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International Model United Nations 2017 – 5 PPPler In Bonn

International Model United Nations 2017 – 5 PPPler in Bonn

Die PPPler Gage Garretson, Jesse Aman, Cullin Flynn, Kaitlyn Kinsey und Christopher Perry nahmen vom 24.-28.11.2017 an der BIMUN (International Model United Nations) in Bonn teil. Was die BIMUN überhaupt ist und welche Erfahrungen unsere PPPler dort erlebten, berichten sie hier:

Representing Brazil, Germany, Mexico and Japan

by Gage Garretson, Jesse Aman, Cullin Flynn, Kaitlyn Kinsey and Christopher Perry

Representing the interest of another Nation

During the conference we were expected to act as representatives of our respective nation-states, even to the extent of always using the personal pronouns “we” and “our” (which took some time to get used to), as opposed to the first person singular “I.” We were expected to always speak and react to situations by considering the best interests for our respective nation-states, even when those positions were at odds with our personal views.

UN Women pose during the final luncheon

As the delegate representing the Federative Republic of  Brazil, I found this particularly challenging as Brazil recently experience a governmental transition without offering much digital footprint as to new policy priorities regarding women. This forced me to consider the limitations of having one person from one government represent such a diverse and large country as Brazil. Throughout the conference I often thought about an article I read describing how over ninety percent of the Brazilian population would not vote for the current interim administration in the upcoming 2018 elections. It struck me how many countries can relate to the challenge of representing diverse, often contradictory views from a single country, as both the U.S. and Germany are also struggling with. – Gage Garretson, UN Women

I was assigned to represent Germany and this in itself was a challenge, but indeed a rewarding one. As the major economic player in the European Union and one of the U.S.A’s biggest allies, naturally I was caught in the middle of several tensions, which mostly included counting on Germany to be a strong yet neutral delegate. This was especially the case during our Crisis simulation. It was at this moment that I realized that even though the U.S. counts on Germany as a strong ally, it was also my responsibility to condemn the U.S. and offer extensive help to the women of Bolivia in response. In addition, I later found out that first-time delegates were not supposed to be assigned to Germany, which put much more pressure on me to represent in a dutiful manner. On the first day of the conference, we had the head of Germany’s National Committee for the UN visit us, during which I presented Germany’s position on our first topic, all as a first time MUNer (which was incredibly intimidating). – Jesse Aman, UN Women

I had the fortune to represent a country in which I had lived. And yet, to represent a country as diverse as Mexico was challenging. I first approached drafts and debates with my practical knowledge of conservation programs and ecological restoration projects from Mexico; I quickly learned, however, that such knowledge is not enough for the UN proceedings. A background to the main policy standpoints of a country is a fundamental starting point. – Cullin Flynn, FAO

FAO assembled for a silly photo following adjournment.

As a member of the FAO committee, I was very fortunate to represent Germany. This was my first introduction to MUN conferences, so remaining “in character,” so to speak, was sometimes tricky. Germany is seen as a powerhouse, and one of the leading countries in Europe and Western civilization. Therefore, Germany was highly expected to remain neutral, and act with a level of consideration for other nations, while at the same time keeping in mind what would be beneficial for Germany. Since living in Germany, I have personally noticed – at least a little bit – how Germans operate, so it was very interesting to apply some of this ideology to my debate discussions. However, it is often very difficult to remain neutral when so many countries have many opinions and expectations, and with many expectations comes great responsibility. I found myself always trying to maintain diplomatic neutrality, especially regarding my phrasing during debates or speeches, in attempts to gain forward thinking progress. – Kaitlyn Kinsey, FAO

Typically, Model United Nations simulations assign member states with high leverage or critical roles to delegates with prior MUN experience. I was assigned the State of Japan on the Security Council, which was not supposed to be assigned to a first-time delegate. The UNSC discussed the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, where the State of Japan plays the crucial role of regional representative and United States (U.S.) ally. Having closely followed the U.S.’s deteriorating relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) I found it difficult to remain focused on the Japan’s desired outcome. Knowing so much about the U.S. stance helped to me garner the support of the U.S. delegate in drafting a resolution that would continue to pressure the DPRK. Having the extra pressure as a key player in the situation helped to speed up my acclimation to how MUN works. – Chris Perry, UN Security Council

