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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The Fight for Communism

BY ALEXENDER MELTZERWERNER, Korean Central News Agency

Deep in the harsh Malayan jungle land, brave people in support of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) are fighting against harsh British imperial control and respond to the recent attacks against their supply lines by the Rintangan.  The Rintangan are suspected of being influenced by the British and aim to starve the courageous Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), who fight against the economic inequality of the people, and the mistreatment of the Chinese minority.  Their greatest desire is the implementation of a communist government for all people to benefit from.

The vicious attack by the Rintangan on CPM supply lines shows just how cruel the opponents of the CPM can be, and the struggle to defend themselves from such actions is admirable.   The fourth wife and Secretary of Mao Zedong, Jiang Ching, said “The attacks of the Rintangan are absolutely abhorrent [and] are very subversive to the Communist Party of Malaya and we will do everything we can to find out the perpetrators of this attack.”  However, there is great suspicion of British involvement, especially from Yeung Kwo, commander of the 1st regiment of the MNLA, who comments that the British are a corrupting influence and will try to subvert the MCP by using the people they are trying to defend against them.

The goal of the MPC is to throw off the constrictive control of the British Empire.  With the help of foreign powers and their own powerful will, the Malayan people will achieve independence and justice for the crimes of the British.  When asking the delegate representing Zhou Enlai, the Premier of the Chinese Communist Party, of the purpose for aiding the Malayan people, she responded that China wish for the Chinese minority to be treated fairly, and that recent actions show that the British, “think of people as money.”  The oppressive rule of the British Empire cannot be overstated as they recently shot and killed 7 students from the Students Against the British Empire and Repression (SABER) while they were peacefully protesting.

The clever representatives of the MCP are devising new ways to fight British control, ranging from booby trapping compromised Kajang tunnels to disguising smugglers as merchant caravans that trade with the British.  These strategies will ensure the war effort can continue if the face of underhanded tactics. One thing that is agreed upon, is the need to increase the power of the MNLA through means such as contacting the USSR for military personnel to train the MNLA in jungle warfare and take the initiative against the British.

Suriani comments that “revolution is struggle and misery” and that only through these troubled times can a true communist nation rise above and give power to the working class.  The British have made Malaya suffer much, but they will come out stronger for it through the process of righteous revolution.

Is the Venezuelan Crisis Only in Venezuela?

BY MICHELLE JAEN, CNN

Discussing possible solutions to mitigate the migrant crisis of Venezuela was one the main focuses of the first committee session of the Organization of American States. During a moderated caucus debating the crisis in Venezuela, delegates stressed the need for humanitarian assistance, both in Venezuela and in neighboring countries which are forced to “share the burden.”

Several proposals were made to tackle the issue at hand. Specifically, the Delegation of Canada proposed a system similar to the migration system of the European Union that is implemented during the various humanitarian crisis present in Europe and the Middle East. Similarly, Canada stated that, “We believe the burden that neighbors of Venezuela have carried is unfair.” The Delegation of Jamaica invites other organizations such as IOM or the UNHCR to help provide ideas and economic support to the Organization of American States to resolve the migrant crisis.

February 14,2019- First Committee Session of The Organization of American States discussing the Venezuelan crisis.

While other delegations stressed the idea to create an efficient migration system in South America, and the need to find support from other non-governmental organizations, the Thw Bolivia and Brazil delegations sought to create resource centers to provide food and shelter as a direct help for these refugees. The Delegation of Brazil also emphasized this point, as he claimed “Brazil understands what it means to be a neighboring country of Venezuela. Brazil has allowed work permits and helped to move Venezuelans from northern provinces to major cities such as Rio de Janeiro to give them better opportunities. Second and most importantly is the focus on the resource centers that these refugees are going into based on a two-step solution: immediate help with food and medical aid, and an efficient sanitation system.”

Even though finding a long-term solution to the crisis of Venezuela would involve ending its current political turmoil and economic recession, delegates of the Organization of American States are attempting to first restore the political, social, and economic stability of South America. The Organization of American States have taken previous actions to address the situation in Venezuela, however, their efforts have not been enough. It now depends on the creativity of the members of the OAS to find joint and cohesive long-term/short-term solutions to resolve the Venezuelan crisis.

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.

CSW: Economic Empowerment Could Be The Answer to Human Trafficking

By KATIE JONES, The Boston Globe

“Human trafficking is directly connected to poverty and illiteracy,” said the delegation of the United States in a passionate speech pushing for the economic independence of women.

A common theme emerging from the Commission on the Status of Women is a need to provide women with the opportunity to become economically self-sufficient.

Members of the “Better Together” bloc.

A group of nations, known as the “Better Together” bloc are focusing on improving social and labor conditions to impact women in a positive and economical way. The “Better Together” bloc is compiled of nations around the world, including the United States, Spain, Canada, Russia, Qatar, and others.

India, who is also a member of the “Better Together” bloc, is advocating for microfinancing and the distribution of microloans to those interested.

“By providing micro-financing to independent women, these loans can allow women to start their own businesses and contribute economically to society, instead of forcing women to become dependent on men,” said the delegation of India.

One of the highlights of the “Better Together” bloc’s working paper, is the International Transportation Initiative, created by the delegation of the United States.

The delegation of the United States discussing the International Transportation Initiative.

The International Transportation Initiative, or ITI, are guidelines that would provide transportation personnel the training that is necessary to identify victims of sex trafficking. Additionally, the ITI would work to create a more accurate and efficient system of reporting incidents for those who work in the transportation industry.

