By YENA SEO, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (opinion)
At the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) Conference, the Historical North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) committee is in a unique situation. While most committees are able to pass directives and resolutions with a simple majority vote, the NATO committee’s structure mandates that any initiative must be passed with a unanimous vote. If any member nation decides to abstain or vote against a proposed measure, the initiative fails and the committee is forced to go back to the drawing table.
Unfortunately for the Historical NATO committee, multiple global crises have occurred due to the body’s lack of response and unity. A human rights crisis recently occurred in Kosovo, where Serbian military police fired upon and killed 60 Kosovo-Albanian women and children. While many NATO member nations attempted to get involved, there was a lack of agreement and consensus within the organization, resulting in a lack of action. Consequently, the Russian Federation has taken advantage of NATO’s lack of action and is now calling the shots, engaging in negotiations with Yugoslavia. Boris Yeltsin, the President of the Russian Federation, went so far as to say that “NATO is weak.”
This disarray and disorganization is simply unacceptable from a military alliance whose purpose was to protect the world from growing Soviet influence. While the Soviet Union has fallen, the Russian Federation still poses a dangerous threat, and it is absolutely detrimental to the future of the NATO alliance and of individual member nations to allow such a political and military adversary to gain a foothold, exposing the weaknesses of NATO in the process.
Every single directive presented to the committee has failed, many of which failed due to a single member nation voting against the measure. One directive, which advocated for the expansion of diplomatic channels and was fairly neutral in nature, failed. It is clear that while some nations are simply not paying attention to the dire crises occurring around the world, other nations are plaguing the process by emphasizing their national pride instead of global unity.
While the directives to address crisis updates have failed, several draft resolutions are still on the table to address the integration of former Soviet states. Many of the working papers that had been drafted by countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain, and Portugal also emphasized expanding NATO’s military capabilities to address more modern-day threats. Similarly to directives, however, negotiations for resolutions are going poorly, and mergers seem almost out of the question. Blocs disagree on the methods of integration and certain standards and criteria for former Soviet states, and do not want to work collaboratively.
On the brink of the 21st century, it is more important than ever that NATO assert itself as a powerful alliance capable of engaging in multilateral negotiations and tackling global crises and emergencies. The Historical NATO committee’s lack of consensus and failure to agree on a single measure stands against the spirit of collaboration that is a cornerstone of the alliance. This committee’s lack of progress has been a disappointment not only to member nations, but to the rest of the world, which is looking to NATO for protection and strength.
The United Kingdom discusses the specific measures in his working paper that advocate for the expansion of NATO’s military might.