Eastern Michigan University’s Model United Nations club will be traveling to Chicago in November to attend the American Model United Nations Conference. They will bring two teams to represent Palestine and Guatemala.
Both countries have interesting and unique circumstances. More so, Guatemala is on the Security Council.
“For a small country like Guatemala, being on the UN Security Council is a huge honor,” said Eric Sippert, President of EMU’s Model UN Club.
“We chose Guatemala because we always like to have a country on the Security Council,” Dr. Judith Kullberg, one of the Model UN faculty advisors, said.
Nitya Singh, a professor and Model UN faculty advisor, said he feels this will give the students a chance to play more important roles at the conference.
“The Security Council is unique in that it has no set agenda,” Sippert said. “Any current issue can be discussed, from Syria to the current conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali.”
Representing Palestine will also be a unique learning experience, since the country currently has
Observer Status in the United Nations. This means Palestine can weigh in on issues and bring up their own issues, but they cannot vote.
“Palestine is not recognized as sovereign,” Kullberg said. “Therefore, the country currently only has Observer Status.”
The Model UN Club hoped to draw more interest by representing Palestine at this year’s conference.
“Most issues in the Middle East can be connected to Palestine,” Kullberg said.
Ihsan Ghadieh, a senior in International Affairs, said he joined Model UN this year to take part in representing Palestine.
“I have always had interest and investment in Palestine,” Ghadieh said. “I am Palestinian.”
Ghadieh said the two main issues facing Palestine right now are, “the displacement of indigenous Palestinians from their land and children’s rights.”
For decades, Palestine has been in conflict with Israel over issues like the control of Jerusalem, borders, security and water rights, to name a few. Palestine has seen violence and Israeli military occupation for many years.
Despite the nations’ strive for peace with the Oslo Accords in 1993, twenty years later, the violence continues.
The issues the Model UN will be most concerned with when representing Palestine include the unfair torture of Palestinian prisoners and children’s rights.
“There are many children in Israeli prisons,” Ghadieh said. “Often they are beaten or imprisoned for small offenses like throwing rocks.”
Both Kullberg and Singh explained that when representing a country at the Model UN Conference, the students must take on the views of their country. Singh said this could be one of the most difficult aspects of representing Palestine.
“The students will have to think like Palestinian diplomats,” Singh said. “They cannot look at issues from the United States foreign policy perspective.”
Ghadieh said they are working to develop a clear understanding of Palestinian views in preparation for the conference in November.
“Preparing for the conference in Chicago entails a lot of hard work,” Sippert said. “[We will research] deeper into the foreign policy, the countries’ views on the issues being discussed, previous resolutions sponsored by the country, voting records and much more.”
The Model UN is an open club. They will host a small simulation of a UN Conference on Oct. 3 in room G07C in the Halle Library and all are welcome.
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