Crisis Managed!

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By Parmita Protik Das, CNN

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(CNN)— The highlight of the HarvardMUN delegate experience is undoubtedly the crises that fallout and evolve in the various committees. Elaborate and carefully planned, but acted out in a way that captures the delegates’ attention without being hard to follow, the crises cause the gears of the delegates’ minds to start spinning wildly. They are made to deal with an issue that was, perhaps, not being debated on much or thrown into another area of the topic entirely. But due to the skill of enactment, the delegates don’t feel ambushed or lost, they can entirely imagine the perspectives of different characters in the crises and are made to care for them.

In some cases, the crisis is meant to take the delegates by surprise and capitalize on the shock factor by intimidating the delegates to see how they behave in the face of adversity, that is, to test their crisis management skills. Since most developments along the world are not planned and the UN is charged with the incredible responsibility to handle dire situations around the world, Crises help make the experience more authentic.

The delegates have to be commended on how well they encompass the crisis that unfolded into their argumentation and use it to highlight their stances. They appeal to the emotion and logic of the Dais and their fellow delegates to establish new solutions to tackle the highlighted problem. The wide range of ideas that emerge to tackle any one problem showcase the difference in each delegates’ perspective, shaped by their unique experience in their home cities or countries, and add to the global platform that HMUN is supposed to be. In fact, addressing different facets of a lofty problem help make the directive or resolution even more detailed and effective in regards to real-world solutions. The Crises help delegates put themselves in other people’s shoes and thereby opens their minds a little more about the problems that people face around the world, making them conscientious global citizens. The polarization of ideas show that there are two sides to any story and that balance is key.

A Note to the Crisis Staff

The main entrancing factor of the crises is the acting chops that you possess. The nobility of the Qatari royal family and the air of absolution in their commands, the cold indifference and smugness of Julian Assange, the indignation of the high ranking Irani government official, the fleeting happiness of the water fowl, the materialistic attitude of the President of Big French Pharma, the disruptive nature of the police: the range of ideas, emotions, scenarios and characters make one feel like they are watching a performance by some of the best actors in Harvard.

The hard work that was put in by the Directors of Crisis was hard to miss, in fact the correspondent from CNN observed the Senior Director of Crisis mouthing out some of the lines of another character to help her along. Any observant delegate can see the passion that you possess for your duties as you file across the corridors, moving from committee to committee.

So thank you for adding a unique color to HMUN that keeps it in the minds of each and every delegate for a very long time.

 

Of Oil Interests and Human Lives

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The United Nations Security Council faced an urgent and decisive fork in the road in the latest crisis. Daesh (also known as ISIS) released a crisis manifesto which was being read out by the Dais when a hostage was pushed through the doors of the committee. His captors were Daesh militants; they soon pulled a gun to his head and named the hostage as a Venezuelan spy.

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The Daesh announced that they would consider a ceasefire if the UNSC agreed to bring back the traditional values of government, which align with the Daesh’s idealogy, in the modern world. They said that they would wage war otherwise and interrupt the foreign oil investments, particularly those of France and USA, in Yemen.

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The Daesh demanded the surrender of the Eastern part of Yemen and that there should be no further interaction with their people thereafter. “We believe that the Daesh is in it’s Golden Age and we will be taking over the entirety of the Eastern portion of Yemen, governing it as we like”, they said.

They announced further that they had received intelligence that US and France were investing in Yemen, thinking they could control the oilfields in Southern Yemen. The Daesh had intercepted a troop of 10 undercover French agents in their capital, along with the Venezuelan spy.

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“Come up with a plan in 30 minutes of how you will vacate the area of oil companies, businesses and carriers, planes, drones and militants or say goodbye to the Venezuelan and the Frenchmen”

They extended the findings of the Daesh Intelligence Forces to the committee: the US had begun deploying carriers to survey the Yemeni basin and troops monitor passerby in the streets of southern Yemen.

The Daesh further elaborated the choice that was ahead of the UNSC:

1.Choose between the ten Frenchmen and Venezuelan or protect the US carriers. If a prompt decision is not made regarding the Daesh’s demands, the Daesh would send half of their troops to blow up the oil rigs in the Yemeni basin and get rid of US troops regardless.

2.Choose between the US carriers or the oil company representatives in the Yemeni basin.

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All Women Are Created Equal

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By Parmita Protik Das, CNN

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(CNN)—On approaching the Dais, CNN received rave reviews from the delegates in the Commission on the Status of Women. The Dais said that the delegates were performing astoundingly well and were on their fifth working paper. The Dais members informed me that the delegates were vacillating between criminalization of prostitutes, legalization of prostitutes or a combination of both. The Dias mentioned the wide range of issues the delegates covered including stigma, access to contraceptives and the social implications of prostitution.

