartly dressed, well informed and delicately diplomatic individuals were all under the age of 18. The Secondary Schools’ United Nations Symposium (SSUNS) is now in its 19th year, and as such, has perfected the operations and orchestrations required to execute such a large and multi-layered assembly. That being said, they rely on the delegates themselves to create the emotionally and politically charged
atmosphere for which the conference is known. With committees on issues like the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Suez Crisis and the role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), it was clear that the symposium was not lacking in controversial and divisive subject matter. Stepping into the UNSC committee room was particularly reminiscent of this electrifying atmosphere. This year’s UNSC body was tasked with the issues surrounding the end of the Egyptian revolution and following the resignation of President Mubarak. Member nations discussed the upcoming elections that have the capability to threaten international security and raised the concern of assisting Egypt develop a stable and accountable political society. Your very own Ambassador reporter and MUN aficionado got a chance to participate in some crucial tie breaking votes (under cover as the Brazilian delegate) to decide on which delegations would go to private
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The fact that the assembly progressed in such a smooth and seamless fashion is testament to the hard work and diligence of the staff. The non-invasive manner in which the coordinator team conducted their operations made it at times easy to forget how truly fast-paced and dynamic an assembly like SSUNS is. Credit should also be given to the pages who persistently scanned the room for raised slips of paper, managing to allow for the steady stream of clandestine note passing to occur in as un-disruptive a manner as possible. Secretary General, Suryadeep Seal maintained an effortless calm throughout the weekend and exhibited the extreme pride he has for the conference experience. The entire Secretariat’s dedication and zeal, when combined with the energy and enthusiasm of the delegates, is undoubtedly responsible for SSUNS’ success. SSUNS 2011 overshadowed the at times pretentious, slow-moving and corrupt reputation of the real UN and replaced it as a relevant student body working towards a collaborative change on the international playing field!
The Iron Lady Lives On Sarah Feldman
It is not everyday a journalist gets to sit down with such prominent female political minds as Margaret Thatcher, Mary Robinson, and Angela Merkel. I am living proof of this fact, because I sure haven’t. I did, however, meet the Chair and Vice-Chairs of McMUN’s Council of Women Leader’s Committee, Liz Ludan, Alice Bou, and Ariana Keyman. The Council of Women’s Leaders Committee, they explained, has three main goals. It aims to increase female participation in politics around the world, enable women to achieve economic independence and to successfully educate women on their reproductive rights. The Council of Women’s Leaders Committee is a political body of women who have either served, or currently serve, as national leaders or cabinet ministers. The McMUN delegation in January will consist of roughly fifteen university students and as Ms. Ludan explains, the importance of their committee lies primarily in its ability to create awareness of the vast disparities in terms of rights that exist between men and women around the world. “Everyone,” Ms. Ludan said, “needs to know that women deserve rights.” Even Canada, Ms. Bou noted, falls short in terms of gender equality and has failed to prioritize the political participation of women. “Scandinavian countries vastly outperform Canada in terms of female political involvement,” Ms. Bou said. As a Canadian woman interested in politics, Ms. Bou’s point made me immediately want to boycott maple syrup. And timbre. And beavers. As I soon learned, however, some habits are harder to break than one thinks.
As Ms. Keyman explained, “McMUN hosts delegates from all over the world. It is essential that every Model UN conference have a committee like ours that discusses women’s issues, because, even in 2011, gender parity is a topic in need of debate and innovative ideas.” While the (real) Council of Women’s Leaders is, naturally, comprised of women, the delegates of McMUN’s Council of Women’s Leaders Committee are randomly selected by draw. “Yes,” Ms. Ludan assured me, “there will be men in the delegation.” These men, like all delegates within the group, must “roleplay” as the various members of the real-life Council of Women’s Leaders. Some of the Council’s members are Ellen John Sirleaf, the current president of Liberia, Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile, and Margaret Thatcher, the automaton turned Transformer turned Prime Minister of Britain. For Ms. Keyman, it is of particular importance that men participate in the Committee. “Many people perceive feminism as women chanting to women. But we are trying to affect real change, and cannot achieve this goal without the active and willing support of men.” By facilitating the Committee, Ms. Ludan, Ms. Bou, and Ms. Keyman aim to inspire activism at home and around the globe. McMUN, after all, attracts delegates from as far away as Africa and the Middle East “If we can demonstrate that there are basic human rights that must be realized in all parts of the world,” Ms. Keyman said, “then, as the organizers of this Committee, we will have begun to achieve our goal.” In addition to achieving equal rights, women must be granted a greater voice in local, domestic, and global political affairs. According to Ms. Bou, “Research shows that women are less politically self-serving and are more likely to act in ways that benefit the general welfare of their social worlds.”
Ms. Keyman poured salt on this red-and-white wound by adding that although Turkey ranks in the bottom 10 to 15 countries in the world in terms of women’s rights and freedoms, “Turkey elected its first female Prime Minister in 1993 and she currently sits on the Council.” Just as an FYI, Canada also saw its first female Prime Minister in 1993. Granted, she only lasted four months and was never elected in the first place…
Ms. Keyman agreed with her colleague’s sentiment. “Ultimately,” Ms. Keyman said, “women add dimension to the political space by promoting more peaceful resolutions to conflicts as opposed to traditionally male-centric ideas of war.”
Evidently, Canada is plagued by gender inequality. In a nation where 50 percent of its citizens are women, this is simply unacceptable. The organizers of the Council of Women’s Leaders Committee hope to spur interest in women’s issues at McMUN.
Liz Ludan, Alice Bou, and Ariana Keyman might not be Margaret Thatchers just yet, but if all goes well at McMUN 2012, the Iron Lady’s legacy will undoubtedly be carried on.
At the end of the day, Ms. Ludan said, the integration of women into politics yields only positive results. After all, Ms. Ludan explained, “When you invest in women, you invest in the world.”