The Munual 模聯手冊 http://munual.philkuo.com/ The Manual for MUNers Thu, 05 Sep 2019 20:32:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.11 India: A Complex Gender Narrative https://munual.philkuo.com/india-a-complex-gender-narrative/ https://munual.philkuo.com/india-a-complex-gender-narrative/#respond Wed, 27 Jun 2018 09:31:26 +0000 https://munual.philkuo.com/?p=988 To many, the current generation is often hailed as the most progressive — with organizations and states forwarding efforts in expanding rights and social reforms in issues of race, gender, sexuality, and more. However, it would be inaccurate to assume that modern efforts have managed to rid countries of social problems in such areas. India is a country in which gender oppression and rates of child marriage continue to be prominent problems. This ongoing oppression can be traced to India’s colonial history, and it is a phenomenon that continues to shape the state of India today. While examining the implications of the issue, it is also significant to analyze the root causes and discourse that shape not only the actions and ideals of the state but also of the nation.

The Current Situation in India

“States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women.”

The statement above was included in Article 16 of the Convention of the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979. From the outset, the Convention may be regarded as a significant stride towards the achievement of gender equality around the world — providing various guidelines for the protection of women’s rights in areas such as education, healthcare, employment, and marriage; up to 99 member states have ratified the convention, which legally binds them to the text and actions listed in the convention.

India, as a member state of the United Nations, was also party to the Convention and the resolution. Its government ratified the convention in 1993, signaling its efforts to the preservation of women’s rights in the country. However, if one were to take a closer look into the ratification, one will realize that India’s government made specific declarations and reservations upon their signature and ratification. An area of such reservation centers around Article 16, which is stated above. The article is aimed at protecting women’s rights in instances of marriage — emphasizing the right of individual freedom when it comes to marriages as well as underscoring the invalid legal status of child marriages. India declared that it will “abide by and ensure these provisions in conformity with its policy of non-interference in the personal affairs of any Community”, especially in terms of religious communities, and “that though in principle it fully supports the principle of compulsory registration of marriages, it is not practical in a vast country like India with its variety of customs, religions and level of literacy.”

From an international perspective, this signals the Indian state’s reserved commitment in addressing ongoing issues of child marriage, and gender oppression at large, in its nation. Today, India possesses the highest number of child brides of any country. As of 2006, the rate of marriages for girls aged 15-18 has increased from 26.7% to 29.2% in the country; this increase has also been met with concern from the international community. Though the state has taken legal measures to curb the issue, it has failed to address alternative contributing factors to the problem; experts have named the root causes of this growing phenomenon to include poverty, the desire for dowries, and the lack of educational opportunities for girls. These social factors that incentivize the continuation of child marriage in the nation require the attention of the state to enact tangible change; however, as the Indian government has already signaled its wish of non-interference towards its domestic communities, it is unlikely that such policies will be put in place. Factors of tradition and the religious culture within the nation also continue to drive the problem.

This situation is reflective of women’s overall status in India as a whole. Only 41% of women aged 14-49 have ever been in school, as compared to 18% of men. Perhaps, as a direct result of the lack of educational opportunities available to women, they also possess a much lower status in society. According to the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), the average female wage is less than 80% of the male average in urban areas, and less than 60% of the corresponding male wage in rural areas. Such numbers in and of themselves show that though the government claims to elevate the overall status of women in society, such results are not yet evident.

The History of the Nation

The origins of such cultural ideology can be traced back to India’s colonial era. India’s most prominent religious groups during the period of British colonialism — Hinduism and Islam — both share similar ideals of women. The system of non-interference established by the British was what allowed oppression to perpetuate among natives. The fact that the Indian government, today, claims the same non-interference approach on certain aspects of gender oppression thus raises concerns regarding the lack of state involvement. It brings one to consider the dichotomy between state regulated systems for justice and its provision of rights to freedom of religious practice. The British rule in the region adapted the already established caste system in the colonized society, thus, providing justification for the continuation of injustice. The British decision can also be regarded as a solidification of the gender divide. Various gender oppressive practices were allowed to be carried out, such as child marriage and female infanticide.

As mentioned above, the origins of the ideals behind such practices come from India’s national religions. According to Hindu doctrine, women were created by the Brahman, the absolute god of the Hindus, for the purpose of providing company to men. It would seem as though the purpose of a female was merely utilitarian– to facilitate procreation and the carrying out of a familial lineage. Similarly, Islamic teachings in the Quran have also regarded women as inferior to men. The religion endorses the practice of “triple talaq divorce”, which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives at will, simply by repeating the word “talaq”, or “divorce”, three times in a row. Such practice has recently been outlawed in India; however, the social implications that these religions ideologies have brought, in terms of both national discourse and practices, remain evident. The status quo shows one how political culture has essentially shaped policies and structures within India.

The Movement

As a response to the gender oppression, various women’s movements have been raised and founded. Such groups include the Women’s Indian Association (1917), the National Council of Indian Women (1925), and the All-India Women’s Conference (1927) that aim to expand rights for women in the nation. While these groups signal progress, critics have argued that some groups practice elitism and only represent Indian females from higher social classes. The All-India Women’s Conference is often considered one of the few groups that represent Indian women in a holistic manner; it also includes various subcommittees to contend with the involvement of women in labor, industry, education, opium, and child marriage. A more recent organization called the New Women’s Movement was also formed that focuses on the overall development of women in the country. All in all, these advocacy groups play a significant role in shaping the current government’s actions toward the issue.

The one state institution addressing the issue is legislature. In response to women’s rights movements as well as international pressure, India officially adopted the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act in 2006. The Act officially defines child marriage as marriage of boys under 21 and girls under 18. In terms of punishments, the Act extended the maximum length of punishment for offenders to two years. In respect to enforcement of policies, the act led to the appointing of marriage prohibition officers in different regions of the country. Amidst these reforms, however, it is important to note that the Act does not make all child marriages void: it can only be applied in instances of violence such as trafficking, when the children are taken from their parents into the marriages. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act focuses primarily on the extortion of those who conduct child marriages, criminalizing these traffickers. However, the Act itself does not address the underlying reasons for child marriage, such as poverty and the lack of education.

Existent Obstacles

The overall implications of gender oppression and child marriages that still exist within the country affect various aspects of India as a state. The post-colonial state includes a nation that largely supports its traditional ideals of paternalistic “protection” for women; traditional legitimacy still functions as an extension of the family, caste, and community. Operating under the ideals of traditional legitimacy, nationalist may perceive modern women’s movements as an attempt to separate the group from an established national identity. Women are regarded as preservers of national culture and ideal; their “modernization” would be regarded as an attempt to undermine the nation from within. Using symbols, these groups draw on the image of the “ideal woman”, who is both an obedient wife and mother in the family. Though structures of India’s traditional legitimacy are still evident, new activism in the country still signal an important shift from old modes of governance; the increasing social involvement of the nation fuels the growing appeals to rational- legal structures in India. Such a change can be credited to changes in individuals’ perception of males– from “protector” to “predator”– in addition to an increased support for gender equality; this reflects a shift in the political culture of specific groups, especially of Indian women, who may now put a greater significance on their social statuses. This can be further explained using post-materialist perspectives: women are more likely to put attention on rights because their basic material needs are being met.
Next, the bureaucracy’s approach to the issue is primarily based on its use of legislature in preserving women’s rights; however, it is observed that very little of such legal regulations are in practice.

