UNODC: United Nations Office on Delight and Cheer

South China Morning Post

This morning, Saturday, January 28, the South China Morning Post revisited the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for the last time in the HMUN 2018 Conference. During this visit, students were asked to give their favorite stories from this year’s conference.

The representatives of Chile quickly raised their placard, eager to answer the question. They shared that, before every committee session, the UNODC moderator would put on music and listen to it, sometimes even singing along and dancing. He especially enjoyed “Finesse” by Bruno Mars featuring Cardi B, which eventually became the committee’s “special song”. The delegation of Chile highly enjoyed this daily phenomenon.

Vietnam was next to answer the question explaining the following scenario: during one committee session, the moderator was sharing the messages that come with roses. He found one of these messages particularly funny, and laughed about it for around two minutes. He thought it was so funny, in fact, that he broke into a second bout of laughter during voting procedure and said, “I can’t stop thinking about that joke.” Representative of Vietnam, as well as many other students,  thought his laughter was even funnier than the joke itself, which was, “Steve, you don’t know what those blue Crocs do to me.” Upon hearing this joke again, the UNODC moderator fell to the floor with laughter for a third time, causing the rest of the committee to follow suit.

The delegation of Azerbaijan waved their placard around frantically, excited to call out the UNODC Chair Staff for taking an entire seven and a half minutes figuring out how to lower the blinds. At this point, I decided to try to figure it out myself, only to find a control panel for the blinds on the wall about 30 seconds into trying. Azerbaijan then said that a high school senior from Upstate New York figuring out how to lower the blinds quicker than a group of Harvard students then became his favorite moment of the conference.  

When it came time for me to leave the committee room for the last time, the room erupted into applause, excited to finish the last committee session but also saddened that the 2018 conference is coming to a close. “Everyone has this way of thinking like Harvard Model UN is boring, and that the students participating are no fun,” the representative of Sweden began. “I came into this fearing the same thing. But this committee and the conference as a whole proved me and everyone else wrong. HMUN can be fun!” With that, it comes time to lower the blinds on the HMUN 2018 Conference… and to start preparing for the 2019 conference!

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Narrowly Escaping World War 3

New York Times

The fate of the entire world was decided in the conference room of the Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (MCMFA) yesterday evening. As China and the United States inched closer to an all-out war, the ministers in MCMFA were struggling to prevent a conflict that would have cost the lives of thousands, if not millions of soldiers and civilians alike.

The Panama Canal has always been a strategic goldmine, allowing hundreds of freighters and passenger vessels to pass through daily. Unfortunately, some of these ships belonged to the recently established, infamous, and widely feared drug cartel: Frontera Libre. This has led to much discussion among the delegates of MCMFA about tighter control measure surrounding the canal.

But last night, the ministers received even more shocking information. China had invaded the Panama Canal for its own use. When approached by the ministers, a representative told the committee that the national superpower was willing to go into a nuclear war with any nation daring to attack them over the canal.

In an appalling report from the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), it was revealed that an organization known as Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC), supported by numerous countries represented at the conference, had been acting as a middleman for information and arms between China and the Frontera Libre.

At the height of the scare, the United States and China found themselves playing an extremely dangerous game of chicken, with the lives of both of their citizens hanging in the balance, while the other ministers fought to find a diplomatic solution. Thankfully, the committee was able to pass Directive 7, which outlined a comprehensive plan to deal with the invasion, while risking as few lives as possible.

“We want to avoid a nuclear war.” Stated the minister of foreign affairs for the nation of Uruguay shortly after the reports arrived. This quote arrived among calls from other ministers to act against China militarily. The strongest supporter to instigate war with China? The United States, who’s minister was the only one to vote against the decision to grant China access to the canal, ending the standoff.

In an open statement, the minister from the United States had previously told the room “China is working as a terrorist organization.”

If the US had gathered an army to attack the Panama Canal, this would breach Panama’s sovereignty as a nation, and begin what could have been a long and bloody war with China. Because of Article 5 of the NATO treaty, if war had been launched between the US and China, all nations allied with the United States under NATO would be obligated to join the war on its side.

