Newsletter

Scroll down to find the articles written during the Conference by the BIMUN Tribune!

Conference Summary
 

With the traditional pound of a wooden hammer by our dear Secretary General Glynn Cooreman supported by her Deputy Joël Koutangni this years’ digital conference BIMUN/SINUB 2020 came to an end. At the 22nd November over seven months of hard work payed off and the results are worth to be shown:

BIMUN/SINUB 2020 or BIMON 2020 brought together 146 participants from 28 countries from all over the world to discuss all kinds of socio-political, environmental and security-related issues as well as historic topics. Subdivided into four large committees like UNCSW, UNCCD, NATO and dynamic Crisis Council focusing on the Second Opium War, the conference gave us a multitude of new and unique insights and perspectives.

Additionally, the delegates managed, even though restricted by the online format, to forge lasting memories and moreover, lasting friendships. Speaking of the digital component of the conference; BIMUNs Executive Committee faced an all-known contemporary concern: the current worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. In respect to all common health and prevention regulations the Executive Committee, supported by the Advisory Board, Secretariat and association members, changed the initially planned physical conference into a digital one. After a lot of effort our #NotYourOdinaryOnlineConfernce became a successful one according to the first feedback. Being made possible by the online-platform Gatherly.io BIMON 2020 managed to offer a rare opportunity to broaden one’s horizon in a special environment. Despite some technical problems at first, the conference got back on track in no time! Also, in accordance with the “Green Conference”-concept, BIMUN/SINUB e.V. managed to reduce this conference’s carbon footprint to an absolute minimum. However BIMUN will still compensate its footprint in cooperation with CO2OL ForestFinest Consulting.

Participants and organizers alike learned valuable and useful new skills such as public speaking, taking responsibility and project management. These skills will keep them company during their studies and later their career. Besides this BIMON 2020 offered the delegates the opportunity to listen to presentations, speeches or to visit workshops by remarkable personalities like Álvaro de Soto, major of Bonn Katja Dörner, Lt. Col. Henry Heren from the U.S. Space Force, Dr. Seif Hamisi, Vidi Legowo-Zipperer and Dr. Ursula Sautter.

At this point, we would again like to express our deepest gratitude to everyone who made this project possible and memorable. Our thanks go especially to the Foundation for International Dialogue of the Savings Bank in Bonn (Stiftung Internationale Begegnung der Sparkasse in Bonn), the Students Association of the University of Bonn (AStA Bonn), the Secretariat, the Advisory Board, the BIMUNs Activity-Team and all international participants. Furthermore, we would like to acknowledge our long-term partners and sponsors.

For more information feel free to visit our social media channels:

https://www.instagram.com/bimunsinub/

https://www.facebook.com/BIMUNSINUBeV

 

To get even more impressions and actual experience reports in form of newsletter articles and interviews, you can browse the following webpages to access everything published by the BIMUN Tribune Media Team during the conference:

Niklas Kemmerzell (ExCom 2020)

20.11.2020 - Day I

Dr. Seif Hamisi - Guest Speaker of UNCCD

 

Doctor Seif Mutinda Hamisi is currently the leader at Forest Landscape Restoration Intitiative in Africa at World Wide Fund for Nature in Tanzania. As a former lecturer in Natural Resources Development, he has profound knowledge on environment protection and wildlife project management; he also campaigned and taught sustainable living to ensure coexistence with other species. He obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1990 at the University of Nairobi from Ecology, Evolution, Systematics, and Population Biology. In 2003 he became a Doctor of Philosophy from Conservation Biology at the very same university. He also has experience in IWRM working as the Regional Program Coordinator in conservation of the Mara river with a team of experts. Having served as a conservation manager in WWF Zambia for five years, he got promoted to work for Africa Region Conservation Initiatives for WWF Regional Office for Africa in Kenya until June this year.

- Julia Perendyk

Jedi to NATO: ‘May the force be with you’

That’s one step of (a) man, one giant leap of mankind,’ prescribed Neil Armstrong while taking his first steps on the previously uninhibited moon. Indeed, what had started as a tiny floating ball catapulted into space by the Soviet Union back in 1957, has been steadily turning into what a half a dozen of astronauts would at the moment call their floating home. What had started merely as fiction stories centuries ago, is now a reality; the space age has started.

Back in the days, humans used to look up at the sky for inspiration, for seeking the higher power of the universe. Comparatively, modern humans now look up there for opportunities, for proclaiming the higher power themselves. Resources, communication, transportation, and even manufacturing are slowly migrating up through the altitudes of the sky by the year. Competing over overarching technologies, both literally and figuratively here, is a marathon run that countries are investing tons in. With thisin mind, the international community has a responsibility to protect.

Realizing the worth and the vulnerability of the satellites currently orbiting Earth, estimated to be a little over 2700 in number, NATO had established space as its 5th operational domain. That came around the same time the U.S. Army added a Space Force to its departmental powers. A feat that the Chinese government condemned, asserting that it threats peace.

However, this is all a new land of its kind. Whereas previous war arena, including the most recent ones like nuclear weapons, started with wars and built themselves up into peace treaties, the space arena is still peaceful -albeit some earth-bounded military usageand is aimed to be maintained this way. Avoiding a war without a precedence is no trivial task. To that end, questions arise, is a space war really evitable? Can countries come together to maintain peace and security hundreds of kilometers above sea level?

The franchise ‘Star Wars’ presented strong cases of how the mingling of politics and space needs to be treated with caution, but much like the Jedi, hopes and eyes are on this historic meeting of the NATO to secure peace where peace has never left.. yet. May the force be with them.

- Pavly Nashed

"75 Years of Uniting Nations: Overcoming Conflict to Achieve Common Goals”

 

The UN was first established with the purpose of creating an organization that could maintain peace and achieve common purposes as a symbol of global unity.

2020 marks a great achievement, its 75th anniversary, the diamond jubilee of a tireless effort to address common challenges, protecting the core principles of equality among states, mutual respect of national sovereignty and never-ending defence of the inalienable human rights of the individual.

A great achievement, which falls in a year sadly marked by unprecedented global emergencies.

Now more than ever, the world finds itself in a status of complete uncertainty, struggling with the current health crisis, urgent economic consequences, and the subsequent social impact of these events, severely affecting everyone’s daily life.

A time in which we see our personal liberties being extremely limited, experiencing more restrictions on our freedoms that has ever been the case in the last decades. A pandemic is a global emergency that more than others calls upon the strength of global unity, whose epicentre today we find in the UN. No longer a mere symbol, but the determinant of this union.

Overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic is a goal that indeed needs accordance, collaboration, and mutual support, nevertheless, it has also led to delicate national situations of discord, hostility, mistrust in the governmental apparatus, social conflicts.

We find ourselves with an important role today, which is to restore the belief in unity, in collaboration, in our common purposes, those principles that for 75 years have brought together nations, trying to rebuild a future after the destruction of the Second World War. Nations brought together by the hope for a peaceful and just world.

