UNSC by Nisa Suhaimy The first United Nations Security Council (UNSC) session begins on the agenda of the South China Sea. A highly debatable issue with much contention brought forward by the various countries involved. Powerhouse United States opens by stating the pertinence of the issue due to economic reasons. There was much interest displayed by countries regionally distant from the South China Sea such as Luxembourg, Nigeria and Chile.
With much dispute over border demarcations, several general appeals emerged to the Council to question the definition of 'boundaries', to which evoked some responses pointing out the redundancy of the definition challenge.
Several solutions were tossed around in the session – more notably, the establishment of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, building and strengthening economic ties, the installation of peacekeeping troops in the region and the coordination of talks between countries.
The idea of conducting dialogues seemed to dominate discussions as the Council became divided between multilateral and bilateral dialogues. While France proposed bilateral relations to be established, Russia remained adamant that such ties would lead to China's ability to bully smaller countries, citing that “no level playing field exists in such dialogues”. Meanwhile Chile pointed out that for bilateral talks to be successful, there is a need for economic intricacy by enhancing economic cooperation.
There was also much dispute over the viability of economic measures such as trade agreements. Russia's proposed greater economic cooperation in the form of trade agreements between nations that entail guidelines to ensure peace in the region. However, Russia's proposal came under fire with much criticism circulating in the Council of it being too idealistic and ambitious, inviting the Council to explore more practical solutions. In response to this proposal, China greatly questions the feasibility of the solution. Concerns were raised against economically geared solutions citing that China would be able to exert their sovereignty via economic means. Chad calls the Council to espouse a more social solution by proposing dialogues so as to ensure reconciliation.
With much back and forth concerning the aforementioned solutions, discussions took a refreshing turn as the United States invited the Council to consider the establishment of a passageway in the form of a neutral zone only for trade and non-military ships, supplemented by the United Nations Marine Force to maintain order in the area. This recommendation eventually came to be the first working paper for the Council, but not without the questioning of its viability with respect to the deployment of UN forces.
More importantly though, what does China want? The delegates of China remained firm on their claims to the South China Sea. Ideally, the delegates expressed their desire to limit foreign influence (read: USA or short for U Stay Away) and also did not want their trade routes to be intervened. An unrelenting PRC delegate asserted that â€œOur sovereignty must not be infringed upon. We want to protect our land!â€?. It seems that China remains to be a decisive claimant to the South China Sea, oddly without much opposition from fellow claimant present in the council, the Philippines.
The second working paper put forth by France saw the recommendation of bilateral dialogues and agreements to be made between two countries in the conflict. To no surprise, Russia stands firm in its support for multilateral talks as it expresses its concern that smaller countries would be disadvantaged.
The committee adjourned from the sessions with these two possible solutions, but not before concerns of its respective feasibilities addressed to the Council, leaving in mind that there is still much for the Council to work on.
UNESCAP by Laura Goh
Technical difficulties at the start did not disturb the United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia Pacific delegates for long, as the speakers quickly stood up salvage time for their positions on the very pertinent issues of migration and female empowerment. Migration took precedence and several delegates eagerly dominated the floor during the General Speakers' List until the chairs urged the other delegates to speak up.
Less than two hours into the first session, a working paper was produced dubiously fast by the delegate of Micronesia and thrown out even faster by the chairs, after an
argument between the delegate of Bhutan who pointed out the paper was far too ambitious despite its extensive coverage and the delegate of India who gesticulated in earnest to convince the council it could still serve as a guide for the debate. Although the delegates articulated their concerns for their nations in the general speakers' list, the council moved at a glacial pace to identify the issues that migrants faced and their causes. In slight exasperation at 1.34pm, Chair Celestine Lian said she would be open any motions to adjourn debate and head for lunch. This motion passed swiftly. "The best way to make people cooperate and not run away is to give them food," the wise words of His Excellency Menon, the Guest of Honour at the Opening Ceremony, proved true when the delegates returned from lunch and begun to narrow their focus. The delegate of China introduced a moderated caucus on the economic effects of migration, this slowly progressed into slightly more substantial debate and foundation for the formation of solutions. One key issue brought up by the delegates of less developed nations like Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka was the economic effects of brain drain due to the talented migrant workers who leave to pursue better opportunities elsewhere as, the delegate of China highlighted with the delegate of Russia's backing, there is great disparity in working conditions between less developed nations and more developed nations. A brief digression into advice for less developed nations ensued with talk of diversifying economies despite it being out of the council's powers. However, to return to the issue at hand, the delegate of China pushed for greater international cooperation by proposing reduction in barriers to investment from developed nations into less developed nation. The debate lapsed into the General Speaker's List once more after an unmoderated caucus that produced three working papers that the chairs had to take time to put on screen. Aside from the few delegates who constantly leapt up to present, many delegates preferred to remain silent, a habit of the council that the chairs disapprove of.
