Imminent Invasion by ‘Mother Russia’?

“Putin will come riding a bear”

Well… that sounds terrifying. Or is it? The Constituent Assembly of Myanmar was faced with an interesting proposition by a visiting Russian representative: either remove the presence of US military troops or give more power to ethnic minorities. If neither of the options are fulfilled, the wrath of “mother Russia” will come for the Assembly.

Last night, the Assembly was called back to their assembly room for a crisis: a cyclone had hit the country and damaged the land. In the end, the Assembly decided to allow the United States military to enter Myanmar in order to help the country rebuild. However, it is obvious from the Russian delegate’s visit that certain forces oppose this aid.

Many delegates leapt at the chance to provide ethnic minorities recognized by the shadow government more rights. The New Minister of Border Affairs proposed granting minorities land rights and emphasized the importance of unity within the country. We must “make Myanmar strong and legitimate so other countries will respect us,” the delegate stated. Other delegates, like the Minister of Defense echoed this sentiment, offering to negotiate with minorities in return for their loyalty, and a promise to put down their arms.

The minority groups in question welcomed the chance for more equality. As delegate Bao Youxiang of the United Wa State Party lamented, the most “disgusting” thing is the lack of simple voting rights in the Assembly. Many of the minority groups were open to negotiation in the hopes of gaining more recognition.

Others in the room took Russia’s threat to extremes. The representative of the Rohingya peoples ominously reminded the Assembly that the Rohingya had “no friends on this committee,” and their only ally was the United States. Should the committee attempt to remove US troops, the Rohingya would ensure that the US had a presence in making sure the Rohingya people got their rights. The Minister of Ethnic Affairs stated that there is “no reasons to remove US troops,” and considering the Rohingyan threat, she may be right. Giving ethnic minority groups their rights seems to be the simpler solution.

On a complete opposite note, the Shan representative spoke of allowing Russia into the country. “How bad is the Russian federation [anyways]?” the delegate challenged. Not responding to Russia’s threat and essentially welcoming the country in, “offers us a unique opportunity to reshape this government,” said the representative, commenting that the Russian invasion would make way for the states would become the leaders.

The Russian threat – fix your country or we will invade – was a sinister one (although it was snarled in a remarkably good Russian accent by a crisis member). Nearly all the delegates of the Constituent Assembly of Myanmar were pro-giving ethnic minorities rights. To agree, however, is the easy part. Now, they must get to compromising.

 

 

 

 

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The Delegate Dance

The delegate dance is a bit of a mystery at Model UN Conferences. Students are always asking, what will happen at this one? To most teenagers, the prospect of going to a dance with other kids their age sounds like a fun idea. But the delegate dance takes on a life of its own. It’s not just a dance, it’s an experience. Have you, readers, ever been in a room with over 1,000 kids on a dance floor packed together? most of them newly-acquainted and shouting to be heard over thumping bass notes? Because that’s what the dance is.

But the dance doesn’t start in the room – it starts outside in the hallway as students await their admittance. The line, a mix of delegates representing nearly every continent around the globe, thrums with energy. Perking up their ears, students can hear various conversations in Spanish, English, and Mandarin. Delegates groan as ever so slowly, the line inches forward. Once they flash their badge at the door, they’re let into the packed ballroom, which is transformed for our benefit with flashing lights and a DJ.

Truthfully, the dance itself is a mix of fun and awkward. If you’re one for dancing to loud music, the dance floor in the middle of the room is the perfect place for you. If you enjoy having a personal bubble more than two feet in circumference, then that same dance floor- really just a mosh-pit of kids either fighting their way through the crowd with friends or dancing closely together – is not the place for you. Perhaps the outskirts of the room, lined with water and soda stations, is more your style.

Either way, the delegate dance is quite the night. Everyone has the chance to socialize with delegates outside their committee and take a break from furious working paper writing.

Who knows how the delegate dance of 2017 will turn out? We can only know by going tonight!

Russia, 1917 the fight to create a lasting ideology

“Russia will prosper like a majestic eagle in the skies, ready to change this filthy, capitalistic world!”

The Council of the People’s Commissars, Russia 1917 is hard at work creating the perfect communist country on the third floor. While there is much work to be done, this council is fired up and ready to go. Flying around the table were various directives, all intended to rid Russia of any capitalistic influences or lingering rebellions and proceed towards Marx’s infamous ideology.

Among obstructions was the issue of the pesky White army – the name given to those who opposed the Bolshevik government. The Commissar of Justice reminded his fellow delegates that the proper solution should be to arrest leaders of the ‘Whites’ and put them on public trial. In coordinating with the Commissar of Labor, he proposed putting these arrestees in labor camps to make a clear example of the non-supporters.

It wasn’t just rebel groups this Council had to deal with, it was also the challenge of overcoming the power of the Church. Among solutions was the idea to confiscate all church land and hand it over for collectivization. The idea to promote a propaganda campaign encouraging citizens to leave the church was also proposed. The reason for this, emphasized one delegate, is that “we must not allow the vestiges of imperialism to invade our harmonious communist society.”

