Category: General Assembly

“Proxy War” in Balkans Harks Back to Cold War

BY JEREMY HOLT, Le Figaro

Two years after the outbreak of ethnic conflict in the rapidly disintegrating Yugoslavia, Cold War-era tensions between the N.A.T.O. nations and Russia have reemerged as a “proxy war” that threatens to escalate and draw in the remainder of Europe. Caught in the middle of the conflict is the former Yugoslavia’s civilian population of over 23 million people, many who have been forced to flee their homes, and whose future remains uncertain.

Russia has deployed roughly two thousand soldiers to Yugoslavia – which now comprises the regions of Serbia and Bosnia – in support of the Serbian plurality, whose leader, Slobodan Milosevic, had taken control of the Yugoslav government in 1988. Serbia has traditionally held pro-Russian sympathies based on a common Orthodox Christian faith. N.A.T.O., in turn, has deployed comparable forces in support of the newly-formed Croatia to balance Russian influence.

Complicating the issue is the arrival of Islamic militants, allegedly from Egypt, who have deployed to ethnically-fragmented Bosnia in support of the Bosniak Muslim population. Bosniak Muslims, a significant minority in the Balkans, have faced persecution by the Milosevic government.

The General Assembly has convened to discuss draft resolutions supporting regional de-escalation and ensure the security of Yugoslavia’s multiplicity of ethnic minorities. Australia’s representative told Le Figaro, “it’s looking pretty bad but we’re here to prevent it from getting worse.”

Two competing draft resolutions have been proposed. One, signed by the United States, Russia, Kenya, and the United Kingdom, titled “Law and Order,” calls for Milosevic and Croat leader Franjo Tudman’s removal and the creation of a “Truth and Reconciliation” committee, similar to that employed in South Africa, to address minorities’ grievances. It also provides for proportional, graduated withdrawal of the Russian and N.A.T.O. forces; and increased counterterrorism efforts by U.N. member states.

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The delegate of the  United States addresses the General Assembly

The other draft resolution, signed by France, Guatemala, Poland, and others, titled “Diplomacy with Direction for Resolution,” (D.D.R.) calls for Russia and N.A.T.O.’s immediate withdrawal and for a capacity increase of the United Nations Peacekeeping Taskforce, which would oversee ceasefire efforts and protect the lives and security of civilians “by any means necessary.”

The delegate of Afghanistan, a signatory of the D.D.R. resolution, decried N.A.T.O and Russian influence in Yugoslavia and in the stabilization process, calling their involvement “neocolonialism.” Neither Russia nor the United States, N.A.T.O.’s largest contributor, has signed onto the resolution, and their cosignatory Kenya has described the competing resolution as “extreme.”

Nick Dorzweiler, an assistant professor of political science at Wheaton College, in Massachusetts, says that the stakes in the conflict have been very high for Europe, even those countries are as far from the Balkans as France and the United Kingdom: “European powers [are] very much concerned that a breakdown in the Balkans [will] spill over into their countries.  Not in the sense of the conflict itself spreading, but there [is] real worry about refugee flows, arms trades, black market economies, and so forth.”

The resolutions are due to be voted on tomorrow. In the meantime, the U.N., and its European countries in particular, have the world’s eyes.

Press Corps: Bringing You the Facts You Deserve

By KATIE JONES, The Boston Globe

26 committees. 14 news outlets. 14 reporters all looking for the big scoop of the weekend. We are the Press Corps, and we work to bring live, breaking news via social media and written web stories. With the diverse subject areas that committees hold, reporters from Press Corps work continuously to educate others on the legislation that delegations pass, which ultimately impact international policy.

Over the past four days, Press Corps has covered topics ranging from human trafficking, to the environmental protection of the Artic, to reunification of Italy in 1861. The Press Corps are soldiers when it comes to bringing HNMUN the accurate news and information it deserves.

“It’s been a different experience from normal MUN. You face many obstacles as you go, from moving from room to room, and having to make things in less time,” said Alejandro Cespedes, reporter for the New York Times.

