Promoting mountain countries during the Model UN conference
I recently attended the Model UN of the Far West Conference, which took place in San Francisco on April 21-25, 2017. The UN Charter was created in San Francisco, so the location of this conference is significant. I attended this conference with my Model UN class, and we all had the opportunity to represent the member state Kyrgyzstan.
(L to R): Dr. Geoffrey Cockerham, UVU team advisor, Alec Sorenson, Taylor Mansfield, Steven Johnson and Jon Downs
Why Kyrgyzstan? It was not a random but rather conscious choice: our school, Utah Valley University and State of Utah together with Kyrgyzstan have promoted the sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations since 2006, and many of our students are involved in those activities. During the preparations to the MUN conference we decided to also advocate for the cause of the small mountain nations to which Kyrgyzstan belongs as well as State of Utah. As we know from our activities at UVU that mountain people are among the most vulnerable to such traditional challenges as poverty and underdevelopment, and almost forgotten by international institutions. Therefore, we thought that it was an opportunity for us to raise an awareness among other participants of the conference about mountain cause. While at this conference, I had the opportunity to interact with other students, and learn more about their countries, and why they hold the beliefs that they do.
This was my first time at a Model UN conference, so I didn’t fully know what to expect. This was really a learning experience for me. We began every day at nine am, and some nights worked until eleven pm. Every committee began by doing a roll call to establish quorum, and it was important that every student show up, so we knew what the majority was. I had worked in the General Assembly committee, which had about seventy to eighty different countries in it.
My country, Kyrgyzstan, was located in the Central Asia region; we didn’t really have a lot of allies at this conference. Being from such a small country, a lot of people didn’t really even know where our country was located. Luckily, on the first day, I was able to meet up with one of the countries located in our region, Turkmenistan. From day one, I was able to form a great relationship with Turkmenistan, and we ended up sponsoring, and working on a resolution together. Another ally that was focused on was Russia. Unfortunately, during this conference I wasn’t able to work with Russia a lot of the time.
It was really interesting to see just how well certain countries played their parts. They made sure to remind the delegates, the things were to remain civil, as the real UN is very diplomatic. I think that my committee struggled a lot with controlling their emotions, and being able to compromise. Some delegates had a harder time being diplomatic with other delegates that they knew their countries didn’t agree with. The chairs continued to make sure that everyone was acting respectfully to each other though. I agree that a lot of the time, it was hard to compromise with other delegates. Most countries don’t see eye to eye on issues, and things were especially hard when it came time to create, merge, and vote on resolutions.
Creating resolutions was one of the most important parts the conference. Luckily, leading up the conference, my class worked a lot not only on our policy statements, but on resolution writing. I feel that it made it so much easier to work with other delegates and be able to come to a compromise when we could all agree on specific wording, and the things that we really wanted to see in our resolutions. A lot of the preamble clauses and operative clauses were meant to target specific issues that our countries were facing.
In this specific conference, we were all given three topics to study and focus on. For the General Assembly, our topics were The Threat of Cyber Security in an Age of Cybercrime, Addressing Global Conflict and Security in the Context of Climate Change, and Ensuring Human Security in Conflict and Post Conflict Countries. In our committee, we were able to finish resolutions for two topics, which were Climate change, and Cybercrime. I put a lot of focus into the topic of Climate change. Climate change is a big issue in Kyrgyzstan, as their glaciers are melting, like in many other mountain nations and they have seen water shortages in part due to flawed infrastructure. Fortunately, I found a bloc that was interested in focusing on the same idea of water conservation and preservation. From there we merged with another bloc and created a resolution that we could all agree on. In the end, after a few amendments, the bill the Kyrgyzstan sponsored was one of the three bills to be passed in our committee. As a result, we were presented with Achievement Certificate for successfully presenting interests of Kyrgyzstan as one of the small mountain nations.
This allowed us to share with other conference participants our knowledge and experiences about Kyrgyzstan, starting even from the spelling of the name of the country. In addition, we also shared with them projects and initiatives which UVU students undertake with Kyrgyzstan to exchange between two mountain communities examples of economic, social, cultural and educational development.
Taylor Mansfield with Achievement Certificate for the promotion of mountainous Kyrgyzstan during the MUN conference
In conclusion, I think that attending this conference was a great experience. I had the opportunity to meet different people, from schools across the West Coast. I enjoyed being able to learn from them and be able to compromise on certain issues. This is something that I would definitely consider attending again, and I won’t forget all that I have learned from it.
Taylor Mansfield, UVU student
STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS