Final Conference Report
A View of Issues before the United Nations in the 21st Century
The UNIMUNconferencebrought together over 300 college and university students from 33 countries, to recreate the General Assembly (GA), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Security Council (SC), and a “Historical” Security Council (HSC) set in 1956. UNIMUN was co-sponsored by the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) and American Model United Nations, Inc. of Chicago, Illinois. It was established as an official UNDPI Millennium event.
The conference officially opened with speeches from keynote speaker and Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, along with Salim Lone, Director of the News and Media Division of UNDPI. Madame Fréchette welcomed the students from around the world and reminded them that the UN is "[their] United Nations."She challenged them to keep in mind the reality that "nearly half the world's population lives on less than $2 per day," when they deliberate. (Full text can be found in UN Press Release DSG/SM/103.) When asked if she could pick one world problem to solve with a “magic blue wand,” Madame Fréchette quickly responded that she would find a cure for AIDS. The sincerity and seriousness of her remarks set the tone for the conference. Mr. Lone welcomed the participants on behalf of the UN Department of Public Information, the conference co-sponsor.
UNIMUN’s goal was to provide a highly realistic educational experience to the participants. UN officials reviewed the rules and procedures, and UNIMUN chose topics which will be considered at the upcoming Millennium Assembly. The students then researched their assigned member states, the UN body on which they would be seated, and the topics for their simulation. Participants were also encouraged to contact the embassy of their assigned member state in their home country or the appropriate Mission to the UN in New York.
MUN is an interactive educational activity in which students simulate the workings of the UN or one of its many organs, agencies or affiliated bodies. Each year over 200,000 students on every continent participate in MUN activities. UNIMUN, however, represents the first Model UN event at this level sponsored by the United Nations.
As a simulation of the UN, UNIMUN provided an opportunity for students to both replicate the work of the UN and to view the problems facing the international community from a unique perspective. For example, the quality and tone of debate was at times dramatically different from the "real" UN. Representatives at the UN, along with their consular staffs, spend months in preparation, behind-the-scenes caucusing, and interacting with other nations before an issue is brought to a vote. At UNIMUN, Representatives had only three days to assume the role of their nation's Ambassador and simulate the deliberations of the UN. This consolidation of time led to many different circumstances with which students had to contend. Rather than a prepared speech, Representatives had to verbally react to circumstances as they arose, and make impromptu speeches based on their knowledge and research. Students also made decisions on behalf of their member states directly from the floor of the UN, a significant difference from the series of consultations and instructions that happen between real UN Representatives and their governments. Even with these variances UNIMUN deliberations covered the issues before the UN systematically, thoroughly, and with a good view of the workings of the international system.
On Thursday, 10 August, UNIMUN activities began with a day of briefings. The Stanley Foundation (Muscatine, IA) sponsored the event and invited speakers to elaborate on the topics before the conference, adding another level of realism to the simulated deliberations. Two Plenary Sessions were held for all participants, along with two Break-out Sessions with each simulation receiving briefings relevant to its topics of discussion (note that the SC and HSC merged for their briefings). The distinguished speakers were as follows:
Challenges to Sustainable Development
Zach Messitte, UNDCCP
Nitin Desai, USG for Economic and Social Affairs
Diplomacy at the UN
Giandomenico Picco, GDP Associates
Amb. Ahmad Kamal, former PR of Pakistan to the UN
General Assembly Sessions:
Ellen Wright, Canadian Mission to the UN
Stephane Vigie, UNMAS
Ed Luck, NYU School of Law
Shashi Tharoor, Office of the Secretary-General
Causes of Conflict/Peace and Development in Africa
Olara Otunnu, USG and Special Representative
for Children and Armed Conflict
Edward Mortimer, Office of the Secretary-General
The Rights of Children
Sree Gururaja, UNICEF
Security Councils Sessions:
How the SC Works-Behind the Scenes
Amb. Nancy Soderberg, US Mission to the UN (DPR)
Barbara Crossette, New York Times
Issues before the SC - Democratic Republic of Congo
Alex Laskaris, US Mission to the UN
Suliman Baldo, Human Rights Watch
This document includes reports on each of the simulations at UNIMUN. Each report is broken into four sections, as follows: the “Topics and Briefings” section lists the topics available for discussion by that simulation, and provides an overview of the substantive briefings given to that group at the Thursday pre-meeting sessions. The “Meeting Coverage” section overviews what occurred during the simulation, including discussion of documents and areas of interest in the students’ discussions. The “Decisions” section briefly discusses the final decisions or outcome reached by the students during each simulation. Finally, the “Student Reflections” section provides a few comments from students in the simulation, stating in their own words what they learned about the UN and international diplomacy.