Left: New York Times Reporter Alejandro Cespedes. Right: Fox News Reporter Mitchell McFarlane.

One of the many responsibilities of a Press Corps reporter includes preparing for press conferences in the committees they cover. Reporters spend much of their time reading working papers and draft resolutions, acting as meticulous watchdogs over the content that delegations are producing.

“You have to research a little of every committee. You figure things out as you go, but it’s a lot of reading, and a lot of talking to people. It actually feels very real,” Said Jeremy Holt, reporter for French newspaper, Le Figaro.

Reporter Jeremy Holt, Le Figaro

For some, Press Corps was a way to try out new skills.

“I’m not a journalism major, I actually study Psychology. I’m a total novice, total newbie, so it was fun to learn how to be a journalist, and what they do as a job,” said Vishal Nagda, reporter for the South China Morning Post.

And for others, it was about overcoming personal biases.

“It’s against everything I stand for. I’m standing on the opposite of what I believe in, trying to report facts in a manner that do not reflect my point of view. It’s new to me,” said Mitchell McFarlane, Fox News.

While some may not agree with the opinions of their outlet, Korean Central News Agency Reporter Alexander Meltzer-Werner admits that acting as North Korea’s only news outlet was a little more than just “fun”.

“It forced me to take the worst part of myself and place it center stage, shamelessly,” Meltzer-Werner joked.

Whatever your ideology may be, you can look to the HNMUN Press Corps for all your Model UN news needs.

Let Them Be Gay!

BY LIAM DALTON, The Guardian

The Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural General Assembly has submitted and discussed several working papers relating to the inclusion of gender and sexual minorities into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The inclusion of such terminology thus recognizes and affirms members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) community as equal global citizens, and paves the way for a more inclusive society.

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Worryingly, two abstract and contradictory working papers have emerged as front runners to addressing this global concern, which may not only halt the substantial progress the LGBTQI+ community has made in recent decades, but scale these efforts back.

Working Paper 1.1

Working paper 1.1 contains the most signatories and is driven by the Delegations of France and Iran. The 17-clause document looks impressive, but fails to address any substantive LGBTQI+ concerns head on, choosing to talk about ‘colonialism’ in cl. 4(d), and the environment in 5(c).

Furthermore, 1.1 contradicts itself by creating four classifications of rights: fundamental, civil and political, economic, and environmental in cl. 2, yet reiterating that all rights are fundamental by nature and cannot be separated from one another in cl. 4(b).

Later clauses fail to adequately relate proposed solutions back to central issues facing the rainbow community; such loopholes have been used for decades to undermine LGBTQI+ individuals along with other minorities. For example, cl. 5(d) reiterates the right to attack or use aggression with legitimate reason, but does not affirm that being part of the LGBTQI+ community does not constitute a ‘legitimate reason for being attacked’. Similarly, cl. 7(c) affirms the rights of a family through the use of gender neutral language, but the wording of the clause demands that the family be constituted through marriage thus failing to address the reality that only 30 member states allow same-sex marriage under domestic law, and thus there protections will not apply in 163 member states. Lastly, cl. 8(a) calls for access to education be purely based on the ‘merit’ of a person, but does not expressly state that gender identity or sexual preferences shall not be considered as going towards a person’s merit.

Working Paper 1.2

Working paper 1.2  is driven by the Delegations of Russia, China, Macedonia, and Brazil. The bloc and its working paper represents the more conservative member states and the desire not to have Western values infringe upon their sovereignty and religious practices. This working paper fails to address LGBTQI+ concerns in any material form, failing in several ways:

