By Maru Diño and Angelica Elmido
“Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.”
~ Otto von Bismarck
In order to qualify as one of the Honorable Chairpersons of a Model United Nations conference, a CDA student must not only be adequately disciplined in the field of collegiate (diplomatic) international relations, but most importantly of having the genuine passion of providing the due guidance towards successfully invoking the best out of the participating delegates within their respective committees. For the 14th Philippine Model United Nations, the candidates chosen are:
Ms. Kimberly Aurelio of the General Assembly
Mr. Pierre Pecson of the Security Council
Mr. Ahmad Alonto of the Human Rights Council
Mr. Michael Espina of the Economic and Social Council
Ms. Jessa Rediang of the United Nations Environment Programme
Ms. Princess Adao of the United Nations Children’s Fund
There is a lot in store about these well seasoned pioneers of various Model United Nations conferences, and thus we give you the opportunity to get to know them more as you prepare to demonstrate your delegating capabilities under their wings. Thus, we solicited queries from their application processes to the agenda selection, as well as their individual preoccupations prior to the formal sessions. Read through what they have to say….
Q: What do you think are the challenges you will encounter throughout the conference?
GA Chair: “The challenges that I may encounter would include facilitating the delegates in observing proper decorum, ensuring that the flow of formal session is time-efficient, and encouraging the delegates to become active during formal session.”
SC Chair: “One of the things that make the Security Council different from the other committees is that it has an open agenda. I’m already expecting that coming up with committee topics that everyone will agree with will be one of the challenges for this year’s SC. In addition, since the SC has some of the CDA community’s cream of the crop, reaching consensus will pose a lot of difficulty seeing the rather sensitive nature of the committee’s agenda.”
HRC Chair: “In a shallow note, every Chair faces the pre-conference jitters. From hoping not to commit mistakes in judgments of motions down to making sure that the flow of the proceedings turn out flawless. But the real challenge of a Chair is assuring the success in the output of your delegates within the session given the limited time that is given to come up with the most comprehensive and content rich resolution the committee can come up with. If you will, a Chair can be metaphorically compared to a guide in a journey, a guide to merely keep its followers in the road and it is up to them to walk that path and decide which way to go. A critical role of a Chair is to adequately equip its delegates with the tools that would be needed for the journey. When session starts, there is only so much I can do.”
ECOSOC Chair: “Getting people motivated. I think there will be lots of persons genuinely interested with trying to solve issues that define our generation - and of course, there are some people who aren’t. The problem is much bigger than MUN; it’s in all our classes. It’s fulfilling to get over that challenge because once someone becomes interested, everything - all the hard work and perseverance - all of that follows.”
UNEP Chair: “I believe there could be a lot of obstacles ahead, but in the same manner, experiences will get us through all of them, and a two-way learning process between the dais and the committee delegates will get us far. This actually thrills me and I can’t wait on what we could get with this experience.”
UNICEF Chair: “…from my perspective as a delegate, I can say that handling a huge number of people is not an easy task. One must not only constantly maintain the orderliness in the committee but also ensure that each and every delegate knows and heads on the right direction. The biggest challenge for me is ensuring that at the end of the day, every delegate will not only be familiar with the parliamentary procedures and how the an actual committee in the United Nations works, but that they do learn and experience for themselves what is essentially important about MUNs.”
Q: There were interviews conducted during the application process in order to qualify as the Chair of your committee preference. How and why did you choose your respective committees?
GA Chair: “I chose to apply as a Chair for the General Assembly because I am familiar with the background of the committee after being a delegate of that committee for the third time, twice during my freshman year and once during my sophomore year. I am aware of the situations that take place in this committee during formal session and I believe that with the experience I had as a former delegate of the General Assembly, I will be able to do my best in facilitating the delegates.”
SC Chair: “I’ve been in the Security Council since the 12th DLS-CSB MUN. I was never a delegate, though. During my freshman year, I was a member of the World Press and the EIC assigned me in the Council. Then, I became the Vice Chair a year after. I guess I’m pretty familiar with the dynamics in DLS-CSB’s Security Council. Also, I reckon that the SC is one of the most exciting committees in MUN, and I definitely don’t want to miss that!”
HRC Chair: “I was the Vice-Chairperson for the HRC in the 13th PhilMUN under the immediate past Chairperson, Josyn Palma. It is a policy for this year’s PhilMUN that the immediate Vice-Chair would automatically be the interim Chairperson of the same committee, which in this case would be Miguel Luis Arias Uson. Regardless, I could not be more delighted to serve once again in the UNHRC because I believe it is in the UNHRC where it is the ideal venue, medium, and forum in the international community that the value of every human being is exonerated more than any other committee in the UN system. There is little regard in high politics and would promote and proliferate the sanctity of the human worth. There is no difficulty in understanding the rights of every human for they are also we. It was only when I was taken as Vice Chair for last year’s MUN did I fully appreciate the importance of human rights and more over, admittedly, the true definition of human rights. I hope that the delegates would share the same realizations as I’ve had in serving in the committee.”
