Represented by Florian Heydrich and Florencia Ricci
The Second Committee of the General Assembly (GA 2nd), also referred to as the Economic and Financial Committee, is one of six Committees of the General Assembly. It deals with a range of different topics, all aiming to promote economic development. In addition to that the committee also deals with financial issues, e.g. external debts, and works in cooperation with various international financial institutions. All this influences one of the main goals of the United Nations: international peace and security. The GA 2nd issues resolutions to the General Assembly Plenary about the outcomes of current meetings. Just like in the General Assembly, all Member States are represented in the GA 2nd and it works with a “one country, one vote” system.
Since both of us study Economics, this was the perfect Committee for us. Furthermore it was not only our committee that made NMUN 2008 a very interesting experience, but it was also a true honor to represent Japan as the world’s second strongest economy, since it has a privileged position on economic issues as well as a leading role.
The topics of the Agenda were given to us in the following order:
- The Role of Foreign Direct Investment in Development;
- The Politics and Economics of the External Debt Crisis;
- Public-Private Partnerships in Infrastructure Development.
Without a doubt, all topics were very interesting. We had prepared Japan’s position on them during our preparation in Berlin, and came to the conclusion, that Japan would prioritize the first topic, because of its large amount of outward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), that contributed to the development of many Asian nations and because of its own experience with opening to inward FDIs in the past years. Further to this, External Debts would have been an interesting topic. Japan is very keen on discussing this subject as well. Japan was able to reconstruct its country after World War II due to external credits and after its economic recovery became a creditor country, not only on a bilateral basis, but also within international financial institutions. After the debt crises in the 1990s, the international community committed to help indebted countries and Japan took a leading role in debt relief and debt rescheduling.
On the first day of NMUN, we voted on the agenda setting. In a committee with 192 countries, it can be very difficult to be put on the speakers list. Every country willing to be put on the speaker’s list raises its placard and the chair chooses the countries he sees first. Everybody tried to be put on the speaker’s list on the first day, and so did we. For us, it was very important to present Japan’s priorities for the agenda setting and to explain the reasons for our preferred agenda setting. By the time the floor was opened by the chair, we raised our placard and it was surely good luck, that the first country that was mentioned by the chair was: Japan! Thus now we were the first one on the speaker’s list, and hurried up to prepare our speech. We feared that most Developing Countries would favor topic number 2 and the majority in the General Assembly is represented by them. To our surprise, the motion of one of the delegations to adopt the setting of the agenda passed. The agenda therefore stayed in the same way that it was: At first topic 1, then topic 2 and at last topic 3. Sadly, after the agenda setting was done, a new speaker’s list was reopened and we were no longer on the first place. Unfortunately we found ourselves on place 70 and we were lucky enough to at least be on the speaker’s list at all, even though at that day we were not able to deliver our speech.
On the second day, we started at 2 pm and were in session until 10.30 pm. We spent most of the day with informal caucusing, and it was very interesting to meet other delegates and hear more about their positions. Japan’s main position on the first topic was to underline the importance and positive impact of FDIs on economic development and, recognizing that Developing Countries still receive a very small percentage of worldwide FDI, to help them improve the situation in their country. Very quickly we found a powerful group of allies to work with: mostly the G8 and its “friends” (Israel, New Zealand, Australia). These are countries whose position on the topics as well as economic situation is very similar to Japan’s. Their opinion is certainly of utmost importance for all other countries in the GA 2nd, and that is why we decided to work on a joint position. To be honest, even though we would share the same ideas and opinions, the team work was rather difficult. Although this group had a lot of common interests, there was a lot of resistance from the Russian Federation and China on some crucial points, e.g. “good governance”, “human rights”, “transparency”, “free trade” and others. It was very difficult to reach a common position, but it was also very satisfactory to be able to negotiate one by one and try to convince the other parties of our position. Since the group was very small, we were able to discuss every single sentence of our draft paper and sometimes spent a long time discussing on how to write the most important phrases. The work on the resolution with the G8 and friends did take a long time, mostly because it was very difficult to find a common position and because the Resolution had to be written in a way so that most of the other countries could identify themselves with the Resolution and vote for it. Our most important negotiation partners were the U.S., Australia and Israel. We were lucky not only to be able to work together very well, but also to build up a good interpersonal relationship.
Thursday was truly a “Super Thursday” and Fluffy’s, a bakery around the corner as well as Starbucks at the hotel were selling as much coffee as never before. We started our work at 8.30 am and finished at 11 pm. This day we started to work on a resolution together with Australia, Brunei-Darussalam, Sri Lanka and Costa Rica. This one specialized on creating an organization under the umbrella of UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to serve as an international forum to coordinate FDI activities. Japan and some of the members of the “G8 and friends” with very similar positions decided to join forces with the European Union, and to support their Resolution. After we had our main ideas in some of the working papers that circulated, we decided that while one of us was going to continue working on changes of the resolutions we were sponsoring, the other one would promote Human Security. Human Security is one of the top priorities of the Japanese Government in foreign policy. We tried our best to explain the concept to as many delegations as possible and tried to insert it in other draft resolutions. We could sadly not include Human Security in all of them, but one thing was for sure: we fulfilled our task of informing each and every Delegation about Human Security and all delegates present at the GA 2nd knew what Human Security is about and would associate Japan with it.
On Friday, the last changes of the draft resolutions were finished and 13 (!) were presented. After noon we entered the voting procedures. It was, quite honestly, very exhausting. We had three roll-call votes, and one can imagine what that means with 192 countries! After all, the GA 2nd passed 10 resolutions (including the “G8 and friends” one and the one we had worked on together with the EU) which all included ideas on how to promote FDIs in Developing Countries, but mostly differed on which organization should be in charge of promoting FDIs. There were only two resolutions that Japan had a problem with (one submitted by China and Russia and another one by Cuba and Venezuela). Japan would not have been happy to see them being passed by the GA 2nd, but fortunately neither of them did pass.
Sadly that was the end of NMUN 2008 for our committee, since there was no time left to discuss the other two topics of the agenda. After so many months of preparation, we could not believe that we were discussing these so familiar topics with delegates that had also done as much research as we did. We had the chance to work in so many different ways, writing together, negotiating, convincing, lobbying, promoting, explaining, all together with many well-prepared people, who never got tired (we didn’t either, because of the generous coffee deliveries by our faculty advisors). We enjoyed this unique experience very much, even though – or may be because – some things worked completely different to the way we expected it and because we had to overcome many unexpected obstacles. All together it was never boring in any way and we are very grateful that we had the chance to make this experience that will leave us with memories for a lifetime.