Sunday, 23 March 2014

PGS Model United Nations Conference 2014

PGS hosted its sixth Model UN conference this weekend, involving nearly 100 delegates from Portsmouth Grammar School and Springfield School.


On Friday evening, lobbying in the Memorial Library allowed people to meet their fellow delegates and to choose the resolutions for debate the following day. This was followed by dinner in the Dining Room and a challenging quiz, expertly hosted by Secretaries-General, Charlie Albuery and Julia Alsop.
Delegates re-convened at 9 am on Saturday, to listen to an inspiring speech in the Memorial Library by co-Secretary-General, Julia Alsop, on the importance of the work completed by the United Nations. And then delegates headed to their committees to begin their important work.

The Security Council, chaired by Daniel Rollins and Alex Quarrie-Jones, succeeded where the real UN has so far struggled, solving the current crisis in the Crimea. The council also developed a very effective new trouble-shooting task force, the Tactical Worldwide Emergency Response Committee (TWERC). However, it proved unable to reform the Security Council itself to better reflect the current balance geopolitical power balance. The award for most amusing delegate went to Alex Quarrie-Jones (primarily for being the driving force behind the TWERCing initiative); the highly commended delegate was Rebecca Lecompte of Springfield and best delegate was Tom Harper.

The combined Human Rights and Science & Technology committee, chaired by Julia Alsop, Sampad Sengupta and Becky Turner, had a busy day, which included an attempt to bring certain species back from existence and a complex debate over ownership of the moon. A further discussion over ownership of the sun led it being renamed "Kim Il Sun" at the behest of North Korea's delegate. While the most amusing delegate was Tim Bustin, there were two highly commended, Megan Hall (Springfield) and Pippa Noble, while the best delegate was Sam Gardener.

Meanwhile the newly formed UNESCO committee, chaired by Ben Schofield, Katherine Tobin and Hugh Summers, came up with a cultural solution to the current political isolation of North Korea, with India introducing a resolution requiring the 'Hermit Kingdom' to take up cricket and rugby. Russia's intervention offering to provide troops to support this initiative may have been counter-productive, resulting in the resolution, sadly, failing - but only just. Rather more convincingly defeated was North Korea's own attempt to eliminate gay rights. Representing North Korea was Rob Bendell, who won the committee's award for best delegate, with Louisa Dassow (India) highly commended and Matthew Randall the most amusing.

The Economics committee, chaired by William Bates and Oliver Hedges, also saw significant activity on the part of North Korea, which attempted, but failed, to get rid of all economic sanctions. There was also a resolution aiming to transfer the global economic system from capitalism to communism, which fell short only by one vote, after an impassioned debate. The committee also found time to explore globalisation and counterfeiting. Most amusing was Luke Stevens, highly commended was Tom Ross of the Democratic Republic of Congo and best delegate was Caleb Barron of India.

The Politics Committee also discussed a range of interesting topics, including the political dimensions of foreign aid and the political situation in the Ukraine. A foreign aid bill was passed and a political resolution was proposed, debated and passed by the committee. The most amusing delegate (as well as best dressed) was Douglas James and highly commended was Springfield's Liam Fleet. Best delegate was China's Harrison Whitworth.

At midday, co-Secretary-General, Charlie Albuery, offered an uplifting speech on the power of language both to parse and to inspire. William Bates and Ross Watkins then announced a newsflash, read by Mr Elphick-Smith:

"Welcome To PGS MUN News. We are now bringing you a breaking story. The Russian Ministry of information has announced that the Commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Vice-Admiral Alexander Vitko, has been found dead. Internet rumours suggest that this may have been an assassination in retaliation for the referendum carried out on the 16th of March, in which Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation. American commentator Alex Jones has suggested that Al Qaeda is responsible while in the pay of the Illuminati. Russia has warned of severe retaliation towards any parties who may be involved in the suspected assassination. We will continue to update you on this story as the situation develops."

Over lunch, delegates began to discuss ways to avert the crisis and then reconvened in the Memorial Library for the eagerly anticipated Emergency Debate, which opened with a second broadcast from PGS MUN News:

“Ukrainian nationalist groups have claimed responsibility for the attack and the government of Ukraine has announced that it has now become clear that Vice-Admiral Alexander Vitko was poisoned; early investigations by Russian authorities have linked the apparently ‘rare’ poison to eastern European Nationalist groups based in the United Kingdom. Russia has demanded an explanation by the United Kingdom and also from the Ukrainian Government demanding that the suspects be extradited to Russia."

Chaired by Julia Alsop and Charlie Albuery of PGS, and Luke Stevens of Springfield throughout the afternoon, the delegates debated the metastasizing crisis, with a third broadcast bringing the news that:
“Pro-Russian demonstrations have ripped through the whole of Eastern Europe, including countries such as Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. This has also led to a request from the government of the predominantly Russian eastern parts of Moldova to join Russia. Russia has partially mobilised over 1 million of its reserve forces and put the main army on full alert. The USA has strongly criticized the actions of the Russians and has demanded that all Russian troops be stood down. NATO is to hold an emergency military briefing shortly. China has been reported to support Russian actions. Also China has announced a deal to import the entirety of Russia’s oil exports to Europe, leading to panic in the European and American financial markets. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced a three day working week in order to conserve gas supplies in Germany."

 Various resolutions were debated and voted upon in order to deal with this wave of crises, before a final PGS MUN News broadcast brought further challenges:          

 “The governments of the countries with pro-Russian demonstrations have refused to allow referenda after suggestions not to do so by the American government. John Kerry , United States Foreign Minister has announced that he will end any US trade with Russia and its allies if ‘even an inch’ of eastern Europe aids Russia in any way.  Kim Jong Un , Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has condemned the  ‘imperialist’ Americans  on state television and declared full support towards Russian actions and is threating to mobilise its 11-million man army.  The government of Switzerland has declared its neutrality and has called a meeting of world leaders."

Despite the plethora of problems facing the General Assembly, delegates proposed and debated a range of initiatives which, ultimately, brought peace and stability to the region, with the overwhelming endorsement of countries - with only France opposing and three other states abstaining.

The day closed, in traditional style, with the announcement of the committee awards (noted above) by the Chairs. And then the Secretaries-General revealed the coveted conference awards, which were:

Best Delegation: United Kingdom
Best Newcomers: Sam Gardener (PGS) and Tom Guy (Springfield)
Best Delegate:  Rob Bendell

Thank you to:

Mr Peters and delegates from Springfield School for attending their sixth PGS MUN conference;

Mr Robinson, the catering staff and the marshals for their help throughout the conference

the committee chairs for their expert steering of the debates during the day;

William Bates and Ross Watkins (and Mr Elphick-Smith), for preparing such convincing and thought-provoking scenarios (and such a professional video) to stimulate a controversial and contentious Emergency Debate;

the Secretaries-General, Julia and Charlie, for presenting such an enjoyable quiz, delivering two excellent speeches and for all of their work in helping to prepare the conference;

and, above all, to Ms Rickard for her indefatigability and enthusiasm in organising every facet of this very successful conference.

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