Monday, June 7, 2010

No we didn't table the chair !

One week of chair-dom at the SMUN United Nations Security Council was an interesting experience, to say the very least. Over and above the eternal cliche of standing on the other side of the table, the opportunity offered a plethora of lessons to the novice that I was a mere 10 days ago.

There were the added benefits of insulting the delegates and the chairs in parliamentary lingo, ticking them off for informalcy and non-usage of the personal pronoun. But the most beautiful and profound moment was watching the debate on a topic I had chosen evolve. From the early stages of the debate to the last tense moments, the most fascinating issues were addressed!

The topic : Responsibility to Protect. At what point is it OK for a country to breach the sovereignty of another?

Consider Myanmar, there were thousands starving, homeless and in the depths of a humanitarian crisis. But the junta had the audacity to RESIST aid being offered. The net death toll was over 138,000, blatant evidence to the severity of this natural disaster. It is not a logical move for Myanmar to resist the philanthropy of the international community. While they finally conceded and allowed India to offer aid, the initial move of the Burmese was appalling at the very least.

Had they continued to turn down the relief offered by the international community, it would have been tantamount to genocide. Would it have been acceptable for the international community, obviously led by the United States, to intervene - diplomatically or undiplomatically? This was discussed at length by the committee and a detailed measuring instrument was deviced through which the severity of crisis could be judged and accordingly action would be taken.

What was worthy of applause was the evident concurrence that sovereignty has to be reinterpret in the light of internal conditions and that it cannot be the zenith of authority. There evidently has to be some form of accountability to the international community and some responsibility and right that the latter enjoys by virtue of its membership to the UN.

Another vital point of debate was the result of natural disasters. In case of a severe natural disaster, as in the case of Cyclone Nargis, is military intervention necessary, mandated or even considerable? Some nations, such as France and Bosnia & Herzegovina fought strongly for the cause of inclusion of natural disasters to the mandate of the Responsibility to Protect, however that was struck down by the sovereignty safeguarders like China.

Issues like natural disasters fall largely under the purview of NGOs, however, it is worthwhile to ask if military troops might be capable of doing a more efficient job of reconstruction and rebuilding of disaster-torn areas.

It is certainly a grey area, and it was absolutely mind-boggling to see a group of 17 year olds attempt to solve this issue in a systematic fashion, evidence of their maturity far beyond their years!

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