Today our hopes remain unaffected and more than ever, it is our duty to commemorate and remember the past, to address with more strength and decision the challenges of the future.

So much has been built and achieved across 75 years, and so much has to be accomplished yet.

Since its outbreak, the Covid-19 pandemic has unveiled the urgent necessity to strengthen our health care systems, to improve the global spread of information and to come together to concretize a new global establishment of data sharing.

This pandemic just adds up with several challenges that still have to be addressed with decision.

The threat of climate change, which is undermining food production, dangerously increasing the risk of catastrophic flooding due to rising sea levels, and unprecedented changes in weather patterns, whose even slightest differences may lead to drastic consequences.

The food emergency. Millions of people are yet not able to access proper nourishment and suffer from malnutrition, being extremely exposed to diseases and prevented from leading an active and healthy life.

The urgent question of the promotion of gender equality, as the threatening numbers of domestic violence and gender discrimination increase, which makes us clear that no justice will ever be granted until full equality is achieved.

The protection of children, who in large number, all around the world, are denied access to health, school, dignity, opportunities, due to the country and circumstances they were born, a distinction that, nowadays, we cannot accept any more.

 

75 years of Uniting Nations, overcoming warfare with harmony and unity, paying tribute to the efforts of the past and looking ahead, at the challenges awaiting us, with more determination than ever. This is the only way we can pursue our goals, justice in this world, equality among human beings: standing here, all together as a whole.

 

“There can be no lasting peace without justice, this cause is the cause of all humanity”

- Greta Fantoni

Are we going to learn from the past?

The surge of domestic & gender-based violence during times of crisis

United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW)

The lockdowns expose what many of us have always known – our most intimate spaces, our homes, are not always safe places. A “pandemic within a pandemic” has been a hidden consequence of COVID-19 and we are confronted with the horrific reality that millions of women and children – in every country – are fighting for their survival not just from COVID-19, but from the brutalities of abusers in the prisons of their homes.

Because disasters aggravate pre-existing gender inequities and power hierarchies, violence in the home may worsen as prolonged quarantine and economic stressors increase tension in the household. Most unfortunate is while the need for survivor support is increasing, justice is proving hard to access. Resources are being diverted away from judicial systems towards more immediate public health measures. In every country, hotlines, crisis centers, shelters, as well as critical legal aid and social services, are being scaled back due to infection control measures. Many courts have closed their doors.

Sexual and gender-based violence does not begin with disasters like COVID-19. But the chaos and instability they cause leave women and girls more vulnerable.

Lessons from the past: Ebola outbreak

One of the key lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak was that epidemics leave women and girls especially vulnerable to violence. Mistakes made during the Ebola epidemic can be valuable lessons in the COVID-19 response.

Increases in sexual and gender-based violence were observed during the 2013-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Estimates concerning the scope are difficult to obtain and vastly under-reported. Survivors of violence were ignored as health workers counted the number of Ebola cases. According to some reports, Guinea reported a 4.5% increase in sexual and gender-based violence and twice as many rapes. And in the aftermath of Ebola, both Sierra Leone and Liberia saw an upswing in teenage pregnancy rates.

The parallels between the response to Ebola and COVID-19 are striking. Public health infrastructure during Ebola came to a grinding halt. In a desperate attempt to control the virus, governments employed many of the current social distancing strategies. These included school closures, curfews, and quarantines. The needs of women and girls, especially concerning sexual and gender-based violence, were largely ignored in response and recovery planning. Many organizations waited until Ebola was under control before addressing these needs. By then it was too late.

Domestic & gender-based violence today

The consequences of sexual and gender-based violence do not end when medical crises are contained. The impact of COVID-19 will be wide scale, longstanding, and likely generational. Response and recovery planning must ensure that those most impacted by COVID-19 are not forgotten.

Times of crises, such as a pandemic, have also been times we are able to boldly address the social ills and where humanity, tends to reinvent itself. We have been presented with the opportunity to reimagine and redesign our societies to be safe, vibrant and equitable. We are proving that we can come together as a united human family to holistically tackle Covid-19; let us apply an equally comprehensive, vigorous and unrelenting focus to eradicating gender-based violence as well.

Lorencia Poçi

United Nations marks its 75th Anniversary

Celebrating in times of crisis

The United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of uncertainty and challenges, including one of the worst global health crisis in its history. Will this bring us closer together? Or will it lead to greater divides and mistrust? Now more than ever we need to remember the importance of international cooperation and continue communicating openly for a better future.

In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter. October 24th was the birth of today´s most important organization in the world. The UN is one of the few existing organizations that work global issues on a large scale, from sustainable development, disaster relief, counter terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation to promoting democracy, human rights, gender equality, economic and social development, and more, in order to achieve their goals for a better world in the future. Nowadays the urgency for all the countries to come together and support one another has never been greater.

 

Keep in mind that not everything that is happening or has happened in this year is bad news. We are given the opportunity for change like it has never been there before. Changing our ways, our views, our goals for the world. Meditating and reflecting about what we have learned and how we can employ it to get through this, but also to become more conscious about the needs and struggles of others. Although this year´s celebration could not be the same as other years we have to look back on what this date truly represents, commemorating this date not only because of history, but also because of what, overtime, the UN has become for many: a symbol of cooperation, respect, tolerance and peace.

Angélica Marisol Villarreal D.

Panic in the Orient

In the history of planet earth, no nation has known a more tumultuous history than China. Like the fine pottery of the same name, the territories now known as the People’s Republic of China seemed to shatter

more often than stay together.

Within its history, the country has had multiple dynasties, emperors, a democratic government, and a communist dictatorship at its head. However, you will discuss an important event during one of China’s Imperial dynasties, namely the Qing Dynasty. 

Back in the 19th century, as economic free trade and liberalism seemed to inspire the minds of western free thinkers, China was at the head of one of the mightiest empires at the time. Its borders were vast and its riches plentiful, mostly thanks to the highly sought-after Chinese specialties like tea and silk. However, unlike the west, China had not caught on to the liberal mindset as the western nations had. It remained an isolated nation, heavily regulating trade with other nations, as it actually had little need for outside resources except for silver. This caused a heavy trade disparity between China and many of the Western nations, especially the British Empire. The British, having the largest empire in the world at the time, adored the luxury products coming from the orient. The British traded huge supplies of silver for Chinese luxury products and this annoyed the British government. They were running out of silver reserves and needed a solution, and that solution was Opium.
Opium is an extremely addicting drug. Being a cousin to modern day heroin, it had many of the same effects. It dulled pain, made you lethargic to the outside world but activated the right parts of the brain to make you feel a sense of euphoria. For that reason, it is extremely addictive and, at the time, it was craved by the population of Imperial china.
In the committee being simulated at BIMUN/SINUB 2020, delegates will be simulating the second conflict that flowed out of these events, namely the second opium war. It will be interesting to see what will change in comparison to history; Will china take back the territories of Hong Kong, will the British lose or absolutely crush the Chinese putting them under their rule as they once did with India? Only time will tell.

