Monday, 30 June 2014

Model United Nations: Preventing The First World War

Two days after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, by a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, a meeting of the "Great Powers" (a proto-Model United Nations) was called, chaired by Mr Lemieux in the august Willis Room, to seek ways to prevent all-out war.

Foreign Minister
Mr Lemieux began by noting the terrible news from Sarajevo and noting the context in which it took place, i.e. the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by the Austro-Hungarian empire for the last six years, since 1908. He acknowledged that all parties would have their own perspectives and agendas, but that the purpose of this meeting was to try to avoid war happening - at a time of great international build-up of navies and armies as well as a proliferation of treaties and armed blocs. He hoped that the gathered representatives could resolve matters peacefully.

The Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister, Charlie Albuery, began the debate by expressing outrage at how much his country had been wronged and pointed out that only serious sanction against Serbia would satisfy the Austro-Hungarian people. The militants responsible for the assassination were Serbian nationals and Serbia needed to be held to account.

Serbia's representative, Josh Arnold, agreed that the archduke's murder was a shocking event but argued that it was the consequence of the militarism of the Austro-Hungarian government and that Serbia would not accept any solution that did not limit the parameters of the coercive capacity of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

German Foreign Minister
Russia's Foreign Minister, Callum Grealish, pledged the country's support for Serbia, due not only to their Slavic links but also the need to protect a smaller power from the imperialist aggression of the Austro-Hungarian empire, which threatens, in Russia's view, the stability of Eastern and Central Europe.

The Austro-Hungarians responded that the Serbian government was complicit because it supported the same goals as militants such as the Black Hand gang. However, Russia replied that just because the Serbian government shared the goals of the militants did not mean that it supported their terroristic methods.

The United States Secretary of State, Katherine Tobin, sought to maintain the isolationist stance of the USA, wishing to remain neutral and at a distance from events in Europe. She acknowledged that, were American ships to be attacked in the course of a European war, that America might be drawn into the military conflict.
Russian Foreign Minister

The Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister pleaded with the Americans to take a more global view and to consider the consequences of a Europe-wide war for non-European nations in this age of technology and globalisation, but the American representative reserved the right to refrain from conflict unless US interests were directly affected.

France's Foreign Minister, Hugh Summers,intervened to confirm that it was willing to support Serbia as a nation seeking self determination against Austrian imperialism. France also expressed its concern about the aggressive militarisation of Austria's ally, Germany, and France's fears concerning its eastern borders.

Germany's representative, Caleb Barron, replied that it was equally worried about French designs on its western borders and Russian ambitions to the east. Most importantly, it wanted its Austro-Hungarian ally to receive justice with regard to the outrage in Sarajevo.

British Foreign Secretary
Julia Alsop, Britain's Foreign Secretary, echoed France's concerns about Germany's military build up and perceived imperial ambitions. She affirmed that Britain's primary concern was peace in Europe - but not at the expense of a balance of power and stability.

The Austro-Hungarian representative repeated his assertion that the assassination of the Archduke was an international crime and that Serbia should be held to account. He was not, at this stage, advocating war or boots on the ground, but suggesting economic sanctions.

The Serbian representative replied that there was no link between the Black Hand gang and the Serbian government; on the contrary, he pointed out, the government had provided intelligence about an alleged assassination plot to the Austrians and warned them to cancel the Archduke's visit. It was, he said, arrogant and irresponsible of the Austro-Hungarians to continue with the Sarajevo visit in the light of these warnings.

Mr Lemieux suggested that Germany held sway with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Germany's Foreign Minister replied that the Austro-Hungarian empire should not be restricted in its search for justice bearing in mind the revulsion felt in response to the assassination. The Serbs should be sanctioned for allowing such militants as Princip to flourish. Mr Lemieux asked whether Germany understood that Russia felt equally supportive of Serbia, but Germany said it did not recognise Russia's right to interfere in the Balkans.
Serbian Foreign Minister

The Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister noted that the Austrians and Hungarians were a proud people and unwavering in their search for justice following Sarajevo. If the international community failed to hold the Serbs to account, the Austro-Hungarians would be left with no choice but to resort to military action.

The Serbs responded that economic sanctions would only serve to increase radicalism and terrorism by creating so much suffering among people who were already under terrible economic and social pressure. Sanctions would be counter-productive. It would be better for the Serbian and Austro-Hungarian governments to set up a joint task force to deal with terrorist groups such as the Black Hand.

US Secretary of State
The Austro-Hungarians rejected this idea because it did not believe the Serbian government was acting in good faith - there were proven links between terrorist organisations and members of the Serbian government. An example needed to be made of such groups and those who sustained and supported them, or terrorism would proliferate.

France argued that the Austro-Hungarian empire was characterising the assassination as an attack by the government of Serbia rather than a terrorist group. Their representative, Hugh Summers, suggested that the Austro-Hungarians should have sent in an investigative police force to ascertain the facts before trying to implement economic sanctions. The USA agreed that hasty decisions should be avoided.

Mr Lemieux asked whether any country was ready to act as an honest broker and mediate between the disputants. The Belgian foreign minister, Sally Hall, volunteered to act as mediator. However, France suggested that Belgium did not have the international clout to support such a mediating role, and offered itself as mediator.

The US Secretary of State argued that France was too beholden to Russia and Serbia to be an honest broker and that it had its own designs on Alsace-Lorraine which was affecting its attitude towards Germany. The US representative argued that, instead, France should be using its influence to make Russia and Serbia pull back from the brink.
French Foreign Minister

The Ottoman Empire's representative, Dominic Waters, agreed that France was too close to Russia to be impartial and suggested that the US mediate instead, however, the US representative demurred and focus returned to Belgium who agreed to set up a mediation committee to try to find a peaceful solution.

The Russians and Austro-Hungarians said they would support Belgium as mediator and it seemed as if progress was finally being made. The Belgian representative proposed a peace conference in Brussels. The Austro-Hungarians demanded a 75% majority for any final decision to be ratified. It was agreed that Russia, Serbia, the Austro-Hungarian empire and Germany must make up four of the peace delegates. Britain was proposed and accepted as the fifth member of the conference. However, the Ottoman empire was rejected on the grounds that it was no longer a Great Power but a declining force.

The Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister refused to accept France as a sixth peace conference member because of its closeness to Russia and Serbia, causing an imbalance among the powers. Its representative also made it clear that, unless the peace settlement included some form of sanction on Serbia, it would refuse to abide by the result of the conference.

Ottoman Grand Vizier
An initial vote secured a majority in favour of setting up a peace conference, but the disagreement of a substantial minority (Ottoman empire, Austro-Hungarian empire, Germany and Serbia), particularly over the involvement of France in the conference, meant that, ultimately, the conference fell apart before it began and the session ended with the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister declaring that he was left with no option than to declare war upon Serbia.

1 comment:

  1. Poor show. The delegates clearly didn't try hard enough!


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