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Report GA 1st

Represented by Anne Tiedemann and Patrick Schreen

While some talk about abolishing those GA committees, which seem out of date, one of its main committees sadly is as important as ever: the Disarmament and International Security Committee (GA 1st). The first committee serves as a forum for harmonizing various approaches to global threats and to promote disarmament.

At HNMUN, the two topics on the Disarmament and International Security Committee’s agenda were ‘Non-state paramilitary groups’ and ‘Espionage’. In our opinion, this choice of topics showed the importance of cooperation and information sharing in order to ensure global security.

In our committee, as in many others, we organized our work in four steps: On the first day, the different delegations discussed their respective positions and searched for possible allies. Then, we spent the next day drafting working papers which were supposed to serve as a common ground for discussion. On the third day, different regional groups tried to transform the different working papers into draft resolutions. Finally, on the fourth and last day, voting procedure took place.  

It did not take long to decide that our committee would start with the topic of ‘non state actors and guerrilla movements’. We were very happy with that decision, as Bangladesh unreservedly supports collective efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Together with Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Bangladesh has adopted a regional convention against terrorism. Most importantly however, within the framework of the First Committee, we wanted to stress that the root causes of terrorism needed to be taken more into consideration. Thus, we were prepared to work towards a comprehensive solution to combat terrorism that also takes into consideration economic disadvantages and the fact that some states need support and technological assistance in the fight against terrorism.

The chair then formally opened the debate and asked whether any delegation wished to be put on the speaker’s list. The answer to that question came promptly and unambiguously as 191 placards rose simultaneously. Every delegation, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, was eager to introduce their plans and ideas on how to combat global terrorism.

On the second day, the outside temperature in Boston had fallen below 30° Fahrenheit, and the air in the Imperial Ballroom - the place of our conference sessions – felt rather chilly.  The moderator greeted us with “Good morning, dear delegates. Welcome to `New England weather`, I am sorry to tell you that the heater currently does not work”.

Despite the low temperature, the spirit in our committee was always high and there was never a shortage of placards in the air. When we finally had the floor, we stressed that the root causes of terrorism (among others economic inequalities) should not be neglected. Less developed countries, like Bangladesh, needed economic and technical aid, in order to combat terrorism effectively.

The rest of the second and the whole third day, we tried to form coalitions with other Least Developed Countries (LDC) and Islamic countries during unmoderated caucus, hoping to find a common position. 

On the final day, we heard an extremely passionate speech about the necessity of true international cooperation in the field of security (surprisingly!) by North Korea. Shortly after that unexpected contribution, one delegation made the motion to end debate -a motion that had been made unsuccessfully several times before. But to the surprise of the dais as well as to most of the delegations this motion passed narrowly.

Immediately, tactical considerations began about the order in which the three draft resolutions (that had been introduced so far) should be voted on. The draft resolution that contained Bangladesh’s proposals was supposed to be voted on in the end. We expected that the draft resolution we favoured would probably have the best chance to get adopted, as there had seemed to be a narrow majority for this proposal. Besides, we hoped that the delegates would support our proposal if the other drafts failed.

As we had expected, the first two draft resolutions failed to get a majority. Subsequently, the moderator announced: “We are now going to vote on Draft Resolution III. All those in favour, please raise your placards.” When we looked around, holding our placard high in the air, we realized that this resolution certainly received more “yes-votes” than the previous ones, but would it be enough for the resolution to be adopted?

It seemed that those who had expected cooperation and harmony on a fine and bright Sunday morning were to be disappointed. There was an atmosphere of defiance: Those whose proposals had failed before, were not willing to support the third draft resolution and offered only scornful laughter instead of genuine cooperation.

After all the votes had been counted by the moderator, the director and the assisting staff it was evident that the final resolution had also failed. Now, some of those, who had hesitated to cooperate before, showed some regret and made a “motion to repeat the voting”. Although the committee director doubted that this was possible, she called the Secretary General to clarify the matter. When the Secretary-General arrived, he examined if there had been any serious violations of the regulations during voting procedure. As this had not been the case, the Secretary-General stated that it was not possible “to repeat the voting procedure because the committee did not like the result.” So, GA1st did not produce a resolution at HNMUN 2006, but this may be the reason why in the end the simulation came even closer to reality than anyone had expected. 

Patrick Schreen