- Olivier Van Poppel

 

21.11.2020 - Day II

NATO: To cooperate, or not to cooperate, that is the question

Exactly as expected in a Jedi council meeting, opinions of the member delegations in NATO were divided on whether to use peace, or intimidation to ensure security in outer space. Pulling the metaphor further, indeed most of the committee was in support of peace co-operations with non-NATO members, while namely the delegate from the United States played Skywalker’s emotional role and thrive for blood. That was further supported by the Italian and the Polish delegates, also known as R2-D2 and C-3PO.

Walking into uncharted grounds of war, in the darkness of space, NATO members seemed to be lost on agreeing to an optimal strategy that would ensure both their national and space securities simultaneously. Would launching more satellites into space increase vulnerable targets for the enemy, or would it entail a backup network system in times of aggression? Would the intimidation of placing weapons, militarily-equipped satellites, or even laser-shooting spacecrafts in space force non-NATO countries to defer war, or would it invoke them to launch their own arsenals up there as well? What would happen if Russia or China acquire enough space military power while NATO being peaceful, taking the ‘let’s all hold hands together’ approach, as the Polish delegate called it?

In attempts to reaffirm the possibility of having peaceful space co-operations, the delegate of Norway used the International Space Station (ISS) as a 20-year-old live example, while the Greek delegate tried to remind the opposing parties that American astronauts are regularly launched from Russian space bases. Soundly, although being a long-term friend to Uncle Sam, the delegate of UK seemed to be leading the calls for peaceful stances on the matter. Meanwhile, the delegate of the USA, after taking a history detour through the country’s cold war with Russia, allegedly shamed the UK for calling for space cooperation, reminding them of the consequences of their last world-war cooperation with Nazi Germany. Will ground-based allies differ from space-based ones? This and more will follow soon.

- Pavly Nashed

Yet again nuclear energy is a power source of controversy

Australia has found perhaps an unlikely partner in Russia when promoting nuclear energy as the solution to battle desertification. Other western powers, such as Member States from the European Union, do not follow Australia in this approach and come up with their own initiatives such as solar and wind energy. They promote their ideas as a more sustainable approach. This is countered by Australia with the argument that nuclear energy is far more reliable. However, the question remains what the African countries who actually struggle with this issue have to say.

 

Generally, they seem to be in favor of a collective of multiple solutions, some of them also smaller and most importantly more local initiatives. Especially the delegate of Sudan has repeatedly voiced their enthusiasm for more support for local projects. The issue of desertification is indeed complex and will most certainly need a wide range of measures to tackle every single aspect of it. This is clearly illustrated in the answer that was received when asking the delegate of Nigeria what she had to say about the current developments in the UNCCD committee: “With an economy closely tied to oil and gas exports, Nigeria has tirelessly worked towards greater diversification of our energy sources, ranging from more traditional gas power systems, to renewable energy mechanisms, such as hydro, solar, wind, biomass and nuclear sources. Whilst we are therefore considering nuclear sources as a viable alternative, we also believe that sustainable farming, local and community-based initiatives as well as climate change actions are of primary importance to fight desertification.”

 

So, all in all we can conclude that that single approach solutions like nuclear energy are not necessarily met with disapproval, like this quote form the delegate of Benin shows: “The delegate of Benin is aware that the UNCCD's first priority is to reduce LLD induced migration by improving local living conditions. This can be best done by providing economic stability and prosperity. Nuclear energy can be a good tool to achieve that without producing putting out more carbon emissions. Benin is open to the idea, though wants to stress that nuclear use must be limited to civilian and non-military programs.”

However, the African countries have a wide range of ideas they want to see discussed and implemented.

- Lorencia Poçi

UNSCW: Is the offer of virtual support to domestic violence victims effective?

Domestic Violence is a problem that has always existed in many homes. Today, this problem has only increased as the sanitary measures and contingencies continue to be present in many nations worldwide.

In the UNCSW, the delegates have a long way to go before settling a solution that brings benefits and especially reachable help to the victims.

Domestic Violence requires a lot of attention from the countries, and even though solutions have been proposed and implemented, the reality is that now the circumstances have changed which makes it even more complicated to reach the victims. COVID-19 has questioned the capacity of health and social services to identify and assist victims of domestic violence, in addition to aggravating fear, anxiety, financial stress, and alcohol consumption. In response, countries are putting solutions in place to offer support and safety. On one side delegates have to think about the sanitary measures of each of their countries. On the other side, they have to think of a solution that respects these measures, without compromising the health of others.

Increases in domestic violence have been well reported during crisis periods. However, with fewer than 40% of women who report abuse seeking some support or reporting the incident, wide underreporting has made reaction and data gathering a challenge. Less than 10% of those women who do seek help go to the police. The delegates of the UNSCW were discussing the best ways to offer support to the victims of survivor infrastructure in these difficult times. Many delegates proposed ideas that have worked for the nations in the past, although the most relevant questions that were brought up during the session were: Is the virtual support offer to the victims as efficient as other support systems? Are helplines accessible for all women? Is it better to resort to shelters? Or is the implementation of laws the solution?

Angélica Marisol Villarreal D.

We have Hong Kong why do we need Canton?

With questions like this the British Empire heads into an important discussion.

How should military operations continue to be handled? What steps must be taken to ensure that the interests of the British Empire are upheld? What roles do the other powers also involved in the Second Opium War play? These are all difficult decisions that need to be made as soon as possible. The situation is critical. All delegates involved are urged to find a sustainable solution as soon as possible. Because of that, the picture that can be seen at the beginning of the debate is surprising. It takes too long for individual delegates to get into debate properly. Although time is pressing, there’s is a long shortage of concrete solutions. Nevertheless, the post man manages to loosen up the mood in between with his musical contributions which are actually quite good. What a blessing! To several problems, a certain delegate continually has an answer: “Gun boat diplomacy!” After a rough start the delegation of the British Empire manages to offer excellent solutions. To push the legalization of opium, an offer to the Americans is discussed which we will surely hear more about. In addition, a crisis has primarily found itself routed in Central India, with smaller states officially declaring that the British cannot remain in control. They have managed to turn many of the local Bengal army to their side, and Central India has been taken from British control. But the delegates manage to cooperate with Nepalese officials. The debate is heating up! Let’s stay tuned what’s going to happen during the following debates!

 - Jana Döring

A too slow start, but slow and steady wins the race

Today is an important day for our glorious country. Today, our countries greatest minds and most important diplomats, royalty and military personnel started their conference on what to do on the question of the British conundrum. Our country is being ravaged by the addictive substance known as “Opium”. This dangerous poison of the mind is destroying the youths of our country. In his utmost brilliance, our glorious emperor decided to ban the consumption and possession of this most demonic substance. However, the British dogs still find ways to import it, from ways like a wine they call “laudanum”, to just the substance in its purest form.

