UN Politics: Ideals vs Realities
This year’s theme grapples with the conflict between self interest and idealism in international politics and examine how they may be reconciled. For advocates of the UN and global citizenship, neoliberalism is often seen as the way to go since it is idealistic and portrays international institutions as effective means of promoting cooperation and maintaining peace and security. However, this is at odds with neorealist theory which suggests that in practice, states will only use institutions when it suits them and will quickly ignore them when it doesn’t. To simply dismiss or downplay realism is to neglect a major school of thought which influences many in important policy roles around the world.
We are now seeing a large-scale rejection of neoliberalism and the “false song of globalism”, with Brexit and Trump’s election to the US presidency showing that many people want the needs of their local community to be put before those of the global community. It’s for this same reason that we’re seeing a lot of apathy and opposition towards global efforts to mitigate climate change, as many want the economy and their jobs to be put before the environment.
As such, our educational theme seeks to examine these conflicting ideologies (albeit in a way that doesn’t get bogged down in theory) and our aim is for delegates to:
- Understand the legitimate interests behind states acting along realist lines;
- Analyse why we are seeing such a widespread rejection of international institutions and globalism; and
- Think critically about how they can promote idealism in a way that engages with and takes into account self-interest.
The conference presents its educational vision through various means. There are four practical workshops designed to build students skills with a hands-on approach. We also have three committee sessions, during this time each delegate will get the opportunity to participate in three of our eight committees, this will put students knowledge to the test whilst helping to develop speaking and negotiation skills.
There is also the plenary session which will allow students to interact and lobby as delegates to the UN do. This year we have chosen to offer a split plenary and divide students into two rooms which will run simultaneously. This is with the aim of allowing more speaking time for students whilst maintaining the feel and operation of the real United Nations General Assembly.
Finally we have several speakers who are experts and have reached some of the highest positions in their respective fields. They will come and speak to students to help develop understanding of real world diplomacy and the international challenges that are faced every day.
General Assembly 1 Disarmament and International Security: The Question of Domestic Radicalisation
This committee will consider how countries can prevent people from becoming radicalised and how countries should deal with people who have already become radicalised.
General Assembly 2 Economic and Financial: The Question of Trade and Labour Liberalisation
This committee will look at the conflict between trade protectionism and open borders and free trade. This will include looking at how to consolidate the two interests into a workable solution.
General Assembly 3 Social, Humanitarian and Cultural: The Question of Discrimination of Refugees and Immigrants
This committee will be examining some of the backlash that immigrants and migrants are facing across the globe. This will include why this backlash is occurring in the first place – is it simply out of ignorance or is it time that countries rethink their immigration and refugee policies?
Human Rights Council 1: The Question of Discrimination in Justice Systems
This committee will examine the causes of inequality in judicial systems around the world and consider what is discriminatory and how this should be dealt with in a transparent and just manner.
Human Rights Council 2: The Question of Child Marriage
This committee will consider some of the key challenges with child marriage. This will start by looking at the causes of child marriage. Child marriage has been a challenge to deal with in many countries and will continue to be, yet policy has often done little to prevent the problem.
United Nations Environmental Program: The Question of Economic Exploitation in the Arctic
This committee will consider the the vested interests of various parties and how these affect action to mitigate climate change. Delegates will have to consider economic implications of policies and try to find compromises.
Security Council: The Question of the Situation in Yemen
Students will have to tackle with the difficult situation in Yemen which involves conflicting interests and difficult political alliances. Students will be challenged to debate in the framework of the Security Council and will have to traverse the difficulties of the veto.
International Court of Justice: Does South Ossetia meet the criteria for statehood under international law?
Students will be challenged with some of the most pressing questions of international law. This will be an advisory opinion and students will be presented all necessary information and then be guided through discussion by the chair. Students will be allowed to come to their own opinions and write a very brief judgement, much the same as the real International Court of Justice.
Plenary: United Nations Convention on the Future of State Sovereignty
This will be a special convention which will allow students to consider state sovereignty and the relevance it has in today’s society. The students will consider a variety of topics that relate to state sovereignty.