June 4, 2012
Publication of SMUN 2012
THE TORCH ISSUE ONE
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
Issue No. 1
Encouraging Progress in SPECPOL Committee
By Foo Wen Yen & Song Yin Yin
The proceedings of the SPECPOL committee began with the issue of the Admittance of the State of Palestine into the General Assembly (GA) The entire day’s proceedings finally came to three general streams of resolution directions: the immediate admission of Palestine into the GA, a gradual admission of Palestine into the GA and the non-admission of Palestine into the GA.. In the morning, without the presence of delegates of Palestine and the US, the key stakeholders of the issue, the debate for the first session went without much meaningful solutions achieved. However, there were some prominent delegates who pushed their ideas across to the House, such as the delegates from the Philippines and Kenya. At the second session of the day, the debate went into full swing as delegates began drafting out working papers and tackled issues that might prevent a consensus among the countries. With the arrival of the delegate from the US for the second session, focus soon shifted to addressing its various concerns. The US was primarily concerned with the terrorist threat posed by the Hamas and its efforts to undermine Israel. Unless this instability is removed and a legally binding peace treaty is adhered to, it would not permit Palestinian statehood. In response to these concerns, the delegate of Kenya pointed out that dealings with the Hamas and other “..like a little kid concerns like the possibility of Palestine bringing Israel to throwing a tantrum” court before the International Court of Justice were fully negotiable and could be settled as part of any agreement. Moreover, any violence from the Hamas originated from the violation of Palestine’s sovereignty at the hands of Israel. With this problem resolved through Palestine’s admission into the General Assembly, this violence could reasonably be expected to cease. The delegate from Chile took a stronger stance, asserting that the US fears were exaggerated and it was behaving like “a little kid throwing a tantrum”. Naturally, the US delegate took umbrage and was “much displeased”, asserting that Palestine must denounce terrorism before being admitted as a state. Others, however, pointed out the difficulties of tackling any problem caused by Hamas as it is a democratically elected body. As working papers were drafted feverishly, the Committee soon turned to the specific timeframe for its admission. While many were in favour of a long-term, drawn-out admission, others favoured an immediate solution.
SPECPOL Committee Soundbites While discussing the timeframe for Palestine’s admission Brazil: “Let me tell you a story about a guy named Carlos, who wanted to plant a tree. He planted a seed in the ground and flooded it with water at the same time. This seed needs time to grow…” DPRK: “Given the duration of this conflict, this is not a seed, it’s a dying plant that desperately needs fertilizer.” Brazil: “Let’s consider it a new beginning.”
“This gradual acceptance has been happening for 60 years!” -An eloquently frustrated delegate
UNHRC: Consensus on LGBT Rights Tenuous
By Tan Jing Yi & Wang Xiao Lin
The ﬁrst day of the UNHRC session started off with the delegates giving their opening speeches, where the delegates stated their stances on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people. The UK and the US were key advocates in pushing for greater rights for the LGBT community. The UK supported the notion of granting rights to LGBT individuals, with its delegate declaring that “LGBT [individuals] are fundamentally no different from normal human beings.” The delegate of Ecuador singled out the discrimination faced by LGBT individuals in the job market, and stated that “fair employment opportunities should be given to LGBT individuals as Ecuador believes that it is not right to prosecute someone who cannot control [his or her] sexual orientation”. The points raised during the general speeches by the various delegates set the basis for the ﬁrst moderated caucuswhether humanitarian laws for LGBT individuals should take precedence over religious laws when the two come into conﬂict. This discussion saw a heated exchange of words between the delegate of India, Indonesia and the Holy See. It soon emerged that the Holy See was the de facto unquestionable authority on religious issues, and its delegate strongly defended its stance that nothing should overrule religious laws. The topic of the second moderated caucus was the official recognition of the rights of LGBT people, which is only enshrined implicitly in the UDHR. Most of the delegates agreed that in time, rights will be given to LGBT individuals as people become more accepting of the LGBT community. The delegate of China aptly pointed out that for a solution to this problem, we should “seek evolution, not revolution”. Our Sponsors:
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THE TORCH ISSUE ONE
Following lunch, the session started off with the third moderated caucus, in which the deﬁnition of human rights in relation to LGBT community was discussed. Rights mentioned included employment, and freedom of speech, while the delegate of Holy See defended her stand that LGBT individuals should not be given the “privilege of marriage… [as] that is a special union that only applies for man and woman”. After a 20 minute long unmoderated caucus, the committee proceeded with the next moderated caucus on the topic of creating a LGBT-tolerant society. The Philippines and India believed that education would be a solution as the younger generations could be nurtured to be more tolerant of the LGBT community, but the delegate of Indonesia questioned the feasibility of such a solution by rebutting that the efficacy of inculcating LGBT tolerance through education is questionable, especially for younger and immature individuals. The delegate of the UK proposed that an international organization be set up to keep in check any grievances or discrimination faced by the LGBT community. However, the delegate failed to elaborate on which international organization would be responsible for such a job scope, and how its measures would be implemented. Also, many of the delegates touched on the fact that the UNHRC should focus on changing the mindsets of people towards the LGBT community, but failed to give any viable solutions on how the international community would achieve this goal. Furthermore, it is uncertain if these solutions will become future resolutions as the committee has yet come to a consensus as to what rights should be given to the LGBT community.