The people of glorious China have called out to save us from this evil affliction and we must be ready to retaliate to the British. However, we have seen large problems within the discussion. Everything seems to be happening in backrooms, between columns and not in the open. Most of the public discussion was just organizational. On top of that, the Glorious commanders of our beautiful and huge military are surprisingly absent.

Near the end, we saw our glorious leaders truly coming together and work on common plans, let us hope they bring salvation to our people.

- Olivier Van Poppel

Interview with Doctor Seif Hamisi – Forest Landscape Restoration in Kenya

This afternoon, I had the chance to discuss with Dr. Seif Mutinda Hamisi, the speaker for the UNCCD Committee. He shared his ideas about deforestation and restoration in Africa with great sincerity. 

 

Dr. Seif Hamisi is a specialist in natural resources management and community development in Kenya. He is currently the leader of a WWF project, the Forest Landscape Restoration in Africa. He lobbies and advocates the need to restore forest landscape in eight African countries, including Kenya. 

 

During the interview, Dr. Hamisi has shown to be sincere, hopeful, and down-to-earth. His interest in the environment and restoration came from his experience as a child. He remembers when he was surrounded by large forests in his village, could still hear the sounds of animals, and crossed two rivers on his way to school. Therefore, during his childhood, he experienced what nature could offer. Unfortunately, he then saw the degradation of this natural abundance. These forests, animals, and sources of water have now disappeared. He dreams about filling this emptiness, hearing the forest bark again, and seeing the wildlife recover. 

 

He believes that people have been cutting trees to be wealthier, but in fact, they are poorer without these trees and wildlife. Restoration is thus the foundation for bringing back the wildlife and rivers. Restoration also brings new economic opportunities, such as offering new jobs and growing fruits. Therefore, Dr. Hamisi gets the energy in his job through his hope of building a wealthy ecosystem again. To stop degrading the landscape, better management is now needed. For instance, schools could ensure that kids recognize and appreciate restoration. As he did when he was himself a student, children could grow trees before the start of the day at school. Nevertheless, not only should kids plant trees but also take care of them. 

In his opinion, to reach this goal, policies are not enough. Indeed, adding continuously new policies will not overcome the challenge. What is truly required is deliberate actions. Leaders should say “enough talking, let’s go for it.” Although speaking about change is the first step, taking action for restoration is the most important move. This need for action thus explains the relevance of lobbying and advocacy in order to make leaders realize that restoration is needed for the country’s security and survival. Hopefully, in the next years, a leader will come with clear, deliberate actions and will understand how deforestation is linked to many policy fields. For instance, restoration should be considered when doing agriculture, enhancing livestock, constructing cities, and building roads. Restoration should be an agenda for Kenya. These moves would also prevent catastrophes, as conflicts, to take place. 

When asked about his view of the future in twenty years, Dr. Hamisi presents two opposite views. On the one hand, if political leaders do not take some initiatives now, then the situation will worsen. There will be bigger fights for water, huge human conflicts about wildlife, global extinctions, and elephants will desperately be looking for water. On the other hand, if leaders act and follow Rwanda, there is an opportunity to recover wildlife, create jobs, grow fruits, improve farming, and the economy would hence strengthen.

 

In conclusion, people at the policy level should move to implement restoration, which will itself improve the national situation. Despite the current problems, Dr. Hamisi has hope for a more positive future. In the worst scenario, he will still be able to tell himself that he worked for a better future and did his best to have an impact. We, BIMUN participants, should keep in mind his message that leaders should be pragmatic and act before it is too late. Enough talking, taking action and getting results are what countries really need. As promised to Dr. Hamisi, I will visit him in Kenya in twenty years, and I hope to observe trees everywhere. See you in 2040 Dr. Hamisi, in a better future! 

 - Lora Gailly

How to rule the MUN: Secretary-General behind the scenes

As a Secretary-General, Glynn Cooreman knows how to get to grips with the MUN dynamics in the challenging times of COVID-19 pandemic. Her choice of committees was minimalist, yet not coincidental. The UN’s 75th anniversary marks the climacteric on the world stage, therefore, she admits, the real-life UN global consultations on the future of the UN inspired the selection of BIMUN topics. No matter where we live, our fears and hopes coincide. We hope for the improvement of access to basic services, for the proliferation of women’s rights and for settlement of conflicts. Simultaneously, we fear military and political frictions which are yet to come after the pandemic and climate changes. Amidst the current crisis, what we need is multilateralism and increased international solidarity as many of the BIMUN guest speakers emphasised. Hopefully, this is going to resonate in the committee resolutions, she adds.

 

When I ask Glynn about the real-life BIMUN editions, she wallows in nostalgia, recalling socials from the past, such as a gala party on the river in Bonn. Under the scenario of an online conference, she reduced the number of topics per committee from two to one and picked up an innovative Gatherly start-up for the spacial video platform. At the same time, she notes, the online conference setting makes it feasible to invite delegates and guest speakers from around the world. Who would have expected Dr Hamisi from Tanzania, Lt Col Heren from the US and Mrs Legowo-Zipperer from Indonesia on a university-level UN simulation had it not been in the proximity of their laptops. And there is more to be proud of - 33 nationalities across the delegations, while normally Glynn would have expected a few European nationals, with US exceptions, to come to Germany. To the MUN first-timers and beginners, she advises - do not lose the track of the social gatherings and opportunities. The delegates you make friendships with today can pay you a MUN visit tomorrow in another country. And when the pandemic situation is over you’ll find out how the MUN beau monde is all over the place and what were these friendships worth of. She does not stop just there and lists the positives of the MUNs in general and their practical use for career prospects. Confidence-building relevant for job interviews and recruitment fairs or lobbying important to build networking with future employers. But most of all being aware that you never can prepare yourself for everything and that you can speak to people you don’t know against the barriers.

 

In the end, the Secretary-General lets us into the more secret history of her MUN experience. Her most embarrassing punishment as a delegate was when she had to read out loud the washing machine instructions with an accompaniment of 1970s porn music. This turned out to be inspiring for her own punishment ideas later as a chair. Ultimately, her KULMUN 2019 closing speech memory comes flooding back. Glynn could feel all of her pressure relieved from her shoulders, then the tension eased with a bottle of whisky she had got from her fellow delegates-friends.

- Julia Perendyk

NATO: No lightsabers to be used today

After what had seemed to be the rise of the ‘dark side’ on the horizon earlier today, with allies temporarily sheathing their lightsabers, the presence of the guest speaker seemed to restore the ‘force’ in the universe. Russia and China, admittedly the Darth Vader’s to NATO members, can sleep tight tonight.

‘NATO has no intention to put weapons into space.’ With this remarkable statement in his speech, the NATO Space/Cyberspace Strategist, Mr. Henry Heren, destroyed the dreams of several delegates to launch laser-shooting spaceships into space. A topic that was heavily discussed earlier between the different members, with the delegate of the United States projecting the country’s history of mistrust and cold wars into the space arena. To that extent, several delegates were seeking a peaceful cooperation with the non-NATO countries, while suggesting ‘deterrence by denial’ to avoid possible conflicts.

