Offshore Bases vs. Social Media: A Double-Edged Sword

GARIMA KARIA, THE HINDU (Editorial/Opinion)

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Delegates present their views on offshore bases and social media to the committee in preparation to set the topic at Harvard National Model UN this weekend.

BOSTON: In the Disarmament and Security Committee at HNMUN 2017, delegates are faced with a “double-edged sword” when it comes to the topics they will be focusing on for the duration of the conference. Both offshore bases and the weaponization of social media are complicated, multi-faceted issues with countless narratives and implications to take into consideration when formulating possible solutions. No wonder the committee spent over two hours debating which topic to discuss first!

According to the committee’s primary speaker’s list speeches, the issue of off-shore bases is one that consists primarily of security and sovereignty, and has potential to “unravel international cooperation as we know it,” according to the delegate of South Africa. This delegate was also one of few to direct the committee’s attention to the vestiges of both nationalism and imperialism that linger prominently within the offshore base system. As was echoed by the Irish delegation, the role played by developed states in exploiting those currently in development by installing and operating these bases is one that should be taken into serious consideration by the committee, as it is one that impacts the lives of many inhabitants of these South countries.

Conversely, the weaponization of social media and its advocates provided extensive reasoning for this topic to be considered first. “We must not confuse importance with urgency,” pressed the British delegation. With social media playing such an omnipresent role in the lives of people, be they revolutionaries in the Arab Spring or women’s rights advocates in Saudi Arabia in Egypt, its weaponization poses a serious threat to the international community. Over 90% of terrorist activity is arranged by means of social media, according to the aforementioned delegation. This figure appropriately shocked the committee, and, complemented by countless accounts of young children drawn into terrorism and its negative effects on the vulnerable civilian population it torments, DISEC eventually voted in favour of this topic as their first of the weekend. With the threat of ISIL and similar terrorist groups looming, the committee should work hastily to not only protect civilian users of social media from its weaponization, but also bear in mind the importance of the  free speech and liberty of expression that this technological tool provides to international community at large.

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