Category: Uncategorized

Crisis in Spain: An Imminent Catalonian Civil War Slows Down Transition After Franco

BY ALEJANDRO CESPEDES, The New York Times

General Franco died, and new waves of democratic restoration have returned to life in Spain. However, the changes that this country needs are not an easy job. That is why, the new government led by president Carlos Arias Navarro is discussing what is next to solve this political and social crisis, that has left thousands of dead and missing people. In this group, we can find the Archbishop of Madrid, the ministers of Justice and Interior, and also, some leaders that are not from the government as the Socialist Catalonian leader and the Secretary General of the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party).

Whether Spain has already been significantly transformed since Franco died in November 1975 is a topic of intense among many people here, but not for the Catalonian Revolutionary Front that is pretending to fight for its autonomy, even though many civil people die.  

The New York Times reported as breaking news that is coming from the northeast of Spain. The United Revolutionary Front composed of socialist-loyal Catalonians and KGB operatives have overtaken three of Catalonia´s top military bases, and have cited the lack of European Economic Community integration for protection. Furthermore, France is providing military protection for Cataluña. Meanwhile, in Madrid, a joint force of ETA, former Catalonian exiles and angry peasants have stormed Madrid demanding tolerance of their language and independence of the region. Right before the Catalonian exiles undertook their public protest, there was a massive blackout of solar panels that left the city in horror and confusion.

If Spain’s famed transition brought it democratic institutions, the present moment might well be exposing the limits of their promise. Many Spaniards are still proud of the transition as a model for achieving civic maturity. However, in a newer age of enfeebled democracy, a younger generation has a falling-out with the government itself.

The Times, as a news agency advocated on the production of very high-quality content from on-the-ground, expert, and deeply reported independent journalism, alert and calls upon the political leaders to react coherently to democracy and freedom and to take instant actions on this. To the Spanish citizens, to be prepared for this crisis that, apparently will not pass soon.

Spain after Franco seems to be more difficult as many thought, showing to the rest of the world an uncertain Spanish future.

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.

The Illegal Enforcement of Human Rights

ALEXENDER MELTZERWERNER, Korean Central News Agency

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a document made to target and weaken the sovereignty of other countries by pushing foreign political agenda.  This is especially true with the latest meeting of the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM), where they discussed both the rewriting of the document to include guaranteeing the rights of LGBTQ communities, regardless of cultural values of other countries, and how to enforce these rights.

The hypocrisy of the SOCHUM can not be overstated.  The delegates of Iran were quick to point this out, reminding the members of the committee that most of the countries present have gay marriage.  By discussing more enforcement of human rights, they spit on the cultural values of other countries that are satisfied, and flourishing, the way they are.  The delegates of China, who pointed out that China legalized gay marriage before the turn of the century, stated that while the UDHR is an important document, a country’s sovereignty and cultural values must be put into account before any rewriting of the document can be done.  

Of course, there are some countries who are there to push their own political agenda onto other countries such as the delegates of Japan, who wish that more enforcement should be considered to safeguard LGBTQ rights.  This is no surprise, Japan has a history with enforcing its will onto other countries. Japan’s proposal for more enforcement is a direct insult to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and is made to undermine the Korean people’s wish for peaceful unity of the Korean peninsula.  They wish to use this enforcement to hinder the growth of the Korean people, along with other capitalist nations that support them such as, Canada and the United Kingdom. They fear the rise of the Korean people, and the juche ideal. The DPRK will take care of its citizens ensuring the greatest standard of living without having to adhere to opinionated documents such as the UDHR.

The UDHR should be kept as a value document and should be enforced at the discretion of the country.  In addition, trying to add LGBTQ rights is hypocritical when the document is being mostly written by countries that don’t support all the points made in the document.  If any additions to the UDHR is made, it should be written with consideration of the cultural values of each individual country, without the enforcement of political agenda to infringe on another country’s sovereignty.

Enforcement vs. Sovereignty, But Where Is Democracy?

MITCHELL MCFARLANE, Fox News

A tension seems to rise within the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM) regarding to whether a stronger enforcement of human rights articles could pose threats to national sovereignty.

The topic of the committee, rights of gender and sexuality, is inherently controversial itself. In a nation that embraces democracy and individual freedom as much as the United States, same-sex marriage is only recognized in 2015. However, the very fact that people remain divided on the issue, which is based on their faith and ideology, even after the legislation, verifies that enactment of laws does not necessarily make sure everyone is on the same page.

Take Poland for example, the delegate of Poland has pledged for the delegates to consider if the implementation of human rights laws regarding gender and sexuality will violates the rights of religious individuals for keeping their own faith, a view shared by Ethiopia.

