Monday, May 9, 2016

Model UN at Academic Festival: Guest Blogger Brianna Zichettella

Model UN at the 2016 Academic Festival 
As the most powerful body of the United Nations, the Security Council is dedicated to maintaining peace and security on a global level. At this year’s Academic Festival, to help bridge the gap between theory and application, Daemen students participated in the History and Political Science Department’s annual Model United Nations simulation. This year’s resolution focused on the ongoing peace talks to end the 5 year old Syrian Civil War. The simulation was sponsored by Dr. Aakriti Tandon, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Daemen College. Students from PSC 121: International Relations class represented countries including China, France, Germany, Iraq, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Students from PSC 231: Global Governance class represented relevant non-state actors including NGOs, the Free Syrian Army as well as UN Under Secretary Generals (USGs) and debate moderators.
Under Secretary Generals and Moderators: Nigel Haynes, Christine Kozlowski, Shane Clark, Christina Auguste, Jessica Maulucci and Brianna Zichetella (blog author) 
As Syria enters its fifth year of civil war, all sides in the conflict must consider the benefits of peace negotiations. This protracted conflict has destabilized the region and resulted in displacement and death for the people of Syria. With both sides accused of committing war crimes and the inability of humanitarian aid workers to reach those in need, it is in most parties’ best interests to end the violence and suffering in and around Syria. However, this is an extremely complicated matter, and any effective solution should involve the cooperation of all nations in an effort to promote global peace and stability. Problems of this magnitude are generally addressed at the highest level of diplomacy: the United Nations Security Council.
Delegates from the U.K. and France: Jonathan Miranda, Michael Reilly, Casey Young, Amanda Best, and Andriy Lukomsky
Delegates from Iraq: Kelsey Gibson, Isabella Orgento-Romero, and Luis Ortiz
      To prepare for the simulation, students conducted extensive research on their assigned countries. As representatives, students were expected to give introductory speeches and argue the positions of their states in the debate segment of the simulation. This includes researching the historical and contemporary situation of their country’s stance on the issue and reading relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Due to the nature of the debate, participating students must be able to accurately predict the kinds of responses that representatives of their states would give to debate questions and how their state would rebut other country’s responses.
Moderators: Christina Auguste, Jessica Maulucci and Brianna Zichettella 
Delegates from Germany,  and Turkey: Kyle Munro, Natalie Ennis, Idania Ramirez, Jasmine Favors
During the simulation, students debated several topics including humanitarian relief, the continuing presidency of Bashar Al-Assad, housing refugees, the state’s visions for peace in the event the conflict is resolved, and potential consequences for both sides’ human rights violations. A particularly contentious question asked representatives how they felt about bringing the Kurds to the discussion table: The Islamic State is a threat to all sides in this conflict. Thus far, only the Kurds have had any success in stopping the terrorist group’s progress. Would you consider including the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in this discussion in exchange for help against this threat?
            Responses to this question were extremely varied. One of the potential demands that the Kurds may make in exchange for their help is the official transfer to Kurdish ownership of the land they currently occupy. The area with prominent Kurdish presence – known as Kurdistan – covers areas of Iraq Iran, Turkey, and Syria. In the debate, countries like Turkey that would lose territory were strongly opposed to this option. However, countries farther removed for the area, such as the United States, seemed to believe it would be a fair trade-off for help.
Delegates from Oxfam (NGO): Ramel Haines, Torrence Dyck, Fati Haruna
The Syrian Delegation: Hannah Gerber, Jenil Bell, and Carlos McKnight
        After extensive and occasionally heated debate, the country representatives passed the USG’s proposed resolution with a vote of eight affirmations to three abstentions. The resulting resolution invites Syrian Kurds to future peace talks, excludes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from future peace talks, reaffirms the need for monitoring of human rights violations, and proposed the creation of an Intergovernmental Organization tasked with ensuring the permanence of post-war state building in Syria and wherever war is resolved. The resolution also met the Council’s primary goal of securing safe travel for Non-Governmental Organizations and other humanitarian aid workers within the region.
Delegates from Saudia Arabia: Jossette Allwood and Ebony Fripp
Free Syrian Army: Breanna Coolidge and Gabriela Andrade
     Overall the simulation allowed students from all majors to experience real-world application of political science to current events. It was an interesting and engaging experience, and the participating students look forward to next year’s simulation.
The Russian Delegation: Imani Evans, Paige Casey and Natalie Chiodo
United States: Mathew Molnar, Zahra Nayyeri and Rachel Lewandowski
Representing China: Annabel Pietrocarlo and Shaquille Corrica 


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