Topics & Briefings:
Mr. Ed Luck (NYU School of Law) and Mr. Shashi Tharoor (Office of the Secretary-General) talked about the problematic areas of peace keeping and the ways in which they can be improved. Mrs. Ellen Wright (Canadian Mission) and Ms. Stephane Vigie (UNMAS) covered the topic of landmines. Both presentations emphasized the importance of cooperation between multiple UN organs as well as the implementation of the Mine Action Policy of 1997. They also reiterated the purpose of the Ottawa Landmine Treaty, which is “to ban all landmines forever.”
During an hour-long caucus following the opening speeches, Representatives met in their respective geographical blocs. The delegations of Sierra Leone, Colombia and Pakistan submitted the first draft resolution. During this time, the Western European and Others Group completed a second draft resolution submitted by Italy, France and Turkey. The next few hours were spent building consensus and combining the drafts into a single resolution.
The main point discussed during informal debate concerned the dominating role of the Security Council. Many member states proposed strengthening the General Assembly by providing more flexible options to the UN decision-making process and enabling faster reaction in peace keeping operations. In the process of merging the two drafts, some new language emerged with which many of the European sponsors disagreed. This caused a second round of drafting and negotiations on the tone and specifics of how clauses should be phrased. The intense deliberations eventually yielded a final document as the Plenary moved to formal debate.
During formal debate, the speaker’s list consisted of the primary sponsors and regional bloc representatives. Chad, Yemen, Mexico, and Slovenia each emphasized the sovereignty of nations, protection of human rights, as well as the importance of peace keeping operations for many countries.
Most students agreed with the final resolution’s emphasis on a more flexible decision-making process and a faster means for deploying peace keepers. Many expressed the feeling that sustainable peace truly begins not with a SC resolution to deploy forces, but instead with conflict prevention measures. Others noted that the SC’s veto power is sometimes used as a tool of foreign policy and not a means to best address some conflicts. A student from Argentina, a country with a peace keeping training facility, noted that peace keeping is a very privileged and prestigious role for some in the military sector and this enthusiasm should be harnessed to make UN operations more professional and better managed. Another student from the same university was enthused that the world now had an opportunity to change negative stereotypes, like that of armies as only “machines of war.” He stated that by increasing the disaster assistance and peace keeping capacities of ordinary soldiers, armies could become key players in both conflict resolution and international development.
Topics and Briefings:
Representatives to ECOSOC enjoyed briefings on their topics from four distinguished speakers. Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Nitin Desai, focused his comments on the diversity of Africa. He warned Representatives about generalizing Africa’s problems, noting that issues like AIDS, extreme weather, debt and the lack of economic diversity affect the 54 nations of Africa and its various geographical regions differently. This need for “specific remedies for specific problems” was also emphasized by Mr. Zach Messitte of UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention. Mr. Edward Mortimer, a Principle Officer in the Office of the Secretary-General, discussed the link between conflict and development. He pointed out how conflict disrupts, and can even set-back, development and then summarized his comments by stating, “If war is the worst enemy of development, healthy and balanced development is the best form of conflict prevention.”
In reference to Africa, Mr. Olara Otunnu, Under Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, pointed out the problems of Africa, such as mismanaged diversity, uneven distribution of resources and the lack of strong positive democratic leadership. In addressing the problem of children, Mr. Otunnu pointed out the importance of “Children-to-Children Networks.” The program develops links between those children fortunate enough to be educated and protected from health and social ills with those unlike themselves in various parts of the world; a process that contributes to the promotion of socio-economic development. Sree Gururaja of UNICEF elaborated on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, defined the age of a child as below 18, and noted that one third of the world’s population meets this definition. She introduced the Representatives to four principles of child development: non-discrimination, survival, participation and education.
