NMUN Tübingen Delegation 2013 at HCMUN

On January 19th the Club of Hohenheim held its annual MUN Conference at Hohenheim Castle where this year’s delegates from Heidelberg and Tübingen received a warm welcome by their peers.

To host an MUN is no small task. But it was apparent from the beginning that Hohenheim’s team led by Katrin Götz would provide both a worthwhile exercise and a memorable experience. Sure enough, settling into the role of UN diplomats proved to be exceedingly easy once delegates entered the Upper Foyer and the Castle’s magnificent Balkonsaal.

Fifty-five delegates representing as many countries had prepared for a General Assembly session dealing with the topics Women, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, The Impact of Climate Change on Sustainable Development, as well as Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Assistance to Palestinian Refugees. At ten in the morning, the Hohenheim chair declared formal session in progress and opened the speakers‘ list. Several delegates seized their opportunity to deliver agenda setting speeches meant to determine the order in which topics would be discussed. Because of time constraints – voting procedure had been scheduled for six in the evening – the ensuing vote was of crucial importance, as only the first topic would undergo substantial debate. During the reception, delegates had already surveyed their peers‘ preferences but no majority for any single topic order had emerged. Many UN members are already affected by climate change, some to a very worrying degree. At the same time, the fight against weapons proliferation is pertinent to whole continents, where especially women suffer from armed violence in areas of past and present conflict. As a result, it took several votes to determine the agenda, with Women, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control eventually winning out over The Impact of Climate Change on Sustainable Development by a one-vote margin.

With the agenda set, a new speakers‘ list was opened and substantial speeches commenced. All delegates presented their countries‘ position eloquently and emphatically, expressing their wish for productive cooperation towards a common goal. After formal session was suspended for the first time, initial orientation and negotiation began during caucus. Delegates made contact with like-minded peers, potential allies formed work groups. Due to the topic’s diversity, different groups stressed different aspects: some focused on women’s rights, education and a bottom-up approach in disarmament, others discussed regulations of the international arms and ammunitions trade alongside more effective measures against weapons trafficking. Working papers emerged from these discussions, with delegates anxious to have their ideas included and at the same time not subscribe to strategic no-goes.

In between caucuses, delegates reported their groups‘ progress, presented central ideas of their working papers and invited other delegates to join them. Those representing countries with a history of armed conflict stressed the need for decisive action. Some presented harrowing accounts of violence and hardship endured by their citizens, accompanied by UN statistics on small arms and light weapons proliferation. Furthermore, delegates representing countries with a particularly strong stance towards their rivals excelled at living up to the expectations everybody held with respect to their infamous behaviour. Nevertheless, diplomatic conduct was maintained throughout the session, with only two minor incidents which provoked calls for a right of reply.

Each caucus brought the respective working papers forward as negotiations progressed and delegates tried to secure their most important suggestions. Along with the papers‘ language, their policy proposals became more and more detailed, their intended role within the UN framework more pronounced. This proved to be a great asset during their review by the chair.

As the GA session approached voting procedure, delegates hurried to incorporate the chair’s suggested improvements into their working papers in order to have them accepted as draft resolutions. Meanwhile, groups reached out to one another as their agreement on several substantive issues became apparent. Subsequently, several working papers were merged amidst intense negotiating and considerable scheduling stress. The effort proved beneficial, for even though the joint working paper was handed to the chair at the last minute, its voting bloc had been increased significantly.

Before voting commenced, a few delegates on the not nearly exhausted speakers‘ list were given the opportunity to speak. They reflected on the day’s proceedings and commended the cooperative work done, calling the Assembly to vote in favour of their groups‘ draft resolutions. Following the last speech, voting procedure commenced and consecutively all four draft resolutions were voted upon. Aside from three failed attempts to cut particular clauses out, all resolutions were able to garner sufficient support amongst delegates. Thus, the GA session on Women, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control at HCMUN 2013 adopted four resolutions and ended as a successful simulation, as well as a great experience for everyone involved. The delegation of Hohenheim warmly invited all participants to a wine-tasting in the cellar of the castle. Outstanding snacks and a great variety of wine were served to conclude the day.

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