The first of these speeches that we heard was by Karen McRae, the Provincial Coordinator of the Action Coalition on Human Trafficking. Throughout her speech she presented us with an anecdote that is close to home.
Mrs. McRae told us the story of a North Korean woman that managed to escape her country and made her way to China. Once she arrived to China she began to be forced into labor as she tried to get by. Eventually, she was told that she could make far more money than she did in China if she went to Canada – and so, she did. This woman ended up arriving to Canada and was forced into sex trade at a massage parlor which became her prison, for she was forced to stay there under the threat that if she told anyone, she would be deported. This got to the point that she did try to reach the authorities; her abusers were persecuted, but she was still deported.
With this story, Mrs. McRae went on to challenge some of the ways through which we try to deal with the problem of human trafficking, for they are not victim-supportive, as the story demonstrates. Foreign policies in regards to immigration and refugee status can often present restrictions and challenges for these victims – in fact, our own policies can be used as a threat against victims, as also shown by the story.
The other Keynote Speech was the Honorable Douglas Roche, a former senator and Canadian Ambassador to the UN for Disarmament. His speech consisted of reflections of the UN turning seventy years old and the progress that it has made at developing strong diplomatic relationships amongst Member States. Ultimately, he brought to our attention some of the challenges that are present for the UN now – the issue of terrorism was particularly given an emphasis. In the questions section, one of my fellow delegates at the conference brought out a provocative question worth considering: What constitutes terrorism?
Now, having addressed both of the Keynote Speeches, I would like to talk a bit about what I’ve learned in regards to policy and resolution writing in my time at the conference. I believe that these emulated interactions between delegations representing different countries do, in fact, give an insight into how international relationships play a role on the language and the strength of the policies that are made in General Council of the UN.
In the introductory speeches, exposition was central. Upon carefully listening to what each delegation had to say, I was able to pick up much of their general stance upon these issues and their relationships with each other. One of these particular moments was when the whole room ended up gasping was when Argentina called out the US on some problems they have been having with each other. Much of the content of these speeches helped establish the environment that we would have to work through. As the speeches went on, notes began to be passed on to countries trying to negotiate their work on resolutions together as they began to see themselves fit to work with one another.
My colleague Miranda Coleman, current story editor of The Bolt, and I were representing The People’s Republic of China, so from our experience, we had a certain reluctance in working with resolutions that imposed operative claims against State Sovereignty. Here is where the language of the resolutions became crucial.
The following operative clauses we had to be attentive about: accepts, adopts, approves, authorizes, decides, declares, designates, and instructs. The use of these words often lead to a clause of resolution that could potentially force something upon a country, thus raising further issues. More often than not, the resolutions that worked with focused on using more neutral operative clauses to ensure the comfort, the participation, and the acceptance of the resolution by a vast variety of countries.
Ultimately, it was through negotiation and finding common grounds that these resolutions were formulated. We had to research the work already done by the UN and individual countries to have some backing to what we were working with, as well as to ensure that we are not doing work that has been completely done in our resolution. Some very particular delegations stood out in terms of preparation, having understood much of the work that had been already done.
Once that the resolutions were up for debate, each resolution would be presented by sponsor, then two countries would defend it and two would attack it. The process in it of itself managed to bring up interesting points for further resolutions to improve upon the one’s we had worked on. By the end of the vote, the conference was over.
The Model United Nations conference was a fantastic experience; I must say that I cannot way to do more work in the Model UN.