An evening caucus session allowed the delegations to separate into blocs for in-depth discussions and to develop proposals. Israel joined Europe to discuss debt relief options. Africa and Asia composed ideas on providing technology assistance to Africa. The Latin American countries focused on the possibilities of African self-help, avoiding external intervention while promoting regional cooperation. This bloc also discussed the similarities between Africa and Latin America in areas including debt, poverty, the legacy of colonialism and the special need for assistance to women and children.
When informal debate resumed in the second session, there were many similar working proposals on the floor. The views of various blocs began to coalesce, and the myriad proposals moved into draft resolutions. To further aid in the deliberations, Ambassador Ahmad Kamal, a former President of the Council, returned for another presentation and a question and answer session. Following this session, Amb. Kamal led the Representatives on a tour of the ECOSOC chambers, including the Delegate’s Lounge where “much of the real work gets done.” Energized and confident, the Representatives continued the session. The Council divided itself into two working groups after noticing that two draft resolutions were moving in different directions. One group focused on economic issues while another addressed social and political issues. Delegations with only one Representative picked one resolution to work with and those with two split the duties. A few ambitious Representatives with keen political interest in both issue groups ran back and forth, assuring their policy initiatives were met and reporting on the status of the both working groups.
Topics and Briefings:
The Representatives of SC and Historical SC joined together in the breakout briefing sessions. Barbara Crossette, the UN correspondent for the New York Times, discussed the varied arguments for expansion of the SC. Noting that the SC has not been enlarged since the 1960’s, she discussed how some want as many as 25 members, instead of the current 15, while others want the addition of regional permanent members such as India or Brazil. Still others call for those member statescontributing more to the UN budget, like Japan and Germany, to get permanent seats. She also reminded the Representatives that many countries feel that there should be no “veto power” whatsoever. She stated that the SC has increased its activity, meeting only 2-3 times per month in the 1970s to meeting almost daily this year, but also noted that most SC activity still happens behind closed doors.
Amb. Nancy Soderberg, US Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs, spoke to the UNIMUN SC and HSC participants after just finishing a session discussing the creation of a UN Tribunal in Sierra Leone with the (actual) Security Council. On the issue of SC reform, the US recognized that having only 15 members in the SC was not the most democratic means to address security issues. She added they would like to see reform to the SC structure, but noted that it will take time and creativity. The Ambassador stated that peace keeping was the most important issue for the SC. Situations in Ethiopia/ Eritrea, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are testing the means and effectiveness of peace keeping. She went on to discuss that no one wants to deploy under circumstances like those currently in Congo, where only a broken peace agreement exists.
Alex Laskaris, of the US Mission to the UN and Suliman Baldo, of Human Rights Watch expounded onthe situation in Congo. Both discussed the role of neighboring countries as keys to ended the situation and that the issues and history were complex and hinged on regional politics. Both also said that even thought the situation seems ‘hopeless’ now, through persistent effort by the UN and vested parties it is definitely solvable.
Following a proposal by the United States, members of the UNIMUN Security Council voted unanimously to place the issue of Ethiopia/Eritrea on the agenda for discussion. Background information presented on the political and humanitarian aspects of the decade-old conflict reminded members of the embargo on arms shipments contained in SC Resolution 1298 of 17 May 2000, of the request by of Ethiopia and Eritrea for a UN peace keeping force to be sent to monitor the ceasefire agreement of 18 June, and of SC Resolution 1312 of 31 July 2000 authorizing the UN Mission in Ethiopia/Eritrea (UNMEE). The USA Representative emphasized how the humanitarian situation in Eritrea has worsened considerably in recent months and that over 370,000 people have been displaced internally and in neighboring states like Sudan.