  1. Cl. 3 suggests the rewording of United Nations documents to include ‘his/her’ pronouns, which reinforces the notion of a gender binary system and thus totally neglects the issue of gender diverse people failing to be recognised by the state.
  1. Cl. 4(b)(ii) and 15 call upon member nations to protect LGBTQI+ communities from arbitrary punishment. This proposal, whilst well intentioned, seems to conflict with the activities of The Russian Federation who systematically imprison LGBTQI+ individuals in Chechnya and subject them to conversion therapy. This clause would also conflict with policies in nations such as Japan, who demand transgender individuals be sterilized if they wish to undergo sexual reassignment surgery, a clearly cruel and arbitrary punishment.
  1. Working paper 1.2 then broadly calls for ‘trials’ to be held for those who take action against the LGBTQI+ community under cl. 7(b)(iv). It does not specify whether such trials are criminal or civil, whether they are to be conducted by a domestic or international court, and what is to happen when such actions have been authorized by the state.
  1. Later, in clause 10, the bloc then acknowledges that the LGBTQI+ community has been treated poorly in regards to human rights, but then improvements on such rights were not explicitly to be considered in the summit they wish to establish relating to international improvements in adherence to the UDHR.

There appears to be little hope for a material improvement in LGBTQI+ rights if these working papers become draft resolutions. Serious reconsideration of these policies will be necessary to address the concerns of this community, and produce a solution that is worth adopting.

Update on the DISEC Press Conference

BY RAHUL REGULA, Daily Sabah

In the fourth session of the DISEC meetings on the Kurdish state, the Sabah and Financial Times moderated the much-anticipated press conference on the eight working papers which the delegates have been working hard on for the past two committee sessions. Both news agencies had many questions for these delegates about their working papers since they are so comprehensive.

The Sabah and Financial Times each analyzed the working papers and the Sabah got their hands on the following: C.A.R.E, Kurds Just Wanna have Fun(damental) Rights, and Path to Prosperity. Starting with the first listed resolution, the Sabah asked for a clarification on one of their clauses which states “the establishment of third-party frameworks for negotiation between central governments and non-state actors.” It is not clearly stated in this paper what is meant by a “third party.” The representative for the paper was not able to clearly define this, and instead provided another vague response.

Furthermore, the paper calls for a “proper demarcation” of electoral constituencies which the host states have to allow for Kurds to be implemented in their voting groups. This would mean that the committee is placing trust in these same nations, who have a historical animosity towards the Kurdish, to carry out a truthful voting process. The representative for the paper could only respond with “we are going in with the idea that these countries are going to be truthful in their process.” This is a bold and risky claim to make since they have no fall back plan if this goes wrong.

Representatives for the different working papers in the DISEC press conference

The second listed directive lists out a plan to militarize and modernize the Kurdish Defense forces with help from the Finnish, Australian, and Belgium forces. This, however, begs the question about the hypocritical nature of security. Why should the host nations stand back and let the Kurds arm up without any guarantee of consequences the international community will take if the Kurds act violently? When posing this question to the paper’s representative, the only answer that the delegate could conjure up is, “we rest assure that this will not happen.” A very vague rebuttal to a very serious concern is worrying and should be noted by all delegates in that committee.

The lasted listed directive recommends for autonomous regions to be set up by the host nations for the Kurdish. The problem with this resolution, however, is that there is no way to force these countries to give up land just like that to the Kurds. Nowhere in the paper, and when asked in the press conference, did a member of the bloc mention how they expect to convince these nations to give up parts of their land that they claim is rightfully theirs. The paper also brings up the clause on education and that there will be an official government site to educate Kurdish. It does not seem likely that the host governments would support this initiative and to add to the confusion, the representative for the paper in the press conference started to mention third parties that will be involved. The representative did not state clearly who will make up these “third parties” and how they will fit with an official government-run site that could just deny access to the database for the third parties.

Cyberchase’s Many Faults

BY MATTHEW REIAD, Granma

The United Nations Legal Committee has been discussing and debating three working papers as of noon today. The delegates are eager to pass at least one resolution as soon as possible, resulting in diminished quality for many of these working papers. Although it is important to reach a consensus in the committee, many working papers presented today had holes and contradictory statements that seemed to plague several of the proposed working papers.

The first working paper that was presented labeled “Cyberchase” aimed to combat cyberattacks while also acknowledging and understanding the sovereignty of each nation of the United Nations. A clause in the working paper also explicitly defended freedom of speech. As the delegate from Qatar rightfully noted, nations such as Iran and Russia who were at the forefront of this working paper, have terrible records in regard to government protections for the freedom of speech.