While the delegate of Georgia stated that different religions offer different interpretations on gender and sexuality, the rights of people of faith remain threatened. Because of the diverse religious interpretations, we have and the respect for individual freedom that we value, America becomes a place we see some churches raise rainbow flags and but also others offer spiritual cleansing for same-sex desires, where everybody can get something they want.

It is also true that different nations breed different democracies, which is deep-rooted in the diverse national ideologies they hold. The enforcement of human rights articles will override the will of the diverse peoples in a diverse world.

Something quite contradictory is the proposal of Japan, in which the delegate attempts to enforce rights of sexual minorities universally, a major step-back from one of the core principles of respecting diversity that the United Nations thrive for. What we could think about is, perhaps, the proposal of Canada, one that sets a minimum standard that will ensure the rights of the minorities but also makes sure that protection doesn’t intervene with the majority.

As the delegate of India said, the enforcement of human rights articles is not the opposition of national sovereignty, but rather, it is something that can coexist. Similar stand is also taken by the delegate of Netherlands, who wanted to strike a balance between the two.

It remains to see how will the delegates from SOCHUM resolve this dispute in the following sessions, but what concerns people the most is whether democracy, or the voice of the people is going to be heard.

UN Women Inches Closer to New Policy on Violence Against Women

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women addressed the topic of violence against women in a multi-faceted fashion, prior to gridlock.

GARIMA KARIA, THE HINDU (Opinion)

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Delegates in the Commission on the Status of Women work on merging working papers during an unmoderated caucus.

BOSTON: The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has been working tirelessly since yesterday to address the sensitivities and multiple issue areas associated with the topic of violence against women.

For the past three committee sessions, delegates have been working both constructively and creatively to address every possible facet of this complicated and pervasive issue, and have decided to place their focus on vulnerable populations.

Personally, I deeply commend the committee for selecting this as their first topic. While I do believe that the wage gap and gender inequality in the workplace is a serious issue that women face worldwide, the intersectional and societally-embedded causes of violence against women have yet to be addressed in a comprehensive manner by and international organization. The statistic “one in five women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime” rings like a terrifying siren in my head on a daily basis, and it’s about time a committee composed of the youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow focused its efforts and resources on combatting the realities of this statistic.

Working papers in this committee address the issue of violence against women in both an intersectional and multi-pronged manner. Papers focus on topics ranging from crisis management and health for women, education and economic empowerment of women in the developing world to legislation, wartime violence, and the plight of female refugees. As a woman of colour of Indian origin, where violence against women is both stigmatized and pervasive, I was proud to see such a range of subtopics taken so seriously by the delegates, and the rights of women so respectfully prioritized by all.

My disappointment comes from my continued witnessing of this committee’s inability to merge working papers. The CSW has been in a deadlock for the past committee session, with blocs refusing to merge with others. This impasse lasted hours, and is still unresolved. The CSW Chair has set new committee regulations in order to alleviate the committee of this deadlock, an action that I both commend and respect. More specifically, her requirement now obliges the committee to propose no more than two draft resolutions with 15 signatories each – a requirement that she honours to enforce. Right now, there are 3-5 working papers waiting to be merged. In my opinion, if we want to empower women and advocate for their equality within society, diplomacy, collaboration, and negotiation are of paramount importance.

On the topic of this deadlock, I spoke with the delegate of Trinidad and Tobago, a member of one of the blocs. “Some groups didn’t want to merge with other,” she said, “so there was a dichotomy of strength. We were left out because the group we wanted to merge with felt strong enough on their own.”

The Human Rights Watch NGO confirmed these claims. “Some blocs should definitely be merging because their ideas and policies complement one another significantly,” she told me. However, these same blocs feel strong as a result of their independence and dominance. “They are putting their pride before the goals of the committee.” The delegate of New Zealand echoes Human Rights Watch’s comment. “There’s lots of pressure to merge, so there’s lots of frustration.”

I urge the UN CSW committee to come together, pride aside, with the intention of merging their papers not for themselves, but for that “1 in 5” woman who is a victim of sexual assault. Millions of women worldwide, especially in conflict zones and developing nations, need these policies for their protection, safety, and dignity.

You Shall Not Pass: Narrowing Five Working Papers Down to One Resolution

EMILY C. SCHEPPEGRELL, THE ECONOMIST (opinion)

The Special Political and Decolonization Committee (SPECPOL) buzzes with life. Delegates rapidly pass working papers, type swiftly on laptops, and briskly move between blocs conceptualizing papers. While all of this progress has resulted in five working papers so far, only one may ultimately be passed as a resolution.