Although no clear answer is yet provided on whether launching more satellites would give out more vulnerable targets to the adversaries, or rather ensure a firm backup network of satellites in times of aggression; the newly-adopted peaceful approach of the committee is pushing them to discuss possible cooperation with private and commercial companies. It seems that the bubble of trust now includes Elon Musk.

Will the committee be able to ensure security without invoking weaponization? Can a defense strategy be employed without signaling possible wars? While they have space, they don’t have much time, and the answer needs to be found soon!

Now that the sun has started to set, and darkness resurfaced, the committee got back to talking about defense in wars, and the extension of Art. 5 to space.

- Pavly Nashed

UNCSW: Introducing Dr. Ursula Sautter

The UNCSW committee had the unique chance to get into a deeper perspective of the urgent issue of GBV with Dr Ursula Sautter, whose lecture was, without any doubt, deeply inspiring and showed her tireless commitment addressed to the strengthening of women’s right.

Starting in the last years of her doctoral studies with an half-time position as an editorial assistant at the correspondent's office of the American TIME Magazine, she lately continued to work there after graduation as a Germany correspondent. 2012 marked a turning point in her life: also due to the difficult economic situation stemming from the 2008 crisis, Ursula Sautter decided to pause her journalistic career and to commit herself to the German association Hilfegardis.

A big change that mirrored the necessity to distance herself from the journalistic word and dedicate to the urgent issue of supporting women. What Dr Sautter wanted to highlight is the importance of the protection of women's rights, regardless of age, origin or social and ethnic background.

Hilfegardis association’s main purpose remains to provide help for all girls and women, empowering them through education and support, as its motto clearly suggests: ‘Bildung verleiht Flügel’. It has gone a long way since it was first established in 1907, an age in which women were not even allowed to attend universities in Germany. It is important to underline how much has changed in our society since then, but also how much more still has to be achieved. Several are the initiatives carried out by the association, just to give an example among many ‘Church in mentoring’, aimed at increasing the number of women in church leadership positions in Germany.

Besides her involvement in Hilfegardis, Dr Sautter has been working for the NGO UN Women Germany as Vice-Chairwoman, an organization which she defines as the perfect marrying of local activism and the taking of action at an international level. What she wanted to further stress is the importance of taking country representatives on board of the process towards the achievement of gender equality. Only with government’s commitment, the issue can be brought under a new light at a national level. This is the only way people can truthfully realize the unacceptable burden that women, all over the world, must face during their lives. It is a ‘glass ceiling’, as she said, which every single woman will have to experience, sooner or later, without any distinction or exceptions among generations. In the same way, we cannot think that the issue exclusively addresses developing countries, every day we witness the same form of violence even in those countries generally considered to have achieved advanced protection of human rights.

What is missing is the awareness of a social issue which affects every single girl, soon to be the woman of the future. What must change is the mindset, the burden of social expectations, the pressure imposed by gender bias which can no longer be admissible in our changing society. Children must have the possibility to choose, an open eye over the several and diverse possibilities for their future. Being an established and complete woman today can have so many different meanings and we must accept all of them, regardless of the common and stereotypical idea of woman that we are used to accepting as the only possible choice.

Awareness must be spread not only among young girls but also and more importantly among boys and men. Only taking on board also the other ‘half of the population’ we can achieve this much-struggled equality.

In times of crisis like the one we are currently experiencing, the rate of domestic violence, that kind of violence that hides behind doors as Dr Sautter mentioned, is getting significantly worse. The fact that victims are stuck with their perpetrators in their own households, is only drastically increasing the chances to be exposed to such violence.

This is why the shadow pandemic of GBV has driven a high number of women to rely even more on the helplines to seek help. As means to denounce, social media are also worth to be mentioned. They play, for instance, an enormous role as well, being available at every moment of the day, an extremely wide net that connects women all over the world and gives an important message, no one is alone in this battle. However, a point that Dr Sautter held worth of further stressing, is that the use of social media has also a downside, which is the possibility to increase the danger of violence against women of a digital nature. Something which, of course, must be taken into consideration and cannot be undervalued.

Shame and fear deriving from this form of violence hold women back from denouncing what they are being victims of and Dr Sautter explained it making an accurate point, the perpetrators instill this belief that victims are responsible for what happened to them, leading them to refuse the fact that they need help and cannot be socially condemned for something over which they have no control.

What Ursula Sautter, inspiring example of an empowered woman dedicating her life to this issue, wishes for our future generation is to maintain the spotlight on the tireless effort towards a real change in our world. Keep raising awareness and knowledge, speak up anytime we have the chance to, regardless of our age, origin, ethnic, social and religious background and most of all, never be afraid to be identified as feminists. This is the only way in which we can finally gain real freedom and equality, as empowered women, and men with us, ready to mark a change.

- Greta Fantoni

Pride and Appeasement: Do not legalize opium!

Today started strong. Our great leaders seemed to have come together to truly work towards a solution. However, the absence of military command within this great conference is palpable. Despite us having all the resources we need, some of the diplomats seem to want to dance to the tune of the British anthem. They wish to open even more trade routes and allow for more goods to be traded all the while the dastardly British scum threaten us with ultimatums to dump their devil’s poppy on our doorstep. The demands of the British are unheard of, and still there seems to be no stronger talk at the early time of the conference that seem to suggest a stronger response to British aggression.

As our leaders started debating a response, the appeasement politics seemed to continue. One delegate even had the audacity to suggest the legalization of opium and implied that we had not enough glorious military troops to defeat the British hooligans. Our great troops would be more than capable to destroy the opium addled farm boys who call themselves servants of the false “queen”. Luckily we soon saw a hero in the viceroy of Zhili, who seemed to echo the voice of our nation when he unilaterally rejected the legalization of opium and on top of this seemed to take some military actions to cull the British incursions.

After a long discussion, they still seemed to fetishize the unholy word “compromise”. Now they will allow the trade of opium into glorious China, but would ban Possession? This makes absolutely zero sense. It seems like the conference is full of opium consumers who would jump into the bed of a British diplomat for just a crumb of the devils’ flower.

After a long amount of days, a representative of our beautiful military finally showed up. Now we will be able to make a strong response to British aggression. On top of this, there seems to be trouble in the Indian colonies. It seems the gods are smiling upon us finally, even as the topic of opium legalization still seems to crop up.

The emperor however stood his ground, there shall be no opium in china if he has anything to say for it. We here at Turning Point Beijing want to thank our glorious emperor for saving the youths from these incompetents and to turn our attention back to what matters, destroying the idiotic British and making their life hell.

- Olivier Van Poppel

22.11.2020 - Day III

WE ARE GOING TO DESTROY THEIR ENTIRE FLEET

British Cabinet

War has broken out!