Once the working papers by Sri Lanka, Micronesia and India were up, it was clear that they were far too "sketchy and did not propose proper solutions" as described later by Chair Derek Lim who added that "there were still good points" in the discussion that day. An unmoderated caucus to discuss more in-depth followed and noticeably, the delegates of the council were gathering in a large singular group to discuss with delegates going one-by-one to explain their solutions in the less formal setting, as opposed to the three groups that surrounded three delegates in the unmoderated caucus that produced the working papers earlier. Recognising that the delegates might finally be coming to a common consensus, the chairs gave them until the end of the day to discuss informally. As a round-up to the day, the chairs decided to review their council's progress. Chair Kinnari Gurnani and Chair Celestine Lian employed the psychological good cop/bad cop tactic to do so. Chair Celestine Lian criticised the silence of the delegates during General Speakers' List saying, "For a topic so broad, I'm surprised that you guys have nothing to say." She compared the committee to the links of a chain--"the committee is only as strong as its weakest members" and "there is only so far we can go with so few speakers." Chair Kinnari acted as the good cop, acknowledging that many delegates were new to Model United Nations and citing her belief that "the council has the abillity to pick up steam". Hopefully the words of the two chairs will be taken to heart the next day as the council gathers again to deal with the issue of migration.
HNAM by Patrick Ong On a rare week where the stars aligned in the year 20141979, the Historical Non-Aligned Movement (heh) converged at the Global Learning Room at University Town. Chairman of The Non-Aligned Movement, Ingmar Salim, called the council to order with self-introductions. With the ice broken and the notable absence of note paper relieved; the committee, amidst furious note-passing in the “states starting with “I” bloc”, decided to discuss the 1979 Soviet Union Intervention in Afghanistan.
The very first motion began with a roundtable discussion where all delegates explained their stands. It became uncomfortably obvious to some, especially the delegate of India, who lent her voice to the grievance that many delegates had lost their way in their (personal) enthusiasm to condemn the actions of the Soviet Union. However, the committee unanimously agreed that the welfare of the people of Afghanistan remained of paramount importance.
Many delegates highlighted the importance of the agreements in force at that time, the most popular being the slightly ironically-named Soviet-Afghan Treaty of Friendship, Goodneighborliness and Cooperation of 1978. Discussion hovered over whether the sovereignty of Afghanistan was infringed under the auspices of these treaties. Some delegates favoured lobbying and convincing the Soviet Union to cease and desist through international organizations such as the United Nations. Others, recognizing the conflicting party interests in the issue, preferred to foster peace in Afghanistan through mediation and set the foundation for democratic elections; presumably for the next king.
As discussions continued, the idea of a new king was readily discarded in favour of the mujahedeen, who were perceived to be acting in the interests of the citizens of Afghanistan.
The introduction of Working Paper 1.1 also brought about an intense crossfire between the sponsors, the cease-and-desist bloc against the pacifist bloc. A crucial clause was hotly argued over whether the communist and democratic ideologies would be promoted. Tensions rose to the point where the delegate of Afghanistan was accused of being a KGB agent.
As the time for the caucuses finally elapsed, the Non-Aligned Movement experienced a little hysteria wading through their arsenal of unused parliamentary tools, but settled on shelving the debate for another day.
