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Report GA 4th

Represented by Loredana Barbu and Hannes Ebert

Fourth committee sessions took place in an impressive ball room of the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, whose opulence still had an air of the roaring twenties. The immense hall provided enough space for three hundred fellow students from all over the globe – more or less prepared but always highly motivated – who had gathered in order to discuss this year’s topics of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee.

The Special Political and Decolonization Committee is one of the initial six committees of the UN General Assembly and held its first session on 11 January 1946. Since then, it deals with issues of territoriality, self-determination and peacekeeping.

  During the first decades, the committee was responsible for assisting the non-self-governing territories on their way to independence (at that time one third of world population, i.e. 750 million, was living in these territories). Today, the 4th committee continues to examine the remaining 16 non-self-governing territories (Gibraltar, New Caledonia, Western Sahara, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tokelau, American Samoa, Guam, United States Virgin Islands).

For the HNMUN conference, the 4th committee’s provisional agenda covered Role of Foreign States in Structuring Post-Independent States (topic area A) and Structural Violence, Political Instability, and Armed Conflict (topic area B).

On Thursday the 16th of February, the chair, a Harvard sophomore student, opened the floor for formal session in order to adopt the agenda. The first break for informal discussion was dominated by lively scenarios: delegations standing on their chairs, passionately praising their preferences. As intended and –adequately – formulated by Bangladesh, the first topic was chosen with a clear majority. The role of foreign states in restructuring post-independent states was going to be, as expected, the topic for the upcoming three days of session.

Naturally, we had prepared our national priorities: As one of the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping troops, Bangladesh particularly emphasizes multilateral cooperation in conflict resolution. In this context, we urged our partners to strengthen regional organizations, such as the African Union, taking into consideration that regional experience and knowledge will eventually enhance the effectiveness and legitimacy of interventions. On the global level, we supported the claim that troop sending countries should participate in the decision-making process of international interventions, especially within the newly established Peacebuilding Commission. We also favoured multidimensional, long-term solutions (e.g. the human security approach). We explained that these solutions had to be realized in the framework of an established global partnership, as it was explained in the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).

Honorable objectives! But, how were we to convince our fellow delegates to support our ideas? More precisely, how could we get their signature on our draft resolution? For this purpose, from Friday until Sunday, we did not tire of emphasizing Bangladesh’s achievements which could serve as an example for other developing societies and post-independent states. Indeed, Bangladesh has a lot to offer in order to serve as an example for other states: it has achieved two of the eight Millenium Development Goals by continuous cooperation with the international community. Besides, we highlighted the significance of microcredits - in developing as well as in many post-independent states - as an instrument in order to achieve sustainable (socio-economic) development. Microcredits are small loans to poor people that aim at enabling them to start their own small business, for example through the purchase of a sewing machine. The concept of microcredits was invented in Bangladesh and due to its success, it has spread over the globe ever since.

Concerning the topic of the role of foreign actors in restructuring post-independent states, we continuously referred to Bangladesh’s experience through its numerous peacekeeping missions. Thereby, we tried to fulfil our role as an active member of the United Nations particularly well known for its engagement as a mediator. We therefore tried not only to talk to other South Asian countries, to the members of the Organization of the Islamic conference (OIC) or to the group of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). On the contrary, we consulted with representatives of Latin and North America as well as Russia and Eastern Europe. At the end of the Conference, this strategy was crowned with success – as a mediator between the Islamic and Asian states on the one side and Americans and Europeans on the other, Bangladesh contributed some paragraphs to the final resolution.

Particularly on the last day of the conference, the work consisted of pure lobbying. The voting procedure was long, but our resolution was finally adopted by the 4th Committee with a broad majority. To give an impression of Bangladesh’s successful contributions, the following parts of the final resolution, mostly covering our preferences and intentions, will be quoted:

“I. Intervention 5.b. When approval is not given by host-country, on a case-by-case basis, intervention can be deemed necessary by the regional and international community if is determined that the government does not reflect the interests of the citizenry. 6. Recommends that the international community utilize already established regional organizations with increased collaboration and economic, social, and logistical support through: a. The Peacebuilding Commission as a body comprised of the primary peacekeeping force and peacekeeping budget contributors, and representatives of each regional body” “III. Infrastructural Development: 36. Further Recommends in the financial reconstruction stage the use of microfinance on a municipality level, similar to example of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, such that: a. Small loans and grants will be granted to poor and otherwise not-credit worthy groups; b. Technical support and enterprise advice will be available to those who access such credit;”

To sum up, one could say that the People’s Republic of Bangladesh has again confirmed its respectable position in the international community. The reflection about the role of foreign actors in restructuring post-independent states has substantially progressed, and two students of Freie Universität Berlin have learned a lot about negotiation techniques, decision making within the United Nations, the serious challenges of intervention policies, and, last but not least, met many interesting and motivated people. 

Loredana Barbu and Hannes Ebert