What exactly happens in a MUN committee

HanseMUN e.V.

As in the last two years, HanseMUN e.V. sent a delegation to Harvard World Model United Nations (WorldMUN) again this year. This year it took place from 03/12/18 to 03/16/2018 in Panama City, Panama.

The conference itself was held in a historic location - the Atlapa Convention Center. The summit of the Organization of American States took place here in 2015, at which the Cuban President Raul Castro and his then American counterpart Barack Obama met together. This meeting was the first between the heads of state of the two countries in almost 60 years and the preliminary summit to normalize relations between the two countries.

So we were able to simulate diplomacy in a place that was not so long ago the site of a historic meeting. The delegation that HanseMUN sent this year, with six delegates, was a little smaller than in previous years, but this allowed us to select the participants more carefully and to ensure that we sent the most experienced and motivated delegates the HanseMUN has to offer.

The WorldMUN itself also left nothing to be desired. The opening speech was given by Juan Carlos Varela - the President of Panama. The HanseMUN represented Turkey this year. A country that is playing an increasingly important role in the UN due to its growing economy, population and geopolitical situation, but which still offers enough material for controversial discussions.

Suez Crisis, 1956

The Suez crisis was special in two ways. A) It was a Crisis Cabinet. This means that in addition to the formal debate, updates were presented to which the delegates had to respond. And B) it was a historical cabinet.

The beginning of the cabinet was the nationalization of the Suez Canal by President Nasser and from the beginning it was obvious that different interests collided. While one faction advocated diplomacy, compromise and understanding, the other faction pushed for aggressive and military action, especially against Israel. Our delegate on this committee, Leonard Heberer, belonged to the latter as Minister of Defense.

The high level of experience made for quality debates and loads of fun. In the end, the cabinet managed to resolve the crisis in a peaceful manner and avoid military confrontation with Israel, the United Kingdom and Israel.

Leaders of la Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, Venezuela 2017

The topicality of the topic and Venezuela's geographical proximity to Panama made this “Crisis Committee” the most extraordinary committee of WorldMUN 2018. In this committee, the delegates assumed the roles of leading Venezuelan opposition politicians and simulated the events in Venezuela after the Venezuelan National Assembly was ousted the Constitutional Court in March 2017. In this dynamic scenario, the delegates were able to influence the following events through their decisions. The aim of the delegates was to alleviate the suffering of the population under the authoritarian regime of President Maduro and at the same time to restore democratic structures. It became clear how powerless the opposition is to the authoritarian state apparatus of the president.

The scenario was prepared and carried out by a team of Harvard students and students who fled Venezuela and thus became a very realistic simulation of the current situation in Venezuela. Our delegate, Erik Buhmann, took on the role of former opposition presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles, and was commended for his convincing performance on the committee during the WorldMUN closing ceremony.

DISEC

At every conference, DISEC is seen as a committee for very experienced delegates - this year was no different. The size of the committee (almost 200 people) and the level of competence of the representatives from each country made a particularly convincing impression not only on the participants themselves, but also on the chairperson. The latter noted at the end of the conference that their expectations had been exceeded by far.

The focus of this conference was on biological weapons, more specifically on the control and regulation of their stocks and spread. Since this problem is particularly relevant nowadays for Turkey due to its proximity to Iran, Iraq and Syria, our two delegates Elizaveta Skarga and Ragna Mer were able to actively participate in the debates and propose possible solutions. Fortunately, they were undoubtedly not the only delegation that dealt so intensively with the topic that it was hardly possible to determine dominant countries during the first meetings because all delegates wanted to contribute to the discussion and express their own ideas. Through cooperative teamwork, compromise and diplomacy, the DISEC members as a large committee produced six detailed “Working Papers”, which were ultimately converted into three very detailed resolutions.

UNESCO

In the UNESCO committee, which deals with education, science and culture in the international spectrum, the topic to be discussed was "Innovative Education". In an increasingly globalized world, education is the key to participation, success and social mobility. Students from all over the world should ideally be trained at a similar level. Schools are more and more exposed to the challenge of not only producing responsible citizens, but also of making children global citizens. Innovation is needed in education because solutions have to be found for very different curricula. It was therefore the declared aim to first harmonize the curricula at regional level and then at least reduce gross differences on a global level.

But that was exactly where the crux of the matter lay. Already at the beginning of the conference it became clear that cultural and religious peculiarities would be reluctantly dispensed with in favor of a global teaching concept. Another controversy was the use of technical devices in the classroom. Financially weaker countries argued that it would be an economic problem for them to provide schools with expensive tablets, laptops, projectors or the Internet. The delegates of the joint delegation of HanseMUN and CologneMUN Amélie Eichholz and Finn Kordes had to manage the difficult balancing act of portraying Turkey as a progressive educational nation on the one hand, but not to hide the traditional Islamic influences. Through this unusual constellation, they have contributed to several draft resolutions, which merged as best as possible in the final version.

SOCHUM

In the Third Committee: Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian (SOCHUM) the topic of “religious freedom” was to be discussed. Especially with regard to the current world situation, the topic was very topical. So it was hardly surprising that, especially in view of current events in the fields of terrorism and social politics, heated and controversial discussions were held about what religious freedom actually means and what limits it should be set. For our delegate in this committee, David Fila, the special attraction of representing Turkey on this topic was the fact that this country in particular is caught in the tension field of religious conflicts

and some of them are produced by ourselves. A position in this committee that was adapted to the reality of Turkish politics was therefore particularly challenging. The size of the committee meant that decision-making for a resolution required a great deal of diligence and determination so that the opposing blocks could agree on an end result. In the end, a convincing resolution emerged in which every delegation could identify itself. Special measures have been established at the UN level to effectively protect religious minorities in all countries. On the other hand, far-reaching measures were taken against religious terrorism so that it could be effectively contained.

World Conference on Women

As the name suggests, the Women’s Rights Council advocates women's rights. Its aim is that men and women will one day enjoy the same rights. During our sessions the given topic was “rights of sexual workers” (exclusively related to sex workers). The topics covered were the legality of sex work, the rights of sex workers, state regulation of sex work, mandatory health checks and the regulation of the number of sex workers per country.

As you can imagine, all participating countries had extremely different views due to different cultures and religions, which made the search for a common denominator very difficult. In addition, it is a very sensitive topic, about which many countries have very specific ideas and could only negotiate very little with them (Turkey included).

We then came to the “result” that each country should decide for itself how to deal with sex work, since the differences were too great to find a common solution. However, the states that had the same idea in this regard, such as a large part of the northern European states, were able to agree on an agreement in which minimum standards were defined for the field of prostitution.

 

All in all, I learned a lot and took away a lot from the conference - even if we didn't get any real “result”. At these conferences, “the journey is the goal” always applies, because the conference gave me the opportunity to better understand why some countries act how they act and which conflicts of interest play a role.

Personally, I enjoyed the time very much, because in addition to the conference you got to know people from all over the world. The international environment in Panama also contributed to the fact that one could identify even more strongly with one's country and thus better empathize with one's country.