By Jana Echterhoff and Alessandra Goio
Whether it is an increased number of refugees or the Ebola-disease, there are a lot of issues the UN’s ambassadors have to tackle. If Ebola suddenly experiences a transformation in terms of transmittable through the air as well, all skills available are required. On Saturday, January 17 at DIMUN, it was about time for possible future-ambassadors to approach today’s challenges effectively. A protocol of the meeting.
United Nations Security Council Crisis: Ebola
For the 14 countries present, Ebola already used to be enough of a problem. That there would be no time to calm down became apparent quite soon, however. “Ebola is now also transmittable via the air” was how the introductory E-Mail informed the honourable ambassadors of Angola, Chad, Chile, China, France, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States of America and Venezuela. Shocking news and a severe throw-back, that was the first reaction of most delegates. However, it was not only France who called for immediate action: “This is an international problem which we need to tackle”. The United States then raised the first controversial point. The new, air-born form would come about with closing all borders of the US, this was the suggestion. Whereas New Zealand, Malaysia and the United Kingdom (UK) expressed their support for this move, the other countries with France, Russia and China at its lead strongly objected such a development. “Closed US-borders would have severe economic effects and only increase the problems”, mentioned China with reminding the US of the importance of their economic ties with the People’s Republic. This was not the only issue that needed to be tackled, though. Draft-resolutions for the sake of responding immediately were very much of a necessity. “We are formulating a press-release to calm down the people”, explains the ambassador of New Zealand the respond of the nations towards the crisis. After several hours of intense discussions, the delegates succeeded in reaching an agreement by signing a resolution. The focus laid on the introduction of a GPS technology system which would track all cases of Ebola in a country. Every delegation agreed, except for Angola.
The situation suddenly changed when the outburst of a new crisis was announced. Following the USA’s decision to close their borders, a civil war was hitting South America, as primary goods coming from North America were not supplied anymore. Given this state of affairs, it was crucial to intervene as soon as possible. Hence, the delegations decided to collaborate as much as possible to find a quick solution and stop riots in countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia. An unmoderated caucus was called and countries started to discuss amongst each other. Eventually, a draft resolution was created with Chad, Angola, Malaysia and Nigeria as signatories. The main point concerned the creation of a UN peace keeping mission in Latin America. The four countries also called for internal cooperation to fight Ebola by creating more opportunities for further research and programmes. Moreover, another point made clear that education and health promotion represent crucial activities which every nation should pursue. During the voting procedure, nobody rejected the resolution as everybody understood that it was time to overcome national preferences. Once again, diplomacy showed its powers.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: the question of undocumented immigrants and border controls
“Today, immigration is an issue of high concern for every nation and therefore it deserves to be tackled immediately.” This was the view shared by the delegations of Australia, China, USA, Mexico, UK, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Spain, Lebanon, Germany, France, Italy, Singapore and Thailand when they came together during the UNHCR meeting on immigration. They agreed on the fact that immigrants need to be treated respectfully, but they still proposed different solutions to the problem. The US, for instance, adopted a very strict position. In fact, although it acknowledged the economic potential of immigrants, it supported the strengthening of border controls and consequently enable the host country to retain full control of the flow of people who cross their borders. Australia and Turkey shared the same view. Egypt also raised the question of smuggling, especially in the case of weapons, and called for international cooperation. As for China, it made a very strong point. Although basic human rights of immigrants are important, the delegate posed the question “what about the rights of the citizens?” According to him, the latter should be priority. The intervention of Saudi Arabia was meaningful as well, since it asked the assembly to reflect on the difference between respecting the basic rights of immigrants and allowing undocumented entrance. The delegation also pointed out the responsibility of the countries of origin. Its intervention represented a turning point of the meeting, as numerous delegations started to discuss about the relationship between illegal migration and human rights. They were also concerned with the distinction between political refugees and economic migrants. Clearly, these are extremely difficult questions to be answered and it was inevitable that extensive discussions followed.
The second session started with an unmoderated caucus that was dedicated to drafting resolutions. The importance of the issue was pointed out once again, and highly concerned countries such as Lebanon pushed towards drafting a resolution. “We are currently working on both a draft-resolution and a working paper. However, it would be nice if we could merge them in the end since they are complementary”, mentions the honourable delegate of Lebanon. The upcoming debate was mostly focused on the question of the legitimacy of migrants. What guiding principles are there? What could help to improve integrated border management? The draft resolution was focussing on these issues. The last part of the day was, hence, dedicated to voting on the amendments made. Whether it concerned reintegration of undocumented migrants or the establishment of an International Organisation of Migration, the debate could move towards a result. “We believe that this clause adds something with contents”, summarises Germany the latter concern, for example. Even if the drafted resolution did not pass entirely, the relief to have reached consensus was clearly dominating in the end. One thing which is particularly apparent in contemporary debates was also of importance during this debate: how far does the scope of the UN goes? What is it actually allowed to conduct? The debate, therefore, contained not only simulatory parts, but also relevant points that address issues beyond simple student-debates.