“If oppression could be tackled by passing laws, then this decade would have been adjudged a golden period for Indian women. […] [A]lmost every single campaign against violence on women resulted in new legislation.” (Agnes 1992)

Ultimately, new legislation on the protection of women’s rights are perceived as artificial and put in place to appease advocacy groups and to avoid backlash from the international community. The state justifies its lack of interference by stressing the significance of preserving religious and cultural freedom. The low level of enforcement may also be associated with the government’s stance of non-interference when it comes to the political ideology and practices of its people as a whole. To some, the Indian government’s inability to put its laws in practice, however, may signal the bureaucracy’s weakness and effectiveness in areas of enforcement.

Though the issue little influences the state’s territory, there are several points of interest that can be related to the role of land. First, one can trace the origins of these ideals to when India’s land was governed by the British forces; despite the significant changes in government and rule that have occurred, a largely paternalistic national culture has been preserved. In addition, the effectiveness of implemented laws targeting child marriages and gender oppression appears to vary region by region; the inconsistent regional enforcement of legislature essentially “divides” the territory.

Finally, one may relate the preservation of gender ideologies to an informal patriarchal sovereignty deeply rooted in the national culture of India. The state’s formal institutions take a position that supports the equality of genders; however, it is evident that the nation’s informal institutions of male superiority are significantly more dominant. From the viewpoints of many younger Indian women, however, this system of injustice may undermine the legitimacy of its bureaucracy; the effectiveness of the state’s legislature still raises questions not only within the nation but also on the international scale. Though India’s national sovereignty has been consistently recognized, its marginal progress in curbing gender-based violence, gender oppression, and child marriage rates reflect negatively on its national image as a whole. This is significant as a positive national image is essential to the state’s preservation of not only its internal sovereignty but also external sovereignty.

In conclusion…

India’s case is significant in examining the effect issues of social injustice can have on a state, as well as the political culture and historical context that fuels the discourse of a nation. Though the Indian government continues to stand by its stance of non-interference in the public sphere, the international community remains hopeful for further reforms that may be made in order to address the problem at hand. However, as the issue of gender oppression and child marriage are ones rooted within the social norms of the nation, which are put in service to its national ideology, the Indian government will be required to take strong, consistent action over time to enact any substantial change.


Post by Ginny Hwang – 2018.06.27

Bibliography

Alex Buckley, B. A. (2015, April 30). Gender Oppression, inequality and Gender Roles In India and Southwestern United States: How British Colonial Rule and American Internal Colonialism Perpetuated Gender Roles and Oppression.Retrieved September 05, 2017, from https://people.smu.edu/knw2399/2015/04/30/gender-oppression-inequality-and-gender-roles-in-india-and-southwestern-united-states-how-british-colonial-rule-and-american-internal-colonialism-perpetuated-gender-roles-and-oppression/

Beth Kurtz-Costes, Nikul Patel, Dana Wood. Academic Gender Stereotypes and Academic Self-Concept of Indian Adolescents.Retrieved September 06, 2017, from http://www.aiaer.net/ejournal/vol22210/8.%20Beth%20Kurtz-Costes,%20Nikul%20Patel%20&%20Dana%20Wood.pdf

Kolisetty A. (2015, July 02). Child Marriage in India: Loopholes in the Law.Retrieved September 06, 2017, from https://ilg2.org/2015/07/02/child-marriage-in-india-loopholes-in-the-law/

Samita Sen. (2000, April) Toward a Feminist Politics? The Indian Women’s Movement in Historical Perspective.Retrieved September 06, 2017, from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.195.9810&rep=rep1&type=pdf

UN Women (2000-2009). Text of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Retrieved September 21, 2017, from http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw.htm 
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How Students from International Schools View MUN in Taiwan https://munual.philkuo.com/how-students-from-international-schools-view-mun-in-taiwan/ https://munual.philkuo.com/how-students-from-international-schools-view-mun-in-taiwan/#respond Sat, 23 Jun 2018 10:01:18 +0000 https://munual.philkuo.com/?p=962 As there are many sectors in the Taiwan’s Model United Nations Community, the Munual has taken the initiative to look into the different perspective between them at three levels: international/bilingual schools, local school students, and finally college students. The first of the three series would be interviews from students who are attending international or bilingual schools.

Siyun Ee

The Munual was able to interview the Secretary General of the 9th annual session of TASMUN, Siyun Ee. Siyun is currently a junior from Taipei American School (TAS), who wishes to major in international relations and assist humanitarian work at a global scale. Here’s the excerpt from the interview:

Why did you join Model UN?

I joined Model UN because I wanted to improve my public speaking skills but I was also really curious about the world around me. But I didn’t have the courage to speak up about it. So MUN served as a way to think on behalf of each country and I think that is a really important skill because you can envision yourself in other people’s shoes. Many things in the real world are about negotiation and compromising. So when you are able to think in multifaceted perspective, it allows you to understand the need of each side.

Can you talk briefly about your MUN experience?

I think one of the most international conferences I’ve been to is the Qatar Leadership Conference held by the THIMUN Qatar board. It was really interesting because it wasn’t like a conventional MUN conference. It was presentation and workshop based, which means that you get to meet with leaders from all around the world in different realms of study. You get to present your own take about leadership and that was a very interesting session.

How do you think your experience differs from some other students enrolled in different institutions?

We are very privileged and honored to be attending TAS as our school provides a lot of resources, programs, opportunities, and even just an array of supportive faculties that allows us to improve by challenging us. The combination of these allowed many of our students to reach out to many facets of MUN and prompted me to go beyond the expectations laid out before me. This is where I felt like my school provided me with a very unique experience unlike any other school.

Also, the fact that we are an English speaking school, like completely English speaking, means that most of the people enrolled in our school are fluent in English. This indicates that the quality of our MUN team and others that we interact with is relatively high. Of course, it is not restrictive to language in terms of the program. Yet as many conferences are in English, it has been very beneficial that we have been practicing speaking English all the time.

Another thing that differentiates our program is the history of MUN program at TAS. We have at least 10 years of history within Model UN so this means that we’ve been very fortunate to learn about diverse conferences. We’ve also had the opportunity to learn from these conferences because every conference is unique in its own way. Through the learning process, we were able to host our very own conference, TASMUN, which is growing every year in size and quality.

What is your vision on MUN community in Taiwan?

Over the years, I think there has been growth in participation of MUN in Taiwan, but I found that the biggest problem many participants face is the language barrier. I know that many leadership teams of conferences across the island have had to deal with issues where debates are not facilitating very well because the delegates are unable to properly express what they are trying to say. I don’t necessarily think that is because they don’t have good ideas. I think they aren’t able to express it because of the language. To tackle this, I think it might be a good idea to expand the number of conferences that are in Chinese so that we can bolster active participation. I truly believe that the local community can do a lot more.

What kind of training should the leadership address in training process for chairs and delegates?

