Thursday, April 14, 2011

Model United Nations Far West (MUNFW) 2011 Session 61 "People on the Move" United Nations High Comissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Serbia team for Arizona State University (ASU)

April 8th through April 12th, 2011, Arizona State University (ASU) had a Model United Nations (MUN) conference at the annual Model United Nations Far West (MUNFW) conference, of which I had the honor of being a part of. My school, ASU, represented Serbia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) also known as North Korea, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (UK). I had the honor of being on the Serbia team for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees committee (UNHCR) which deals primarily with refugees and displaced persons. The 2011 conference, the 61st MUNFW session, was appropriately titled "People on the Move" as it dealt primarily with the issue of refugees, displaced persons, and migration. Serbia, being one of the largest recipients of refugees as well as having many internally displaced persons (IDPs) due to its current situation with Kosovo (who had declared succession from Serbia and their independence in 2008, though not all states recognized Kosovo's independence and is still not recognized as a sovereign state by the international community). Due to the overwhelming interest of Serbia in matters pertaining to the discussion of refugees and internally displaced persons, Serbia was an excellent choice for this conference on "People on the Move" especially for the UNHCR committee.

At the offset of the conference, our teams were very highly prepared. We had spent at least half a year preparing our policies and getting ready for the conference. Having several hundred pages of information to sort through, I felt especially prepared.

Immediately, I jumped into the committee with reckless abandon, having gotten a position rather far down on the speaker's list and eager to assert my position. With a series of p23's (short speech or comment) and a great number of p25's (points of inquiry), I successfully established my position and had taken a strong hold of the committee. Within the first handful of speakers, I had already began working on my first resolution, and by the second caucus, my resolution was very well developed and gathering a lot of attention.

As the conference went on, others were demonstrating their eagerness to assert their own position, and in a spirit of democratic compromise, I had made appropriate changes to my resolution to accommodate the differing views of the committee. Looking back, this may have been a mistake, as this caused parts of my resolution to be less cohesive to my policy and more absurd. This problem was perpetuated when, after being guided by the suggestions of my advisors as well as the chairs and secretary generals, I integrated my policy with another, further causing the resolution to be filled up with absurdities and diluted ideas.

To this end, I had eventually resolved to kill the very resolution that I had worked on. After withdrawing sponsorship and fighting strongly against its passing, I feel as though I may have lost the support of several delegates in the room, but not to such a great extent that I had disabled myself from working with them all later.

I found great allies in the delegates from Bosnia and Saudi Arabia, the latter of which was a surprise even to myself. I'm sure there isn't a great amount of animosity between Serbia and Saudi Arabia; however, the two working together seemed misplaced. Thus, I kept it quiet and proceeded with caution in developing further diplomacy with the delegate from Saudi Arabia, as he was one of only a few who had a good grasp on the direction of the committee.

Eventually, resolutions had been drafted, submitted and discussed. There were six on the floor, and naturally, many of them just had to go. In particular, the one that I worked on was no a monstrosity saying all too little about some things, and stating absurdities on others. However, South Africa, who by that point was repertoire, was fully in favor of it and gathered a lot of support. The resolution was eventually passed with an amendment from the DRPK which in all reality completely and utterly destroyed that resolution, but the group in favor of it took the amendment with great zeal, believing it to be an extraordinary contribution to the resolution, even using the toxic amendment as support for why it should pass. Surprisingly enough, it had.

The second topic was something even more surprising. Saudi Arabia had decided, for one, that it was time to increase their presence in the committee. After having a shouting match with Israel about the ongoing conflicts between the two nations, energy was brought back into the room.

Further more, although I had began to draft a resolution and eventually integrated it into another, I saw that this resolution was going to suffer the same idiotic fate as the last, being perverted by the contributions of other resolutions which either did little or simply watered down the impact of the resolution itself. I had gone through no efforts to withdraw my contributions to the resolution, but instead drafted my own with a very solid foundation of preambulatory clauses supported by very strong operative clauses.

By this point, the conference was drawing to a close. I had initially wanted to go to voting block, believing that if we could make it far enough, we would have many hours after the conference officially ended to finish the voting block, but seeing as how we had 10 resolutions to consider (most of which absolutely needed to be destroyed), it seemed that the likelihood of doing it PROPERLY was out of the question, and if we had to rush through the process and pass a bunch of resolutions without proper consideration, I could not possibly tolerate that.

Never-the-less, South Africa, being the repertoire, believed that the United Nations was now "South Africa and Friends" and began barking orders, imploring people to go into voting block and more specifically to withdraw all sponsorship from all but four resolutions, mine not included, also making a complete ass of himself by abusing the microphone, writing on the chair's giant pad of paper, and even declaring that everyone needed to "come causes with [him] so that he can issue an executive order."

At that point, I have no idea where anyone got off listening to him. It was clear to me that if that was the real United Nations that everyone would have viewed such actions and language as a clear move towards violating the democratic principles of the United Nations in favor of a regime under South Africa; however, people instead seemed to think of him as a leader and went along with it.

Having only 3 minutes to discuss each resolution, having had no time for amendments, me, my other delegates (dprk and uk) as well as Saudi Arabia saw that voting block could not happen and that we had to destroy these resolutions. In a very short amount of time where questions were in order for each resolution, I had single-handed ripped apart about half of them and did a fantastic job at destroying the rest during caucus. Furthermore, seeing as how others were still desperate to quickly vote yay or nay on these resolutions without proper consideration for each, we had decided to stall the committee, which we did, with a series of p28s, p25s, p27s, et cetera, which we successfully did for about an hour until the secretary general came in and forced us into voting block.

Well, it was unfortunate that our position, although clearly valid and correct in all respects, that discussing topic 3 was a much better decision than doing a half-assed voting block for the purposes of pretending to have accomplished alot, was marginalized by a higher authority and over-ruled, despite the fact that she said she would allow us to do as we pleased.

Well, we were still very successful in doing what we needed to do.

Next year, my school, Arizona State University, will surely do a much better job at running the show and keeping to the true democratic nature of the United Nations.

The highlights of the conference were when South Africa stupidly voted "no with explanation" for his own resolution, when the failed resolution number 16.2/3 was destroyed by South Africa and Co. by a toxic amendment that they fully supported, Saudi Arabia's shouting match with Israel, United States declaring that they would open up their borders to immigrants (stateless persons), stalling the committee for about an hour for a very valid reason, and when Saudi Arabia declared that "not just one clause needs to be divided, but about 9" for a resolution that had 9 clauses, proceeded to go through each one despite the chair's dis-contentedness, and the declared "you guys are turning this committee into a Banana-Circus."

It has truly been a fantastic year, very much worth all the work, and I will be back next year to mess things up again if ever necessary.