Several member nations voiced concerns and confusions on Working Paper 1.1 during a moderated caucus. The Republic of Korea’s delegate pointed out, “Under Structural Revision, in part A, it says any type of allegation will be suspended for a six-month period, we want to know what that would all entail.”

“We feel this paper completely removes the power a government has to regulate its people, especially with creating an International Tribunal,” Iraq’s delegate stated, bringing up the incessant issue of sovereignty.

Team Blue of Working Paper 1.2 spoke with The Economist, and discussed potential merging in the future with Working Paper 1.1. Team Blue described their paper as “very in-depth,” and covers many promising points like deployment issues, prevention of future misconducts, modernized warfare, increased female participation, and faster response time. They want to utilize UN Trust Fund Assistance as well. The name “Team Blue” comes from the blue helmets UN Peacekeepers wear, in the hopes of improving these forces.

Working Paper 1.5, also known as “Triple E-Mash,” focuses on gender equality, accountability, and cultural training. The Netherlands delegate told The Economist, “[The] most important issue regarding our working paper is training.”

Their paper focuses on not only protecting women but empowering them through increased participation in peacekeeping.

While these working papers are very promising, they primarily cover the same issues regarding peacekeeping reformation, and in the end, only one can be passed as a resolution. Somehow, they must merge or face being dropped. Problems with communication are slowing SPECPOL down, and increased communication and awareness of what each team is working on will surely speed the process of creating a final resolution.

 

Team Blue hard at work crafting their paper:

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Press Conference, Historical General Assembly 1991: A Reality Check

ELLA BROWNLIE, AL QUDS AL ARABI (Opinion)

This afternoon a press conference was held in the Historical General Assembly 1991. At this event, the delegates were individually grilled on the content of their working papers; proposals for decolonization in the Western Sahara. Yet the discussion revealed that the committee has some work to do.

Many of the delegates appear to have submitted working papers, based on idealistic plans with serious practical, financial and logical flaws.

Superficial solutions and blatant contradictions are apparent in several of the delegates’ proposals. Italy remains adamant that Moroccan settlers should be given citizenship in the new regime, yet refuses to allow them to vote in the election of a country they would inhabit.

Saudi Arabia, in turn, is attempting to build a “mixed mission” legal system, based on cooperation between Saharawi tribes and the Moroccan rule of law. Yet when questioned, the delegate admitted that a central authority would be needed to govern the region overall, and appeared to assume that the losing party would be happy to cooperate under such an arrangement.

Then there was the outright hypocrisy. Nigeria has been quick to decry the human rights violations committed by POLISARIO forces, but when questioned about their recognition of SADR as a sovereign government, they failed to explain why their government is supporting a regime that also abuses human rights.

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In addition, several delegates appeared very vague on where the funding for their projects was coming from. Both the United States and Libya mentioned the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program as a potential source of funding for their social projects in the Western Sahara. Both assumed that this would be an infinite financial resource.

Likewise, Singapore and her allies are proposing a temporary ban on foreign exports out of Western Sahara, in the hope of preventing the exploitation of these resources by Morocco. When questioned about how this ban would affect local Saharawi, whose livelihoods are dependent on such exports – the delegate from Singapore admitted that these exporters would need to be compensated by the World Bank.

Greater creativity by the delegates will be required going forward. Throwing money from the World Bank at a problem, will not necessarily fix it.

It would be beneficial if Libya could provide slightly more innovative ideas regarding the type of ‘social programs’ they see being initiated. Their coalition is proposing the DDR agreement; a straight swap. Militia and armed forces trade in their guns and other weapons for “social programs” funded by, you guessed it —the World Bank. 

This flawed assumption that Moroccan or Saharawi parties will give up a struggle of territory and communal identity for “social programs” doled out like sweets by paternalistic beneficiaries, demonstrates a lack of imagination on the behalf of the committee.

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This committee is fighting to reverse the brutal legacy of colonialism, yet propositions like these seek only to perpetuate the theme of imperialism and to reduce the autonomy of African nations. Identity issues in the Western Sahara, and indeed the entire Middle East, require far more attention than the sticking plaster solutions proposed so far..

Going forward, there are three key areas that all states need to address in detail. A decision must be made on which parties will vote in the referendum, backed by strong reasoning. States also need to demonstrate a procedure to deal with the aftermath of the election result, based on an informed social assessment of the perspective of both parties. Ultimately, comprehensive and financially viable plans are ncessary for reconstruction in the Western Sahara; based not on paternalistic philosophy, but a genuine commitment to the economic and social empowerment of this African state.

Following this recent press conference, we hope to see delegates prepared to fill some substantial gaps in their working papers, or to make some very good friends at the World Bank.