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HarvardMUN India '14 - Al Jazeera: Interviews and Articles

Correspondents of various agencies at the Press Corps at the Harvard Model United Nations India 2014 had to shadow committees and write articles covering the latest happenings, and consequently the global repercussions of these updates. Apart from literary journalism, they also had to conduct interviews of an assigned member of the Secretariat and host press conferences in various committees. The following are the articles, opinion pieces and interviews conducted by Chanakya Varma, the representative of the Al Jazeera News Network. After holistic evaluation, the representative of Al Jazeera was awarded the Best Delegate Award.

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HarvardMUN India '14 - Al Jazeera: Interviews and Articles

  1. 1. PRESS CORPS – HARVARD MODEL UNITED NATIONS INDIA 2014 AL JAZEERA Articles and Interviews by Chanakya Varma Correspondents of the various agencies at the Press Corps at the Harvard Model United Nations India 2014 had to shadow committees and write articles covering the latest happenings, and consequently the global repercussions of these updates. Apart from literary journalism, they also had to conduct interviews of an assigned member of the Secretariat and host press conferences in various committees. The following are the articles, opinion pieces and interviews conducted by Chanakya Varma, the representative of the Al Jazeera News Network. After holistic evaluation, the representative of Al Jazeera was awarded the Best Delegate Award. T h e i n c i d e n t s r e p o r t e d i n t h e f o l l o w i n g a r t i c l e s a r e e n t i r e l y f i c t i o n a l , a n d a n y r e s e m b l a n c e i s p u r e l y c o i n c i d e n t a l .
  2. 2. WORLD REUNITES TO SETTLE QUESTION OF INTERVENTION BY AL JAZEERA One hundred years ago, a single fired shot in Sarajevo threw the entire world into conflict and war. Today, as the correspondent of Al Jazeera walked into the simulation of the Social Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, he was greeted by shooting of another kind – the hands of the delegates shooting up to propose solutions to what has been described as the bone of contention of the 21st century – humanitarian intervention. This symposium of the SOCHUM kicked off with a clear division of ideologies, as delegates furiously tried to convince their counterparts what the more pertinent issue was – the rehabilitation of refugees or the creation of a framework for humanitarian intervention. The delegate of Sudan – a country nestled deep within humanitarian crisis itself - was the trailblazer in the committee, passionately reasoning that sovereignty was a right only rightly bestowed when the state exercised a certain responsibility towards its citizens. Iran echoed its African ally, and further added that the violation of the Geneva Convention in the Arabic region – especially in Iraq and Syria – was beyond any logical justification and underlined the essentiality of Responsibility to Protect and the definition of a framework for implementation. The Delegate of Israel, however, offered another point of view to the issue by logically stating that diaspora was a byproduct of any intervention, and hence, the creation of a “safety net” was extremely vital to minimize any collateral damage. Fortunately, realizing the small amount of time they had at its disposal, the committee came to consensus and decided that the issue of refugees was indeed a subset of the bigger question of humanitarian intervention. The committee adjourned for the first day with vigor and enthusiasm, and as the doors closed, the words of the current Secretary General remained hanging in the air, who passionately stated, ‘Delegates – the question isn’t whether or whether not to have humanitarian intervention, but rather how to.’ USA THREATENS IRAN -­‐ BLATANTLY VIOLATES UN CHARTER BY AL JAZEERA In an act of unprecedented betrayal and complete disregard for the clauses entailed in the United Nations Charter, the United States of America have publicly announced that they will carry out a full-­‐fledged drone strike over Tehran, and subsequently the rest of Iran as well. In the wee hours of 14 August, coded missives between the White House and the headquarters of the Mossad were leaked on the online whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks. These missives contained extremely sensitive information confirming the potent threat of the drone-­‐war posed by the United States. These drones are currently stationed at an undisclosed location in the Negev desert in Israel. Experts have estimated that there are enough mobile arsenals to release over 400 megawatts of energy. It has also been established that the United Kingdom and France are completely supportive of the action of the United States and Israel. The correspondent would like it to be noted that if the strike is carried out, the United States and its allies violate not only the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Convention, but also exhibit inexcusable hypocrisy as they go against the ‘no-­‐first-­‐strike’ policy, a movement which has been championed by the United States itself. This of course is only the edge of the bottomless pit the United States is pushing itself into. The issue of inevitable civilian harm has always been interconnected with drones, and although the delegates of the US assured that the drones would have “a very high Submitted at the Press Corps at the Harvard Model United Nations India 2014 2
