by Daniel Juliao, El Mundo
Press conferences are common this time of the conference, and SPECPOL was the most recent session to experience the glamorous event conducted by press corps. SPECPOL has been trying to tackle the problem of sexual assault perpetrated by peacekeepers. The delegates had the honor of welcoming guest speakers like Jamille Bigio and NGOs to assist in the brainstorming and conception of working papers. While most working papers have strong similarities, this press conference really allowed the differences in working papers and opinions to be noticed. The impact of this press conference is yet to be seen, but I anticipate merging working papers to be an uphill battle from here.
The greatest source of disagreement is from a working paper constructed by majority Islamic countries as well as South Africa and South Korea. The contention in this working stems from separation of gender within peacekeepers. This working paper, more commonly known and from here on out referred to as El Cosa, requests a stringent level of separation for women serving as peacekeepers. It is opposed to the idea of militarization of women and requests for women to be left to handle only administrative roles. The delegate of Syria advocated heavily that this is based on differences in strengths for each gender and is not a form of discrimination. The delegate of Colombia did not have a similar belief and challenged the delegate of Syria on questionable sexist remarks. When pressed the delegate of Iran stated that other nations are free to place women in military roles, but for religious reasons Islamic countries cannot do the same.
The next point of dissent comes from the idea of who is best fit to dictate the mandates. It is common knowledge within the committee that the mandates given to peacekeepers are often complex and this further confuses the peacekeepers. Working paper 1.1 aims to reduce the complexity in mandates, but seeks strong oversight by the United Nations. This working paper led by Ireland seems unlikely to merge with the working paper from the African Union. During the press conference, the delegate of Morocco promoted the concept of having regional bodies be in charge of the main level of oversight with the United Nations having a lesser role in the oversight process. The main reason for requesting regional bodies is fear of the global north violating the sovereignty of African nations and the past memories of colonialism, one could argue put African nations in weakened conditions to this present day. The delegate of Netherlands brushed away any concerns about colonialism and over intervention on part of the global north.
The impact of this press conference is sure to have a long-term impact on this committee and I am excited how relationships between delegations grow and falter following the press conference. El Mundo will of course keep everyone informed on the inner dynamics of SPECPOL.