After the horrendous attacks yesterday the British Empire priories getting their military operations together. First of all, they want information about hostages that were taken. Various ideas are being presented which include another round of gunboat diplomacy to get the Chinese answer properly to the demands of the British Empire. EMERGENCY. The Chinese fleet is outside of Hong Kong waiting for the British Empire to take actions. Surprise is spreading…Is it possible that China brings on their entire marine force located on only one place? Is this a logical move? Is this a trap? Or is this only a move to intimidate the British? The time is running fast demanding an answer from the British Empire! Earl Edward Smith-Stanley is screaming out the motto of the entire British Empire:” We are going to destroy their entire fleet!” As an answer the entire British fleet is commanded to Hong Kong, except for one gunship, to immediately engage and sink the Chinese fleets right outside of the city. All diplomatic approaches are trivial. Fast changing events require even faster solutions. The British Empire seems stressed. “We don’t care about the people; we just care about our trade!” Diplomatic relations between the British Empire and China collapsed leading to back-and-forth blackmailing and attacking each other. Despite the ongoing stress situation, the British delegates manage to discuss further steps quickly to not be subjugated by China. Keep it up!

- Jana Döring

Interview with the ExCom:

Karla Angeles and Anna Rieger

This morning I had the chance to get to know better two members of the executive committee, a fundamental pillar of the conference, which is in charge for the whole organization: the President, Karla Angeles and the responsible for Finance and Fundraising, Anna Rieger.

It is not obvious to say that the whole team has tirelessly worked in the last months for a successful outcome of this conference. In the unprecedented circumstances in which we find ourselves nowadays, the difficulties, problems and challenges that needed to be addressed were several, but since they first decided in August that the conference would have taken place online, their work and commitment have been remarkable.

This early decision was reasonably justified by the intention to be prepared for the possibility that big gatherings of people would not have been allowed. Organizing a conference takes time and needs dedication, an online conference needs just as the same or more amount of time, especially to come up with ideas to make it #NotAnOrdinaryOnlineConference. The purpose was to realize something dynamic, innovative, surely different but that could be remarkable in some positive way.

Finance and fundraising are not only about finding sponsors but also and for most about taking care of the different resources needed and the financial aspect of the conference. Of course, the online format of this year has a lower cost, since no venues and catering are necessary, but finding online platforms requests nonetheless an incredible amount of work and dedication. As Karla said, the conference would not have taken place without someone taking care of the whole finance aspect, as well as without all the other departments part of the executive committee.

Events, logistics and participants sector, everyone contributes to the realization of the conference, spreading the word about this great event, making BIMUN/SINUB e.V.  known among students and assuring that every delegate, chair and journalist will have a great time and a fruitful debate. Advertising an online conference, as both stated during the interview, can be very challenging as well, but the main goal remained to offer a conference of quality, rather than simply a big event.

Relevant is also to mention how every task has been fulfilled with the help and supervision of the President of the ExCom, that one person that coordinates and unifies the whole team, assuring an efficient communication with the Secretariat. After three days of conference, we can firmly affirm that the whole team has done an incredible job.

Time management is the core element: uni students know well how important studying is, but being involved in an event like this, being able to balance time dedicated to different activities is fundamental.

But what has driven them to join the MUN world?

Both Anna and Karla have first been introduced to MUN through BIMUN/SINUB e.V.. Each semester lecture series and get-togethers are organized, so that students can have the opportunity to learn more about MUN, to get to know other people and deepen their interests in different issues and topics, but most of all to foster debating and communication skills.

They started as BIMUN members and are now active components and pillars of its creation, both of them very proud of what the whole team has accomplished, leading to a successful and positive outcome.

Considering these unprecedented circumstances, the commitment of so many people for the overall organization as well as the dedication of all the delegates to have a fruitful debate, may not be undervalued. The best memory for both Karla and Anna will exactly be this: students from the most different countries getting together, even though online, working, learning and having fun.

The social events of the last two nights will surely confirm it, and probably also all those who had the unique chance to witness our executive committee goofing around in the “Welcome Lobby” while trying to take a picture right before the social started, not noticing that about 60 people were watching their broadcast, will confirm that entertainment has always been on the agenda.

As I said, many reasons will make this conference remarkable and surely, not ordinary at all.

- Greta Fantoni

All you need to know about NATO’s Deterrence by Denial

Admittedly the core concern of the current NATO meeting on space policies is how to ensure a secure and firm resilience when it comes to space wars. ‘Deterrence by denial’ is reportedly a phrase that you’d hear every half a minute while virtually walking through the lobbies of the committee, it comes just after the word ‘NATO’ in frequency. But, what does this actually mean?

When it comes to ‘Deterrence Strategies’ to be employed in space defense, NATO seemed to be stuck between two approaches: Punishment, and Denial. As evident from the name, ‘deterrence by punishment’ is a form of a positive aggressive approach where attacked parties respond through an equal and opposite force of aggression; indeed, an action and a reaction. The less obvious approach of denial aims to deny the enemy the benefits of the element of surprise; in other words, a possible sudden attack would not hinder the attacked parties from functioning and communicating, and responding responsibly. This can be done, for instance, by having a backup network of satellites.

While the former approach seems to be more secure and firm, it can however easily invoke a war of mutual attacks. Unlike most attacks within the boundaries of the atmosphere, a simple destruction of one satellite is virtually uncleanable; the debris can last for decades before it burns or falls down to Earth, and with it the route to space for future launches is blocked. Something that most of the delegates rightly so did not desire, except for a handful who seemed to ‘not feel the gravity’ of the situation.

As sessions went on, the more peaceful approach became the norm. Deterrence by denial seems to be the way NATO wants to handle its space operations from now. There are still, however, some delegates who keep threatening to exploit the consensus-nature of NATO. Some delegates just love to see the world, space included, on fire.

- Pavly Nashed

UNSCW: ALLIANCES HERE, ALLIANCES THERE…

Creating a solution to a problem is not an easy task, especially when the problem involves other important factors such as Covid-19 health measures. Many ideas and possible solutions have been discussed by the delegates passionately. As the moderate debate kept unraveling, the different opinions began to show. In the moderate debate, it was suggested that the steps that needed to be taken to solve the problem were many including a good education, financing the support, offer good access to electrical devices in the rural areas, shelters that help to protect the victims, and many other more. Even though the delegates chase the same goal, not all delegates can agree on which ways they would like to move forward. At the end of the first session, the positions of the present delegations were clear and the way they wanted to proceed as well.

 

That´s why before the beginning of the next session the delegates decided to form alliances between countries to present the document where each alliance established the main points to their solutions, and why they thought that this was the best way to approach this problem. One of the alliances that were made during the sessions were: Japan, Mexico, Niger, Congo, Brazil, Switzerland, Kenia, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Rep. Korea, Cuba, Germany. The other alliance is made of: Iraq, International amnesty, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Israel, Somalia, Estonia y Malaysia. Finally, the other alliance was: Bahrain, Colombia, and the United States.