Cyberchase was influential throughout the development of this committee session. Many of the later working papers were created by members states who were formerly on board with “Cyberchase.” The mismanagement of this working paper, however, led many member states to discontinue their support of the working paper. Throughout the rest of the committee session, “Cyberchase” was met with harsh criticism both by member states and spectating members with no voting power. Most notably, the delegation of the spectating member Palestine noted that this working paper had no provisions or protections towards non-member states, which would make them vulnerable to cyberattacks.

During the later stages of the committee session, Granma was approached by the delegation of France who hoped to release a press release to update us about the committee session. This press release read: “We, as the majority of the members of the HACT Block in the Legal Committee, with countries such as France, Iran, Iraq, Netherlands, Poland, Indonesia, among others, announce that as we continue to develop a strong and coherent draft resolution as a result of our upcoming merger, will not be participating with former members of our block like Russia and Palestine because of clashes in policy. We would further like to state that we will continue striving for international consensus in combating cyberattacks.” (The Delegation of France)

Granma was also delighted to discuss the progress of the Cuban delegation in this committee. The Cuban delegation had this to say, “The Cuban delegation is very glad to see that China and Russia, leaders of their respective blocs, have decided to put their differences aside and work together on a coherent solution to the problem of cybersecurity.” (The Delegation of Cuba)

The Republic of Cuba continues in its persistence in combating cyberattacks in any form. As the official source of news in Cuba, by the Cuban Communist Party, any entity presenting falsehoods within Cuba will be met with swift and efficient retaliation from the Cuban government. While the Republic of Cuba acknowledges freedom of expression and speech, any information meant to undermine the Cuban government, or the governments of Cuba’s allies, will be considered a cyberattack.

Editorial: Will CAISAAI 11 Contribute to the Economic Development of the Kurdish People?

BY ISAAC BYKHOVSKY, Financial Times

An exclusive interview Friday morning with the delegates writing the Cooperation Aid Infrastructure Security Autonomy Agenda Item 11 (CAISAAI 11) has brought the Financial Times numerous concerns about the economic viability of a future Kurdish region.

The delegates in this bloc, including France, Russia and Indonesia believe that CAISAAI 11 targets “cooperation, security, and optimization.” In their working paper, the group notes several infrastructure initiatives in their peace work framework—including the creation of a “TurkStream pipeline”, and “Kurdish Beltway.” The resolution includes a framework for member states participation, most notably by stating “Syria’s participation in the free infrastructure program is also be [sic] dependent on their acceptance of the [Kurdish Freedom] referendum.”  Unfortunately, the CAISAAI 11 makes no distinction on how these projects will be funded, and how they will be adopted and approved in the Middle Eastern nations they impact.

Their working paper uses the phrase “free infrastructure,” but as we know at the Financial Times, “free” does not exist. As background, the “Kurdish Question” pertains to Kurdish people living in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. It is hard to believe that Turkey would agree to have a pipeline in their namesake providing resources to the other states mentioned above. Turkey has a strained relationship with the Syrian government—as thousands of Syrians flee into Turkey to escape their civil war. Iran, an undemocratic regime with an exceptionally poor human rights record, is not likely to allow for such a project to occur on their land—Iran has a notable hatred towards the Turkish people. Iraq, on the other hand, has no resources to support their own national infrastructure. Left up to Syria, it’s hard to imagine they would support such an initiative, as they are amidst their own civil war.

The resolution states the “highway be maintained by both the Autonomous Kurdish Region of Northern Iraq and the Autonomous Kurdish Region of Rojava.” Granted, the resolution also states that both regions, upon their establishment, must secede their Body of Trade and Economic Cooperation to their parent states. This further adds to the confusion written above. These autonomous regions want to secede from their parent states to stop being victims of economic and humanitarian atrocities—yet this resolution aims to put the Kurdish economic destiny into the hands of their oppressors. Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria have futile economies destined for failure—and Russia hopes to put these states in-charge of the economic future of the Kurds. To the Financial Times, it does not at all seem that CAISAAI 11 will contribute to the economic development of the Kurdish People.