“The goal of the International Transportation Initiative would prevent false accusations and relief for real victims. We want to make the process as accurate, fair, and safe as possible for those involved,” said the delegation of United States.

Additionally, the ITI would eventually be expanded to function within the jurisdiction of border security. On the border, personnel would be provided with accurate training to identify sex trafficking, as well as training on how to properly detain those accused of trafficking.

As the Globe previously covered, the International Organization for Migration advocated intensely for better data collection methods to stop human trafficking. The Commission on the Status of Women seems to have different ideas.

“Even though data collection helps, it’s not going to stop human trafficking before it even occurs. We need to focus on methods that are going to prevent attacks from even happening in the first place,” said the delegation of the United Kingdom when discussing the best solutions for stopping trafficking rings.

While there were many plausible ideas brought forth, the CSW continues to focus on the root of the problem: poverty.

“Poverty stems from a lack of opportunities. If we can create these opportunities for women, we can essentially end human trafficking,” said the delegation of Iran.

UNHCR Delegates Agree on Importance of High-Tech Solutions to Refugee Crises

BY JEREMY HOLT, Le Figaro

UNITED NATIONS, GENEVA: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees convened Friday to discuss the issue of education as a tool for refugees’ well-being in their host countries. While there is significant difference among the national delegations over the responsibility of host countries to assimilate refugees into their national populations, their proposed solutions include the common theme of using mass digital technology to enhance refugee rights.

A number of states, including the European countries of Poland and Greece, calling themselves the “I.E. Bloc” (Integration through Examination) have been vocal in their opposition to wholesale assimilation, arguing that such action constitutes a dilution of “national character” and an economic burden. Others, including Bangladesh and Nigeria, have argued a moderate position of openness, saying that refugees should be assimilated into national education infrastructure with the goal of facilitating refugees’ eventual return.

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U.N.H.C.R. Delegates at work on working paper drafts.

France, for its part, while resisting increased quotas, has argued for measures to increase host nations’ tolerance of arriving refugees.

While supporting different stances on states’ role in hosting and assimilating refugees, many of the draft working papers in the works have taken advantage of digital technologies such as social media to address refugees’ education, employing the technology in a variety of ways.

France’s proposed measures of promoting host community tolerance include a system of “TEDr” talks, related to the “TED” and “TEDx” talks popular on social media (the “r” stands for “refugee”). The talks are intended to give refugees a “voice to protect and empower their own communities” and to share their stories with citizens of host countries.

The “Efficiency” plan proposed by nations such as Iran and Bangladesh incorporates a “crowdsourcing” app for educational materials. Users of the app would donate small quantities of material which would be distributed to nongovernmental organization-run educational efforts in mobile refugee facilities around the world. A delegate from the microloan organization Give Directly was also present in the committee room, and has endorsed the working paper co-sponsored by France. Give Directly, which its delegate described to Le Figaro as “Charity Venmo” uses encrypted wire transfers to distribute small “microloans” from donors to recipients – including refugees – in impoverished areas. Other delegates have told Le Figaro that they are pursuing Give Directly’s signature on their own working papers. “These technology solutions are right in line with what we do” the Give Directly delegate said.

EDITORIAL: WOMEN IN POWER: The Powerful Lessons of Samantha Power and A Reflection Of The Realities in The “Gabinete Jacobo Arbenz Guzman”

BY FRANCISCO MANUEL MATALLANA PACHECO, Reuters

It is the opening ceremony of the HNMUN 2019 and hundreds of delegates fill the Boston Park Plaza ballroom. The keynote speaker steps up to the microphone and the room goes silent. It’s Samantha Power, 28th United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

The former ambassador gives an extremely empowering and moving speech. Recounting her memories as a child up to her experiences as an envoy to the U.N. under the administration of President Barack Obama. Power uses this opportunity to teach the young diplomats present, both men and women, about the importance of women in positions of power.

“Change what seems possible,” is one of her lessons. In it, she mentions seeing the picture of Jeane Kirkpatrick—the first woman in the U.N. Security Council—and thinking she was able to, just like Kirkpatrick, be in a high position of power and influence. She says just how vivid this memory is, and how it drove her, and inspired her, into the life of a diplomat. A life dedicated to lead and serve in the best interests of her country.

Ambassador Samantha Power at HNMUN 2019 Opening Ceremony ( February 14th, 2019)

However, attending and reporting on the Gabinete De Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, this writer couldn’t help but notice the tragic irony that was the make-up of this significant and dynamic crisis committee, conducted in Spanish by Maria Sofia Corzo Mittelstaedt—a student of Social Sciences at Harvard University, born and raised in the Guatemala City, Guatemala. Also involved in this committee as a delegate personifying one of the male roles, is a woman. The delegate, Maria Angelica Fernandez, shares a Hispanic background with the committee’s chair. The presence of these two women is powerful and very significant here at HNMUN, particularly when it comes to a committee that deals in matters of national security and the welfare of its citizens under dire and urgent circumstances. It is unquestionably a statement of the prowess and capability that a woman can have when under duress and at the helm of critical situations that require intelligent decision making and quick thinking.

What is most unfortunate, however, and gives us a moment to reflect further into the words of Ambassador Power, is the disproportion of women present in this committee. Sofia and Maria stand as the only two women in it, despite doing a noticeably great job directing a crisis committee and giving a credible performance as a crisis delegate, respectively. This reality, at a prestigious and world renowned conference, raises the question of just how far we have, or have not, come as a society, in preparing young girls and women for high positions, not only in crisis committees or government positions, but also other facets of life. This should perhaps be a call to action, and Sofia and Maria, as well as Ambassador Power, serve as an example, of just how far—and how much further—women can go.