ECOSOC: Going GREEN
By Martin Chong & Song Qiuhao
Green technology. Green energy. Green economies. The Green transition. Green was the word of day on Tuesday’s ECOSOC proceedings as delegates saw a promising start towards going green. After several hours of intense discussion, a few crucial ideas surfaced. The USA's controversial idea of a "historical carbon tax" was met with great resistance from other delegates. Several delegates were unwilling to allow their historical baggage to manifest itself through a financial burden of carbon emissions restrictions tied to GDP or even GDP growth. Sweden proposed a different solution- a greenhouse credit system working on the same principle as trading carbon credits- except not limited to carbon emissions, but to include all greenhouse gases. Brazil pointed out the need for a new agreement in view of the termination of the Kyoto Protocol this year, and the spreading of green technology. Iran and Thailand spoke about issues faced by developing countries, voicing concerns over how they would require aid to transit to green economies. Other related topics were also discussed. South Korea brought up nuclear energy, Mexico solar power in the desert, and Brazil proposed a focus on clean transport. After much was said, it soon became clear that the global issues of climate change and the need for green, sustainable economies were not easy to resolve. 3
Intense debate later arose over three main issues- the role of developing countries, the role of carbon taxes, and the role of research and development of green technologies. The delegate of the USA called these distinctions "false dichotomies", drawing much protest, particularly from China. China claimed that the USA was "wriggling out of its commitments" and attempting to deflect carbon restrictions, but was unable to gather much support against the Americans. While many delegates showed their own support for green economies and green technology, the discussion seemed to go nowhere as each also expressed problem with one of these three issues. Yet there appeared to be some hope for discussion to move forward. Every delegate seemed to know that this was simply the beginning. The discussion saw delegates beginning to understand the positions of other delegates. The discussion progressed from resolving points of contention to that of sharing ideas. The need to replace the Kyoto Protocol saw New Zealand's idea of a case by case basis carbon regulation treaty. Education and trade subsidized by carbon taxes appeared as a solution to the conflict between the need for immediate and long-term solutions. The Philippines brought up something importantpracticality, highlighting that altruism and effective corporate management could not be taken as a given. Debate and disagreement remained, but it was clear as the delegates huddled in the middle of the room during a much extended unmoderated caucus that this council had started to get its act together in the pursuit of the colour green.
UNDP: Democracy for Aid?
By Zhao Yi Jin & Angela Veritia Lin
Proceedings of the first day was mainly focused on the eligibility of a country for UNDP aid, in which the house was divided in opinions regarding the need for the recipient country to move towards democratic governance or to be under a democratic government before they are considered eligible for aid. The delegations of Afghanistan and Australia believe that countries should not be restricted by the stringent requirement of having to be pro-democracy to be eligible for aid, while the delegate of Ireland highlighted the importance of democracy on achieving sustainable development of recipient countries. The delegation of Ireland offered a new insight into the topic through the introduction of the idea that the ultimate goal of the UNDP is not to provide aid that will eventually deplete, but rather to allow countries to achieve long-term sustainability with the aid provided. Thus democracy is the more ideal system of governance as it advocates for free trade, which will ensure economic growth for the country such that they no longer require any form of aid from other countries consistently. One of the moderated caucus focused on whether a democratic government is more effective Our Sponsors:
June 4, 2012
THE TORCH ISSUE ONE
in distributing aid. Some delegations such as the delegates of Philippines, Hungary and Cuba pointed out that democracy is just a method of governance as every government is inherently different from the other, and by that line of argument, democracy should not be a necessary criteria that recipient nations must represent and possess in order to be eligible for UNDP aid. When brought into question the idea of how effectiveness and efficiency of a government should be ensured in order to reduce the possibility of the abuse of aid, the delegate of the United States of America argues that the government of different states need to subscribe to the system of democracy, for the lack of doing so would hinder societal progress as democracy is more “efficient, as it allows citizens to feedback on their needy areas”. Delegates of Cuba and Libya later countered that a democratic government does not go hand in hand with the idea of effectiveness, and that democracy is a label, suggesting that the UNDP should evaluate the suitability of the nation to receive aid through other means.