“The canal is open to all business; Chinese, American, European.” Spoke the minister of foreign affairs for Panama, an answer that seemingly satisfied the Chinese Representative. While the United States was clearly not satisfied with the diplomatic solution, there was some amount of celebration between the other ministers after the 14 to 1 vote officializing the diplomatic answer.

China was promised the ability to use the canal just as other nations were able to, even with the possibility of its smuggling of arms and supplies for Frontera Libre. In return, the citizens of the countries involved get to live a war-free life for another day.

How do we Protect the LGBTQ people?

Al-Jazeera

 For a “crime” that is not truly a crime, several members of the LGBTQ community from around the world are persecuted on a daily basis for their sexuality.

 An example of this would be the Orlando shooting that took place on the 12th of June, 2016. The shooting occurred at a gay nightclub and 49 people were killed.

 It’s cases like these it is essential for the government, NGOs and local organisations to intervene and take responsibility when it comes

to protecting these people.

 There are several ways this could be done:

First, governments can implement strict laws ensuring the safety of the LGBTQ community and making anyone who violates them pay huge fines.

Second, NGOs can come together with local organisations and raise awareness through educational campaigns in targeted localities designed to teach people to be more tolerant towards the LGBTQ community and accept them for the people that they are.

Third, people who do attack this community should be given heavy sentences by the court so as to instill a fear inside anyone else who might be thinking of doing the same.

 Until it is not made clear that there is protection for the LGBTQ community and that action will be taken against against any persecutors, violence towards the people of this community will prevail.

Combating Corruption and the Importance of the Whistleblower

Yonhap News Agency

“Sometimes the scandal is not what law was broken, but what the law allows” – Edward Snowden

Kim Gwang-ho knew what he had to do, and was willing to fly across the ocean to do it. He also knew the risks involved – his job, his reputation – but he still knew that he could not stand back as he watch an injustice of a massive scale unfold.

So Kim flew to the United States to whistleblow on Hyundai Motor Company’s massive cover-up of a defect in the engine of over 200,000 cars.

South Korea is not a country characterized by whistleblowing, but not for the lack of laws. Especially following the election of Moon Jae-In, an ex-human rights lawyer, press freedoms have been on the rise. In fact, in his first days in office, he gave a press conference where he spoke but then allowed questions which his aides answered candidly and without a script. Although perhaps routine for those reading this internationally, following the rule of Park Geun-Hye, this was a massive step forward. President Park had limited her press conferences to perhaps one or two a year, with scripted questions and scripted answers.

The South Korean government also provides protections for those who do whistleblow. South For instance, Korea’s Act on the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers guarantees that whistleblowers cannot be fired, undergo disciplinary action, or suffer a drop in pay. The Act defines a protected whistleblower as any person who reports that a violation of the public interest has occurred or is likely to occur, a violation of public interest being any act that could harm public health and safety or a misuse of the trust that citizens put in corporations or the government, extending to breaches of the law.

One of the largest arguments governments around the world throw out time and time again when confronted by the fear of leaks is to respond with the words “national security” which for some reason, have the power to instill an irrational panic in the ears of the listeners. This should simply not be the case for two reasons.

One, governments have a tendency to over exaggerate national security claim to defend themselves. This could be seen in the Edward Snowden case when the NSA declared that the bulk collection of American data was essential to preventing dozens of terror attacks. This was blatantly false and the two were unrelated, which was why a White House panel concluded in late December of 2013 that the program was “not essential in preventing attacks.” In fact, Thomas Blanton of George Washington University reported that between 50-90% of what the United States government classifies is either over classified or should have never been classified in the first place. Most United States information can be safely leaked, contrary to what the government claims

Second, a national-security only mindset just sets up the stage for a police state. In a police state, national security considerations come first above all rights. This is why police states tend to not be good states to live in. To truly have a functioning society, with the right balance between rights and security, both need to be taken into consideration.

