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Of Resolutions and Revelations—Summit Manipal’18

Still going strong in its eleventh edition, Summit Manipal, one of the even semester’s most highly anticipated events, proved worthy of the wait. With the euphoria of an approaching summer hanging in the air, debates rife with conflicting political views blazed through every session. Delegates spent three days labouring to find peaceful resolutions to global problems while donning the roles of diplomatic leaders. Read on for details on the proceedings in each of the three committees.

 UNGA DISEC

One of the committees that had a mix of some very seasoned candidates along with first-timers was the UNGA DISEC. The DISEC, or Disarmament and International Security Committee, is the committee of the General Assembly that deals with topics pertaining to “disarmament, global challenges, and threats to peace that affect the international community”, “seeking out solutions to the challenges in the international security regime.” The committee saw some interesting debate about the legitimacy of Private Military Contractors, or PMCs, and the threat they pose to world peace.

The committee started off with each delegate stating their country’s stance on the topic in a Formal Debate. The delegate of Iraq, in a bid to distance their country from the legacy of its former dictator, Saddam Hussain, stood against the use of civilians in military warfare. The United Kingdom, however, made a case for the validity of PMCs through an analysis of their actions in today’s active war zones. The United States, as one of the biggest private military contractors in the world, fiercely rallied for the usefulness of privatized warfare in today’s battles. The delegate of Israel, on the other hand, seemed to disagree with this, as he spoke against their closest allies by presenting the perils of PMCs.

On the second day, ‘The Implications of PMC’ was on the agenda for DISEC. Delegates deliberated over pros and cons, battling it out to have a say on the privatisation of PMCs and its effects on their respective countries. With almost 20 delegates participating, it was an intense sight to behold.

The morning of the last day of Summit Manipal saw delegates charged up to take on another day of debates and discussions. The discussion centred around the crisis that was announced to the committee the previous day—the sudden deployment of Private Military Contractors by Israel, with the support of the USA, at the Gaza Strip, that resulted in significant casualties. Most countries condemned the use of PMCs and called for a ceasefire and humanitarian help. The situation somewhat escalated when the UK felt that a statement made by China had breached its sovereignty, and requested a right to reply.  After China, the USA and UK put forth their stances. There was a vote, as a result of which, the USA and UK were suspended from the committee for ten minutes.

The drafting resolution proposed by the delegate of the United States of America concluded on certain decisive points. To name a few, each nation was required to sign a legitimate contract specifying exact details regarding ammunition. Additionally, it proclaimed the need for a new body known as the Private Military Crisis Committee (PMCC), responsible for investigating crises as well as maintaining records of licensed PMSCs.  After individual voting that succeeded the reading, the resolution attained majority votes, and the committee erupted into applause as the resolution was successfully passed. After a few words of appreciation from the Chair, the committee dismissed and the delegates made their way to the celebrate their success at the jovial closing ceremony.

Bilderberg

The Bilderberg conference piqued the interests of every aspiring astronomer. The committee, set in the near future, explored how the prestigious Bilderberg Group meetings, an annual private conference of 120 to 150 people comprising members of the political elite, experts from the industry, finance, academia and the media, would debate the feasibility of the colonisation of Mars. With members like Elon Musk, Donald Trump, Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson, the event was bustling with creative enthusiasm as people proposed innovative solutions to conquer the next great milestone in space exploration.

Being slightly different from a traditional MUN committee, Bilderberg had attracted a lot of first-timers. This made the initial sessions of the committee run relatively slow as the Executive Board had to often times pause and explain to the assembled delegates the order of proceedings.  However, in spite of the minor hiccups, the committee had its highlights.

The session began with the various stakeholders in the committee discussing the next American Presidential Election, with the two major candidates being Donald Trump and Dwayne Johnson. Since the scenarios in this committee were mostly fictional, it left a lot to the imagination and elicited a lot of humour from the delegates and chairpersons. The delegates were shown a cheeky, and fictional New York Times news bulletin which declared that Donald Trump had won a second term as the President. It also informed of tensions between Elon Musk and Donald Trump, which came as a blow to SpaceX’s interest in Mars exploration. The committee then moved into moderated caucus, where the delegates shared their opinions and stated their positions regarding the new developments.

