Yesterday we had a great event at LPC, that our Quan Cai had prepared for weeks and that we were all really excited about: Model United Nations COP Day! For this day, we had allocated all the Firstyears into the different committees of MUN to discuss topics such as LGBT rights, stateless refugees, the Palestine bid for UN-membership, economic sanctions as a form of aggressive action, the Rwandan Crisis (discussed in the Historical Security Council) and many more. Together with my co-year Lisa from Belarus, I chaired the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the topic of stateless refugees and their acceptance as citizens and integration into destination countries. We had prepared the sessions for a long time; writing a chair report, monitoring our delegates’ position papers and even writing a last-minute draft resolution the evening before our conference, just in case our delegates would not be able to come up with one of their own.
The conference started at 8.30 in the morning, but Lisa and I had to be in our room as early as 7.30, to set up tables in a half-circle, order the placards, set up computers and go over the position papers one last time, before the delegates would come in. In the beginning of the conference, we let everybody read out their position papers, which stated the position of their country on the matter of stateless refugees. Then, the debate should have started, but even though we encouraged delegates to add their names to the General Speakers List, we looked into very empty and puzzled faces. Lisa and I ended up giving another briefing of the procedure, so that everybody finally understood what they were supposed to do and the debate could get rolling.
During the whole first session, the discussions were nearly stagnant. We Chairs had to beg delegates to add themselves to speaker lists, as they accustomed themselves only slowly to the MUN procedures. But that was alright, and nearly expected, and Lisa and I tried our best to help out. After the first break, however, the debate finally started flowing very smoothly, with delegates speaking up for their interests and ideas, motioning for moderated caucuses on very relevant issues, such as a universal birth registration system or education as weapon against xenophobia and discrimination, and quite often even asking to extend debates on certain matters. From time to time they even got fighting!
Lisa and I had never chaired a committee before and were used to being delegates ourselves, so this was a great opportunity to gain new experience for both of us, too. We finally saw the discussions from an ‘outsider’ point of view, and recognized what problems chairs can face. For example, of the three resolutions that we were sent to approve, all were absolutely insufficient. Anxiously watching the clock, and worried about being unable to approve any resolution for discussion or even final voting, I finally did the only thing that could help us out of the crisis: I copied several clauses of the already drafted resolution by us chairs, and added it into Resolution 1.1, the only document that was at least close to being satisfactory in our eyes. It got approved, discussed, amended and – eventually – even passed by simply majority. What a success after a long and exhausting day!
When all conferences had come to a closure, we Chairs were asked not only to name the Best Overall Delegate and Best Position Paper (both went to my buddy David, who represented the People’s Republic of China and was a really wonderful delegate with great spirit, getting the discussion moving from the very start), but also some other “random” awards, such as Best Dress, Most Likely To Be Nuked (under nuclear attack) etc.. Lisa and I e.g. gave the award for Best Dress to the girl representing Canada, because she was the only who had put any thought into how to really represent her country, coming up with a canada flag pin attached to her black and very diplomatic dress.
Photos © Tiffany Chung