Hosted by Calthorpe Park School; the 17th annual Model United Nations took place on Friday 13th of October 2017. Although the date is unlucky for some, the event was considered a great success, with students from a range of schools and colleges from across the area being given the chance to utilise their debating skills, representing UN countries in teams of three, and focusing on issues such as the global fight against terrorism, LGBT rights and gun control laws, among others.
Prior to this, on Wednesday 11th October, delegates had the opportunity to form alliances with other countries while proposing resolutions reflecting their views on issues in the categories of; Disarmament & International Security; Economic, Financial & Environmental; and Social, Humanitarian & Cultural. Of these resolutions, 12 were selected to be debated on Friday. During this, Argentina spoke to us about one of their main priorities, reclaiming the Falkland Islands. Although they spoke about being “wary” of the UK’s weapons stockpile (they were keen to stress that they had invested in their military as well), they spoke passionately about how the British Empire is “dead” and that the Falkland Islands shouldn’t be an exception to this.
A number of important guests were also in attendance, including Mr. Ranil Jayawardena MP, who said, “It was excellent to hear a very thoughtful debate on important global issues and it was good to see countries working together to resolve world issues”. Government policy advisor, Mr. Ollie Clarke, stressed the importance of teaching people how to have informed debate and that “It is interesting to see people acting in role [as delegates of UN countries]”.
The General Assembly began with an enthralling debate on military assistance in order to combat religious extremist groups, with Turkey and Nigeria putting forward strong arguments for more military action to be taken regarding groups such as Islamic State in the Middle East and Boko Haram. This involved a proposal that countries with “significant specialist military force capability” should offer their support to a counter-terrorism group overseen by the UN Security Council.
This prompted responses from countries such as Denmark, who made the argument that military intervention can lead to the destruction of government and therefore the rise of terror; Lebanon also believed violence would escalate the problem. Another point raised was that as well as, or even instead of, violently combating the people responsible for these atrocities, it is important to prevent extremist ideologies being spread in the first place – a suggestion with regard to this was better education about extremism, to which Nigeria replied that it simply does not have the resources to take its young and impressionable people away from the reaches of Boko Haram. An amendment was then suggested and passed by Syria requesting that Middle Eastern Countries have more control over the deployment of troops as opposed to the UN Security Council.
Under fire from countries such as Singapore and Poland with regard to their desire to take military action, Turkey stressed the points that they are acting on facts, not just blindly suggesting military action, if any military action that did occur it would be well-organised, and trying to negotiate has not worked in the past. Unfortunately for Turkey and Nigeria, the vote came out in favour of not passing the resolution by quite a large margin in the end.
This was followed by a proposition by Ireland (backed by Norway, Taiwan and Germany), on the topic of unanimous legalisation of LGBT marriage, from which ensued a controversial debate that highlighted the differences in culture, beliefs and religious ideology between the nations. In the end the resolution was not passed as many countries found the idea of being forced to take on beliefs that may not run parallel with their own ideas rather unappealing.
The event also saw Germany storm out after they were denied a place on the UN Security Council. Following this, the Security Council had to have a crisis meeting regarding their actions, and the implications and repercussions about a situation that arose between North Korea and the USA.
To conclude, we would like to acknowledge the support of local sponsors and guests including TAG Farnborough, the Fleet Rotary Club and Mr. Ranil Jayawardena MP. The efforts of the delegates deserve immense credit; their intelligent and dignified responses helped to create an atmosphere of formality and maturity. Adding to this, the support of the security team, caterers and especially all staff involved in organising the event merits endless thanks.