International College Model United Nations conference
On Friday 27th of November, members of The British Schools’ Model United Nations club (MUN) gathered for the International College Model United Nations (ICMUN) online conference, previously held in Punta del Este. Due to the ongoing pandemic, students were not able to attend presentially, forcing them to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. There were different classrooms and zoom calls for each committee, however, the opening and closing ceremonies were presented as videos.
Regarding the General Assembly 1 committee, the question of territorial disputes in the South China Sea was being discussed due to the issue that Brunei, China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam are competing for this territory because of the Paracels within the sea which might have reserves of natural resources. While China claims the sea due to its territorial proximity, Taiwan states a similar position due to its history and the Philippines argue their proximity to the sea too. Furthermore, Vietnam claims that they have ruled the Paracels since the XVII century and have documents as proof while China ruled them until the XIV century. In addition, both Brunei and Malaysia claim the territory since they believe the sea lies on the economic exclusion zones stated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Consequently, China has backed its arguments by sending naval patrols. As a result, the delegations of Australia and France merged and passed their resolution supported by the member states of Vietnam and the Kingdom of Spain which stated the exile of Chinese armies from the sea through economic sanctions, the usage of peacekeepers, acting according to the UNCLOS and demanded the return of all the Paracels to the United Nations. Nonetheless, the delegation of China was the main member state who was against this resolution due to the fact that it was the delegation with the utmost prejudice.
The General Assembly 3 board discussed the issue of the protection of human rights during the Coronavirus pandemic. When Covid-19 was just discovered, China’s government withheld information from the public and detained people from commenting about the virus on social media, violating their population’s freedom of expression and access to information. Furthermore, Thailand threatened medical personnel for speaking out about the shortage of supplies hospitals had. Several countries neglected human rights during the worldwide lockdown, creating a crucial battle between residents and governments. Consequently, the delegation of Peru passed its resolution that promoted the Covid-19 safety guidelines in the workplace, requested that the population must be informed when a human right is temporarily suspended, governments need to do everything they can to protect the people’s economic income and the children’s right to education, and encouraged authorities to provide health facilities with sufficient resources.
Moreover, the General Assembly 4 committee debated the issue of human rights of the citizens of Hong Kong. For a long time, Hong Kong has been facing violent restrictions on their rights to peaceful protest and their freedom of expression. During their pacific assemblies to maintain their rights, there has been unnecessary and excessive use of force used by police, vague charges to arrest and prosecute peaceful protesters, retaliatory violence against arrested persons in custody, and police’s lack of response when protesters face violent attacks by counter-protesters and other people. Therefore, the delegation of France passed its resolution that establishes an investigation on Hong Kong led by the United Nations to determine whether or not the people in China had their rights violated, gradual unconditional withdrawal of Chinese forces stationed in Hong Kong, also the UN would produce an outcome in terms of resolving the issue of economic autonomy of Hong Kong; it calls for Member States to gather future consideration for volunteers a UN led peacekeeping operation into Hong Kong, finally it proposes for member states to enforce economic sanctions on the People’s Republic of China where it does not to comply with the established conditions.
The ECOSOC committee disputed how to control the effect of Brexit on global trade. The withdrawal agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) established their separation. This agreement was applied on February 1st 2020, causing some negotiations involving this issue of global trade. At first the agreement dealt with the rights of the EU citizens living there, how much money the UK owed the European Union, and the transition period. But after a few months, the discussion shifted to how they would trade with each other in the future as they both wanted a free trade agreement. Furthermore, fishing is another prime point as the UK wants to sell fish caught by British boats into Europe and the EU wants access to the United Kingdom’s waters. The negotiating time was cut short due to COVID-19 restrictions but both sides still want a deal; at the same time, they are also preparing for a future without one. The deadline for this negotiation is in December 2020, making it a very short period of time to come to an agreement. As a result, the delegation of France co-submitted and passed its resolution with The Commonwealth of Australia which urged the UK to work towards a globalized economy encouraging friendly relationships between States, designates this Council to communicate any substantial changes on the global economy caused by Brexit, also asks Member States to come forward if they have been affected by this withdrawal, recommends the UK to conclude any trade agreement, and suggest the creation of a UK-EU-US free trade agreement based on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The issue being discussed in the Environmental committee was holding countries responsible for oil production and its environmental impact. There are many different consequences that the extraction of oil has on its surroundings, for example, the disruption of habitats, the possibility of oil spills, air and water pollution in nearby communities, gas emissions contributing to climate change, oil and gas demolishing pristine landscapes, and light pollution affecting wildlife and wilderness. We do not have information concerning the passed resolution of this board since it belongs to a student from another school, and the members of our club do not know which delegation it corresponds to.
Through the Security Council, delegations were asked to propose a solution to the inability caused by the situation in Lebanon. After the Lebanese government resigned from its power, a group of furious civilians caused a devastating explosion in Lebanon’s capital, Beitut, on the fourth of August which killed over 200 people and injured 5000. The lebanese population was outraged due to the resignation of the government and, as a side effect, there is an economic crisis in the country. Its debt against what they produce (debt-to-gross domestic product) is the third highest in the world, there is a 25% of unemployment and one third of the population is living below the poverty line. Protesters are headed to the streets, causing public vandalism and having clashes with the Lebanese police. Consequently the issue was taken into account in the security council committee where the delegation of Belgium passed its resolution supported by The French Republic, United Kingdom, United States & Israel which started by demanding aid and assistance from the relevant delegations for the reconstruction of Beirut. Aid is also requested regarding all member states to help Lebanon get out of this economic crisis and asist the most vulnerable regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. Calls a further investigation regarding the explosion, its cause and takes legal measurements to avoid its recurrence. Additionally, it creates an anti-corruption corporation which would work alongside intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations as well as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to monitorice the political and governmental corruption in the country. Hence, it suggests working, as previously mentioned with the UNCAC and Lebanon’s allies who follow a democratic regime to supervise the political elections.
Despite having a demanding year due to COVID-19, The British Schools’ MUN club was extremely successful both during the online conferences and throughout the process of preparing for these meetings. Many new members debuted in ICMUN and three students participated as chairs, all with outstanding results.
Written by the Model United Nations press team (Alfonso Camadini, Maia Lyford-Pike and Valentina Sapia).
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