For chair training, TAS has high expectations for chairs and delegates. We have 2 meetings per week, each one being 1 hour and 30 minutes. During this meeting, we emphasize both research and the actual practice. We begin our conference preparation with research guided practice. We encourage delegates to start with country research because that can be done collaboratively. Then we have part 2 research where delegates use the prior knowledge and then research for their country stance about the issue. Then we move on to issue research such as chair reports and other materials given by the conference. Putting all of this together, it helps all our delegates to produce a policy statement, because it pulls all the aspects of the country, individual, and stances. This training system helps our delegates to have a profound foundation when writing a draft resolution and it is much easier for them to create new solutions.

One of the most unique programs we have is called “Pay it Forward Program,” which is essentially what we expect from our more experienced MUN-ers. Getting the opportunities that we have, we are expected to give it forward to younger delegates and the younger generations just as the people before us have given us the mentoring and opportunities. We emphasize this notion of collaboration in our school and we believe this idea led our team altogether to be successful through support and mentoring. This mentor-mentee program can be applied to many training programs at each school so that the newer delegates can learn properly what MUN is about and have a hands-on experience.

How do you think the MUN community can improve in Taiwan?

Aside from the program I’ve aforementioned, improving the impact is the key. To understand the value of MUN, I think you have to see it within yourself: the change it brings you in your life. Putting aside the shallow reasons, such as awards and positions, will really show what MUN is truly about and cherish the values it provides and take actual actions based on the knowledge you’ve acquired from Model UN.


Dennis Wang

As for our second interviewee, the Munual was able to contact the future leader of KAS MUN team, Dennis Wang. Dennis is currently a sophomore in Kaohsiung American School (KAS), and he has been actively participating in local and international conferences.

Why did you join Model UN?

I joined MUN mainly to practice and improve my public speaking skills, as well as learn more about the global issues we have in our contemporary world. But essentially, it was primarily my sister who had been in Model United Nations, that encouraged me to join MUN as she had told me that it has been one of her best high school experiences.

Can you talk briefly about your MUN experience?

I joined MUN less than a year ago and have currently been to 7 MUN conferences, alongside with 2 mock conferences. Now, I am now an executive of the MUN club in Kaohsiung American School.

My favorite conference is THIMUN Qatar. Although I was not in the most advanced committee, nor was I in the biggest committee, my experience in THIMUN Qatar was truly remarkable. The venue was extremely suitable for such conference, with huge committee rooms allowing space for over 70 delegates. The chairs were very experienced, the delegates varied from first timers to very experienced delegates, and overall the staff managed to make a very well coordinated MUN conference containing over 1,700 participants. Needless to say, I was more than pleased to attend THIMUN Qatar.

How do you think your experience differs from some other students enrolled in different institutions?

MUN in my school (KAS) is by far the extracurricular with the most amount of students. However, I have noticed that our students receive much less training than a lot of other students in Taiwan. For instance, our MUN club only has meetings once a week for less than an hour, as opposed to more meetings or longer hours in other institutions.

Another aspect I’ve noticed is that my school hosts two mock conferences each year for delegates and chair training, which not all institutions provide. By doing so, we are able to train our delegates and chairs wholly and prepare them for other conferences in the future at home. These are by far the only two major differences I’ve noticed that differed my MUN experience compared to other institutions.

What is your vision on the MUN community in Taiwan?

I believe that the MUN community in Taiwan will grow exponentially, due to the fact that Taiwanese MUNers, are opened to attend almost all the conferences available in Taiwan with quite ease. With the amazing public transportation system present, students are able to go to any MUN event with little cost. Furthermore, MUN conferences are growing in size each year in Taiwan, as a lot of schools in Taiwan (not only international or American) are entering the MUN community.

How do you think the MUN community can improve in Taiwan?

I feel like there should be more training for first-time delegates before they join an actual conference, perhaps a mock conference. I believe that first-timers are often discouraged to give speeches, or often scared to say anything because they are not completely aware of all the rules or procedures in MUN. Personally, I was also in that position when I was in my first Mock conference. I was very scared because I didn’t fully understand all the rules and I didn’t even know how to formulate a speech. It was during my first mock where I truly learned how the rules and procedures worked, which led me to have a better time in my first actual conference.


Post by May Lee – 2018.06.23
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MUN for Everyone: an Indonesia-based MUN organization https://munual.philkuo.com/mun-for-everyone-an-indonesian-based-mun-organization/ https://munual.philkuo.com/mun-for-everyone-an-indonesian-based-mun-organization/#respond Wed, 13 Jun 2018 09:56:46 +0000 https://munual.philkuo.com/?p=942 Not many good things come from spending an excessive amount of time lurking on social media, but this one definitely is a good thing:

After keeping a close eye on MUN for Everyone’s Instagram page (@munforeveryone), we became rather interested in the work of this fairly new organization and their accomplishments in such a short amount of time since being established. We noticed how they are based in Indonesia and believed that they would be able to provide new perspectives to our Taiwanese-based audience. Thus, after a few emails back and forth, a Skype call was scheduled for March 24th with two of our members — Sidney and Azim — as well as two of MUN for Everyone’s members — Daryl and Kevin. Within this (approximately) 2-hour call, we shared our individual organization’s backgrounds and aspirations, exchanged Model UN experiences, and discussed the differences between MUN in Taiwan and Indonesia.

What is MUN For Everyone?

MUN for Everyone is a Model UN organization that was created by a group of Indonesian high school MUNers with the purpose of assisting their MUN community and providing access to free MUN guides to anyone in need. Mun for Everyone was created late last year when the founding member, Daryl Albert, noticed after attending several conferences that many students in Indonesia do not have easy access to MUN resources. He got in touch with a few friends; they worked some magic, and (ta-da!) a free platform so students no longer have to pay for their MUN education. They have a website ( click here! ) that consists of informative MUN articles and creative works of the MUN community, and also an Instagram page with a sufficient amount of followers engaged with their periodical posts.
Their team was originally only comprised up of 4 members, but have since expanded after opening up volunteer positions. They now currently have 9 active writer volunteers from all over the world, such as Peru, United Arab Emirates, India, and the U.S. With the help of the volunteers, they hope to publish more educational guides and articles onto their website.
Possessing the mission to assist more aspiring MUNers with their MUN endeavors, their long-term goal is to acquire a broader audience and create a fundraising platform on their website that allows students to raise funds to aid them in attending local or international conferences. They believe that this additional feature will allow all students to have the opportunity to attend conferences without financial stability posing as a deterrence.

MUN in Indonesia

Participants?

In Indonesia, the ratio of conferences for high school students and university students is almost equivalent. However, it is evident that there is a larger amount of active university students and slightly more university-level conferences. On the other hand, in Taiwan, the number of high school conferences exceed the number of university conferences by a long-run. To put things into perspective, our team conducted a public survey last month, in which, out of 94 people, only 17% were university students. The rest were high school students.

The interviewees further mentioned that MUN within Indonesian high schools is not that mature yet, however, they do see students having a vast interest in it. Within the high school MUN community, most of the delegates are from international or bilingual schools, and those from local schools mostly attend more academically-achieving schools.

Rules of Procedure?