ECOSOC Chair: “I definitely wasn’t expecting ECOSOC. I thought there was a vacancy for HRC, so I applied for it. My interview with the Secretary-General focused a lot on sustainable development and economics. A moment later, I was grateful I got ECOSOC.”
UNEP Chair: “I actually chose UNEP due to the reasons that I had a good background with the environment through attending various conferences and talks concerning them. And of course, it is in my line of interest.”
UNICEF Chair: “They [the children] serve as a strong foundation for grassroots change which I believe is more sustainable and effective in the long run, compared to solutions which only consider the surface level. … That’s why I personally chose UNICEF with its focus areas on child survival and development, basic gender and equality, child protection and even children with HIV/AIDS. As a delegate before, I had been confronted with high politics issues such as nuclear security, terrorism and war. For a change, I would like to work and facilitate in a committee which focuses on low politics issues and wherein communication, cooperation and compromise are very much needed.”
Q: How did you select the agendas? How are they significant to your committees?
GA Chair: “Other than checking the news articles, I also searched the organ of the General Assembly under the website of the United Nations. I looked at the articles regarding the high-level meetings of the respective committee and the resolutions that are currently being created which I was able to get the topics from. With regards to the topics, I had to be cautious in choosing the appropriate agendas to ensure the active participation of all the delegates. After having consulted the Leviathan and having revised the agendas, it was officially set!”
SC Chair: “The Security Council still has an open agenda, similar to the previous MUNs. It’s up to the delegates to come up with the agenda for the committee. The only difference is that instead of coming up with the agenda prior to the session, the delegates will have to determine the agenda during the session.”
HRC Chair: “Personally, a very important criterion in picking an agenda is that it must be a presently discussed issue, more preferably a recent one, and yet has sufficient data in the topic for the delegates to guide them in advancing their proposals. And in every agenda, there is a realization that hides within. More importantly, the agenda would aim to provoke the creativity of the delegates to create a feasible and time bound resolution. And the aforementioned, I believe, is present in the agendas the Dais has prepared for this year’s session.”
ECOSOC Chair: “Creativity and contention were huge considerations in choosing topics; and both had to be definitive problems of our times. “Creativity” because I wanted delegates to come up with fresh ideas for familiar issues. And “contention,” because, what’s the point of resolving anything without debating? The first one, on external debt, is a challenge to the delegates as well as the dais; it’s such an eminent problem pervading the world of economics, we all must educate ourselves about it. Women, the second topic is a very familiar cause of the UN. I wanted delegates to shift their focus on women as victims in conflict, to leaders in the peace process.”
UNEP Chair: “The committee topics were well researched and inspired by the trending events that we experience nowadays. In UNEP, we can tell that dealing with the environment is something that includes scientific ideas and researches, but we specifically focused on the areas where the delegates could generally imply political, economic and socio-cultural aspects that we, students of international relations, has a specialization of. Moreover, the topics were intricately approved by established professors, so they underwent major revisions if there are some fallacies that must be replaced.”
UNICEF Chair: “In the process of our topic selection for UNICEF, we considered the issues that are most pressing and at the same time, are relatively new to the discussion in the international community. The topic on the street children and their reintegration into the society presents an issue that is of immediate concern not only to a certain country or a certain region but also to that of every nation in the world. The other one presents itself as quite a sensitive issue concerning the elimination of gender disparities and how to empower adolescent girls for social change.”
Q: What are you looking forward to as the Chair of the committee you are designated to?
GA Chair: “I look forward to working with my lovely Dais, facilitating the delegates as they make a motion, and observing how the delegates in my committee interact with one another while they forward the interests of their respective countries especially when making a resolution paper. Another thing I look forward to is seeing how the delegates promote their countries!”
SC Chair: “As a chairperson of the Security Council, I do feel the pressure of making this MUN one of the best. Since I have been in this committee for the past two years, the responsibility is also on me — aside from the delegates — to make this as great and as stimulating as the previous SC sessions. I’m very excited to meet all the delegates and see the “action” of the MUN in another perspective. And of course, I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome of this year’s session.”
HRC Chair: “My hope is that we sufficiently discuss each agenda and come up with the best resolutions that we can given the limits in time. But they have my full confidence that it is possible to achieve such a daunting goal. It is imperative that the delegates recognize these limits in order to identify the pressing matters at hand and act upon them. But how hard is it to come up with a resolution when every delegate can somehow relate to? That makes the delegates’ work slightly easier than in other committees.”