The working papers had similar foundations such as provision of oral contraceptives and sex education classes. Some delegates believed in targeted efforts to help women facing economic troubles and advocated strongly for providing rehabilitation to women who were forced into prostitution or who wish to exit the trade. They believe women have the fundamental right to choice and establishing that right is the goal of the CSW. Regulations on mega-brothels were proposed for countries such as Germany and a particularly innovative solution was training law enforcement to identify signs of duress in prostitutes which could indicate sex trafficking. The reference to the success of the Polaris Project in the USA helped ground the delegates’ arguments in reality and they expressed their aim to establish similar projects worldwide.

Delegates in one bloc recognized that the legalization of prostitution would aim to protect the rights of sex workers, particularly in terms of rights to dignity and choice, freedom from stigma and respect for their privacy. They believed these objectives fell under the jurisdiction of the CSW. They believed that there should be a partnership between private and public institutions to increase the standard of life these prostitutes have. The underlying rhetoric in their arguments was that prostitution did not cause any third party harms and so should not be criminalized in and of itself. In fact, they said, prosecution would exacerbate the outlying problems.

Another bloc decided to take a more realistic approach. A delegate said, “We will allow nations to follow their own legislation regarding the legality of prostitution so that we do not breach any nation’s sovereignty which would be against the mandate of the UN”. They emphasized rehabilitation and the establishment of role models for the prostitutes. They proposed training (to reintegrate former prostitutes into the legal workforce), health classes, and provisions for testing for STDs. They recognized that prostitutes were particularly vulnerable to abuse- rape, violence, drugs- so they needed protection. Furthermore, these delegates believed that countries could work together and coordinate their efforts to stop sex trafficking through sharing “tips and tricks” and suspected sex traffickers should be monitored heavily.

Delegates emphasized that increased access to education would prevent prostitutes from being exploited and falling into the cycle of poverty. They encouraged incentivizing families to educate their children and thereby prevent families from opting into prostitution purely out of financial need.

On a broader level, they proposed a UN Trust Fund made of NGOs, willing countries and UN bodies to provide money to create schools for children of prostitutes. They suggested a three tier plan- Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation. The plan included the proposal to mobilize citizens to detect and report trafficking, initiating government programs to stem the online recruitment of children and utilization of mass media to raise awareness. The delegates hence demonstrated that they understood how cultural differences between countries affect this hot-button issue.

When in Crisis, call the Press!

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By Parmita Protik Das, CNN

 

The Press were informed through a tip from the Director of the Press Corps that they were urgently needed by the Director of Angela Merkel’s Cabinet regarding a matter of the utmost importance. On arrival, the journalists of CNN and The Guardian were met by the enthusiastic Director who told us that the leaked information regarding the Italian exit (CNN is considering calling it Italeave) and the subsequent revelation that Maas had supported Italy and, specifically the Five Star Movement, was being labelled as “fake news” and was barely being discussed by the Angela Merkel’s Cabinet Members. He gave the aforementioned news agencies the duty to have the delegates deal with the issue instead of ignoring it or discrediting the possibility of such a development.

So the press set forth on their motion to rile up the Cabinet members and charge them for their smugness, that bordered on disrespect for the press.

CNN and The Guardian, walked into the committee room and drew notice to the fact that the issue was not to be taken lightly. We asked the members why they are absolutely sure of Maas’ innocence and, if he is so innocent, whether someone else might be at fault. The press asked for evidence exonerating the Cabinet Member of the accusations placed against him and saw unity in the Members’ response. They had conducted federal investigations and the report divulged that Maas was being framed and had no hand in Italy’s exit. A delegate added on to that and said that the emails in question were sent through a triple VPN-indicating they were falsified. The unified response resonated in their unwavering belief that they were all on the same page in terms of anti-particracy, that is firmly against it.

CNN asked if the people in Germany knew of the fact that one member of the Cabinet may be working toward degrowth and the fact that their jobs could be lost due to structural shift in industries. Responses came from all ends of the table in that Germany had an airtight policy for growth and job creation and would not be susceptible to work against it. They also firmly claimed that they did not believe in dividing the EU and were completely sure that the Cabinet Members were free of blame, in fact they directed our attention to right-wing groups that shared the Five Star Movement’s ideologies. CNN asked if they were aware of the possible danger of one Member working against Angela Merkel and her pro-immigrant policies and if they were taking steps to shore up the legislation to combat such an issue.