Of course the biggest challenge was the creation of a constitution, one that would reflect proper communist values and embolden its supporters. This, above all, was the most necessary step in creating a lasting ideological legacy. In this midst of this all, the unexpected happened: Vladimir Lenin died.

Yet, despite the devastating loss of one of communism’s most prominent figureheads, the Council was determined to go on. When asked about the future of their country, delegates clarified that communism is an ideology, not just a person, and that they would fight to uphold their deceased leader’s ideals together, in joint leadership.

In fact, Lenin’s death seems to have galvanized this Council, which informed reporters that they are soon to enter a constituent assembly to make a constitution.

However unfortunate the loss of their leader is, the Council of the People’s Commissars will continue to fight for their country’s future. Their dream is to “eliminate any opposition,” according to representative Stalin. And once this fully occurs in Russia, the Council will attempt to foster fellow communist allies. After all, it is as Marx said: “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

 

 

 

 

No Fracking Way!

The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) is hard at work discussing their first issue: the geopolitics of alternative oil sources. Namely, the committee asks if countries should continue and expand a recent trend of fracking – the process of drilling into the earth to extract underground chemicals. This process has prompted many environmental concerns, as it uses a lot of water, may cause small earth tremors, and deters many energy firms from pursuing renewable energy sources.

The UNEA is ready to tackle this issue head on and are currently discussing seven working papers. Solutions to move away from shale gas range from encouraging countries to invest in renewable energy sources such as “solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal energy, and hydroelectricity” (working paper 3), to encouraging the “implementation of a transitional timeline to confirm hat shale gas be used solely as a ‘bridge fuel'” (working paper 5).

There are also countries like Venezuela, Qatar, and Angola, who think fracking should stop, especially due to the effects it can have on water supplies, but unlike others, believe that there is no need to move towards green energy because “using petroleum is good where it is.”

On the other end of the spectrum are countries like Argentina, the United Kingdom and the United States, who believe, as they open in their position paper (working paper 1) that the contributing countries believe the shale gas “is one of the best options to replace fossil fuels, but must be regulated.” To that end, they have created a commission to “sponsor scientists who will assess the damage hydraulic fracturing could inflict on the environment” and standardized regulations that all fracking countries must follow.

While these solutions are well thought out, and bring together many countries, there are, as in any committee, many similarities across papers. Because of this, when all seven working papers are presented in front of committee, delegates begin to point out minute differences rather than collaborating.

Seven working papers represent an astounding amount of ideas, but in the end, the Environment Assembly can only pass one resolution. To do so, they’ll have to narrow down their ideas and learn to compromise across papers.

Did we even invite you? The debate over military intervention continues

The UN Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC) on the second floor – a committee of well over 100 delegates – is tackling the age old Shakespearian question with a twist: to be or not to be has become to invade or not to invade? ‘Tis the question on the floor. Delegates, now discussing a variety of working papers, must consider what constitutes an acceptable cause for intervention.

From the start, there was a clear problem, one plainly stated to Clarín by the dais during an unmoderated caucus: the papers are too similar. Save for one more non-interventionist proposal by China and Russia, all other working papers seem to agree that countries must toe the line between too little intervention and too much, and must only intervene under extreme circumstances. The delegate from Sierra Leone’s statement, “Negotiate first… then find any other way…. intervention is a last resort,” seemed to represent the common theme.

One working paper, titled Intervention as the Last Resort -“IRL”- states that governments should have the ability to consent to when outside military is sent into their country. The exception to this rule is if a country is violating the Geneva Convention – humanitarian laws. This policy begs the question as to what happens when the government of a country not violating human rights but still in desperate need of outside support decides not to allow foreign military aid. One supporting delegate from Venezuela explained that he hopes their plan will enable countries under military intervention to build up their economy and protect their people in order that, when the foreign military leaves, a power vacuum is not created.

Another bloc, with delegates such as Lithuania, Germany, and Australia, titled their working paper: “Security Bloc.”  The difference, one delegate from Lithuania described, between their paper and others is that they have provided for a formula they title the ‘Berundi algorithm’ which weights the pros over the cons of intervening. It is through this formula, Lithuania described, that the bloc will decide whether to intervene or not. This bloc also hopes to enhance the power of regional bodies, such as the African Union, the European Union, and NATO., which the bloc believes has the best understanding of their respective regional needs. Like the IRL, the Security Bloc working paper draws the line at human rights violations; if a country violates the Geneva Convention, it is automatic cause for intervention.

The two papers have their differences, yes, but their main policies, to draw the line on what constitutes necessary intervention and to end that line at violation of the Geneva Convention, are the same.

The most notably different paper, was that of China and Russia. Russia took a surprisingly lighter stance than expected – its delegate stating that while Russia is “pro-sovereignty”, the military can intervene if citizens are in danger; this is not in keeping with the normal hard line of pro-sovereignty. However, they sided with China, who more firmly drew the line. Referencing President Donald Trump’s recent ‘America first’ policy, the delegate from China remarked that as other countries step back from the global stage, China is prepared to take on more of a role as a global leader, in others’ affairs.However, in keeping with Chinese policy, the delegate reminded that even if China violates human rights, it is “not the UN’s problem” and it, and other countries to invade. On their end, China is fully pro-sovereignty.