Regarding the rules of procedure used, as far as the interviewees are aware of, the most common procedure used in Indonesia is UNA-USA procedure. However, UN4MUN is an emerging procedure within the country and is speculated to be a dominant procedure in the near future, noting that the biggest conferences in Indonesia have started to adopt this procedure.
Unlike, Taiwan where there’s a distinct correlation between procedure and city (ex: north → UNA-USA; central → THIMUN), as far as the interviewees are aware of, it is mainly just UNA-USA and UN4MUN procedure in Indonesia.
It is also easier for delegates in Taiwan to experience the best of both worlds due to the transportation being generally more convenient and the miniature island we live on that makes commuting from one end of the country to the other end only a couple-of-hours job, whereas in Indonesia inconvenient transportation makes it difficult to understand the MUN situation in other cities/regions.

Working Language?

The only working language at conferences in English. There are no conferences, that the interviewees are aware of, that have Bahasa Indonesia (the official language of Indonesia) as the working language. We think this is possibly the reason why MUN in Indonesia is facing a problem similar to MUN in Taiwan, which is an evident division between MUNers from local and international schools. While there are Mandarin conferences in Taiwan, they are not as common and developed as English conferences are (understandably so). Language is often seen as a deterrence for local students when looking into attending MUN conferences and can be evident through the criteria that most chairs layout for awards. In the opinion of the interviewees, a problem worth noting in Indonesia is that some chairs judge delegates mostly based on public speaking and English proficiency. They shared an experience in which they met a delegate at a conference that seemed to have brilliant ideas, however, was not able to receive any awards due to the inability to speak English fluently. This also a popular phenomenon that is often seen in Taiwan and delegates often condemn chairs that do not take into consideration other aspects; such as, constructive criticism, diplomatic courtesy, and debating skills.
Furthermore, the interviewees state that there have been several local schools reaching out towards MUN, however, a majority are not aware of MUN. Nonetheless, MUN for Everyone provides free resources to those willing to understand more about MUN.

Topics Discussed?

Due to the fact that Islam is the most adhered religion in Indonesia, our interviewers were interested in understanding whether the beliefs of some may play a part in the discussion of certain topics. Overall, the interviewees believe that the delegates are usually quite true to their countries positions, and if they are not, it is usually due to inexperience or lack of professionalism. However, they also believe that within the country, there are generally a few controversial topics that people generally do not discuss, and therefore, might not appear within the conference room. Some of these taboo topics include: religion, ethnic background (ex: Chinese-Indonesian/ Native Indonesian tensions), and sexual orientation.

In conclusion…

After listening to Daryl and Kevin’s stories about how MUN has intertwined its way into their lives, alternated familiarities, and obliterated insecurities, it is evident that, no matter where, MUN is capable of changing lives. This might seem like a cliche or melodramatic statement, nevertheless, it is a true statement. There might be differences between Model UN in Indonesia and Taiwan, but one definite similarity is: MUN is an opportunity. It is capable of allowing people to improve and better themselves. When you take the opportunity, it could possibly be life-changing.

Lastly, we would like to give a huge thank you to MUN for Everyone for accepting our offer to do the interview. We are glad that MUN has also allowed us to have this opportunity to become acquainted with the passionate, diligent students from MUN for Everyone. And we are glad that MUN for Everyone has eased our goal to further cultivate relations with other individuals and countries — whether it be on a minuscule or influential scale. We want to further congratulate them on their achievements and hope for further collaboration between our two organizations!

MUN for Everyone members

MUN for Everyone members


Interview by Azim Butt & Sidney Tsai

Post by Sidney Tsai – 2018.06.13
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The Authorization for Use of Military Force https://munual.philkuo.com/the-authorization-for-use-of-military-force/ https://munual.philkuo.com/the-authorization-for-use-of-military-force/#respond Tue, 15 May 2018 12:00:29 +0000 https://munual.philkuo.com/?p=932 In the wake of 9/11, a congressional catastrophe known as the “authorization for use of military force” (AUMF) was abruptly passed by the U.S. Congress. The original intention of the AUMF was to target and annihilate the perpetrators of 9/11. It stipulates: “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” However, since then, it has come clear to the public’s attention that this bill has been arbitrarily taken out of context and used as a legal basis for multiple foreign interventions across the globe.

The fact that the United States is allowed to operate AUMF without any legislative scrutiny from the public is morally reprehensible. The problem is that the general public itself is so disconnected and ill-informed on the issue that no one talks about it. Sixteen years down the line, with at least seven different countries invaded (Afghanistan, Yemen, Kenya, Somalia, Iraq, etc…), the United States has continued to abstain itself from properly conducting its war powers. As a result, several trillion dollars have been burned, thousands of people tortured, millions displaced, and ISIL was born in Iraq. But the point is, the United States still refuses to amend the bill concerning the AUMF.

So, why have Congress not amended the bill yet? Why has the government not been able to update the bill in accordance with the status quo? Columnist Bonnie Kristian suggests that a debate on such bill will lack the drive to push for a revisionist bill. Kristian also said, “most Americans lack the appetite we had 15 years ago for large-scale, limitless intervention at the president’s sole discretion.” The United States enjoys priding itself as the world’s leading expert and leader on human rights. It views itself as the last line of defense, a bulwark committed in its fight against global terrorism. By removing or weakening the bill, not only could it undermine its effort in participating in perpetual wars but also hinder massive interests they have around the globe.

The truth is that the AUMF is problematic and requires new amendments. For example, the AUMF does not particularly specify the enemy and mission objectives. Neither is it compliant with the U.S.’s obligations under international laws. Furthermore, it does not include any reporting transparency that can keep both the Congress and the public well in check. There are in fact many fundamental elements that can be incorporated into a new AUMF to strengthen it and make it less obscure and less precarious to those targeted by U.S. military operations.

Post by Azim Butt – 2018.5.16
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Gun Control: The Basics https://munual.philkuo.com/gun-control-the-basics/ https://munual.philkuo.com/gun-control-the-basics/#respond Sun, 29 Apr 2018 08:58:36 +0000 https://munual.philkuo.com/?p=919 With recent US headlines covered with news of school shootings, the nation’s gun policies, and the growing March for our Lives movement, it has become increasingly relevant that one must educate oneself on the issue as a whole. To many, the gun laws in the United States may seem counterintuitive, especially when considering the role of the US as such a significant model and leader in the international community. However, the statistics, precedent, and existing (or rather, non-existing) regulations targeted at the subject would indicate differently.

Throughout the years it has been noted that the US has historically always had a unique problem in regards to gun control and gun violence. “With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, has about 35–50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, according to a 2007 report by the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey.” (Lopez, 2018) Along with this high rate of gun ownership comes with a correlated level of gun violence. In just 2018 alone, for instance, the US has already seen 20 instances of school shootings. It is clear, thus, that the matter of gun control is one that begs significant attention. March for our Lives, a student-organized movement, is a prime example of citizen response toward the issue.

Another aspect of the issue one must examine is in terms of the overall American culture in regards to the possession of guns. Such is clearly echoed in the values central to the foundation of the nation—explicitly stated in the Constitution. The Second Amendment states:

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

It is thus, with this precedent, that power has been given to states to enforce varying gun control laws—ones that generally allow individuals to possess guns in the household.

