On December 5, the St. Stephen's Model United Nations Security Council met and took up the topics of cybersecurity, family planning and refugee displacement. More than 70 students participated in the meeting, which concluded with a futile attempt to resolve a crisis spiraling toward war between the United States and China in the Horn of Africa.
The discussion of cybersecurity was muted, running aground on several conflicts within the council. The United States tried to focus on intellectual theft. The European countries focused on data breaches. Russia denied hacking elections while the United States denied collusion. Eventually, no resolution was passed.
The surprisingly lackluster discussion of cybersecurity was offset by an animated discussion of family planning inaugurated by Malaysia’s recommendation of Sharia Courts to separate and protect family legal matters from secular state and security matters. While that proposal met with nearly unanimous opposition in the council, it energized the formulation of a seven-part resolution to fund and aid family planning. The council fussed over the financial obligations and disbursements, then voted on each of the seven parts, passing the first six and rejecting the last one, an effort by the United States to protect “the sacred right to life of the unborn.”
The refugee topic produced heated debates between a U.S.-led effort to penalize countries that “create” refugees and a bloc interested in protecting the ability of refugees to flee dangerous conditions. The discussion was interrupted by a far-too-complex mess in the Horn of Africa. Suffice it to say the situation stirred up Saudi war interests in Yemen, Chinese investment interests in East Africa, and American security and oil interests in the Arabian Peninsula. Eventually, the United States proposed a “liberation” of Saudi Arabia from Chinese “shackles” at which point any semblance of plausibility had been left behind in a multi-sided tangle of recriminations.
Junior Emilia Alton ably served as Parliamentarian, guiding a meeting that moved from subdued comments about cyber security through some complicated parliamentary tangles to animated hostility about “adventurism” in the Horn of Africa. Alton was assisted at the dais by senior Ingrid Villarreal, secretary general, and sophomore Isabella Villarreal, recorder.
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.