The second day started very positively, with most delegates engaging in the commission’s proceedings. Compared to the first day, it was complete turnaround, and the chairs were also quick to recognise this and commend all the delegates.
Through speakers list speeches and Moderated Caucus topics delegates highlighted a range of issues including the importance of socio-psychological programs for refugees, raising awareness amongst the local populous, implementing integration programs, and providing temporary work-visas for transit refugees. It was also interesting to hear some IR theory behind the reason for the crisis, when the Romanian delegate brought up Huntington’s clash of civilizations to explain the ongoing conflict. The security dimensions were also addressed; including the risk of potential terrorists seeding amongst refugees, and providing mandatory EU refugee identification cards that include a full biography of the refugees. One delegate’s proposals and statements stood out through the two days of conference – not necessarily because of their quality, but because of who made the statements. The issues the UK addressed, were those that do not directly affect the UK, and would not affect it after its departure from the EU. Was the UK trying to save face ahead of the Brexit? Clearly, this seemed to have worked, as the UK did manage to gather support throughout the day.
One of the more out-of-the-box proposals made by Greece was a suggestion to sell one of it’s islands to an Egyptian businessman who will allow refugees freely settle on this island so that “they could live with their own people”. This idea was previously proposed by the millionaire Naguib Sawiris in 2015, but was rejected by Greece and Italy. The other delegates were quick to point of the difficulty of implementing such a policy, but it would have been interesting to see where this debate would go had it been discussed further. Furthermore, wouldn’t such a policy result in a deficit creation of a mini-Iraq or Syria?
Delegates broke up for Unmoderated Caucus, and I was pleased to see the full participation of the house, with all of the delegates negotiating and working towards a consensus. At the end of the Unmoderated Caucus session there were two directives that were submitted. One by Germany, and the other, quite ironically, from the only observer nation – Turkey. Before even dwelling into the contents of the documents, I would like to question the decision of the chairs to even allow the Turkey to write a directive. While this would not have happened in the real EU, as the delegates were quick to point out, and thereby resulting in zero votes in favor of the directive, I commend the chairs for the out-of-the-box thinking, that not only gave the opportunity to the Turkish delegate to present her views in committee, but even set an example to the real EU on the importance of cooperation with external partners.
When considering Germany’s directive, the debate was clear, concise, and to the point. Some highlights of this document were –
- Expanding the categories of individuals who can apply for EU refugee status, beyond the scope of the 1951 Convention. This expanded definition includes IDPs, victims of a natural disasters, and persons fleeing from violent conflict with or without being subject to discrimination amounting to persecution.
- Establishment of a compulsory quota system.
- Using the Schengen Information System to share information on Schengen applicants.
- Investing in countries neighbouring Syria such as Turkey, and Jordan in order to improve conditions in the refugee camps.
- Providing temporary work permits and encouraging immigrants to work in order to contribute to the local economy.
One area in which the chairs failed at during the debate of the resolution was time-management. I felt that more time should have been given to the debate of the directives, and at some points time was wasted on procedural issues with regards to amendments. Also, “Right of reply to the delegate of ____ based on logical fallacy” was probably the most used statement during the two days of conference. While it was interesting to see the delegate of UK and Denmark use this point to make clarification, it seemed to have been overused, along with all the other “right of replies” used during debate.
Being an experienced MUNer I believe that the contents and quality of debate could have been better. However, given the fact that the majority of delegates were novice with only 4 experienced delegates, and many of the them being unfamiliar with EU procedures, I believe that the delegates (and the chairs) did a good job! All in all the IPC commends all the delegates for gaining the courage to speak and giving insightful speeches and comments. Furthermore, I commend the chairs and delegates for being actively involved with the use of internet application, sli.do for Moderated Caucasus and several polls, Google Docs to write the resolutions, and occasional interactions on Twitter. Overall, I believe that the EU may have been the committee that used the greatest variety of internet applications and by far was the most environment friendly.
Lastly, I applaud the chairs for encouraging all the delegates to speak and to a very large extent showing impartiality towards the delegates throughout the two days of conference. The IPC would confidently give a solid 7.5 out of 10 to the delegates and chairs of the EU.