Despite current problems, one must also recognize past attempts to curb the issue of gun violence in the US. For instance, in 2016, the Obama administration has implemented various limits on the purchase of guns—more specifically, through the use of stricter background checks. Proponents of stricter control have voiced their dissent against current policies, however, criticizing its lax nature. As of today, the US still lacks federal legislature that bans the possession of semiautomatic assault weapons; this is also an area of concern that many have protested against. Ultimately, it is believed that backgrounds checks are unlikely to affect tangible changes, especially in the short-term.

When viewing the issue, many have also pointed to the cases of other countries such as Australia, Canada, and Japan. Australia and Canada both implemented significantly stricter gun control laws in response to instances of gun violence. In Australia, such laws were enacted after “the Port Arthur massacre of April 1996, when a young man killed 35 people and wounded 23 others” (Masters, 2016). Fundamental changes such as the banning of semiautomatic weapons ensued, removing up to “650,000 assault weapons… out of public circulation” (Masters, 2016). Similarly, Canada’s policies were put into place a school shooting that occurred in 1989. The Canadian government acted by passing more stringent licensing laws as well as by banning a significant number of registered guns. On the other hand, Japan’s extremely low gun-homicide rates can be associated to its nations highly restrictive firearms laws; this has been associated with the nation’s overall ideology and policies post-World War II.

In conclusion, recent gun instances of gun violence and shootings in the United States are resulting in greater attention from civil societies and activist groups. Amidst the controversial issue of gun control, one can and should seek to obtain a more holistic view of the issue through a broader understanding of such regulations in different countries.


References
1. Lopez. “I’ve Covered Gun Violence for Years. The Solutions Aren’t a Big Mystery.” Vox. Vox, 21 Feb. 2018.
< www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/21/17028930/gun-violence-us-statistics-charts./ >
2. Masters, Jonathan. “Gun Control Around the World: A Primer.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 12 Jan. 2016.
< www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/01/worldwide-gun-control-policy/423711/./ >

Post by Ginny Hwang – 2018.5.2
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Your Country Matters! https://munual.philkuo.com/764-2/ https://munual.philkuo.com/764-2/#respond Sat, 16 Jul 2016 08:35:48 +0000 https://munual.philkuo.com/?p=764        In Model UN conferences, it is all about the diversity of the 192 countries and their national interests. Although it is important to have a strong personal opinion, you have to act according to the nation’s background and stances to be persuasive enough.

         Once you put on your suit or blouse on, you are not yourself anymore, you are an ambassador of THAT nation, you are a citizen who knows what you can compromise and what you cannot. For example, a delegate of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (a.k.a. North Korea) will unlikely to be totally agreeing on a topic that is about regulating nuclear weapons or development while a delegate of China will definitely not be agreeing on the global enforcement or education of democracy. This is sometimes where it gets difficult for many of us because topics and country assignment are often, in a sense, pure luck. In certain situations, the topic and positions might not fit with what we have in mind or what we believe in. For this reason, we had provided an example below on a commonly-discussed topic during conference and some tips and research highlights for you to be able to act more easily and flexible yet sticking to your position:

Topic Examples: Weaponry and Espionage or Privacy Affairs

           To start off your journey to becoming a citizen of your representing country in such topics, finding the right websites to help you during research is crucial to avoid unwanted situations! We strongly advise you not to read upon collaborated websites such as wikipedia (it can be a starting point on information, but not a source to rely on). If you are not certain on a statistic or information, double check it on another website to make sure its credibility! Little tip, it is easier to first copy and paste the informations and sections you find useful on a document which will be more convenient for your further research and analysis. Here are some websites that can start you off:

After some intense researches, you must compile it into different categories and jot down notes. Your first step will be acknowledging your country’s current army affairs. If you had followed the tip and copied it onto the document, start analyzing your research according to the questions below:

  • Is your country currently involved in wars?
  • In what degree/ size is your country’s armed forces?
  • Is your country currently developing or purchasing any type of new weapons?

Another factor you can consider is your alliance and non-allied nations, in this aspect, you can also look in some of the country’s historic profile. The more facts you gain, the more prepared you will be! Here are some profiles you can consider:

  • Great historical & international events involved on both positive and negative perspectives and their causes (it is important to know the reason, always better to dig deeper instead of inspecting only the surface!)
    • Positive events can be signing a treaty or cooperating with a country in development or defense
    • Negative events can be involving in/ declaring a war or not ratifying a treaty.
    • Remember to emphasize your positive events more during the conference, you would definitely not be the “one” nations are unsatisfied with!
  • What countries are on your side during these historical events or ever supported you till today? What countries will you be unlikely to agree upon? (for example, the United States will likely group with Russia in arm forces besides extreme or rare conditions especially in the Security Council)

       It will be easier if you draw a T-shaped table and list out both allies and countries that need negotiating, while putting a few bullet points besides each. During THIMUN procedure, you can then easily refer to this table when delegates are doing their opening speeches and decide your allied countries when writing resolutions and forming blocs! Or during UNAUSA, knowing who you should find and interact with more during unmoderated caucuses!
Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 3.41.49 PM
   Lastly, a country that stands against you does not mean you should never talk to that delegate. If time permits (especially during THIMUN when you have extra time in lobbying after submitting off to the approval panel or finishing your bloc paper), make sure to stop by these countries and talk to them.

          Perhaps, if lucky, you will find common grounds and get a higher possibility in passing (and more supporters!) Hence, a tip for amendments, make sure to amend other blocs’ paper to match your countries’ stances, you would not want a paper to pass regarding allowing free nuclear weapon if you are Switzerland!

          To wrap up, do not be afraid to go against some countries just because they are your friends or classmates. In the end, this is the fun part of Model UN! It is the difficulty and challenge that makes this event extraordinary and meaningful. Be prepared and enjoy, happy research!


References
"Unamed Image." Joint Photographic Experts Group. Multiweb.press, n.d. Web. 16 July 2016.

 Post by Timmy Chang & Sidney Tsai – 2016.07.16
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How does the UN work? https://munual.philkuo.com/how-does-the-un-work/ https://munual.philkuo.com/how-does-the-un-work/#respond Mon, 27 Jun 2016 16:50:51 +0000 https://munual.philkuo.com/?p=681 The United Nations is a complex organization that consists of thousands of members and staff who work anywhere from facilitating peace at the local level, to debating major global issues at UN headquarters at the international level. The 6 main bodies of the United Nations were established in 1945 when the UN was first founded. They consist of the:

General Assembly

The general assembly of the United Nations is the biggest and most powerful organ in the UN body, in which all 193 of the UN member states are represented. The head of the General Assembly is a GA President, which is reelected annually. In September every year, the general assembly meets in New York City to discuss global issues such as peace and security, admission of new UN members, and financial and budgetary needs, which are then voted on with a 2/3 majority to pass. Resolutions on all other issues, however, can pass with a simple, or ½ majority.

un ga

Security Council

The Security Council mostly deals with issues of international security and peacekeeping, and is led by a presidency that rotates monthly. With a body made up of 5 permanent members and 10 rotating non-permanent members, the SC’s role in the UN is to determine international threats and figure out how to deal with them. Many times, international crises are solved by the UNSC through negotiation or peace talks, but if situations escalate, this UN body has the power to impose sanctions and use military force to maintain world peace.