  3. 3. accuracy”, their ominous track record has given the world has enough reason to not be convinced. Serious questions have been raised about the accuracy and efficacy of strikes, and the publicly available evidence that they have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best. In fact, a 2012 poll by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitude project found that only 17% of Pakistanis supported drone strikes. And remarkably, among those who professed to know a lot or a little about drones, 97% considered drone strikes bad policy. If this does not exemplify the self-­‐centeredness of the United States, I don’t know what will. This unashamed violation introduces a new turn to the agenda being hotly debated at the Security Council. A historic perpetrator of jus gentium, the United States is willfully adding insult to injury by maintaining such an extreme stance. The machinist indifference expressed by the American delegates when asked about collateral damage has raised serious questions about certain ulterior motives that the world’s largest military might be bringing to global symposiums. This unsettling development boils down to the billion-­‐dollar question of the century – does the United States of America still deserve permanent member status in the Security Council? (This an opinion article which reflects the views of correspondent, and not necessarily the ideologies of the Al Jazeera News Agency. The correspondent holds the Russian Federation in high regard, and praises her for expressing solidarity with her Iranian brothers, and calls upon the international community to seriously consider the ramifications of their whims and fancies. ) STALEMATE ON THE AFRICAN CHESSBOARD IS STARTING TO DISSOLVE BY AL JAZEERA It is said that, “Africa is more than a union of states – it is a fully functioning organism, whose every organ works in orchestrated harmony.” The continent is renowned for its spirit of fraternity, but today, as the African Union convened to decide the role of China in the region, one could only wonder where that brotherhood has faded away to. China – the world’s next superpower, and Africa – the world’s biggest potential market make for an exciting combination, but this cohesion is not without friction, as the delegates have engaged in a furious war of words to convince their allies as to what is indeed the best course for China’s future in the continent. Following up from the proceedings of day one, the committee was clearly divided and the inability of delegates to compromise seemed to be sign of impending financial stagnation for the region. The committee, however, whizzed back to life when they were shown a live press release of the plight of a poor Beninese peasant. Faced with a lack of profitable markets, the farmers of the region were clearly distressed at the apathetic demeanor in which the committee was progressed. At once, it was clear to the delegates that seeds of agitation had been sown in the African populace, and further difference of opinion would only nurture the dissent. Almost magically and much to the pleasure of millions, the committee joined hands and took up the topic of an intercontinental trade agreement with renewed enthusiasm. The delegate of the São Tomé and Principe proposed what could be described as an African Forum that worked on barter dynamics. She believed that this would proliferate local economies and in turn, create a regional produce and demand line, reducing dependence of extra-­‐regional economic entities like China and the United States of America. The Democratic Republic of Congo suggested the inception of cooperative societies – a socio-­‐economic venture that has Submitted at the Press Corps at the Harvard Model United Nations India 2014 3