On that note, the recognized the weight of CNN’s questions and restated that they were united and no one was plotting otherwise as they were in firm support of Angela Merkel’s stance on immigration. Maas, in the end, conceded that working with the Five Star Movement was inevitable due to its far reach in the Italian government but reiterated that none of them shared the Movement’s ideologies.

Opinion Piece: Terrorist Recruitment in Developing Countries

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By Parmita Protik Das, CNN  

 

(CNN)— The attack on Holy Artisan in Bangladesh changed the country for the worse: it caused widespread distrust, unfounded speculation and the spread of shapeless fear.

This situation is idyllic to terrorist organizations because it facilitates the spread of their message. They provide a false sense of security or prey on the isolation that the most vulnerable people feel. It is necessary to look at preventive measures such as having religious leaders publicly oppose the narrative of the terrorists and preach the correct interpretation of the religious scriptures that these terrorists forgo. The reason for this base level solution is because the religious leaders can earn the trust of the locals which other organizations may be privy to. They know who would be the most vulnerable to manipulation and offer the assurance of God’s unconditional love, which many of the victims look for.

It is also necessary to recognize the methods by which these terrorist organizations recruit: they find the people who are isolated from society and spiritually uncertain. They offer a support system and earn the victims’ trust before preaching any semblance of an extremist message. In this way, ISIS and Al- Qaeda align.

In some cases, the terrorist organizations offer both tangible and intangible benefits. For example, ISIS recruits through the propaganda of providing women in Syria and other disenfranchised nations with education and rights they do not easily obtain there. The men in ISIS may be more financially solvent than their counterparts who don’t join the organization. To tackle this aspect of recruitment, it is necessary to improve the framework of government services such as healthcare and education and to create jobs in the affected areas. Often terrorists recruit by threatening the safety and well-being of other family members of their prey, which is especially easy because law enforcement in such countries may not be equipped to deal with such situations. It is necessary to improve the tactical response of law enforcement in developing countries to face this issue.

In some countries, terrorists harp on the feeling of being oppressed that minorities possess. As such, UN can help countries suffering from terrorism to legislate better assurance of rights for affected minorities and create social discourse on minority rights.

 

The Lost Boys and Girls

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Human trafficking is an aggravating problem, especially with the increase in wars around the globe. The most vulnerable group are the children, in fact, over 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has decided to face this issue head on due to immensity of its implications. They believe that both the traffickers and the clientele should be prosecuted due to their direct contribution in the violation of human rights. A contentious issue on the floor was the ability of NGOs to address the problem at the root level as delegates were polarized on whether or not they had the funds to carry out the actions necessary. The delegate of Congo said, “NGOs should be involved and the assets that are seized from child trafficking rings should be put into an anti-trafficking fund. Congo believes in a comprehensive six-point solution including things such as border control and sex education”. Regarding the issue of education, the delegates believe that it would lead to children entering the legal labor force. Honduras expressed the belief that violence, especially the proliferation of firearms were a threat to children.

UNHRC believes that the issue of child trafficking is mainly an economic one and recognizes the need to provide developing countries financial aid to tackle child trafficking because they are the most vulnerable to such practices. The bloc spearheaded by  Brazil believe in the provision of rehabilitation services and taking long term preventive measures. The developed countries formed a separate pack because they do not properly understand the causes as this problem mainly concerns their developing counterparts. They said that they were communicating with smaller countries to fund NGOs and trust funds.

The Dais mentioned to CNN that they would like the committee to think about long-term solutions and not just restrict the debate to funding. They expressed their hope that the countries would share data regarding child trafficking to form a stronger network to combat it. In terms of short term solutions, they vehemently believed that emerging crises and wars, both of which aggravate the problem of child trafficking, should be addressed specifically due to the prevalence of such situations worldwide.

The crisis that surfaced in the committee was regarding a Syrian boy of 12 years who was forced to flee the country and had his father killed in the effort. Him and his mothered managed to reach Turkey but due to their lack of resources she sold him to a sweatshop and he had no option for education. This caused the impassioned delegates  to talk about the psychological-depression, PTSD- and physical trauma that human trafficking causes and the need to help susceptible children attain medical and educational facilities. They believed firmly that women should not have the option of selling their children to make ends meet. They believed awareness as to the impacts of human trafficking would, in the long run, deter people from being exploited into selling their children. Some delegates pointed out that the fact that the child had no option of education means that NGOs or the government could not reach the vulnerable groups, which prompted them to demand further research to discover human trafficking rings and sweatshops.