 

Later there was an unmoderated debate between some alliances, the points the countries had been discussing had a lot of similarities between the solutions so another alliance was been discussed. At one point the delegation of Chile and Kenya were debating whether if it would be a good option to have physical support for the victims, as it wasn´t been considered that some would not have the access to it. Other delegations have discussed the same issue throughout the sessions. The incorporation of women in all areas is a key point that delegations are taking into account so that they can reach an agreement. Cooperation and dialogue have proven once again that they are key elements for conflict resolution, and as delegates, everyone should remember that they are seeking the same goal.

Angélica Marisol Villarreal D.

The highs and lows of war

Success! Rumours within the Imperial court have stated that our most recent military actions have been successful. From what my sources tell me, out boys have executed successful military campaigns in many cities, putting the British back in their plans to spread opium across our great nation. We have even managed to make some of the high command of British our captives.

However, disaster seemed to strike almost instantly. The British attacked our fleet of junks at Hong Kong, putting more despair within the cabinet. Our fleet was decimated, and the Imperial Court needed to come up with solutions fast. Our imperial high command quickly managed to outsmart the British and commence a quick retreat. However, that did not matter. Our entire fleet was destroyed due to the slow response by our cabinet. On top of that, more of the British troops seemed to approach one of our cities. As the lunch break creeped ever closer, the stress within the cabinet became more and more palpable. The stress within the cabinet made cause for some delays, as panic seemed to go through our ranks. As the end of the first debate approached, our mission was clear. We needed to attack the port of Canton, to end hostilities with the Taiping Rebellion and to destroy the filthy British merchant vessels.

Our hope now lies in our potential allies. The Joseon dynasty of Korea seemed willing to want to coordinate. With this good news, our Chinese cabinet started with a counterattack on the British. Their first action of importance was the retaking of the city of Canton, which with the aid of reinforcements from Korea, we could take easily.

As the coffee break ended, the good news kept coming in. Canton was taken, a French invasion repelled and as the day seemed to progress it seemed like our gods were smiling upon us. However, gods can be cruel as the British seemed to relentlessly assault Canton and the Taku Fort. Our delegates hurried to make battle plans to create a counterattack. But as they were making their plans, The British seemed to conspire with the Americans.

As the days continued, it seemed the gods were against us. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong.

- Olivier Van Poppel

Does the UNCCD succeed in overcoming their differences?

With the time pressure of the deadline, yesterday’s discussions emerging again, funding yet to be discussed and voting, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) had an interesting day – to say the least – to look forward to. Funding would be definitely the hardest hurdle to tackle, which essentially is almost a tradition being upheld by any organization. Though, the committee’s third working paper, which is the merger of each’s bloc first draft document, shows the UNCCD clearly has made a lot of progress.

 

Yet once in debate another issue seemed to appear. Which country gets to slap their name on this resolution? The otherwise very content oriented discussions in the UNCCD committee shifted to debating on sponsorship. Starting from eight original sponsors it was difficult to choose who was going to stay and who was not. Quite soon in the debate the delegate of Brazil opted out of sponsorship out of their own will. Both the delegate of Sudan and the delegate of Australia followed. Someone also mentioned that since the topic – Migration & desertification in West Africa: Fighting Drought for a Better Future – is about Africa, African countries should have priority on the sponsorship list yet that was countered by the fact that the UNCCD is a cooperation between countries all over the world and the sponsor should reflect that. Eventually the five sponsors were chosen, with Germany as the only non-African country.

 

However soon debate shifted once again, this time to content oriented topics – as we got used from this committee – such as biodiversity. A highly interesting topic that could have resulted into fruitful debate if there had been more time. Though an interesting quote was “as Saudi Arabia's delegate said, 'there is no biodiversity without water' and we would add to that statement 'and there is no economic prosperity without oil'” from the delegate of Ghana. Migration is another topic that has been sadly almost completely neglected in debate due to lack of time or perhaps delegates did it to avoid heated discussions, which would be shame.

 

Generally, we conclude that this committee eventually succeeded in overcoming their differences. As the delegation of Germany summarized: “We are so pleased with the productive spirit and the level of cooperation in our committee today. After the constrained debate of yesterday, we’re happy that peace has returned and that all delegates are on board with the document we’ve been working on together”.

Although we can notice that African countries have slightly more reservations on their satisfaction with latest developments, as Ghana’s conclusion suggest: “Overall, the delegate feels much more positive and comfortable with the resolution on the table at this moment. We are aware of several amendments that are intended to be introduce and look forward to a more substantive and detail centered debate to occur later this afternoon. With regards to specific delegations, we wish to comment on, we would like to mention both Brazil's and Mauritania's great efforts and continued passion in committee today and were happy to see that the European powers took to heart the issues of yesterday and approached the table more constructively today”.

Lorencia Poçi

NATO and Elon Musk: Love from first satellite

On their journey through the jungles of self-development, NATO seemed to be stuck in the lake (or, lack) of trust. With the memories of war still haunting some of the delegates, they found themselves reluctant to give in to possible beneficial co-operations with entities extending beyond the meeting. These commitment issues were carefully tackled by the other member countries who opened their arms wide for peace. Or, as the Polish delegate called it, the ‘let’s all hold hands together’ approach.

Slowly, but steadily, the possibility of cooperating with Major Non-NATO Allies (MNNA) rose to the surface. It was a bumpy road for the committee, that goes without saying, but now they seem to be more open for exchange and co-operation. As is always the case, the delegate of the United States wanted to use their ‘naughty list’ of countries to cut off some from the MNNA. The frustrated delegates of the committee clearly cannot wait until the Biden administration is in power, with the delegate of Norway reportedly reminding the USA delegate that ‘all countries matter.’

However, what seemed to use up even more time and attention of the present delegates is the adoption of a framework of co-operation with the private sector. Pretty close to the Jedi’s privately-formed army of clones, following on the step of their idols, NATO started to consider how to harvest the powers of the private companies for the strengthening of their space domain. However, with an elaborate two-layer security screening, the private sector has a long way to go for such an integration.

It should be noted that it is not clear yet in what ways the technology developed by the private sector will be deployed for the NATO as a whole, which admittedly does not have space assets of its own to begin with. Words in the street is that Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, promised each delegate a Tesla car by the end of the conference if they include this point in their communiqué.

- Pavly Nashed

My First MUN Ever

This weekend, I faced a new challenge; I participated in my first MUN. On the 2nd of November, I was thrilled when I learned that my application was successful. Surprisingly, I heard about MUN for the first time only a few months ago. I thought that these events must be extremely enriching. Therefore, when I saw the BIMUN/SINUB event on social media at 1am, I directly applied without any hesitation… And I am glad that I did.

 

These past three days have been full of surprises. Being a journalist, I had the opportunity to meet the guest speakers, to visit a few committees and to observe the course of the conference. I was especially surprised by the participants’ professionalism. Although we are all students, the delegates and chairs all took their role seriously. They seemed confident and eager to defend their positions. Participants were also very respectful and listened to each other’s opinions. It is astonishing to observe how young adults can be polite, while some real-life Presidents cannot stop interrupting other candidates during official debates. These political leaders should definitely learn the right behavior to adopt from youths at the BIMUN/SINUB conference.