Donald Trump, refreshingly much smarter in the committee, lent his expertise on the finances behind the project and talked about how NASA, the American space exploration agency, would aid the same. Elon Musk, however, seemed rather pompous, as he boasted of the various achievements of his company, Space-X and explained his companies vision and progress towards the colonisation of Mars. The representative of Boeing talked of his company’s proud heritage in building rockets for American space exploration efforts and their willingness to extend this expertise to the project. Stephen Hawking, however, was conspicuous by his absence.

On day three, the committee approached its conclusion as the famous personalities sat down after an amicable informal meeting to pass the prepared press release.  The committee’s conclusive press release stated that Stephen Hawking, a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, bequeathed to the Bilderberg family a diary about his research on Mars.

The purpose of this meeting was to commemorate his genius and immense contributions to humanity. It was found that he was assisted in his research by Vishal Gajjar, an Indian scientist prominent for his research on extraterrestrial life. Mr Gajjar will be continuing this research in the UK.  With a relaxed atmosphere in the room, the committee unanimously passed the vote and the committee terminated on a cheerful and jovial note. Following the conclusion, the Chair addressed the delegates with perceptive and insightful advice on future MUNs and public speaking, and the committee dispersed with a sense of contentment and a further ignited thirst for educated debate.

The Bilderberg conference showed that a MUN doesn’t always have to delve into world politics. By choosing such a topic, they created a platform where beginners can hone their skills without feeling conscious of their lack of special expertise in the procedure. With creative touches like signing non-disclosure agreements, and providing specialised Twitter handles to all the delegates, the organisers made a committee that could be enjoyed by all.

Historic United Nations Security Council

The only historic committee in the Summit Manipal roster this year, the Security Council was a crisis committee set in the immediate wake of the Gulf War. The last armed conflict supported by the United Nations—coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States fought against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait—coupled with its continued nuclear ambiguity. As each country took stock of its losses, and Iraq was pressured to pay reparations to Kuwait for its atrocities, the committee looked to the future and the reshuffling of power that takes place at the end of each war.

Being a prestigious committee, the committee had a few very experienced debaters who had to compete against the other first-timers. This, coupled with a participation of fewer than twenty delegates, meant that certain countries like Iran, Iraq, and China essentially had the stage to themselves. The delegate of Iraq firstly clarified his stance on the matter, explaining the actions of their previous ruler, Saddam Hussain, as incoherent with the policies of the rest of the nation.

He further elaborated on the plight of the poverty-stricken people of his country, as well as that of the neighbouring countries and asked that the reparation claims to his government be forgiven. The delegate of Bahrain supported Iraq in the same. China, a long-standing ally of the Islamic community and a non-participant in the war, voiced their inclination to mediate between both countries. Iraq, however, felt that this wasn’t an issue of the UNSC at all, and instead felt it should be handled by the Arab League.

Russia had conducted airstrikes, following the withdrawal of French troops. It had also moved to occupy oil fields in Kuwait and had begun drilling for oil in the Arctic. An unmoderated caucus was held, during which the delegates discussed the retaliatory steps to be taken against Russia. This was followed by a moderated caucus, where the countries declared their allegiances. While China offered to play a mediator in the crisis, USA and UK showed solidarity with Kuwait. Iraq remained silent, despite being needled by the other nations.

This proved to be the calm before the storm, as shortly after, Iraq issued a press release according to which American journalists who were being transported to a safe location in Baghdad were killed by suicide bombers. In the midst of heightened tension, a new crisis update was announced. A coalition of UK and Greece had intercepted an Iraqi vessel transporting oil to Russia and China. American and Israeli counter-intelligence also reported that the US journalists were subjected to torture and nerve agents.

After dealing with unpredictably changing conditions and working through simulated political crises in real-time, the committee successfully passed a globally agreed-upon press release. This release called for a bilateral negotiation between the parties concerned with the dispute, in accordance with articles 38, 39, and 40 of the Charter of the United Nations. In addition, it further pressed for discussions regarding foreign intervention and human rights violations.

Historic committees are often some of the most interesting events as they entertain the possibilities of what-ifs that would have changed the balance of global power, and hence, the world as we know it. This was clearly the goal set by the organisers for this committee as well, as the Board on various occasions intervened, asking delegates to talk about alternate possibilities. While most in the committee talked of traditional solutions, certain delegates exhibited through their creative ideas just how different the world could have been today.

Picture Credits: The Photography Club, Manipal

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