In fact, even if one disregards the need for rights in addition to security, attempting to stifle leaks at reporter level simply can’t accomplish anything. Thanks to the shift to digital media and an open internet where anyone can publish anything in seconds, the mass media no longer holds such an integral role. However, if you do believe that leaks are bad and harm national security, this is dangerous. Now, if a newspaper turns a whistleblower away, the whistleblower can simply turn to foreign governments or organizations like Wikileaks to publish. However, domestic and established newspapers are necessary for the editing process. As Dean Banquet, a former editor at the Los Angeles Times explains, when it comes to deciding if to publish a leak or not, newspapers take into account who will be affected, the national security consequences, and more, to see if publishing it will ultimately benefit the people. The danger with letting other countries publish this information is that they have no similar ties as do those domestically based news sources and are more likely to publish information with damaging capabilities.

Whistleblowing is essential, at both the corporate and national level, as is the necessity of the press being the one to publish the information. Restrictions at either end have consequences. Laws designed to prevent whistleblowing stop more good leaks than prevent “bad” ones and the threat of punishment to either party accomplishes indirectly what government censorship accomplishes directly.

As for Kim? Hyundai ultimately recalled the cars. Kim also got his job back. He is happy about his decision. After the recall he explained, “At first my wife asked me not to do it. … But I‘m stubborn, and persuaded her that the problems will be buried forever without my confession.”

The Invisible Messengers

Al-Quds Al-Arabi

In the hectic environment of the World Health Organization (WHO), all around the room there was a myriad of kids wearing suits, dresses, and fancy shoes that, eventually, they all merge to create one gray, black, and navy blur of colors. Amongst them, note passers could be seen if you look just hard enough. They are visible in the eyes of who look but invisible to the busy delegates.

Note passers, the innocent messengers of the committee. Although, no one seems to take into account the great power they possess. Delegates put their complete trust in complete strangers regarding completely important issues. Knowing this, some note passers tend to utilize their power. Whether for malicious intent or just for the fun of it, delegates do get exposed for the shortest of moment until the piece of paper is passed to the person it was being delivered to. Even more so, the interesting part for note passers is not how Algeria is trying to ally with Ireland, it is the written flirts and the occasional winky face drawn on the inside of the tiny paper.

One note passer in the World Health Organization (WHO), who asked to remain anonymous, stated, “The first few notes are fine. However, I would draw the line on passing chocolates to delegates.” After hearing the statement, Al-Quds Al-Arabi asked the delegate to elaborate, to which the delegate replied, “I’m pretty tired of countries mixing business with pleasure. I did contemplate just reading the whole interaction [made through notes] out loud.”

After the brief interview with the anonymous note passer, hopefully the situation will be brought to light and be no more.

Save the Roma, make their voice heard

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As globalization takes over the world, border between countries fade away creating a bd and connected worldwide community, However, some groups still struggle to integrate their own nation and thus are pushed to the side of our linked world. Therefore, the EU discussed strategies to integrate the Roma, a minority that has been inhabiting Europe for one thousand years.

To watch the video, click here.

The Cryptic Nature of Cryptocurrency

The Wall Street Journal

The International Monetary Fund has been working tirelessly to come up with a way to expand cashless economies that takes into account the capacities of developing and developed nations. Thus far, two blocs have formed, both supporting the movement to go cashless but with different regulations. As the conference progresses, the two blocs will have to evaluate the comparative influences of the nuances within their resolutions.

To watch the video, click here.

The Risks of a Pegged Currency

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One of the most common repercussions from a free trade deal of immense magnitude, like the one being discussed by the OAS during these four days of conference, is the risk of devaluation of a country’s currency, which often occurs with  globalization. However, the entirety of the Organization of American States, minus the United States and Venezuela, have agreed on a set of actions to be taken if inflation arose in a country as a response to the trade agreement.

The nation in question should peg their currency to another nation’s medium of exchange in order to provide a temporary solution to the issue at hand,” proposed Antigua and Barbuda during a discussion regarding how to solve inflation caused by the trade agreement. He assured that the attachment of  a country’s currency to another country’s would provide the affected states the help needed until they developed an economy able to sustain itself.

Most of the participants inside the committee room agreed this was the easiest and fastest way to counteract inflation, as it had worked plenty of times. For example, with the Bahamas fixing their currency to the US dollar in 1966 and, since then, achieved the reduction of their inflation rate from a 14.24% to a 0.9%, according to Trading Economics; or Mexico, which did the exact same thing when their inflation rate reached an all time peak of 179.93 % during 1988, which resulted in the government fixing the exchange rate to the US dollar, allowing them to lower their inflation to a 6.7%, which is high, but still manageable.