 

The conference being online, making new friends was quite challenging. Nevertheless, I am certain that in real life, MUNs also permit participants to make lifelong friendships and build an international network. Indeed, I noticed that some bubbles already existed. For instance, most students who are part of KULMUN, EUROMUN, and BIMUN/SINUB seem to all know each other. Nevertheless, they are still very keen on meeting new people.

 

I am truly satisfied with this first experience. This weekend made me meet students with similar interests and interview an inspiring guest. I also learned a lot about the topics of this conference. I am already looking forward to the next MUN, and I hope that the upcoming conferences will take place in real-life. Until then, we should continue to believe in our dreams and make the world a better place! Take care.

 -Lora Gailly

Is Corona debating a way to be?

With the coronavirus safety protocols it was only a question of time when all the plenaries and debates of international and intergovernmental organisations were going to move online. For their organizers, the duty of care was the key - providing the employees and political representatives with a safe working environment. But isn’t it true that only in-person you can feel the temperature of heated debates, the perennial evil of politics and observe the moral evaluation of political power?

The European Parliament cancelled all in-person meetings until the end of November, with exceptions. In the United Nations, the General Assembly adopted a special decision-making procedure on remote electronic voting in case of another COVID-19 induced lockdown. Under these circumstances, politics turns into business meetings where motions, draft resolutions and decisions have to be passed effectively. Enough of interrupting your rebuttalists and obliterating the sequence of speakers. Secrets behind-the-scenes negotiations and bets must eventually come to an end. Home office is the place to be for all mortals, even for astute high-ranked politicians.

 

I was deeply sceptical about the feasibility of MUN video-chatting. Entering the Gatherly virtual rooms lacked the glamour of offline conferences where you had to shine in your western business attire and break in your high-heeled shoes; cautiously walk down the parliamentary auditoriums. Pants-less incidents, pyjama trousers and other loose garments do not shock anymore during the virtual conferences. In these uncertain times, the question then arises - is debating from home just lounging or is it an attractive alternative to real-life MUNs hereafter?

 

To my surprise, the delegates fearlessly controlled their online narratives, attentive to chairs’ remarks and commands. With their broadcasts on chairs followed raised hands instead of placards and manoeuvred the general speakers list. Less spectacular than offline, yet fruitful in endless moderated caucuses and changes in working papers, the debates in committees also thrived thanks to the draconian application of rules of procedure. All chairs agreed on zero tolerance rules for time extensions, misuse of personal pronouns and greeting phrases. 

Having navigated the corona MUN, I can appraise the remote debates as improved full-scale replicas. Less amical, yet sharp and to the point.  The BIMUN/SINUB format proved to be effective thanks to its procedural formality and multilateral engagement.

- Julia Perendyk

NATO Chair: ‘Space Wins Wars’

Walking around through the virtual lobbies of the NATO floor, a flickering blue bubble of 2 seemed inviting. I excitedly clicked on it, seeing my black cursor moving on the map, before two familiar voices warmly welcomed me to join them. The honourable chairpersons of NATO, Mr. Kean Ooi and Ms. Liz Chang, were waiting for the delegates to finish their unmoderated caucus. A perfect setting for me to introduce questions that were running in my head the past couple of days while observing the committee in action.

Since deterrence was holding up a large portion of the discussions in the committee, it had to be my first question. On that matter, Mr. Ooi explained that while deterrence is indeed an important topic and had its worth of time, the delegates seemed to treat the two approaches of deterrence (denial, and punishment) exclusively, while they can, in fact, co-exist; a country can deny the benefits of the first strike while still be able to restrike. Both chairs agreed that the NATO delegations still have to tackle a proper space defense mechanism, with Ms. Chang affirming that it is a vastly technical topic with a need for a clear understanding of the legal aspects of the Outer Space Treaty.

That got us to the next eager question, why do they think that this topic is of large significance to NATO? Why would they choose it? Mr. Ooi, who is admittedly fascinated by the capabilities and the potential of the space domain, replied assertively: ‘Space wins wars.’ He followed up by explaining to me how the gulf war is considered to be the first space war, where while the Iraqi Army was very much in proportion in terms of number to the U.S. Armed Forces, they barely caused any injuries. Mostly thanks to the technological, overarching space powers of the U.S. at the time that gave them an immense surveillance capability. Or, as he preferred to call them, the ‘Force Multipliers,’ which although are not a direct part of the war, they significantly multiply the efficiency of the Earth-bounded forces.

To the same question, Ms. Chang adopted the legal and social perspectives of the matter. She affirmed that even if there are no military powers in space, space is nevertheless a key player when it comes to communication, with vital roles in our everyday lives. NATO realizing the importance of this, along with the obsoleteness of the Outer Space Treaty, which Ms. Chang considered it to be not much more than ‘a pinky promise that I am not going to do that,’ they had to rebuild it firmly to accommodate to the changes of the past half a century.

What both, Mr. Ooi and Ms. Chang, are trying to achieve here is no trivial task, but they seemed to be confident walking with steady steps to lead a tough committee like NATO into ensuring peace and security hundreds of kilometers above sea level.

- Pavly Nashed

In a galaxy far, far away... a communiqué has failed!

While walking with a Dark Force Meter on the floor of NATO, one could easily sense the fluctuations of the needle. The Force wasn’t balanced, and most delegates wore their hearts on their sleeves in fear that a couple of delegates may exploit the consensus condition of NATO to jeopardize the 3-day effort. The fate of the communiqué was hanging.

One of the lead opposing parties to the communiqué was the delegate of the United States who found international cooperation with allies to be of possible danger to the country’s security and interests. When asked about his unusual stances of opposing the USA, the delegate of the United Kingdom replied that cooperation is essential in this matter, affirming that NATO ‘cannot achieve space security on its own,’ and so he is trying to be the bridge between the USA and the other countries. ‘Resolving to violence will go against our own values as a country, and the interests of our future generations,’ added the honourable delegate.

Having also voted against the communiqué, the delegate of Poland asserted that offense capacities in space are a must for NATO, reiterating the USA delegate’s statement that ‘it is too late for deterrence by denial.’ Conversely however, he agreed that cooperation in space is important. Although having had his shares of threats of sanctions by the USA delegate, and threatening back to cut the countries’ relations, the delegate of Turkey had also voted against the communiqué.

With the consensus condition of NATO, the communiqué had failed. ‘Individual member states have chosen to act and speak against basic NATO policies,’ conjectured the delegate of Iceland. However, according to her, ‘scheduling another committee session on the topic of the amendment or replacement of the outer space treaty’ are possible means to find future common grounds for the organization.

Sadly, the future of the space domain is currently a bit vague. However, remembering Master Yoda’s wisdom, ‘the greatest teacher, failure is.’ With all hopes, NATO delegates will learn from this conference, and will be able to find a common ground for future space peace.

- Pavly Nashed

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