unsc

Economic and Social Council

This UN body is in charge of all economic, social, and environmental issues and how to implement different charters. With experts in specialized agencies in the economic, social, and environmental fields, ECOSOC serves as the central body for activities in the UN for looking towards the future and furthering sustainable development internationally. The 54 members of ECOSOC are elected every 3 years by the general assembly.

un ecosoc

Trusteeship Council

Established in 1945, this council supervises 11 so called “Trust Territories,” which are currently under the government of 7 member states, to ensure that these territories will be prepared for future self-government. In 1994, this monumental task was complete, as all 11 of these territories had achieved self-government status, and the rules of procedure were amended to meet when occasion required instead of annually.

un trusteeship

International Court of Justice

The principal judicial body of the UN, this committee’s role is to settle disputes among member states according to international law, and advise on courses of action to be taken by UN committees and special agencies. Fun fact: the ICJ is the only one of the 6 principal bodies of the UN that is not located in New York City, but instead headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands.

un icj

Secretariat

The last of the 6 major bodies of the United Nations is the Secretariat. Not only does the Secretariat consist of the Secretary- General and various essential staff and advisors in the UN, it also includes the tens of thousands of staff members who oversee the daily tasks of the UN. The members are recruited anywhere, from local to international levels, and work to maintain peace in the world. The chief officer of the Secretariat, who oversees all duties, is the Secretary- General, who is appointed by the General Assembly on 5 year, renewable terms.

secretariat


References
"Main Organs." United Nations. United Nations, n.d. Web. 12 June 2016.

 Post by Steven Lu – 2016.06.28
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Tips on Actively Engaging in Conferences https://munual.philkuo.com/tips-on-actively-engaging-in-conferences/ https://munual.philkuo.com/tips-on-actively-engaging-in-conferences/#respond Mon, 29 Feb 2016 12:52:06 +0000 https://munual.philkuo.com/?p=639 It is easy to join a conference, but it is always hard to put all you had into a conference before you walk out of it by the end of two days. You come into the conference room and sit down according to your designated country, listening to speeches after speeches, sometimes wanting to speak up and engage but do not know how or what to say. For some, wanting to speak on the stage and express their ideas about world issues are precisely their reasons for joining MUN; for others, it’s the intensity and the awards that reward individuals the reason why they decided to join MUN. Regardless of the reasons for participating in MUN, here are a few universal tips you can take as reference and guidance to help you say what you want to say, bring out all the ideas you have, and win the awards you aimed for.

5-1

Source: London International Model United Nations (LIMUN)

  1. Raise your placards every time when the floor is open to any delegates

The reason for this is to let the chairs and the delegates recognize your existence more, and this becomes especially important when you end up in large councils with around a hundred delegations. By building your presence in the council, the chairs and the delegates would be able to associate the nation you represent with what type of delegate you are, thus you are able to have more influence over the council.

The second step is to establish what type of delegate you are: troll, hardworking, speaks a lot of good things, writes good clauses, or speaks a lot of repetition are all examples of delegates you can be. The most common ones are the ones that sit down and work really hard, but rarely speaks up on the floor (I will be ignoring the ones who don’t participate at all). Although it is a good thing to become the backbone of the draft resolution of your block, sadly the chair couldn’t see that unless you go up and speak, and in this case you can speak either support the previous speaker or go against them, and use your draft resolution as a reference for all. After a few times, delegates and the chairs would be able to recognize you as a delegate who wrote that draft resolution and one of the key players in this conference.

Sometimes, it is still hard to think about what you want to say, so here are a few things you can run through in your head, and of course note taking becomes extremely important:

  1. Are there any errors in the delegate’s speech? Depending on the type of delegate you wanted to be, you can either pick on the minor errors such as wrong events, confused wording, or you can edit on the idea he or she is trying to present, stating what parts are feasible what parts are impossible etc.
  2. Is there a trend you see in what delegates are presenting? Is the last five delegates all talking about this one issue? If so, then you can “revive” the council by presenting a new idea to be discussed or another perspective on the same issue presented.
  3. Are there any areas that this issue covers but wasn’t presented yet (or emphasized enough)? Then you would have something to mention to the council, and make sure to add some strong words and emotions to the speech to grab attention.
  4. When a delegate “steals” your content, some of the time you can go up next and talk about the same thing, but remember to emphasize the things that the previous delegate didn’t mention. If today you are in a competitive council and your ideas were stolen 100%, then here is when your researched materials come into play: you can then bring up live examples where either this solution came from, where it was successfully implemented, or where it could be implemented.

Lastly, you can also decide when you want to be placed on the speaker’s list, and most of the time, people would like to be put in the middle. Usually, your location determines your order. If you are the farthest away most of the time you are last, so raise your placards as fast as possible to get the attention of chairs; if you are the closest to the chair, you can wait a moment before the raising the placard to strategically place yourself in the middle of the speaker’s list. If the conference Dias team is well-experienced, then you would have to improvise the timing in which you would raise your placards because most likely they would pick on either the least spoken delegate or from the farthest in.

5-2

Source: Geneva International Annual Model United Nations (GIMUN)

  1. Preparation is important

Let’s be honest, even I sometimes slack on researching because there might not be time to do so or you don’t know what to search or you don’t know where to start. However, if you hope to do well in a conference for the sake of yourself or to gain an award, research is of utmost importance. What I mean by researching here is not the research enough to know the topic, what I mean is the excess research that includes data, extra articles on different viewpoints of this issue. The most efficient way to do this is to search articles, and then scan through it quickly to see if this article talks about what you wanted to obtain, and if so, print out this article (because most conference do not allow electronics, even if they do, holding a computer around is probably not a great idea). After finishing fishing for articles, you can start reading through it, and highlighting the main ideas of the article. When you go to the conference on that day, you would be able to utilize these articles to your advantage, and periodically scan through your highlighted main points to refresh your mind. Reading different articles on the same topic can also provide you a different insight into how the issue of your council can be dealt with, in turn, giving you more things to say on stage.

5-3

Source: Victorian Model United Nations (VicMUN)

  1. Sitting down and draft resolutions is not enough; walk around and talk!

Personally, I tend to be a person who likes to sit down and commit to only myself and draft what I thought is the best resolution. However, most of the time, this is not the case, and walking around and discussing becomes extremely important to ensure the best of what you have to combine the best of other people. Also, by walking around and discussing, you are giving your brain time to rest, and many times epiphany hits you like a truck when you engage in long discussions with other members of your block, suddenly you would be able to construct a better draft resolution. Getting up and being active in your block can also build your presence among the ones in your block, and if you are good enough, slowly people would look to you as their “unofficial” leader of the bloc (unofficial meaning that no one held a ceremony to grant you as their leader, its just a phenomenon as many people would tend to look towards the seemingly leader of the bloc).

The way you engage with your bloc and other blocs is important too. You would have to be the person who is genuinely willing to listen to everyone’s opinion (one at a time), even if it is not good, and the power to conduct your bloc so that each delegate would play a role, and not only just the major players. If you are experienced, then you can further assist different delegates in how to adjust their ideas and how to engage in MUN (if they are first-timers). If this is your first MUN, then the first two processes are enough for you, and now you just need to be firm and confident in persuading other delegates (some of them older and more experienced than you) to listen and adopt your ideals.