Eight Blocs, Six Slots: The Legal Committee Rushes to Submit Working Papers on Cyber Warfare

BY LIAM DALTON, The Guardian and MATTHEW REIAD, Granma

As the deadline for working papers rapidly approaches, cracks are beginning to show in the Legal Committee as eight blocs emerge. But with only six working papers being accepted by the dais, the blocs must grapple with comprehensively defining cyber warfare, the degree of cyber-attacks, and the degree of response permitted to such attacks in a way that successfully addresses the issues before the committee.

The Delegations representing The United States and Qatar have designed a working paper which is currently supported by Australia, Belize, Egypt, Germany, Haiti, Israel, Italy, Philippines, and Macedonia. The most notable feature of this working paper is the design of a mathematical formula that claims to weigh various factors relating to a cyber-attack and objectively estimate its severity and therefore the right of the victim nation to respond. Modelled after the Schmitt analysis, it balances the following considerations to produce a severity ranking:

1.     Severity of the attack in scope, duration, and intensity

2.     Immediacy of the consequences of the cyber-attack

3.     Directness of the causal link between the attack and the consequences

4.     Invasiveness of the cyber-attack into the interests of that state

5.     Measurability of effects

6.     Military character of the state committing the attack

7.     State involvement in the cyber-attack

8.   Presumptive legality of international law; unless there is an express international treaty that prohibits the action, then it is presumed to be legal.

In an interview with the honorable delegate of Qatar, she emphasized the need for an impartial and quantifiable measurement of cyber-attack severity given the lack of precedent on the issue of cyber-warfare.

The second significant bloc forming was the United Kingdom and Canada, supported by Algeria and Sweden among other nations. The honorable delegate of Canada emphasized the definition of a cyber-attack was centered around the means by which the attack occurred, and the purpose for which it was committed, distinguishing attacks from that of cyber-espionage and traditional warfare of which the committee is not concerned. Canada further emphasized that their bloc supports a nation’s inherent right to armed responses to acts of warfare, of which cyber-warfare they argue is included, so long as the responses comply with the international principles of armed retaliation relating to proportionality.

Lastly, a more peaceful bloc is being driven by the Delegations of Peru, Japan, Portugal and Guatemala. They emphasize the distinction between cyber-attacks which are committed by non-state actors, and cyber-warfare, which is perpetrated by a state-actor. The honorable delegate of Peru and Japan emphasized their desire to restrict armed responses to the most extreme of circumstances, and reiterate the use of the International Criminal Court, dialogue, and economic sanctions to punish and deter cyber-warfare committed by state actors.

As the second committee session comes to a close, all eight working papers have been submitted, but which six papers succeed will be of great interest to the international community on the issue of cyber-warfare.

Cuban Progress in Cybersecurity

Although the delegates were tasked with defining the specificities regarding cyber-attacks and cybersecurity, they seemed reluctant to do so, opting to discuss possible United Nations funded organizations and committees that would combat, research and analyze possible cyber attacks attempts, and those that were carried out. Upon entering an unmoderated caucus, a representative of Granma, the official media wing of the Cuban government, proceeded to discuss potential solutions with the delegation of Cuba. The delegation of Cuba discussed interest in working with both fellow Caribbean nations as well as working with nations such as Russia in efforts to assure that the spread of falsehoods does not reach the shores of Cuba.

The delegation of Cuba as well as the delegation of Venezuela expressed frustration in the spread of western lies that undermined the democracies of both Cuba and Venezuela. When asked about the rise of Juan Guido, a Venezuelan president of parliament who declared himself president, the Venezuelan delegation replied simply, “We strongly support and represent the legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro, any other government within Venezuela is simply illegitimate.

The Cuban government stands with Venezuela in combating any illegitimate information from the western nations designed to undermine and destroy our fragile democracies. Any efforts to do so, will be met with severe and strict resistance and resilience from Cuba and its communist neighbors.