  4. 4. proven to be successful time and again. The committee also fervently embraced the provision of a minimum support price for food crops, which would invariably prove to be an impetus to the agricultural section of the developing economies. As Ghana proposed rebuilding the international roads and other infrastructure, and Botswana introduced a civic ombudsman to address public grievances, Al Jazeera could not help but note the nods of approval in the committee. In a state of rare consensus, the delegate of Botswana proposed a moderated caucus to discuss an extremely pertinent issue – the misuse of funds. All the delegates unanimously accepted that mismanagement of funds was severely hampering the political stability of the continent, and consequently hindering its potential for development. Aiming to establish the framework for a transparent audit, delegates pushed for an upper limit of external funding claiming that installments were the best way to efficiently document the exchange and the allocation of funds. The utopian harmony was certainly unprecedented and extremely heartening to watch, and as the icing of the cake, Sudan’s suggestion to include an anticorruption bill was greeted by resounding applause. While the bigger issue of Chinese involvement is yet to be decided on in concrete terms, the chessboard is slowly dissolving away stalemate. As the world watches what can potentially be described as the socio-­‐economic alliance of the century, Al Jazeera has only four words, ‘Your move, African Union.’ HUNDRED WITH HILLARY BY AL JAZEERA (On the 15 August, Al Jazeera interviewed the Director-­‐General of the Harvard Model United Nations India 2014, Hillary Higgins. Shamelessly attempting alliteration, the correspondent apologizes for reporting only five questions. Do note that the next ninety-­‐five will be added before Leonardo Di Caprio wins an Oscar. Patience, delegates.) AJ: If Hillary Higgins was a product being advertised on Sunday night television, how would you go about to sell yourself? HH: (chuckles) That’s an interesting question! So actually, a few years ago, I ran for this election where I thought of these 3 ‘H’s to add to my two, because I love alliteration! It went something along the lines of ‘a hardworking and honest student hoping for a better future, here’s Hillary Higgins.’ I think that exemplifies the person I am. AJ: Apart from the lucrative opportunity to suit up and get a new display picture for your Facebook, why do you think students should MUN? HH: (laughs – Al Jazeera suspects that over 30% of Hillary’s previous pictures are candid moments of her in committee) Well, I think it’s really important for students to engage with such global topics at an early age. Discussing and debating issues of such relevance is really important, especially considering that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. I also think that the best part about simulation is that it’s also stimulation. Stimuli for innovative thought processes, MUNs beget the spirit of the questioning. That’s really pertinent in today’s world, and even more so among adolescents. Apart from that, delegates also hone their leadership skills and collaboration, and stuff like that goes a big way in their professional lives as well. Submitted at the Press Corps at the Harvard Model United Nations India 2014 4
  5. 5. Moreover, it really opens up a host of careers that delegates can pursue! I mean, you could be a journalist, a diplomat, a politician – it just goes on! AJ: A more serious question: let’s face it; the United Nations isn’t proving to be as successful as it theoretically could be. What, in your opinion is the most pressing flaw in the dynamics of the United Nations? HH: Okay so I’m thinking along lots of lines, but they all revolve the same theme: response time. I think that optimum effectiveness of any organization is underlined by the urgency it exhibits while dealing with issues. With the UN, I think that there’s a lot of incessant debate, and that really hampers how impactful a resolution is. Don’t get me wrong; there are some great people with some great ideas here, but the only thing that’s missing is timeliness. AJ: What is the one thing you’ll miss the most back home? HH: Honestly, it’ll be that energy. It’s the enthusiastic spirit, the passion – whether it’s the HMUN India’s Got Talent, or the Speaker Series, or the global village – I just love that contagious vibe I get! That’s why I love to speak to every delegate I meet, who they are; where they’re from (sometimes, they’re surprised at how much I know!) just to… you know, refuel my enthusiasm! I’ll be honest, as a Director General, I’ve seen this conference right from its birth, but I can proudly say that it has been successful only because the delegates jumping up and down to speak are a testimony to my claim. It’s really heartening. I also love the festive Indian heritage, and well, I’m Colombian, so it’s really fun to try and amalgamate both of these easygoing cultures. Especially the Bollywood music – it’s designed to get you to jump up and get dancing, and I try to dance… AJ: I’ll be honest, that was a really great dance! HH: (laughs) …but that’s what I mean! It’s contagious! AJ: All right, last question. Since you’re studying international relations, you probably have a very comprehensive knowledge of the international community and how it’s evolved over the years. So here’s my question: if you could represent any nation, in any committee so that you could alter the course of history, which country would you choose and why? HH: That’s actually a