LOBBY IN THE LOBBY: The Committee Session Hidden From HNMUN’s Agenda

BY FRANCISCO MANUEL MATALLANA PACHECO, Reuters

“If you have to ask, you will never know. If you know, you need only ask” – Helena Ravenclaw, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II

It is 7 a.m. and the second session of HNMUN 2019 is not due to start until 2 p.m. Sharply dressed and well- groomed—yet noticeably sleep deprived—delegates begin to fill the Park Plaza Hotel’s grand lobby, greeting one another as they do. Next thing you know, delegations from multiple committees go off to the various coffee shops in the hotel’s vicinity, braving through the bone chilling weather of a February morning in Boston.  

Among the Historical General Assembly delegates, caffeine slowly kicks in while the nature of the talks begins to take on a very apparent new course. The conversations go from somewhat lethargic and passive concerning the direction and the overall feel of the committee to a more assertive and down-to-business tone. Delegates begin to break down proposals, consolidate their newly formed blocks, and address future strategies head on. Nevertheless, Reuters notices that not all delegates have attended what starts to resemble a committee session.

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The delegations of the United Kingdom and the United States, along with Australia, Ireland and others, informed Reuters that they met at 9:30 just outside their committee room at the Boston Park Plaza. More delegations arrived shortly after and joined the talks as they enjoyed their morning coffee. When asked if she has been working with any of the present delegations more closely than with others, the delegate of the U.K. responded that she found her talks with the United States and Australia and Ireland to be the most fruitful. Similarly, Finland, Sweden and Afghanistan had meet at around 9:30 at the Boston Park Plaza lobby as the meeting point to hold what they indicated where cordial and productive talks before moving to the Sattler room.

We proceeded to interview key players between these blocks, and to dig in on the nature of these talks. Approaching the United Kingdom first, we inquired:

Reuters: “What have you been discussing regarding the issue and what possible solutions where on the table?”

U.K: “We found common ground on bringing together NATO forces to establish buffers and safe zones to provide peaceful environments. Our philosophy is that we should not determine statehood. We think we should just give them a peaceful environment for them to determine how to solve the issue”.

Afterwards, we conducted a series of interviews with delegations of Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, among others. This coalition has a very different approach to the issue. The delegate from Finland indicated there was an agreement on the necessity of a presence of U.N. Peacekeeping forces. He added, however, that there was contention between the block regarding the involvement of the United Nations and NATO.  

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Reuters: “What would you say is the main point of contention between the blocks?”

FINLAND: “There needs to be peacekeeping to end the violence. The two main points of contention would be: How much time do we give for diplomacy before involving peacekeepers? And also, who should make up the peacekeepers? The U.S block wants a pretty significant NATO involvement in cooperation with, but not under, the U.N.”.

On the other side of the aisle, the United States and United Kingdom prefer NATO intervention, with U.N. oversight. The delegate from U.K. continued the point that is setting other blocks apart, stating that they differed from the proposition to “work with the U.N. Peacekeeping aim”, which, we have come to understand, encompasses U.N. peacekeeping forces and intervention in  Yugoslavia and other parts of the region.

When both groups were asked about the formation of established and defined blocks, the possibilities of a merging, and the progress of working papers, the answers were identical. Delegations on both sides indicated that at this stage in development of the committee, that blocks remained undefined, leaving open the possibility to move between groups. Additionally, the common answer we received was that the possibility of merges remained a main concern and the possibility of such taking place was very near.

Something to take note of is the absence of the delegation of France. A significantly influential nation in the E.U., France was surprisingly not involved in the discussions been held prior to the beginning of the committee. This supports the reasoning that what constituted these talks, the force behind this gathering, is not, as we have come to understand, the conventional aspects of a committee. Neither the extent of involvement of the nation state, nor the foreign policy or political posture of such within committee is of significance under these circumstances. Rather, it is about membership. It is about having what it takes to be a part of this “secret club”, and, ultimately, understanding how the “game” is played at the United Nations.

The clock strikes 2pm and Committee Session II has begun. The debate begins with the United States moderated caucus on political approach to solving the issue. Clearly the events of this morning have influenced debate since the countries of United Kingdom, United States and Finland are now advocating for a noninterventionist approach in unison, which evidently benefits the ideas that were constructed over a cup of coffee.

This gathering was an extraordinary opportunity to get an extra insight on the occurrences within the conference. Without a doubt, our knowledge and understanding once we entered the committee would have been considerably less, and our reporting to the readers and viewers be weakened. To be present in these morning talks aided us in defining the blocks and groups of delegations, exploring the possibility of merges, identifying the key players, and obtaining further knowledge in the converging of proposals, programs and any other possible solutions to the issue at hand.

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