HGA by Regina Tan
"History is who we are and why we are the way we are." â€“
The Historical General Assembly (HGA) started in chaos, as delegates waited like lost sheep to be allocated seats by the Chairs. It took everyone a while to settle down but the room soon falls into a deep silence as the delegates looked towards the Chairs eagerly for the next set of instructions. The Chair, Ms Lim Yinxia, started off by going through some decorum with the council before commencing the start of debate.
The motion for a moderated caucus to prioritise the situation in Cambodia with the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge, proposed by the delegate of Morocco, won by an overwhelming majority. Khmer Rouge, the pro-communist ruling party of Cambodia from 1975-1979, was overthrown when the Vietnamese troops invaded the sovereign land of Cambodia in 1979 after several borders conflict. The debate this morning thus hinges on who should be the next ruling party and what should be done with the refugees from Cambodia, post-invasion.
The atmosphere was solemn as delegates pondered seriously over solutions thrown out by others, critically assessing the decision to replace the government installed by the Vietnamese against holding free and fair elections for the people of Cambodia. The delegate of Germany was especially vocal in voicing his thoughts, asking the floor whether "we are any different from the Vietnamese government if we choose and replace them with what we deemed to be the rightful one".
After the lunch break, the debate shifted to humanitarian efforts, especially with regards to the plight of civilians affected by the war which has thus created a problem of the outflow of refugees from Cambodia. Proposing to work together with UNHRC, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the delegate of Russian Federation urged countries to focus on humanitarian efforts for the welfare of these people. This was further backed by the delegate of Germany, who pledged to the cause with an additional relief aid to organisations dedicated to the cause, such as the Red Cross, funded by the developed countries. However, as mentioned by the delegate of Laos, the proposed solutions are short-term and more countries need to be involved to have a lasting and sustainable impact.
HGA is a special council in SMUN 2014 as it requires delegates to put themselves in the shoes of the politicians who were involved in the decisions to resolving a political crisis at that point of time. If history can be rewritten, delegates in the HGA SMUN 2014 would
be the essential key players to put the puzzle pieces into place and do better than the others did in the past, thus changing the history we know today.
SPECPOL by Nisa Suhaimy The Special Political and Decolonization Committee convenes on the issue of political asylum. Chair Alyssa Goh welcomed general addresses that acknowledged the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states the right to asylum from persecution. The general consensus saw most of the delegates speaking out on the need to establish this understanding before any specificities of the issue can be debated on. More specifically, the Laos delegate explains the differences between asylum seekers and refugees.
Many delegates came forth to bring up to date the developments of political asylum and refugee issues in their respective countries. While Zimbabwe voices out the need to impose stricter border controls, Spain directs the committees attention to asylum seekers from the border of Morocco. France veers the direction of the debate on refueling and renewing present conventions of refugees to help lay out a more relevant debate to the refugee problem. Similarly, Denmark calls for existing frameworks to be discussed and reviewed and calls for practical means to accommodate asylum seekers.
As the issue of political asylum and refugee discrimination is looked into, Kenya brings to the committee's attention the difficulties faced by countries facing large inflows of asylum seekers and refugees. The delegate advised the committee to keep in mind the host countries' struggle and that guidelines for the refugees are not the only thing to be concerned.
Sweden, a prominent player in the issue of political asylum, expressed their dissatisfaction of the protection of Julian Assange and likened the granting of his political asylum to hiding a criminal from his punishment.
Several interesting motions were suggested in SPECPOL's first session. India motioned an unmoderated caucus to discuss how to deduce the genuineness of a political asylum seeker, which however failed to be seconded. Zimbabwe motioned for an unmoderated caucus to discuss why existing frameworks are not working, which passed and allowed the delegates to expound and exchange their views freely.
Halfway through the first session, the Chairs reminded the delegates of the SMUN Pageant to take place during Social Night. A point of personal privilege was unexpectedly made by one of the delegate - â€œUhhhh, can we vote the chairs?â€?
That eased the tension quite a bit and then the committee was back to more pressing issues. (And no, you cannot vote the Chairs.) SPECPOL was quick on starting their draft resolution in the second session although with several time extensions granted by the Chairs. There seemed to be a bit of confusion during resolution drafting but the committee managed to produce a draft resolution which saw prominent countries as sponsors, namely, France, South Korea and USA.