fantastic question. Okay so I guess I would want to change a lot of things, so let me try and zero down on one. Now I’m really into the econo-­‐political development of the Latin American region. I mean, just reading about Castro’s Cuba, Pinochet’s regime…that stuff’s really something that should have been stopped at the bud. The ethnic genocides and oppression of liberal thought really hampered the development of the region. The consequent rise of Leftism after these governments collapsed – that’s something I wish happened much earlier. So to answer your question, I would love to be any country in the United Nations in around the 70s, so that I wish I could direct the attention of the community to the region. I honestly don’t think that the situation in countries like Argentina for example, deserved to be ignored by the arms race and the Cold War. Yes, I’d definitely want to end the South American tyranny. Submitted at the Press Corps at the Harvard Model United Nations India 2014 5
  6. 6. AJ: Thanks a lot Hillary! It’s been an honor. I hope I haven’t caused any inconvenience, and you’ll definitely receive a letter of thanks from me! BONUS! AJ: Another question, if you don’t mind. Why are there no roses at HMUN India 2014? HH: Umm, well, we didn’t want the delegates to get… AJ: Distracted? HH: (rather relieved a politically correct term is used) Yeah, yeah, distracted! That’s the word. But don’t worry; I’ll get you a rose! CHANGING HISTORY – ONE QUESTION AT A TIME BY AL JAZEERA (As the delegates of the Historic General Assembly (1958) take their last – and most significant – coffee break, the correspondent of the Al Jazeera caught up with the Delegate of the Egypt. Fueled with caffeine and impatience, Egypt gaped at us with bewildered eyes when we asked for just five minutes of his time. However, despite the severe paucity of time, Al Jazeera managed to ask a few pertinent questions.) AJ: Good morning. Travelling over 5000 miles to attend the conference, what does the State of Egypt expect of the committee? DoE: As the most powerful non-­‐aligned country, I believed it was my duty to promote all solutions that denied the Western and the Eastern bloc the opportunity to push their own special interests in Eastern Asia above the interest of international peace. I expected the military blocs to pose a stiff opposition to me, and I wanted to turn the bi-­‐polar situation into a tri-­‐polar situation, with the help of a “neutral” bloc. AJ: Are you satisfied with how the committee is progressing? DoE: (checks watch) Extremely so. The committee has turned out to be less polarized than I expected it to be, and countries seem to be willing to cooperate and compromise, so the solutions proposed were less extreme than I feared. AJ: How do you think the outcomes of the committee could affect the international community? DoE: The decisions of the General Assembly are a powerful legal precedent for countries’ policies; if this Emergency Special Session passes an enabling resolution under the enhanced powers granted by Resolution 377(V), its position will be crucial for the future of the UN. The UN has, until now, been the main pillar of neutrality in the international community, and if it passes a resolution with strong pro-­‐West or pro-­‐East leanings, on such a sensitive issue, it will lose its credibility. That’s why I think it’s so important to ensure that the proposals implemented by this committee are both neutral and comprehensive. I feel that is enough. Thank you – I must bid farewell now. Submitted at the Press Corps at the Harvard Model United Nations India 2014 6
  7. 7. LIVE STREAMING: CSW RESOLUTION DRAFTING BY AL JAZEERA As the correspondent of Al Jazeera pushed the doors of the Commission for the Status of Women, he was greeted by an unearthly silence, as the committee was deep into the business end of resolution drafting. Al Jazeera has always believed that people have not only the right to information, but also the right to timely information. To cater to the interconnected social network of the 21st century, Al Jazeera has decided to cover the proceedings in a manner never attempted before – in 140 characters. ü 2:57pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia The committee has broken into unmoderated caucus #CSW #UN ü 3:03pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia The time for this unmoderated caucus has #elapsed – this is the next big thing in women’s rights ü 3:09 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia There is a shortage of paper – the resolution is being distributed digitally - #CSW is #green ü 3:10 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Draft Resolution 1.1 has been introduced! We’ll be posting clause summaries ü 3:11 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia #DR1.1 has 31 signatories including Iran and USA #CSW ü 3:17 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia #DR 1.1 guarantees “voluntary choice in marriage and family formation” ü 