The Model united Nations Process

Debating and drafting working papers to-be, working papers, and (hopefully) draft resolutions is what the conference really boiled down to. Drawing together representatives from countries around the world, both in real life and in the simulation, stressed the struggles diplomats face in collaborating across cultural, lingual, and geographic lines. In our committee, while every country represented could agree to the importance of women in our societies and the need for increased participation in society, the cultural norms from Germany, Brazil, and Yemen revealed stark gaps during negotiations. The MUN Process ultimately was twofold, first in finalizing precise wording in order to appease (in our case) all parties and the second in convincing delegates what certain phrasings would actually mean. – Gage Garretson, UN Women

Never having participated in a MUN conference before, I honestly had no idea what the process would be like. Prior to the conference, we were required to submit a position paper on behalf of the delegation we were representing. However, I later learned that that the position paper would not really dictate the course of the debate as I assumed. During the debate processes, I learned about moderated and unmoderated caucuses, point of personal privileges, point of parliamentary inquiries and a lot of other formal UN language. Since UN Women was a consensus council, it required extensive debating and coming to agreements on not   only overall decisions regarding our topics but specific wording on resolutions that all of the delegates could vote “yes” on. What seemed the most important were the unmoderated caucuses, which allowed us to have breaks from our debating and put together our resolution documents since those were the only times we weren’t restricted to speaking times. Regardless of the (multiple) unmoderated caucuses we called for, it almost became impossible for our council to finalize our resolutions. All of these situations exemplified how challenging global diplomacy in the UN setting is and how it is difficult to transcend cultural and political differences in order to come to agreements. – Jesse Aman, UN Women

Cullin representing the United Mexican States

Debating and drafting are the central components of the MUN process, and they show delegates’ true colors. Drafting is intimately tied to the unmoderated caucus, which provides a sort of “recess” from debate. As roadblocks to the working papers mounted, moderated caucuses and 90-second speaker times allowed for delegates to share their views and concerns, often even challenging other delegations in strategic passes. As the delegate of Mexico, I often used these times to remind delegates of my subsidy program, showing tenacity and confidence in the soundness of my program, while winning me respect (and eye-rolling) from other delegations. – Cullin Flynn, FAO

Going into the MUN conference, with little political background, I had limited expectations. I knew this would be a mock UN conference, and that we would each represent a country and debate with other “countries,” but I had no idea what a large role debating and drafting would play in the MUN process. The debates, whether moderated or unmoderated, were times where countries could share their opposing viewpoints, respond to each other, see which countries shared similar standpoints, and figure out how to get what they wanted/needed as an end-result. Lots of note passing ensued, especially during opening statements, and small groups of like-minded countries formed. These groups collaborated on “working-papers,” or draft resolutions, which would later become resolutions, if passed by a ⅔ vote. This process really opened my eyes to the challenges facing today’s diplomats. Not only are they competing for different outcomes that best benefit their countries, but they have to all agree – and that is not an easy feat. – Kaitlyn Kinsey, FAO

As a first time delegate, I went into the experience thinking that we would do a lot of debate on topics to find the best solution to implement. Debate certainly occurred but we spent much of our time creating working papers, that later, with enough support became draft resolutions. The formal debates of an MUN are broken up into multiple parts: Opening Statements (longer statements about country position and sought after legislation), moderated caucuses (time allotment to discuss a specific topic with short speaker times), and unmoderated caucuses (specified time and no speaking rules). The key was learning to balance how much time I spent paying close attention to the debate (where member states go off on tangents that are unrelated) and focusing on drafting. Since the chairs of each committee call on speakers in moderated caucuses, it can be difficult to actively debate a certain point. By the time your name is called and your can respond to someone else, five more aspects have been brought up. – Chris Perry, UN Security Council

Results of Committee Meetings

The UN Women’s committee is unique in that unlike other committees that require a simple or two-thirds majority we have to come to a consensus in order to pass any resolutions. After days of intense debating and dealing with a spontaneous crisis situation, the UN Women’s committee passed two draft resolutions. One was on assisting the economic integrity and protection of Bolivian women after the United States’ retaliatory strikes (which was perhaps the most difficult personally, as Brazil was one of the holdout countries in allowing the resolution to pass). The other draft resolution was on incorporating women in transitional justice and post-conflict governmental structures. Unfortunately, due to the length of debate and discussion to reach consensus, as well as the surprise crisis situation, our committee was not able to get to our final topic on the role of women in climate change. – Gage Garretson, UN Women