UNSC: North Korea Invades the South
By Theron Muk
Skirmishes at the 38th parallel set the agenda for yesterday’s SC conference, as member states discussed how to put an end to the hostilities. India condemned the skirmishes, calling them “an insult to the integrity of the SC” and urged the council to pass a resolution for an unconditional ceasefire. However, this proposal was met with opposition by Panama, who insisted that it was the backing of the superpowers, USA and USSR, which led to the crossing of the 38th parallel “with such impunity”, thus ascribing to them the lion’s share of the burden in seeking a resolution to the conflict between the North and the South. Norway suggested the establishment of a demilitarized zone and the stationing of a UN peacekeeping force to maintain neutrality. This proposal was largely supported by the members of the UNSC. The UK added that humanitarian aid was necessary as well. Halfway through the day, news was received that the North Koreans had invaded South Korea, throwing the council into chaos. USA insisted that a referendum on the unification of the Korean Peninsula be held, infuriating the USSR who viewed it as “disrespect to communism”. Other member states felt that stopping the war should have been prioritised instead of focusing on such long-term problems. Tensions heightened as US President Truman staged a unilateral military intervention by sending troops to South Korea as the US had “lost confidence in the UNSC's ability to deal with the issue”. The USA then insisted that its demands be met before the unilateral movement could become a multilateral one. Emotions ran high as several member states condemned US actions repeatedly. The USSR accused the US of acting “in pursuit of selfish national interests”. The delegate from the USSR then urged the US to follow the example set by the Soviets in recognising the full autonomy of South Korea, by doing the same for North Korea.
OIC: Tackling Islamophobia
By Chua Hou Zheng
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks by Islamic terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda, the fear of the perceived threat of Islam or Islamophobia has led to an increasing number of people around the world falling prey to the misconstrued stereotype that brands all Muslims as terrorists. With this in mind, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) launched into a fiery debate with the words "media censorship" and "education" surfacing as the keywords of the day. Media censorship proved to be a divisive issue, as countries could not agree on the extent to which media censorship should be practised. While all countries recognised the role of the media in perpetrating Islamophobia, there was a clash of interests between the countries with deeply held liberal notions of the freedom of the press, and the countries which supported selective media censorship in order to curb the spread of Islamophobic sentiments. An alternative solution was later highlighted by France, whose delegate suggested using education to combat Islamophobia, and the OIC converged to push for educational measures as a panacea to all the ills of anti-Islam sentiments. The success of any resolution in tackling Islamophobia as a whole hangs in the balance, with Western countries, in particular the USA, expressly requesting that Islamic countries also "compromise with the wants and needs of the Western countries" because the Western countries are not legally obliged to comply with the measures outlined in any resolution to be passed. While the debate on Islamophobia centred on how to end its perpetration in the West, axiomatically due to the long history of conflict between Middle Eastern and Western countries, especially in the post-9/11 era, the OIC appears to have overlooked Islamophobia in the non-Western world. Perhaps the OIC should consider tackling Islamophobia globally, by looking to improve the negative image of Islam in a multi-pronged approach that fosters a nuanced understanding of Islam, deals with misrepresentation of Islam in the media, and encourages greater civic engagement between self-contained Muslim communities and the rest of society. After all, as guest speaker Dr. Michael C. Hudson, Director of Middle East Institute, NUS, said, "there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this problem". Expressing his opinion of OICâ€™s productivity, the Delegate of Sierra Leone was overheard saying, "This whole OIC is a waste of time. I very angry right now." Expect a host of draft resolutions to be introduced in the coming days, as according to the delegate of Sierra Leone, China, USA, UK and Jordan are all racing to churn out draft resolutions.