Hopefully, this large committee can find the proper balance between intervention and non-intervention. It is not, and has never been, a black and white problem and the safety and sovereignty of all countries hangs in the balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the birds fly free: a crisis in the UNDP

It seems only fitting that the United National Development Program presides over the third floor Prudential Center room titled ‘Commonwealth.’ After all, the issue they are tackling today does have to do with the common good – the preservation of biodiversity and how to best protect them from water pollution. Stepping into the room is to witness delegates firmly locked in debate over how best to solve the issue of water contamination. All the delegates agreed that the preservation of clean water was of the utmost importance, especially as, as the delegate of Turkey so simple put it, chemicals have the great power to “disrupt and destroy biodiversity.” Polluted water has the capability to do ever-increasing harm to precious species, which these delegates are fighting to protect.

Delegates proposed a range of solutions: from the delegate of Belgium came the idea to “update factory equipment that deals with fresh water;” from the USA came the proposal to utilize the process of reverse osmosis – a system that uses semipermeable membranes to remove large particles from water; from France came the motion to implement “froth flotation” – which separates water fearing (hydrophobic) materials from water loving (hydrophilic) ones.

These innovative ideas were cut short when suddenly, committee doors flew open to reveal an intricately dressed crisis committee, donning colorful, striped ponchos meant to represent endangered water fowl and declaring an urgent situation in Nepal. The crisis team of ‘birds’ tweeted futilely as retro viral drugs from the drug company Big French Pharma entered into water runoff and led to their demise. A bird researcher in the region lamented the loss of her study.

It is “very unfair to blame my company,” said the president of Big French Pharma (another crisis member). The president reminded the committee that what had happened was “completely legal,” and that his company had been working with the government the whole time, which sanctioned their actions.

To the consternation of the UNDP, a committee charged with preventing this very type of issue, crisis members representing Chinese and Indian civilians exclaimed how happy they were to have Big French Pharma providing them jobs, and how sad they would be to see the company be punished for their legal actions. Providing a contrasting view, the delegate of Nepal remarked that the crisis “could have been avoided” if actions such as these had serious consequences.

Their crisis was a stark reminder to UNDP delegates of the struggle between industry and the protection of biodiversity. The delegate from Switzerland aptly stressed that “economic pursuit [such as that of the Big French Pharma] has benefited the job industries but harmed research.”

Unfortunately, due environmental pressures such as water pollution, the endangered birds of the world may not have the opportunity to pick up and fly away like the birds of the crisis committee. It is up to the UNDP to figure out how to give all species a safe, clean future.

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Save the Children

On Floor three in Fairfax A, the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) is hard at work solving one of the world’s most pressing issues: child trafficking. The International Labor Organization posits that each year, around 1.2 million children are subject to trafficking. This includes forced labor, sexual trafficking, and children in armed forces and drug trades. Recognizing the complexities of the topic, the delegate from Togo astutely pointed out that “there has never been a concrete solution” to the issue. However, that was no impediment to these delegates., who welcomed the challenge.

In tackling the multifaceted issue, delegates have thus far proposed two strong working papers that address the economic, social, and legal aspects of child trafficking. A delegate from Sweden, working with countries such as Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom, described his working paper, titled PACT – a “Plan Against Child Trafficking,” a five point plan. PACT’s first consideration is to clarify the definition of child trafficking, which is currently stated to be the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, and/or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation.” Although the delegate was unable to provide a redefinition, the purpose of such a plan seemed to be not to rearrange the current working, but rather to seek a more widespread understanding of such activities.

PACT also considers collaboration between countries, the issue of financing the efforts against trafficking, bringing awareness through social media awareness and to border officials and police forces, and rehabilitation of the victims. As the delegate from Sweden emphasized, rehabilitation is perhaps “the most important” issue, given that it unites child trafficking and the equally important topic of mental health.

Across the room, the delegates from Congo, Brazil, Pakistan, and Nigeria were in deep discussion, formulating their own plan. Their informally named “six point plan” also considered educating the people, rehabilitating victims, and how to best fund these projects. In regards to rehabilitation, the delegate from Pakistan pointed out that currently, the “gap between victims being saved and going back into normal society” is far  too large. Unlike PACT, the six point plan further encompassed pushing for new laws, increasing border security, and formulating an international database to aid in cross country collaboration.

Delegates from the six point plan emphasized that their working paper is specifically meant to target the interests of smaller, underdeveloped countries, saying that they hope to represent the “ideas of people.” From the outside, this working paper seems to effectively target a wider range of issues. However, the delegate from Japan – a supporter of the PACT paper- had some reservations: the six point plan, he criticized, “has unrealistic goals” and doesn’t go into enough detail.

From the outside, one can see that these two plans are really quite similar: they work to educate the people, help the victims in the recovery process, and figure out a way to fund their projects. Throughout their speeches, delegates reminded their constituents of the importance of cross-country collaboration. This is now being put to the test.

The real question is, can the countries from both these workings papers unite to form one cohesive solution?