UN Women was particularly challenged in achieving draft resolutions because our council needed to reach a consensus in order to pass any resolution. We were only able to pass a resolution on one of our topics: women in post-conflict governmental structures and transitional justice. This resolution focused on providing women in post-conflict countries with the technical and economic assistance needed in order to be included in decision-making at all levels. This particularly focused on the women being able to be part of the policy- making and granting them the opportunities to become economically independent. Our second topic, women in climate change, was not touched upon since in the middle of the conference we were hit with a major crisis situation in Bolivia. However, we were also able to pass a resolution in response to the attacks in Bolivia, aiding the women who would be seeking to rebuild their communities by providing them with financial and technical support. – Jesse Aman, UN Women

The FAO only explored its first topic issue, climate change and food security. From the start, we unanimously agreed that agriculture is a fundamental component of food security and that it requires some degree of innovation. What that would look like in writing was not easy to determine. As the delegate of Mexico, I began to work on a tree crop subsidy program. After speaking numerous times on the floor about the benefits of tree agriculture (aquifer recharge; soil conservation, ecosystem proliferation, resilient in the face of disastrous weather events), I stopped trying to convince delegates of its importance and moved on to drafting my program in working resolution form. In the meantime, Peru and Australia began to enlist support for separate initiatives, both comprehensive and flexible in how they addressed food security across the globe. Peru initiated the Technology, Education, and Cooperation (TEC) program, while Australia worked closely with Iran and others on the Water, Education, Assistance, Livelihood, Transparency, and Health (WEALTH) program. I sponsored, and eventually integrated my tree crop subsidy program into the latter program; however, the program was overwhelmingly comprehensive, so much so that the Secretariat was unable to finish edits and initiate a final vote for it. We thus passed the TEC program unanimously and with great relief. – Cullin Flynn, FAO

The group of “MUN”-ers on the FAO committee were all really hard-working. We had two working groups, and two draft resolutions. However, due to time and editing constraints, we were unable to combine the two into one draft resolution, and therefore only one draft – Technology, Education, and Cooperation, or “TEC” – was voted on and passed unanimously as a resolution (although the FAO only needs ⅔ majority vote in order to pass a resolution). While both groups had great ideas and really detailed measures, the main objectives were often overlapping. The idea was to create a framework from which countries could maintain sustainable agriculture within their countries, while keeping the issue of climate change in mind. I found this topic extremely interesting, but was disappointed that we could not delve into our second topic, antimicrobial resistance in agriculture, as I have an especially unique perspective on antimicrobial resistant bacteria due to my medical background. The monkey-wrench of the “crisis” was thrown into our schedule about halfway through the conference. All committees were given the same scenario (biological attacks against the USA, resulting in the USA bombing Bolivia, which greatly depleted Bolivia’s agriculture and food supply) and needed to react and respond accordingly. It was intended to simulate a real crisis, if one were to theoretically take place during a UN meeting. Our different committees/countries respond by deciding what steps needed to be taken to address the crisis, how our respective committees could help the situation, and what actions needed to be taken. The process for the crisis played out similarly to our main topic, given that we debated and wrote draft resolutions, but we each had specific standpoints for our countries, which were given to us by the BIMUN conference. The FAO passed a resolution which focused on supplying Bolivia with immediate food relief, and rebuilding Bolivia’s agricultural system with support from GMO’s. – Kaitlyn Kinsey, FAO

Japan (Chris) und Kazakhstan form an unlikely alliance

The Security Council is usually the most difficult council or committee to adopt resolutions due to the context of the topics and the presence of veto rights by the Power 5 (P5 – U.S.A, France, U.K., Russia, China). Our Security Council proved to be able to find a lot of common ground on our topics (North Korea, Lebanon, and a crisis). We ended as the only council the successfully drafted and passed 3 resolutions during the conference and were to only council to debate both of our topics. For the situation surrounding North Korea, we passed a resolution that called for the reinstitution of the six-party talks to stem the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programs and called for continued implementation of sanctions until that time. On Lebanon we drafted a resolution that expanded the amount of peacekeepers assigned to UNIFIL with the hope that they would be able to secure the Lebanese borders and allow the LAF the opportunity to address matters inside of Lebanon. We also addressed a crisis where a new terrorist group supposedly tied to the Bolivian Government, orchestrated multiple terrorist attacks that targeted the US Presidential succession line. The acting President (J Mattis) authorized a retaliatory attack that killed 300,000 Bolivian citizens. We were able to pass a resolution for an investigation into the terrorist organization, reestablish ties between the U.S. and Bolivia, and begin the investigation into a GMO that was used in the terrorist attacks. – Chris Perry, UN Security Council