Talking to other blocs is crucial, because either you might resolve a misunderstanding or conflict that broke the council into these two blocs in the first place or you can built mutual trust between you and the other bloc so that either they would be willing to listen to your speeches or you can find a way to satisfy both blocks with one draft resolution. This action, however, happens very limited times, and communication only happens on stage where the debate happens, where its effects can be severely limited. If you do not have a presence established within your own bloc, the act of talking to other blocs would alienate you from your bloc, and no one wants that.

5-4

Source: UN 4 MUN, United Nations Outreach

  1. Conclusion

Of course, there are other general “rules” on how to become best delegate (and this definition differs upon interpretation); such as raise motions whenever you can, submit amendments whenever you can, and talk something whenever you can. These can be first used if you just wanted to build up your presence in the council, but it wouldn’t be enough for you to achieve what you wanted to achieve, whether it is an award or the desire to express your own thoughts on this topic. In the end, it is the content that matters, not the amount; quality over quantity. MUN is a character-building experience, and through really participating MUN as if you are placing yourself onto world stage and solving this issue real-time changes people. It sparks the will and determination in people’s hearts for the world to change, a change for the better, and that’s why MUN shouldn’t just be a competition, it should be a place where the next generation shows itself that it can. With these tips on actively participating in conferences, you would unknowingly learn various skills and discover various things that would ultimately change or help you in the future.


 Post by Alex, Yong-Qi Gao – 2016.02.29

 

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Embracing 2K16 (& Chair Training @ Chen Gong H. School) https://munual.philkuo.com/embracing-2k16-chair-training-chen-gong-h-school/ https://munual.philkuo.com/embracing-2k16-chair-training-chen-gong-h-school/#respond Fri, 01 Jan 2016 12:16:09 +0000 https://munual.philkuo.com/?p=604 Happy New Year to you all! Many of you might have been to Taipei 101 to watch the fireworks, went out with your friends to celebrate past midnight, or stayed home with family and enjoy the moments with your loved ones. No matter how you chose to celebrate it, the Munual gives you our warmest greetings and hope all MUNners would continue to excel academically and personally.

New year, new start. Whatever negative feelings and thoughts you had culminated throughout the year should now be put aside, and look ahead towards the endless opportunities of success and happiness ahead; those negatives only serve to drag you down, nothing else. Begin a new project, start a new approach to yourself and the things you do, because you would never know how much potential you possess until you had tried to achieve them.

happynewyearwishes.org

Of course, for the world and the UN, it is a time to set goals for this year. With the Sustainable Development Goals set up, the world hoped all nations would meet up to the quota set by the SDGs and the UN would devote as much as its energies to ensure that would happen. Media play an important role in promoting global awareness, and should place more coverage on terrible events happening everywhere and decrease its emphasis on local crimes. Terrorists groups such as the ISIS, Boko Haram, and al-Qaeda continue to threaten international peace and security, and all member states of the UN should strive to eradicate the very initiators for regional chaos and catastrophe. In Taiwan, the wave of public opinions on the presidential elections for 2016 are culminating and on the rise, with all citizens hoping for a better Taiwan in the future.

2016 had received the hopes from the past fifteen years and its people are determined to fulfill them. These hopes were raised from the suffering children in Africa, to lively young learners in schools of Asia, to hopeful young adults in the Americas, to politicians in Europe, to elderlies around the world; all and every single one of them. These big changes needed the foundation of small changes, and these small changes starts from you. You can start by helping the world through everyday small actions; and before you know it, you have changed the world.  

Chair Training at Chen Gong High School

This is the first time the Munual had been invited to train chairs that are moving on to serve in TCMUN. It was a great honor to be able to share our experiences with these enthusiastic seniors about chairing in MUN.

This time, three presentations were given over the afternoon of December 19, Saturday: Rules of Procedure by Jenny Kim, Documents by Caitlyn Liu, and Tips and Flow of the Conference by Alex Gao. In each of these presentations, the emphasis was not on the general charter of the MUN as any MUN delegate should know; rather, it was more on the sharing of knowledge of minor yet significant details of a MUN. Out of these three presentations, the one given by Alex Gao has its presentation based on more experiences than others. Many of the tips given are to create a better environment for the council. Jenny and Caitlyn, additionally, presented very important details that needed to be taken into account when chairing in a council.
Not only was this conference a great learning place for the Chen Gong chairs, but it is also a learning experience for us. What we had succeeded we will continue, and what we didn’t do we will improve. We hope that after this workshop we can be invited to host more workshops in the future in order to strive for what goal we had strived for since the creation of this organization.CGworkshop2


 Post by Alex, Yong-Qi Gao – 2016.01.01
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UN Peacekeeping Forces: Peacekeeping? https://munual.philkuo.com/un-peacekeeping-forces-peacekeeping/ https://munual.philkuo.com/un-peacekeeping-forces-peacekeeping/#respond Tue, 22 Dec 2015 16:23:33 +0000 https://munual.philkuo.com/?p=572 The United Nations Peacekeeping force can be described as an international military force

contributed by Member States to assist countries torn by conflict onto the path of peace and stability. Its

mandate of impartiality and “non-use of force unless in self-defense or defense of a mandate” clearly

revealed how they can resolve conflict through peaceful means [1]. It was originally established in 1948 in

the Indian subcontinent (just been through the Partition Act) and the Middle-East (the undergoing Arab-

Israeli conflict) to address the crisis that plagued both regions, with both missions still continues to this day

[2]. Since then, it had expanded its range and area of operations. It had helped the UN to protect civilians,

disarm combatants that threat peace and stability, and oversee countless transitions of countries torn by war

to economic prosperity. It has over 100,000 soldiers, police force, civilian, and volunteers deployed in

regions where national intervention would not solve the problem or would make it worse, and its neutrality

had protected its personnel from attacks by either side of a conflict most of the time [1]. Along its long

records of successes there is also a list of failures where in some cases the peacekeeping forces just stood by

and witness inhumane acts perpetrated by insurgents. Questions had been raised by the public on whether or

not the UN’s military force can actually solve international crisis and advocate human rights; and this blog

would provide an insight for the readers to decide for themselves.

The conflict in Sierra Leone was one of the UN’s upheld successes as it helped the country restored a

fragile but secured peace during and after the Sierra Leone civil war that lasted for ten years. Beginning in

1991 when the rebel group Revolutionary United Front (RUF), with the help of Liberian rebel forces, tried

to overthrow Momoh’s government, the nation began a plunge into political instability, which in turn

affected its economy [6]. The beginning of the war was of not for reasons of political adversary; rather, it

was of an intricate series of reasons and dissent that encompasses social and political problems of the nation

that was rooted back in the 1980s. In 1999, the UN finally intervened to negotiate a peace agreement

between the rebel groups and the government, while at the same time deployed over thousands of

peacekeeping forces into the area to help secure such agreement.