ECOSOC Chair: “I wanna see fights! Only because that means people will make up after.”
UNEP Chair: “As UNEP delegates, they are expected to utilize ‘Environmental Diplomacy’ which is the very core of environment agencies and bodies. In addition to that, they are also expected to analyze the consequences of the resolutions that they are going to create, for the reasons that almost everything that concerns the environment runs on a long-term basis which could affect us in the same or more degree in the long run, whether it is for the good or not.”
UNICEF Chair: “As a chairperson of a committee which basically promotes children’s basic rights, I’m looking forward to a very dynamic and substantive interaction between all the delegates, considering the fact that the topics prepared are that of a universal concern. However, I’m quite more interested on how they will be able to achieve a compromise and agree on a certain resolutions despite the different state perspectives especially on the issue of gender inequality, wherein several internal factors such culture, norms and religion may actually serve either as a way or a deterrent for them to negotiate. I’m also very much excited to see delegates in action: speaking, debating, lobbying, presenting and all the usual things they do.”
Q: What will be your message to all the delegates in the upcoming 14th Philippine Model United Nations?
GA Chair: “First, the delegates have to learn to appreciate the country the delegates are to represent. It may not be the country of their interest but they have to remember that they are representing a country of great importance. The delegates also have to remember that it is a big deal for a country to be a member of the United Nations because that respective country will be able to forward its interests and further interact with other countries in a more efficient manner.
Second, do your best to make your voice heard while you forward the interests of your State. I know it may be difficult to speak in front of your committee or to interact with other delegates especially those representing the dominant countries worrying about what the other delegates might think. Remember that you still have to mention the stand or actions of your country regarding the agendas. Speaking in front of the committee and interacting with the other delegates also makes others aware that your country exists. You will feel good after being able to speak, trust me. If you are able to forward the interests of your country, then, you did a good job!
Third, remember that the actions executed by the delegates are in line with the policies of their country. They should not be disheartened by the statements and criticisms made by other delegates and take everything personally even if other delegates who may be your friends vote ‘no’ to your resolution. Remember that at the end of the day, it is still up to the delegates on how they want to react to the situations brought upon to them.
Lastly, have FUN! Make this Model United Nations conference something you will remember for a long time by being active during committee session.”
SC Chair: “Make the most out of this activity. It’s definitely one of the highlights in our degree program. Never take it for granted, as this will make you a more well-rounded person. A couple of years from now, you’ll be thankful for such opportunity because this will help improve your writing and speaking abilities, boost your confidence and enhance your interpersonal skills. As long as you give your best, you’ll learn to love it.”
HRC Chair: “We all should realize the values that the PhilMUN tries to instill in this event, especially in the field of diplomacy. There is no better avenue in the application of theories taught in our classrooms that can be easily accessible to all students who want to gain its full benefits. I pray that every delegate realizes that. Moreover, best of luck to all delegates and I salute you for taking the first of many steps in developing yourselves into competent professionals in the future and hopefully servants of your country. The skills that are instilled and developed are not only applicable in Foreign Service but in almost every career out there. Lastly, never ever lose that creativity. Do not let the status quo in place ever deter your ability to innovate and push outside of the box. It is creativity that created innovation, and innovation led to greatness and greatness could not be achieved if you are not ready to put yourself in a position outside of your comfort zone. Do not forget the importance of diplomacy and the critical role it will play in our increasingly shrinking world. May peace prevail, Insh’Allah!”
ECOSOC Chair: “Prepare well. Follow the news. Make friends. Enjoy.”
UNEP Chair: “All I wish for, in this year’s PhilMUN, is for the delegates to learn something that isn’t written plainly on the books; establishing a unique diplomatic style, personally knowing and being familiar of how UN really works, and of course, taking this MUN into a whole new level, that would definitely distinguish this year with the past and even the future MUNs.”
UNICEF Chair: “Delegates, do your very best and put in the greatest amount of effort you can give in this year’s Philippine Model United Nations cause it’s the only way you can immerse yourself and experience how the real United Nations work. Yes, this may be an annual event but don’t waste this opportunity not only to learn from your fellow delegates but to also take the lead and overcome any challenges that may come in your way. Use this as a venue for you to grow and as a head start for your future careers in the foreign service.”
With regards to their common denominator, this shall be the first time all six candidates will be Chairpersons in a Model United Nations conference. It is inherent that their responsibilities will not be an immediate cinch unless their respective delegates meet them with their own, half-way. Nevertheless, they are very much qualified with the confidence of the Secretary-General, having already gained enough edge above all the rest of the CDA community through their previous participations of various MUNs, both locally and abroad. Now, the question for you is, ARE YOU READY to meet or even go beyond their expectations? Find out the extent of your potentials as you venture into another chapter of your own CDA experience.