The delegates of UNHRC expressed a strong desire for a solution that recognizes the unique situation of countries where child trafficking occur and tailor any solutions to best suit each country.

To Publish Or Not to Publish

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By Parmita Protik Das, CNN

 

(CNN)— In the dark pressroom, huddled around a conference room table, sat around 20 journalists from different news organizations. The reason for this meeting, Julian Assange had divulged one piece of divisive information to each news organization and they were deliberating whether or not to publish the info. After a heated moderated caucus debating the role of news agencies to the public it was settled that, first and foremost, the legitimacy of the information had to be ascertained. A joint directive was passed in that regard and it led to a press conference with Julian Assange. In his tirade, Assange said that he was giving the news agencies a chance to publish the truth but provided no more insight to the sources of the information and whether or not they were legitimate. Assange stated that the news agencies would have to come to a consensus as to either publish all the information or none at all.

The news agencies, clearly ruffled by the lack of cooperation of Julian Assange, went on to talk about how best to determine the legitimacy of the information without his help. They settled on sending a third party investigative team to dig up the sources of the intel. While debating how best to get the information out, whether it be by collectivization or not, and how best to deal with the fallout of such information being provided to the public, the journalists were interrupted by an announcement by a high-ranking member of the Irani government who announced that the investigative team sent out by the journalists was going to be detained as Iran finds it unacceptable that they were snooping around on Irani soil. She informed that due to the lack of detailed instruction to the investigative team, they could not answer the Irani government when questioned about their presence and so they would be held indefinitely, without communication with the outside world. The journalists, clearly guilty over the circumstances, tabled their aforementioned discussion and deliberated how best to secure the safe release of the captured investigators. However, the directive of issuing a formal apology only managed to anger the Irani government even more and fizzled out any hope for their cooperation. To add on to the worries, the Qatari Royal Family announced that they were throwing Al Jazeera out from their headquarters in Qatar. This prompted Al Jazeera to reveal the state secret it was given (for the sake of the latter resolution CNN cannot publish the information). The news agencies, seeing the threat that merely investigating the sources of the information posed on journalists and news organizations alike, debated whether or not to further investigate such matters that might pose a risk to international stability and national security. Al Baghdadia added to the discussion by divulging why the Irani government believed it was prompt to arrest the investigative team by divulging their secret information.

CNN suggested the fact that it was possible to investigate the claims by asking our confidential informants in different countries to fact-check the information instead of sending an invasive investigative team which would raise flags and would alert the governments of the countries involved. CNN’s call for pooling our resources and, if each respective news agency so desired, discussing each piece of information so as to get a clearer picture – of the motives of Assange, how best to approach an investigation and to prevent any backlash on one particular news body by political administrations that disagreed – was not approved by a consensus.

In the face of the troubling issues at the table, Julian Assange took the floor of the pressroom once more and demanded a decision by all the news agencies of how to proceed: release the information or not release. The news agencies, recognizing the need to ascertain that the information was correct due to the responsibility they have as the 4th Estate, decided against releasing the divisive information and thereby took a firm stance against acting without knowledge of the motives behind Assange’s actions.

Business and Sustainability: Water Quality and Biodiversity

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By Parmita Protik Das, CNN

The issue at hand for UNDP was Business and Sustainability, which deals with the impact of economic activities on biodiversity and water quality around the globe. The committee vouched for increasing government regulation and waste water filtration. They believed that the industries themselves should undertake waste water treatment and that there should be specific qualifications that such businesses should be required to meet in each industry. USA referred to microfiltration and reverse osmosis as potential treatments that industries can adopt.

The issue of eutrophication and how it disrupts the foodchain was brought up to link the impacts of water quality to biodiversity, and the impacts of loss of biodiversity was explored in depth. UNDP recognized the need for businesses to update the machinery to be more efficient in water use and preservation of water resources. The fact that water contamination affects over half the lakes in the world left a resounding impact across the floor. China proposed sampling water wells and publishing annual reports on water quality. Another innovative idea was the categorization system based on the level of polluted water in order to better target efforts. They also talked about the need for investment in countries who cannot afford the technologies available to address water pollution. The delegates referred to the problem of water scarcity to stress the need for preservation and increasing the quantity of clean water resources. The sentiments that stood out the most were the need for a balance between industrialization and sustainable development and the fact that sustainable business practices were a humanitarian issue of the utmost importance because of the resounding impacts it has on the general populace.

