The Art of a Proper Act
By Pin Yang
[This Article does not represent the opinion of DYNAMUN, but simply an intentionally offered, alternative viewpoint from one of our valuable co-chairs.]
We all enjoy maneuvering in the world with our placards as our assigned countries. Yet, as we gain more experience in the MUN field, inevitably we will come across delegates that do not adhere to their given position. That is, an Arabic nation talking about the importance of woman suffrage or an unrealistic bloc formation based on real-life friendships instead of country interests. Indeed, MUN is a place for the world to negotiate and co-operate, this, however, does not mean we shall all work based on a single value. Frankly, this is a natural defection of MUN, as we cannot recruit delegates according to the conference, so, some of the countries are required to be represented by a person who may not agree with or be familiar with the principles of their assignment. Still, it is one of the few challenges you should be excited about, for it illustrates whether you can be a true diplomat instead of a mockingbird of the western bloc. It is not hard to be the latter because we embrace it and receive much information from the media like CNN or BBC, but are we capable of developing our own critical thinking skills based on the assignment? That is what matters.
Nikki Haley is the current representative of the states in the UN. She is, however, disputed and possesses a mixed reception. The United States has already issued two clarifications regarding Haley’s speech, claiming that what she said during these controversial moments did not represent the viewpoint of the United States. Haley is also a firm supporter of Israel and even rejected a proposal that favors Palestine after it was agreed upon by the Obama administration and the majority of the world, simply because she said she “does not agree on Palestine as a country”. Additionally, Haley’s stance on the Syria problem is obvious, as she does not want to collaborate with Russia. While these points are in a way aligned with Donald Trump’s “Not My Business” attitude, it is not a successful representative behavior: we remember these as the stances of Haley, instead of the stance of the United States.
In fact, there has long existed an argument regarding the necessity of a UN representative. De facto, though the position belongs to the cabinet in many countries, they do not hold the power to influence the concerned department of the nation. On the other hand, this position is certainly needed, as direct communications among head bureaucrats around the world are too complex and time-consuming. A related joke about bureaucratic confirmation is set time in the time of the Spanish invasion of the Mayan empire: the Spaniards encountered a tribe of cannibals. “Do you want our gold, or our labor, in exchange for not killing us?” begged the chief. “Only my king shall decide.” replied the Spaniard. He then returned to Spain to ask for a reply and never found the way back again, therefore, the discovery of America was lost. While the debate went on, the amount of power one diplomat held fell into an S.H.M, bouncing back and forth between “just be the speaker” and “be the tactical mind that wins power for the country”. In such case, shall a delegate be aiming to be a “bloc leader”, as that is what we are always told to do?
Speaking from a Dais’ perspective, we desire a more realistic conference, as in, the delegate shall rather be an “interest fighter” for his nation, instead of a student trying to finish the assignment given by the “Teacher Dais”. In other words, “don’t co-operate and solve the problem for the sake of solving one”. For instance, for a “small country”, I generally do not consider it right to be the sole dominating nation in the conference hall. I expect a small nation to be more selfish about its own interest. However, you can still lead the discussion with an alternative approach. In 1991, Oran R. Young wrote in his article on International Organization, stating that small countries could perform “Idea-based leadership” via “discovering and proposing joint solutions to collective problems and accomplished by ‘consciousness-raising’.”[i] That is, these nations have to bear in mind that their job is not to “do all the work” due to their weaknesses, but to provide good ideas and raise awareness to the field they have concerns with, so they can solve the problem while also benefit from the solvency of their approach.
On the contrary, a “big” country, in terms of influence, such as the P5s, often consider the bigger picture, yet they do not always see the ‘true’ picture. For instance, on the UN Climate Summit Copenhagen 2009, the stance between the EU, USA and China conflicted, therefore, instead of a decisive protocol like the one achieved in Kyoto, we only get the meek forgotten Copenhagen Accord. Karlsson Christer wrote in the MIT Press Journal in 2012, describing a theory behind this phenomenon, suggesting that “the overall commitment to solving the climate change problem was the most important reported factor in motivating the support of a particular leader.”[ii] This implied that the “bigger country” tends to gain a sense of responsibility derived from their power, which consequently motivates them without having to receive an equal amount of profit. In another Karlsson-produced paper published on Global Environmental Politics, he also stated, “Self-interest is the least important factor” in terms of the stance of a big country.[iii] On top of that, it is fair for us to conclude, an ideal MUN conference still has to rely on a more conservative forum, with the P5s leading the discussion while smaller ones contribute and try to plug in a self-interested article or two. This is also due to the structure of the Security Council, making a small country forming its own bloc nearly impossible in the face of the threat of the P5s veto powers.
Interestingly, what Trump did recently does effectively to move the USA into the pool of “smaller countries”. Unrelated to the country area or economy, this simply means how commanding a nation is in the world. There is no such thing as right or wrong in “downgrading” a country’s diplomatic soft-power, as internationally leading countries often need to spend more to maintain their higher status in exchange of national pride. The objectors of Trump simply view the pride of holding international duties and obligations over realistic, booming economic profit. Fairly speaking, MUN is too simplified here as it narrows down a country’s voice to come only from you, the delegate. Still, “The ability to compromise is not a diplomatic politeness toward a partner but rather taking into account and respecting your partner's legitimate interests,” as stated by Vladimir Putin. By learning to compromise and trying to balance between self-interest and world peace, you are guaranteed to learn a lot more than what you can get from any class.
[i] Young, O. “Political Leadership and Regime Formation On the Development of Institutions in International Society”, International Organization, 45/3: 281-309
[ii] Karlsson, C., Hjerpe, M., Parker, C., and Linnér B,-O. “The Legitimacy of Leadership in International Climate Change Negotiations”, Ambio: A Journal of Human Environment, 41/1: 46-55
[iii] Karlsson, C., Parker, C., Hjerpe, M., and Linnér B,-O. “Looking for Leaders: Preceptions of Climate Change Leadership among Climate Change Negotiation