The remaining of the second session saw the sponsors of the resolution explaining their stand and reaffirming several clauses of the resolution to the committee. Much references are made to the Snowden and Assange case to explain the need for specific clauses that state that any person who has committed a serious crime against peace or humanity may not invoke the right to seek asylum. Some countries pointed out the resolutions support for developing countries as well. Ecuador commends the resolution to relieve the deadlock between Ecuador, Sweden and USA on the Assange case.
As the session came to an end, the Chairs continued to press for points of information but to no avail. However, there was surprisingly a substantive amount of delegates who wish to speak against the resolution, leaving much to be debated on for the next session when the committee will convene. Succinctly, the delegate from the Republic of Korea expressed the familiar MUN saying -
â€œThe resolution is like a mini skirt; short, sweet and covers all the important parts.â€?
UNHRC: The Freedom to be Free by Laura Goh and Regina Tan
The first few minutes of United Human Rights Council were an awkward few as delegates shuffled about trying to find their places and placards. Important issues like Wi-Fi passwords and notepaper were settled by the delegate of Denmark and the delegate of Australia before the committee was set to plunge into the socioeconomic differences between men & women in developed countries and human trafficking. Swiftly coming to an agreement that human trafficking was a far more important issue, the council began discussing the concepts of destination and transit countries.
The council started on a worrying note, as the Chairs noted the lack of active participation from the delegates of Asian countries, despite it being a subject pertaining, as well as near and dear, to their hearts. But all was not lost, as the delegates were quick in warming up to the topic and getting their voices heard. The debate started on finding the root cause of human trafficking, with many attributing it to the rise of prostitution while others on the vicious poverty cycle that hit many families hard in labour-intensive Asian countries.
The afternoon session commence with a guest lecture from Dr. Kevin Mcgahan, a professor in the department of Political Science, NUS. Emphasising strongly on how sex workers do not necessarily equate to human trafficking, Dr. Mcgahan brought his point across by stating that doing so will just push the issue underground. Contrary to popular beliefs, trafficking victims do not want to be sent home, mainly because of the stigmas
associated with sex trafficking. And similarly to what the delegate of Malaysia had pointed out earlier, there are many other factors leading to the cause of human trafficking, such as a weak political structure, as well as law and order in the country. Dr Mcgahan ended off reminding delegates to think in line with the 4Ps: Prevention, Prosecution, Protection and Partnership, as they work on their working papers and resolutions in the upcoming days of the conference.
Towards the end of the committee session, the Chairs urged the delegates to work together in combining the current working papers, as the council was divided, yet have similar proposed solutions to the problem of sex trafficking. The council then ended with the delegate of India calling for "motion to end the session in the next minute", resulting in much laughter from the rest.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Shaun Tay Rome was not built in a day, and neither was SMUN 2014. As the delegate liaison for SMUN 2014, my job during the early stages of SMUN 2014 was to reach out to institutions and individuals to participate and join SMUN 2014, as well as to respond and reply to the myriad of questions ranging from the potential takeaways of SMUN 2014 to the attire for the event. Once registration opened, these questions only intensified. To many, emailing a single delegate or delegation may seem simple enough, but multiply that by a factor of 5 and it gets difficult. Credit and acknowledgment must be given to the unsung heroes of SMUN 2014.They are the Events Director, Andy, the Conference manager, Jonathan as well as the events team. They were up in the morning at 5.00am to begin preparation for the opening ceremony, including preparation for registration such as organising all the nametags and placards for delegates late into the night. Without the blood, sweat and tears, as well as countless hours of planning and rehearsals, the opening ceremony would not be as successful as it was. However, the biggest challenge for me and perhaps the whole SMUN 2014 committee was to perhaps juggle between our studies and SMUN 2014 as SMUN 2014 is a fully undergraduate run model united nations conference. I am confident that the committee has excelled in our work life balance and we aim to provide the best MUN experience for all participants for the next few days. The greatest satisfaction one behind the scenes can experience is to see the delegates happy, and in my case, being able to put a face to the name that i have
been emailing many weeks before SMUN 2014 even began. As one of the many people behind the scenes, we hope you have a great experience at SMUN 2014.
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