On the second day of conference, session began with ten delegates in their seats and five running late. The Security Council was called to order, the working paper submitted by the delegates of Egypt and USA was uploaded on Google Docs for viewing and I couldn’t help but feel listless by the prospect of an entire day of resolution debate.
Never have I been more wrong.
Perhaps it was the previous day’s 6.5 rating or the consolidation of a hearty breakfast; because the Security Council began with a bang.
For the benefit of the reader, let’s break down Day 02 at NYMUN SC 2016 into five key moments in chronological order.
ONE – HEAD-TO-HEAD.
Two minutes into resolution debate and operative clause 4 regarding the transparency of Private Military Companies (PMCs) and the creation of a financial oversight committee caught the attention of not only the delegates – but the head table itself. The President of SC, Sonal Jayawickrama, couldn’t help but put the delegate of USA under scrutiny; would the United States of America be willing to publish and make such reports available to the public as principally required to do so through the financial oversight committee?
Yes of course, the United States would comply to this as long as the information released would not endanger national security or harm US civilians including those enlisted under the contract of the PMCs.
The very plausibility of such a selective release of information was questioned; since what is the point of creating a committee when it can choose not to carry out the very task it was created for? The delegate of USA expertly quoted national security as one of the nine exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act, thus resulting in the termination of further debate along this course.
Never having been to SC before, I wondered if such a back and forth with the head-table and active engagement in debate was normal. And if it was, wouldn’t it be counter-productive as debate amongst delegates would fall short and rather be with the moderating body, i.e. the head-table?
Sonal, obviously thinking along those same lines, did not hesitate to clear up the matter. Addressing the committee, he announced that due to the relatively mediocre debate on the first day, the head table would not hesitate to stimulate debate even if it meant momentary involvement. Further stating that this was just i) a verification of how well-researched the delegates were today ii) a wake-up call and catalyst for consistent debate and iii) a warning that debate at the SC must remain at its high caliber.
And it’s safe to say that it did.
TWO – ASSAD TRIGGERED.
Five minutes is all it takes for all hell to break lose and put USA back in the eye of the storm. The contention was the accountability of arming and aiding Organised Armed Groups (OAGs), so of course, US involvement with the Syrian crisis and the Free Syrian Army was first on the lineup of discussion. The delegate of USA began with an announcement “We do not fund terror groups.” Deeply appalled by such suggestions, he went on to state that the US has only supplied non-lethal aid to help sustain the Free Syrian Army – a band of oppressed and vulnerable civilians currently fighting for their rights and attempting to survive under a tyrannical regime; the aid was given in good faith and was not to be misused.
Following which was the simile-of-the-conference;
“The USA giving non-lethal aid to rebels is like giving a crack-addict money and then blaming him for getting high.” – Delegate of Egypt.
The representative of Academi added fuel to the fire; “Delegates please remember, US President Barack Obama slipped up on national television, thus revealing that CIA trained more than 3000 FSA troops. Of course this had been hidden information and maybe he wasn’t supposed to slip up and reveal it, but he did.”
The Representative of Bashar Al Assad present in committee, expounded upon the ludicrous extent to which USA would cover up and hide its role in destabilizing Syria.
At this point, USA defended not only its actions, but the legitimacy of FSA’s very existence, and of course threw subtle shade at Syria in the way only a US delegate can;
“Obviously the Syrian government would know about hiding information from their civilians – just like the uses of their chemical weapons and stockpiles”
“Do you know what the FSA is doing? TRYING TO TOPPLE MY GOVERNMENT!” – Representative of Bashar Al Assad, NYMUN 2016.
THREE – FRENCH FAUX PAS
The second resolution, sponsored by France, Uruguay and Palestine brought with it many contentions.
Operative clause 5: Urges both parties involved in deployment and deployed in, to disregard immunity in all forms, with special emphasis on impunity
Operative clause 8: Calls upon all nations to curb the use of PMCs in the name of perseverance of multilateral and bilateral relations between them.
“Does France have domestic PMCs?” – Head Table
“No, France does not.” – Delegate of France
Yet, the use of French PMCs and their operations in Central African Republic, Somalia and Mali are widely known. It was a blaring FPS violation; no one said it and no one needed to. In the subsequent brief unmoderated caucus session, compromises were made and France was retracted as a sponsor nation.
To the delegate of France – everyone makes mistakes, even SC delegates. And though retracting as sponsor may seem like a big deal at MUN, it’s not. Just don’t let it affect your flow; if you’re on track then it’s all still good. Trust me, I’ve been there, I’ve done that. Don’t let it get you down.
FOUR – RUSSIA RIDES SOLO
SC/02/03 – a resolution written, submitted and sponsored by Russia.
Whilst I must commend upon the effort and courage it must have taken to write up an entire resolution, I cannot deny that this resolution was too vague to be agreed upon at the Security Council.
Firstly, it introduces an oversight committee and an investigatory body but fails to prescribe, who it will be comprised of or the mandate of such a committee and in that regard was an operative that put off most of the delegates. The fact that Operative Clause 3, 4, 5 and 6 dealt with this same committee wasn’t helping.
Secondly, operative clause 7: “Encourages States to consider the viability of PMCs as an appropriate measure in military engagements, in any capacity, in the long-term;”, was included in the resolution in good faith to reevaluate and reflect upon the use of PMCs.
However, its phrasing not only elucidates increasing the number of PMCs in the military sphere, but also lengthening their engagement. Further, its specificity on military engagements once again exacerbates the ongoing definition debate by affirming their stance as mercenaries.
Operative 9, 10 and 11 introduces further burdens on the Secretary General’s Office, which many delegates believed was unnecessary and therefore rendered those operative clauses unfeasible.
The delegate of Palestine stated that this resolution “has not given any solutions to curb the power of PMCs”, and thus falls short of its main purpose. Whereas Academi quite blatantly motioned to table the resolution at multiple occasions because it lacked a “substantial skeleton” – even amendments couldn’t salvage it as there was nothing to build upon.
FIVE – CRISIS
- Academi ceases all of its contracts including those with the UN.
- Academi forces are being mobilized
- US made F22 fighter jet makes a low pass over Damascus
- 7500 mobilized Academi troops move into Damascus
- A statement released by the Assad regime reveals these troops will be used to wipe out FSA and ISIS.
- Assad regime gained the resources to hire Academi from Russia.
I have never seen a crisis so well placed in relation to the topic. Sonal and Melan; hats-off to you.
The blame games that ensued were in line with everyone’s highest expectations;
“…the aid that was given by Russia was, of course, non-lethal aid…”
“…But this aid is being used for a LETHAL purpose…”
Nonetheless, the highlight of this crisis is the underlying alpha male power struggle between none other than the delegate of Russia and representative of Assad over who has more control over Academi.
“Since it’s Russia’s money, it’s Russia’s contract and thus Russia’s control.” – Delegate of Russia
“Academi is currently reporting to my government. Not to you, or anyone else.” – Assad Representative
Maybe it was coincidence, but I found it rather amusing that instead of the potential spillover of violence in Syria due to Academi mobilization, we were instead engaged in a power struggle between two governments to determine who had more dominance over a third-party – so in many ways this SC did resemble the real world.
All in all, I found SC to be the most stimulated, driven and intense committee of NYMUN 2016. It isn’t very diplomatic to say its NYMUN’s best committee, but I’m not a diplomat – best committee without a doubt.