3:18 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Awareness and education is of utmost importance in #DR1.1 ü 3:21 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia There is special allocation of funds for the R&D of gynecology – especially in rural areas #DR1.1 ü 3:23 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Abortion authorized only if there are direct complications to mom’s health or if child is conceived as a result of sexual assault ü 3:25 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia #DR1.1 calls for ‘introduction of separate segments in the curriculum particularly dedicated to detailing the implications, nature and characteristics associated with Submitted at the Press Corps at the Harvard Model United Nations India 2014 7
  8. 8. sexual and reproductive health’ ü 3:26 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Combating #childmarriage is of highest priority #DR1.1 ü 3:28 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Free #AIDS testing to be implemented for people below the age of #eighteen #DR1.1 ü 3:30 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia #HIV testing is to be made mandatory before any legal marriage #DR1.1 ü 3:31 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia #CSW asks for international tolerance of social and religious customs and traditions ü 3:33 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Police taskforce and border police to work to prevent human trafficking ü 3:37 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Q&A session opens! ü 3:39 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Japan – how does #DR1.1 effectively prevent teenage sexual intercourse? ü 3:43 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Pakistan – how accountable is #DR1.1? ü 3:49 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Belgium – what happens when state’s policy is not in line with cultural norms? ü 3:51 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Russia – clauses 8 and 7(d) are contradictory! ü 3:53 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia France – what will happen in radical and repressive states? ü 4:01 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia and we’re done with the Q&A! We’re now having a MC discussing #DR1.1 ü 4:04 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Kenya – abortion after 12 weeks might be fatal for mom and fetus Submitted at the Press Corps at the Harvard Model United Nations India 2014 8
  9. 9. ü 4:05 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Kenya – must create fear to stop adolescence pregnancies ü 4:07 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Namibia – committee must not work towards instilling fear – UN works on harmony ü 4:08 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia China – population explosion not addressed! ü 4:09 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Turkey – making abortion illegal creates a black-market for unsafe and very expensive illegal abortionists to thrive in ü 4:12 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia UK – clause 12 redundant! – It’s already been implemented ü 4:15 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia Ghana – maternal health is not adequately addressed ü 4:18 pm @AlJazeerafromHMUNIndia and we’re done with #DraftResolution 1.1! We’ll be writing a full-length summary soon! While the draft resolution proposed by the delegates from Iran, Kenya, Spain and Thailand might appear to be extremely comprehensive and explicit, it possesses gaping holes in its current form that must be addressed if the authors of the resolution plan to bring about meaningful and impactful change. The primary objection with this draft is that its repercussions might be more detrimental than beneficial. As Turkey, for example, clearly entailed, illegalization of abortion would pave way for a plethora of unlicensed and illicit abortionists to create a “black medical market” of sorts. It is evident that in their search for short-­‐term solutions, the authors have conveniently ignored its ramifications. Another concern raised was the scope of its implementation. The impact of the resolution is extremely dependent on the degree to which governments are willing to “show tolerance for customs and traditions.” Certain Middle Eastern and North-­‐East Asian states like Saudi Arabia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have historically shown absolutely no regard for international jurisprudence. The delegates of the CSW have definitely maintained a very myopic view of the situation, and Al Jazeera hopes that the following draft directives are more comprehensive and thoughtful. To conclude, the following statement probably best represents Al Jazeera’s stance on women’s rights – the world does not need another resolution – it needs a revolution. Delegates of the CSW, it’s time to be that revolution. Submitted at the Press Corps at the Harvard Model United Nations India 2014 9