In the mediation of this situation the Organization of African Unity (OAU) has played a large role, as has the Ambassador of Algeria. However, members of the SC were asked to consider how to ensure that the cease-fire agreement would be effectively monitored and the displacement of citizens would be halted. Mali emphasized that this situation could not be compared with that of Somalia, where armed conflict existed between hostile warlords, whereas the situation in Ethiopia/Eritrea was about keeping the peace around a defined zone where a viable ceasefire is already in place.
During consultative session, Representatives of Ethiopia and Eritrea were invited to speak to members of the SC. Both countries confirmed that they recognized and agreed with the mandate of the United Nations in the form of SC Resolution 1312, both were willing to guarantee the safety and security of a UN mission to the best of their ability, and both believed the OAU should also be involved in any type of monitoring arrangement. Following this, the United States proposed a draft resolution. Although there was a consensus for resolving the issue of peace in Ethiopia and Eritrea, member states had different concerns for the resolution. The US wanted to build consensus and on numerous occasions asked other delegations to give their input for the resolution. China expressed concern over protecting the sovereignty of nations and emphasized the need to avoid “power politics.” Jamaica wanted to focus more on humanitarian aid and was concerned with the issue of HIV/AIDS. Clearing minefields was another issue that was brought up by numerous member states.
The Tunisian Representative felt that it would be useful to listen to the OAU as well on this situation. A Representative from the OAU was invited to answer questions. Some of the questions included the utilization of regional organizations and NGOs in the peace process. During the afternoon session, as the draft resolution was being prepared, there was a request on the floor for moving on with the topic and starting the new topic of Security Council reform. China, Namibia, Netherlands, and Japan spoke in favor of this request, others disagreed citing the utmost urgency on the issue of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The motion did not pass.
A key role in this simulation is that of the Simulation Director, a staff member who moves the simulation along by introducing outside information into the deliberations ofthe SC, keeps the events as close to true history as possible, informs the participants of actions taken by non-participants, and demonstrates the impact of their actions on the situation.
Topics and Briefings:
Upon moving to the topic, the Council invited a representative of the office of the Secretary-General to brief the Council on the military situation in Gaza. The Council was informed that UNTSO observers were reporting numerous violations of the GAA by both parties and that there had been interference with shipping destined for Israel in the Straits of Tiran. Furthermore, UNTSO reports placed Egyptian forces in control of the Gaza Strip, while Israeli forces controlled the area to the East.
At an informal gathering that evening, the Council members explored various options for the situation in Gaza. An idea was put forth to place Gaza under the Trusteeship system, with Egypt as the trustee nation. Egypt told Council members that such a proposal would be unacceptable, as his government viewed its territory as sovereign and inviolable. Israel joined the informal discussions and told members that any violations of the armistice by Israel were only done after repeated provocations by her neighbors and only to protect Israel. Israel further stated that the only actions acceptable to them were an immediate halt to Egyptian provocations.
At the next meeting, the Council was informed that popular demonstrations of support for the new Hungarian government had begun in both Hungary and Poland. Soviet troops were reportedly out of their barracks and moving, while members of the Polish government had expressed support for the new Hungarian government. The Council at that point added the agenda topic “Situation in Hungary,” but they did not choose to move to that topic. At this time, Yugoslavia also attempted to have the Council add “The Situation in Algeria” as a topic. After much deliberation, this effort failed
At the Council’s next meeting, a report was received that Israeli forces had crossed the armistice line into the Sinai Peninsula and were threatening the Suez Canal. The Egyptian 3rd Army was expected to have only a short period of time before it would be forced to surrender. The French and British Governments immediately voiced their intent to reestablish peace and the open functioning of the canal by introducing their own forces into the region. This move was denounced by both the USA and the USSR.
Soon after French and British forces had landed in the region. The Egyptian government was reporting that Cairo had been bombed. The USSR announced that it would not permit the collapse of the Egyptian army, and would embark on an effort to relieve them if a compromise solution was not reached soon. After consultations, the UK broached the idea of placing neutral forces under the UN flag between the combatants. This suggestion, called “Anti-Combatant Forces” (from third-party neutral UN member states) would separate the French, British, Israeli and Egyptian forces to prevent a resumption of hostilities when a settlement was negotiated. France retained reservations, but negotiations began in earnest to reach agreement among all parties. The situation became a race between the diplomats in the Council and the Soviet troopships heading for Egypt. If a solution could be reached before the Soviet forces arrived, a wider conflict could be avoided.
