I just got back from Harvard's model UN conference.
As the delegate from Cyprus in the UNWC-Applications, I sat with 551 other delegates in the General Assembly simulation and tried to come up with a treaty that regulated unilateral actions.
Thats the resume version. Now for the truth.
Being an ivy league-er apparently doesn't make you good at organizing. Delegates from around the world-- literally-- decried the lack of parliamentary procedure. The fact that they came from different countries and thus could decry in different languages made the entire event perfect.
I wish this happened more often-- college grads and undergrads getting together, discussing politics in the day and alcohol, music & sex at night. Its proof that woodstock will never die.
Disclaimer #1: I deslike the present structure of the UNO. It's post WWII philosophy is not in tune with the world today-- there can be no P5, or veto, in a world where Surinam and Burkina Faso [not to mention Cyprus and Brazil] introduce amendments and motions at model UNs. There is an open market, with non-state actors and people who communicate via the internet. Like Windows, the UNO needs updates too. But thats just my little rant.
Disclaimer #2: I chose to not go to this model UN for the above-stated reasons. I ended up going because my friends asked me to, as there was an opening in the 11th hour. Throwing principles and homework to the wind, I took off with zero preparation to this conference.
ok, it wasn't all alcohol, music & sex. Even from my perch as observer of the world, there were moments of brilliance throughout these past 4 days. In committee for instance, the latin american nations quickly got together, and the arab and african nations had no qualms joining them. Turkey, Greece and Cyprus sent each other notes and smiles, and vowed that if it was upto us, the 1974 dispute would be settled peaceably with a referendum, and Turkey would part of the E.U in 2007.
Chile, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Cyprus, Antigua and Barbuda, Jordan, Uruguay and Cuba became committee buddies-- We sent notes to each other about amending articles, sending memos to the other two sub committees and going out for coffee when the unmoderated caucus was called for.
South Africa got my salutations because he spoke with a britly clipped accent, and wore his turban and beard with true Sikh pride. Namibia was quietly amused. Losotho became Cyprus's close allies in clandestine breaks and laughing down certain votes. Ireland looked different without his tie, and deserved the award he got at the end.
Zimbabwe hit on mongolia. Chile followed a delegate who is from China but refused to tell me what country she represented. At 2:30am, sitting in the lobby with my bare feet up on a coffee table and my ipod on, I saw diplomatic relations carried on like never before. And yet, there was a sense of community to all of it: that all this dancing, and talking, and drunken pulling of fire alarms was done in the spirit of global good will.
Caught between cynicism and amusement, I was witness to beauty.
Like when the norwegian delegate sat down at the lobby grand piano, midst the false fire alarms and wobbly giggling female delegates, and played till his veins stood out. He played classical music up and down the scales never stopping, for two hours.
Like when Pakistan sent a cordial note to me, asking me to explain my reference to Musharraf. Like us toasting each other with beers across a room at the delegate's dance that evening.
Like Chile and I discussing canadian politics [of which, as a native, he is privy to] till 4am.
Like Ron the security guy discussing the Patriots and Life with those who stood around, unbuzzed, midst running after underage drinkers on the 14th floor.
Like getting stuck in an elevator with 21 other people and realizing that yes, I am claustrophobic.
Like hearing a delegate's take on model UNs, and why Harvard is full of sods-- Unorganized, he said. I seconded the motion.
As he said, nothing comes out of model UNs, except funding, fun and a good resume. Hopping up and down outside the Park Plaza hotel to keep warm in the -2 degree night that surrounded us, he said that he went up to speak at his first couple of model UNs in order to get laid. Which occured, of course [NB-- You agree with everything said by a drunken graduate post 1:35am. Its a thing]. But now, he said-- this was all pomp and show.
But of course. It's Harvard. But what hurts those of us who can consume alcohol and stay intelligent, is that such conferences are living proof of why the UN never succeeds in settling political disputes.
For instance-- The treaty that the UNWC came up with finally, had no reference to smart economic sanctions, eventhough the treaty contained specs for the creation of a body that would oversee matters of unilateral action. The amendment was shot down by those who sat up front, who-- as happens in most democratic processes these days-- were a minority. The majority sat beyond the microphones, and in silent angst, sent notes and played knoughts and crosses.
This new body that was set up would have no say about unilateral economic sanctions, "smart" or otherwise.
And in today's edition of the NYTimes and Washington Post?
Israel has frozen the financial assets of the new government in Palestine, which will leave the bureaucracy hamstrung by the end of this month. They claim to have done this as they fear Hamas will now take the government in an extremist direction. They have done this despite global dialogue, Russia's stance, and Abbas publically coming out at every opportunity and saying that there would be no extremist action taken, and the peace process would carry on. They have done this inspite of Hamas having shown no proof of "extremist" decisions as a legal part of the legislative, today.
And no one will say anything about it.
And we, unofficial diplomats, tied our own hands by leaving the amendment out.
Now you know why so much booze was consumed those three nights. Or so I was told.
NB-- If drinking in a bar in Boston, make sure you tip well. Otherwise she will muck up your mojito. Ah, Experience! The cruel lessons you teach!
Also-- The biggest thrill for me in Boston this weekend? Going into the hotel's bar, opening a tab, and paying for it myself. 3 drinks, a quiet wish that they played Floyd istead of 50 Cent, and a leisurely exit into the lobby, to talk to Ron, and take a tulip from an arrangement up to the room.
Speaking of Floyd though-- Thanks to Google video, I was blessed enough to come across sections of the 1970 studio sessions that the band did in California. I also go to see a few of the Pulse videos, like High Hopes and Comfortably Numb. My cup ran over and made a priyanka puddle, only coz I also got to see the 'see emily play' video, and pigs on the wing too.
In short, I am mellower, wiser, richer in experience and good accquaintances and loaded with homework like only Sisyphus would understand. Good stuff, at the end of the day.
PS: If you go to Boston, visit 'au bon pain'-- the best sandwiches and pain au chocolat I've had in a long time.
PPS: Jeff Buckley was born the angel he now literally is. If you have not heard his cover of Cohen's 'Hallelujah', and if you have a gmail account, then let me know.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Of Model U.N conferences, bars, smart economic sanctions, Floyd studio clips from 1970 and other sundry matters
I just got back from Harvard's model UN conference.
Posted by The Wizard of Odd at 5:14 PM