However, the representative of the United States, country to which several participants of OAS have their currency attached to, didn’t agree with the rest of the committee due to the several repercussions it could do to a country’s economy. If an increase in pegged currencies as a result of the agreement was produced, a financial crash like the one in 2007 and 2008 would be devastating for the international community, and maybe even send it into a state of recession, with the removal of international businesses and  job losses caused by the crash; a black market dedicated to currency would put the government at risk of even more inflation, as happened in Argentina when President Macri removed limits on how many pesos could be changed into dollars, which caused the official value of the Argentinian peso to drop 30% in less than 24 hours.

The delegate of the United States of America stated they would not give any kind of “special treatment” to the nations who have their currency pegged to the dollar if any repercussions developed, as the affected knew the effects their decision could have; to which the other delegates simply nodded their heads and continued to agree that pegging currency was the best way to go, completely ignoring the consequences of this imperialist practice. In the words of the Venezuelan delegate, “you should not rely on other countries to get your worth.”  Our work should determine whether we get out or not of inflation, not the influence of nations that brought it on to us in the first place with an agreement that was not wanted in the first place.

Conformity was not achieved throughout this day of conference, to what the American delegate ended up by saying, “I say we only write one clause: it’s up to each nation to deal with inflation in whatever way they want.”

The HEART Resolution

The Straits Times

“We cannot and should not stop people from migration. We have to give them a better life at home. Migration is a process, not a problem” William L. Swing

Once the merging process was over in the Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Committee, all countries found themselves arguing and debating on the strengths and weaknesses of the many drafts of resolutions that have been proposed.

Actually, it is really breathtaking and flabbergasting to see how 193 countries are reunited, all together, working hand in hand, in order to find a solution for this serious problem.

Even though each delegation looks for her personal interest, they all agreed and stood against the same controversial issue : migration-related xenophobia, racism, and violence.

Actually, we were strongly astonished by the unexpected alliance between countries such as Iran and The United States that were considered as enemies thus far.

But sometimes, the debate got tense and violent in a certain way.  Donald Trump and The United States have been attacked more that once since they haven’t treated conflict concerning migrants in the same manner.

Nevertheless, these alternatives adopted by the delegations are quite utopian. Indeed, many pertinent solutions have been proposed, but most of them are not realistic and cannot be applied in countries where migrants are constantly victims of the society.  In fact, France, South Africa or Nigeria have serious issues in the society where migrants are persecuted and exposed to economic discrimination. In some cases and in particular countries in Africa, such as Libya, migrants are victims of slavery, migrants are abused, migrants are facing the omnipresent risk of human trafficking. In order to find an ideal resolution that can satisfy the maximum of countries, delegates discussed the majority of the solutions that have been proposed. Therefore, during the first un-mod, many blocks merged with a main goal which is to find specific and realistic solutions that every country can put in order.

For many hours, the committee has been divided into many groups that couldn’t just find a common ground to work on.

But, finally, after long hours of debate, the tension between the different emergent blocks started to disappear.

Thus, three main blocks appeared miraculously when they have reached an agreement threw negotiations.

On one hand, we have « the HEART integration draft resolution » that covers 83 signatories.

On the other one, we have « Here today for a better tomorrow » with 73 signatories.

Last but not least, the « one hope with open arms » contains 57 signatories.

After the amendment process, the resolutions globally suited all countries’ policies. Even if, in the beginning of the debate, the delegations were not ready to collaborate.

The time for the vote came, and the tension was at its highest level…

The HEART resolution directed by Russia has been chosen, and its main values are :     

  1.  Humanitarian Crisis and Hate Crimes,
  2. Education, and Economic Empowerment of Migrants,
  3. Assistance to Migrants in Need,
  4. Reviewing National Priorities,
  5. Terrorism and Security of Migrants.

To cut a long story short, the SOCHUM Committee has been going through a lot : tension, laughs, arguments, anger, stress.But it has finally found, its own path to a better world and a humanitarian solution.

And, as Jan Eliasson said: “Without peace there is no development, and without development there is no peace.”