At that point, a crisis erupted where the runoff from antiviral drugs which polluted water bodies in Nepal caused endangered water fowl to die off at an alarming rate. The President from Big French Pharma was disappointed that the news coverage wasn’t prioritizing the jobs and technology the company brought to the people of Nepal. In response to an inquiry by the journalist, the President of BFP mentioned that all the company’s practices were perfectly legal. When the citizens of India and Nepal were questioned they mentioned that the company was very important to their livelihood and that the actions of the company were no crime at all. The government officials were conflicted between expelling the company and continuing to reap the economic benefits it provides.

The Dais expressed the hope that the delegates would think broadly about the crisis and note the loopholes in current business regulations of MNGs, which started an in-depth analysis regarding the ways to solve such threats to biodiversity without sacrificing the economic benefits enjoyed by the people. The delegate of USA called for further development of existing policies to remove drugs from water bodies. The delegates expressed a strong desire to increase awareness in countries that were vulnerable to environmental exploitation by MNCs. They disagreed with companies which sought maximization of profit forsaking the environmental aspects of business activity. The call for a partnership between businesses and the government beautifully summarized the arguments on the floor. The concessions that the delegates were willing to make was the existence of a profit motive but they believed that economically viable solutions were possible. Suggestions such as a quota  on how much water an industry could use and strengthening of environmental law and environmental education in LDCs were raised. As the moderated caucuses progressed, a solid plan manifested in the form of the creation of a partnership between developed and developing countries to provide the most effective water treatment technology to developing nations and an UN funded program to help governments create legislation regarding environmental regulations.

HMUN off to a great start!

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By Parmita Protik Das, CNN

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(CNN)— Delegates from far and wide gathered in the Constitution Ballroom of Boston Sheraton for registration on 26 January 2017. Needless to say, HMUN has some of the friendliest and most outgoing delegates and the room was positively bubbling with excitement for the conference. After registration, delegates hurried off to attend the HMUN Academy seminars, which were an enriching experience for delegates of all skill-levels. The programming provided insight on Harvard’s unique approach to Model UN and, for first timers at HMUN, helped formulate an idea of what to expect out of this conference.

 

Jump to the Opening Ceremonies and the eloquent Secretary-General, Victor J. Kamenker, called attention to the collective rights and responsibilities of all the nations of the world in order to find common ground and better institutional shortcomings. He expressed his wishes that the delegates and faculty advisors alike will use the opportunity presented by HMUN to learn from one another to attain the lofty yet achievable goals for international cooperation. He charged the delegates with a challenge to truly put themselves in the shoes of the diplomats they represent and to strive to achieve compromise by consent. In return for the delegates accepting his challenge, he promised to undertake a challenge himself: he would have unwavering faith that Harvard Model United Nations can and would serve as a conduit to positive change, education, personal growth, dialogue and collective advancement. He ended his speech by expressing his desire that the simulation would engender a lifelong commitment to collaboration and empathy.

 

Next, the Deputy-General, Rajkumar S. Pammal, gave a spirited introduction to CARE International and an insight to the humanitarian aid projects they conduct. He introduced the Secretary-General of CARE International, Dr. Wolfgang Jamann, and cited his rich experience in development and emergency assistance, spanning over 20 years. He invited Dr. Wolfgang to share his expertise and personal experiences.

 

Dr. Wolfgang Jamann acted as a voice of civil society at a time of isolationism, building walls and enforcing borders. He expressed his belief that the international audience present at HMUN 2017 would go on to shape the future of the world which is rapidly developing world in a very uncertain direction. He provided the backstory of CARE International which included its calling to provide lifesaving assistance and the expansion of its role to include the building of bridges between peoples who fought and killed each other. He recalled his firsthand experience of what such violence can do in terms of silencing the bright youth of such countries. Dr. Wolfgang expressed his desire to improve the state of the world so that such tragedies don’t go unanswered. He reiterated his firm belief in the SDGs and the benefits of investing in women to achieve that goal. He noted the microfinance loans that care provides for women empowerment which resonates in different spheres of life in the affected countries. He reconfirmed his belief in the potential of development work in the future world and ended his moving speech.

 

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Then, the Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones took over the stage to mark the opening of HMUN 2017 through amazing acapella performances, which got the audience hyped and vying to go. The performers seemed to be enjoying themselves fully on the stage, which enhanced the experience for the audience. The audience was all clapping along to their beautiful renditions.

When the Secretary-General then announced the conference to be officially started, the delegates exited the hall with an astoundingly heavy need to make the most of the next few days of the conference and thereby be one step closer to achieving the goals highlighted throughout the speeches of the Secretariat and the keynote speaker.