Untitled

UN Peacekeepers in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Tensions mount when UN troops were attacked and kidnapped outside the city of Freetown, and the UK

began to intervene. Slowly but successfully, the international community was able to secure peace and

monitor disarmament processes; and UK ended its two-year intervention when Kabbah won a landslide

victory to gain majority in the parliament. By 2005 when the UN had completed its mandate, the UN had

succeeded in disarming 70,000 war combatants from both sides, protected elections, trained police forces,

reconstructed the nation, set up war crime tribunals, and ensured peace [7]. Although the committee was at

times unforeseen to succeed because of the crisis that arose, the new campaign of mediation launched by the

UN in response allowed tensions to lessen on both sides and negotiations began.

During the Bosnian War from 1992-1995 in which different factions fought within Bosnia and

Herzegovina, tens and thousands of refugees fled to nearby country or special enclaves for protection; one of

them being an Eastern city of Srebrenica. The Republic of Sprska was one of such faction, led by General

Ratko Mladic, that fought against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in effort to secure its self-

proclaimed state for the Serbian government. As the war deteriorated for the Republic of Bosnia and

Herzegovina, UN Peacekeeping Forces were sent in to ensure the safety of the civilians in one of the

enclaves ensured by the forces and the UN as safe from harm. However, the international community knew

the enclave would fall but did nothing about it; and are willing to sacrifice it in efforts to create peace in the

region [4]. Consequently, General Mladic was able to march into town on July of 1995. Mladic and the

forces of the Republic of Srprska (VRS) separated the women, children, the young, and the old from

military-aged men right in front of the eyes of the UN Peacekeeping Forces.

Untitled

Women, the young, and the old separated by Mladic along with UN Peacekeepers in Srebrenica 1995

8,000 men with ages from 18-55 were massacred on that day, and people that tried to seek shelter at the

Dutch Peacekeeping Headquarters were denied access. All of these actions led to the worldwide questioning

and condemnation of the UN, NATO, and several other Western nations. The Srebrenica Massacre was the

single largest genocide ever recorded since the Third Reich in the Second World-War. It was a result of

Western nations fail to intervene and halt the VRS from advancing and their wrongful prediction of the

outcome of occupation of Srebrenica (US and UK believed that the refugees would be detained and used as

hostages in negotiation with the West) [4]. Few months later, the Dayton Agreement was signed as a peace

treaty, in which kept the status quo of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and dividing the state into two

administrating entity: Federal Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srebrenica. The fall

of Srebrenica had damaged the reputation of the UN, and it demonstrated on how different nations’ political

decisions (the decision of US and UK to sacrifice the enclaves) were able to influence military decisions of

the UN Peacekeepers. Also, at the time of the occupation, there were only 110 Peacekeepers on site,

extremely insignificant compared to the attacking VRS; and revealing the inefficiency of the Security

Council in the reinforcement of UN personnel in the Bosnian Civil War (34,000 were proposed, but it was

One might argue that the UN Peacekeeping Forces are successful because of its neutrality and non-

combatant nature while on missions, but had a few flaws that included its inadequate number of forces in

certain regions. Some others might argue that it was the conditions and the status quo of the region deployed

of Peacekeepers that allow such mission to be successful, hence the presence or absence of a negotiable

position of both sides of a conflict and the extent of support of the Western nations was what made Sierra

Leone a triumph and Srebrenica a failure. In the self-examining report by the UN on the issue of Srebrenica,

it broke new grounds by condemning the tendency of the organization to remain neutral in a civil conflict.

“These failings were in part rooted in a philosophy of neutrality and nonviolence wholly unsuited to the

conflict in Bosnia,” said Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN [8].

Besides its neutrality being put into question in compared to its achievement, there had been rising

voices from the public and Member States wanting the Peacekeeping Forces to have more power and

involvement in conflicts. This is because in many incidents across different peacekeeping missions, the UN

would face dilemmas on actions from either parties where it borders along the charter and mandate that was

assigned to them. When this happens, the UN Peacekeepers have to choose between allowing or restricting

such action. One example of this is was mentioned above in the Srebrenica Massacre when the Dutch forces,

with their inadequate numbers, were unable to decide whether or not they should maintain their neutrality

and do nothing; or should they fight back against VPS, violating the terms of their charter and the command

from headquarters in doing so. The resulting decision of the former was what brought this tragedy among

the international community. If the power to make decisions on front lines was given to them, the

peacekeepers would be able to act on their own while still maintaining the terms of which they swore loyalty

to. India, one of the largest contributors of UN Peacekeeping Forces, was against such implementation

because it believes that the power was not necessary because UN’s mission had been successful in

maintaining peace and security [5].

The two events of Sierra Leone and Srebrenica was one example of a failure and success that the UN

had dealt with in its 70 years of creation. Referring to all past UN peacekeeping missions, it is obscure for

one to simply conclude the extent of whether it is an effective means of mediation between two conflicting

parties or to preserve peace and security in the region. Some argued that its success was because of the

mindset that both parties had and the situation of which the conflict was placed in, in which created a

suitable environment for peacekeeping to take place (whether or not each side were willing to cooperate

with peace agreements and actions). On the other hand, some scholars argued, an equal sign should not be

place on its failures with the actual conflict itself; rather, the presence of such humanitarian-based forces

was what made the crisis less destructive and disastrous than it would’ve been with the absence of UN

intervention. Nevertheless, the UN Peacekeeping Forces remain the only organization in world that retain a

neutral method of mediating conflicts and in dealing with humanitarian issues that consists of formidable

military power, and such organization, disregarding its efficiency, is one of the most effective tools in the

maintaining of world peace and security.


References

1. “What is Peacekeeping?” United Nations Peacekeeping. United Nations, 2015. Web. 7 November

<http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/peacekeeping.shtml>

2. “The Early Years” United Nations Peacekeeping. United Nations, 2015. Web. 7 November 2015.

<http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/early.shtml>

3. Henderson, Barney. “What Have Been the Successes and the Failures of UN Peacekeeping

Missions?” The Telegraph. The Telegraph, 28 September 2015. Web. 7 November 2015.

<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/bosnia/11729436/Srebrenica-20-years-on-

What-have-been-the-successes-and-failures-of-UN-peacekeeping-missions.html >

4. Hartmann, Florence and Vulliamy, Ed. “How Britain and the US Decided to Abandon Srebrenica to

its Fate” The Guardian. The Guardian, 4 July 2015. Web. 7 November 2015.

<http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/04/how-britain-and-us-abandoned-srebrenica-

5. McGreal, Chris. “What is the Point of Peacekeeping When They Don’t Keep Peace?” The Guardian.

The Guardian, 17 September 2015. Web. 7 November 2015.

<http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/17/un-united-nations-peacekeepers-rwanda-bosnia>

6. “Sierra Leone Profile – Timeline” BBC News. BBC, 18 March 2015. Web. 8 November 2015.

<http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14094419>

7. “Sierra Leone: A Success Story in Peacekeeping” UN Major Peacekeeping Operations. UN 2005.

PDF. 8 November 2015.

<http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/publications/yir/2005/PDFs/major_pk_operations.pdf>

8. Crossette, Barbara. “UN Details Its Failure to Stop ’95 Bosnia Massacre” International New York

Times. New York Times 16 November 1999. Web. 8 November 2015.

<http://www.nytimes.com/1999/11/16/world/un-details-its-failure-to-stop-95-bosnia-massacre.html>


 Post by Alex, Yong-Qi Gao – 2015.12.23

 

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