Representing the PPP and Meeting other Muners

The delegate of Brazil (Gage) forming a new alliance

Perhaps the highlight of the entire conference, aside from being able to flawlessly call for a moderated caucus, was being able to meet other delegates from around the world. It was exciting to make friends with Germans, Belgians, and more who all were interested in international cooperation and exchange. As one of two groups who came from the United States, it was also interesting having to distinguish ourselves from those just coming for the conference. It felt like we were really living the Model United Nations mission by already participating in the PPP and showing other Europeans and Americans our investment in these ideas. – Gage Garretson, UN Women

One of the biggest takeaways from BIMUN was most definitely meeting and getting to know my fellow council-members, delegates from other councils, and especially our own PPP group. The young people that were present came from across Germany, the EU, and even California and their passion for the MUN process was truly admirable. Although it was my first time, my fellow council members were so supportive of my progress and were willing to help with anything, especially when I came down with an intense cold and was told exactly what medicine to get. Most of the people I met also had political and policy backgrounds, but there were also many who didn’t. It was overall fascinating to meet so many young, passionate, driven and progressive leaders in the making, which really gave me hope for the future of our world. I am especially grateful to have been on a council that is of interest to me, and to have met other young people who are passionate about women’s rights and empowerment. One of the best parts was also getting to know our PPP group and spending time with each other whether it was during coffee breaks or during the socials that took place in the evening. It was particularly rewarding to share with people that we were with PPP, as almost all the Germans we shared that fun fact with were impressed with us living in Germany for a year and participating in MUN for the first time. – Jesse Aman, UN Women

An Italian, a Belgian and an American share a room together… no joke! Contact with BIMUN delegates was enlivening, and the social circumstances always variegated. One moment I listened earnestly to the Bulgarian delegate of South Africa looking to ensure markets for niche crops abroad. Hours later I beheld a group of Californians letting loose on the dance floor, lasers beaming overhead. Most important, I made connections on a personal level. I discovered the passions of brilliant young ambassadors who, in the midst of crises and coffee breaks, demonstrated leadership and an eagerness to communicate. For example, I learned about the pedagogy of Irish language; communal eating in Uganda; and dialectal nuances between Saudi and Egyptian Arabic. I also met my soulmate, a red-headed polyglot from the area. 🙂 – Cullin Flynn, FAO

BIMUN was such a special experience for me. I was so pleased with the experience; of course, for learning how UN conferences function and how decisions on the global scale are made, but mainly for the friends I made from all around the world. (The FAO committee even created our own chat group, and we still keep in touch every couple days!) Meeting experienced MUNers, as well as new MUNers like myself, was like peeking into another, more global, world. Through participating in this MUN conference, I am really interested in attending another MUN conference someday, although the experience wouldn’t be the same without my other PPP delegates! I think we all got to know each other pretty well throughout the week, and it was nice to have our own little support system. We were a really good mixture, and we totally had a blast together! Working with other young, diverse, forward-thinking, and bright minds was a really positive and hopeful experience, especially in today’s tumultuous political world. Spending five days with these amazing young ambassadors from around the world was truly an honor, and I am so humbled to have been able to participate. – Kaitlyn Kinsey, FAO

The best part of BIMUN was getting to know the other MUNers. Going into the experience I expected that most participants would be very serious and would not be very outgoing. How wrong I was. The MUNers were from 22 countries but all spoke English as a common language. The educational and professional backgrounds were as diverse and the nationalities. I personally became close with the delegation from the University in Leuven, Belgium and California State University at Long Beach. Everyday we debated and worked with those on our councils for 8+ hours and every night we ate and attended the socials together. It is incredible how close you can become to so many people in 5 days when you spend all of your time with them. I made some friendships that I hope will last for the rest of my lifetime. Although the PPP delegates were assigned to separate councils, we also became closer through this experience, and shared the task of distinguishing ourselves from the other American delegation. It was a great chance to get to know some of my fellow PPPlers from other placements on a more personal level. – Chris Perry, UN Security Council

