The General Assembly (GA), one of the six principal organs, is the main deliberative organ of the UN. Every member state is represented in the GA and has one vote. The GA may discuss and advise on all issues within the scope of the UN Charter or questions concerning powers and functions of any UN organ and may give recommendations to member states and to the Security Council. During the National Model United Nations Conference 2007, the General Assembly Plenary met from March 20 to March 24, 2007.
The first session of the GA Plenary was devoted to the adoption of the agenda. After a relatively short discussion, the GA voted to debate the topics in the following order
- Development of Partnerships to Combat Diseases Resulting from Environmental Degradation,
- Structuring and Implementation of the New Human Rights Council, and
- The Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers.
As we had expected, we did not succeed in convincing enough member states to discuss the Protection of the rights of migrant workers first. Instead, the topic Development of Partnerships to Combat Diseases Resulting from Environmental Degradation turned out to be the only topic that was discussed during the four days of our conference.
The first session was attended by 141 Member States and three observers – this meant that our committee was the largest at the NMUN Conference - which made it quite difficult to keep track of all negotiations. After having set the agenda, the delegates discussed the topic and formed groups according to geographical criteria, i.e. a Latin American group, the African block and others. We started to work with the African block, but since this large group was difficult to coordinate, it split up in smaller working groups later on.
Our delegation also worked closely with the delegations of France, Slovenia and Turkey on a working paper dealing with the establishment of a UN organization dealing with environmental issues. However, we tried to serve as a mediator between the African block and the European countries and therefore the collaboration with delegations from all regional groups was important to us.
During the second session, several speakers were heard and the session was suspended several times in order to pursue informal consultations. At the end of the day, four working papers had been handed in. Morocco was sponsor of one of them and signatory of another one.
During the next day almost 60 speakers were heard. All elaborated on their current working papers and promoted them. At the end of the day 18 draft resolutions out of 22 working papers had been handed in.
Morocco was sponsor of a draft resolution to establish a UN organization dealing with environmental issues which we had drafted mainly with the help of France, Turkey and Slovenia. We felt that such an organization would be an important step to tackle the root causes of environmental degradation. Furthermore, we were signatory of several other draft resolutions aiming to develop international partnerships to combat diseases resulting from environmental degradation. However, we devoted most our efforts to the draft resolution which dealt with the establishment of an environmental organization in order to address global environmental concerns in a more efficient way. This organization should better coordinate environmental agreements and initiatives, assist in the negotiation of new conventions and have a range of other tasks which were to be agreed on at a later stage. The draft resolution also invited all stakeholders to participate in a conference on a “World Environmental Organization” in Agadir, Morocco, in June 2007 to further discuss this issue – one reason why we were particularly keen on promoting this issue.
In the morning session of the last day, amendments were drafted and negotiated and further speakers were heard. In the afternoon session voting procedures were held. Since we had to vote on several draft resolutions by roll call vote (meaning that every state has to say whether it is in favor or against the draft or whether it abstains), which takes a lot longer than voting by placard, the voting on 18 draft resolutions took several hours. During voting procedure Morocco voted mainly with the African block.
To our disappointment, the draft resolution on the establishment of a “World Environmental Organization” was not adopted, but various other resolutions on which we had worked. In total, the GA Plenary adopted 18 resolutions dealing with sustainable development, water preservation, education in the field of environmental issues cooperation and regional partnerships in the environmental field and the Aral Sea situation.
We learned that it is quite a hard task to keep track of all the negotiations taking place and to promote one’s own proposal at the same time. Even though our resolution had not been adopted, we felt that the conference was a great experience and we really enjoyed working with our partners.