The negotiations hit a stumbling block, however, when the French and Egyptian Representatives disagreed over the wording of the resolution. France demanded that the resolution remain vague on the withdrawal of combatants. Egypt required more clarity on how and when foreign forces would be withdrawn from its soil. While both were willing to move slightly, neither was willing to move far enough to accommodate the other. Though other situations would be discussed over the next few days, the Council would not formally move from this topic at any point during the remainder of the simulation and also passed no resolutions on the topic.
While the Representatives did not precisely duplicate the UN’s experience in 1956, there was general agreement that the simulation served as a very valuable learning process on the work of the Security Council in crisis situations.
The UN also offers significant support to all Model UN participants. The UN website offers the CyberSchoolBus, with its Model UN Discussion Area and “Infonation” sections. Many UN Information Centres, including Athens, Harare and Mexico City among others, are actively assisting MUN initiatives with research guidance and library access. A few are now co-sponsoring MUN conferences with local organizations, such as UNIC London’s Model UN Summit this year. International civil servants have often offered their services to help students better understand diplomacy and the rules and procedures of the UN. Also, many Foreign Affairs Ministries, Missions to the UN and embassies are now offering Model UN participants excellent information through the mail or over the internet. This increased interaction with the UN community gives students the ability to correctly represent a member state’s foreign policy in simulations. As Model UN has grown, so to has its support. UNIMUN would like to thank all of those in the UN system, the diplomatic community, and member state governments who are strengthening Model UN, as well as making it a more academically and diplomatically correct simulation of the world body.
UNIMUN 2000 was made possible only through the exemplary work of our co-sponsors, the United Nations Department of Public Information and American Model United Nations, Inc. The Substantive Briefings were made possible by the generosity of the Stanley Foundation and the efforts of Mr. David Shoor and Ms. Joan Winship.
A special thank you goes to:
H.E. Amb. Agam Hasmy, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations
H.E. Amb. Ahmad Kamal, former Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations
H.E. Amb. Louise Fréchette, Deputy Secretary-General
ASG Gillian Martin Sorensen, Executive Office of the SG
Mr. Jean Gazarian, UN Inst for Training and Research
Ms. Hiroko Kimura, UN Dept of Public Information
UNIMUN would not have been possible without the support and efforts of:
Ms. Carolyn Schuler Uluc, Ms. Vivian Bernstein, Ms. Lilli Schindler, Mr. Hasan Ferdous
and the entire staff of the Public Services Section, UNDPI. Thank You
UNIMUN 2000 Secretariat
USG for Political Affairs – Mary Beth Brennan
Delegate Services – Fred Warren, Klaudia Gonzalez, Chandra Morrison, Dan Wright
Executive Secretariat – Michael Eaton, Caroline Endless*, Paul Sevigny
SC – Brian Endless*, Chris Jenkins, Ursula Knorr
HSC – Gregory Adams*, Tricia Williamson, Oliva Ricalde*, Don Carey, Christine Hutson
GA – Robert Paramore, Adam Wolfe*, Anastasia Dogaeva*, Sonja Hird*
ECOSOC – Eric Hutson, Stacy Short, Shozo Shiraiwa*
This report was produced by the UNIMUN Department of Public Information – Anthony Hogan (USG)*, Hashem Bajwa*, Gina Marie Flores*, Barbara Marschik*, Mahtab Farid*, Maria Fernanda Olmedo*, Sherry Stephenson* and Sonja Taylor*.
(UNIMUN Executive Committee members in bold)(* indicates contributors to this Conference Report)
This report was prepared by UNIMUN 2000 Secretariat.For more information please visit the UNIMUN website at www.unimun.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to UNIMUN at 5005 West Winona, Chicago, IL 60630 USA.