How participating in BIMUN enriched our PPP Experience

As mentioned before, the goals of BIMUN and PPP overlap substantially. The desire to bridge divides; share different perspectives, and foster cooperation across various boundaries stressed at BIMUN only helped me reflect more upon the goals of PPP and my role as an American youth ambassador to Germany. BIMUN not only offered new global contacts, but also gave me the opportunity to meet more Germans who share similar interests to me. Being a PPPler also encouraged Germans and other Europeans to spend more time with us, as they knew were staying on the continent and interested in learning more. – Gage Garretson, UN Women

Participating in BIMUN only reiterated the importance of cultural immersion and being global citizens. The purpose of MUN is to gather young leaders from diverse backgrounds, with different perspectives to brainstorm policies that would result in a more globalized society. Being able to interact with Germans from all across Germany was especially rewarding because I was able to share more about the PPP and many were interested in how that could benefit them personally in their futures. Even though it is only a mock conference, the ability to come together and ponder about what currently challenges the globe and the importance in solving those issues, is something truly invaluable. In addition, because we were the Americans who were permanently living in Germany for the year, we made a lot of German friends who were interested in hosting us in their perspective cities. Fostering these German-American relationships is exactly what PPP aims to do, which is why I believe BIMUN was an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have participated. – Jesse Aman, UN Women

Cultural immersion is the name of the game, and BIMUN supercharged it. Through intense, daily collaboration with young ambassadors from across the globe, a new forum emerged. The complexities of the simulation–for example, Italians speaking for Japan and Greeks representing Brazil–placed delegates in a unique headspace, a strange mix of compassion and caution, or prudence. Filled with intrigue, we ended sessions and hit the streets, eager to speak about real-life experiences as junior ambassadors: which cultural nuances were challenging to the recently arrived Californians, and how might a semester-long stint   ameliorate them? How do young internationally orientated Germans interact with Americans as opposed to other nationalities? It is no easy task to attribute a clear answer to such ponderings, yet to articulate the questions alone has been incredibly valuable. – Cullin Flynn, FAO

Participating in BIMUN as a member of PPP was a really unique experience. The other young ambassadors from around the world were all really eager to learn new cultures – just as eager as I am. However, while many of them were just visiting Germany for a few days for the conference, the PPPlers were/are “visiting” Germany for a year. When other young ambassadors would ask where I was from, and I said the USA, the typical response was: “Oh, so you’re one of the Californian delegates!” To which I would respond: “No actually, I’m a member of the PPP exchange program, there are five PPP delegates here at BIMUN, and we’re living in Germany for one year,” etc. (you know the spiel). This would always bring interesting conversations about what the PPP fellowship is, what I was doing in Germany during my exchange year here, how I got accepted for the program, etc. It made me really proud to be a member of PPP, and honored to be able to meet these people from around the world, being able to share so many different cultural nuances. While PPP is a long- term cultural exchange, BIMUN was like a short, mini, & global PPP times 100! This BIMUN experience enriched my PPP exchange, and made for an incredibly memorable week!   – Kaitlyn Kinsey, FAO

My motivation to participate in PPP was to challenge myself in way that require stepping out of my comfort zone and hopefully to gain an expanded world view. As a PPP participant with a finance background, I am comfortable researching and presenting. Formal debate is much different from presenting to a room and the research that you do to support another nation’s position is different than valuing a company or analyzing cash flows. I had always followed the news, especially American politics and finance but I had little idea how the United Nations functions. By learning about the UN, experiencing debate, and representing the interests of another country, BIMUN helped me move closer to accomplishing my PPP goals. When I think back on the BIMUN experience I am going to be able to say that I came to understand why there are such great struggles to pass meaningful legislation in all politics. I also feel that I will be able to take a more objective view of situations that I read about in the media. In every situation there are a lot of factors, and usually only the most negative get the media spotlight. This experience helped me learn to look beneath the surface at factors that may play a unique role in the situation. – Chris Perry, UN Security Council.

Ending the stressful but unique experience with a well-deserved Glühwein at the Bonner Weihnachtsmarkt together with new friends! (from left to right: Gage, Kaitlyn, Chris, Jesse, Cullin)
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