The St. Stephen’s Model United Nations Security Council met on April 3 to address the protection of journalists, the crisis in Venezuela and sustainable development goals. More than 70 students participated in the meeting, which was marked by heated and informed debates.
Secretary General Isaac Song opened the meeting with a speech that described in measured terms the topics and their significance. Mae McMillin ably served as parliamentarian, and Isabella Villarreal kept the minutes.
The meeting began with a struggle over setting the agenda that augured a contentious session, as indeed it was. On the first topic, in a regrettable reflection of world and domestic political trends, protections of journalists were circumscribed by state interests. In effect, the majority voted to promote “trustworthy” state media and to allow states to do “whatever necessary to jail and remove threats to national security, regardless of career or job” — a clear signal that the persecution of journalists would be permissible.
Next, the deeply divided Council turned their attention to Venezuela, and a heated, multi-sided debate ensued. Venezuela denounced outside interference, neo-liberal capitalist imperialism, and hypocritical policies. These accusations were taken up by other countries and turned in multiple directions; even the permanent five (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) exchanged accusations of bad faith and covert intentions. Crafting a resolution was drawn out, as every proposed edit led to another debate about principles and policies, suspected cabals, and past immoral actions. Finally, the delegates voted to table the topic and take up sustainable development, which ultimately led back to the Venezuela feud the moment the topic of oil came up.
The debate on sustainable development was derailed by the news that cascading post-election unrest and fragmenting military discipline threatened the unity and stability of Turkey. Russia seized the opportunity to throw its support to the Turkish president and carve out a direct sphere of influence in that region. China joined with Russia, and the three formed a “TRC Forever” alliance. The United States and Europeans, alarmed by the apparent loss of a key NATO ally, mobilized for action. More accusations about past actions and present conspiracies were traded. Columbia promised military aid to NATO, which led to tart comments about the Colombian military and Columbian sycophancy of aiding western imperial powers. The meeting adjourned with the delegates in good spirits, but the world in ruins.
Model UN at St. Stephen's is a simulation of the United Nations Security Council, which puts students into a world of diplomacy and negotiation. Students take up issues before the UN, research those issues from the perspective of their assigned country, and seek to defend their country’s interest in public policy debate. They also seek to gain international consensus by means of drafting resolutions, political negotiations and informed debate. St. Stephen’s Model UN provides time and resources for students to engage in these activities, and to learn the art and patience of procedural rules and policy development.
These sessions allow St. Stephen’s students to further school-wide goals of global citizenship and social justice. Faculty sponsors include Christopher Colvin, Sarah Todd and Mason Cox.
—Christopher Colvin, Ph.D.