General Assembly First Committee — Press Conference

By Yucheng GU

Day two was an extremely stressful day for the United Times as the press conference is a new section introduced to the CologneMUN2018. Thus the entire team was stepping into an area unknown to all. Nervousness was in the eyes of everyone, I, myself, almost experienced my first panic attack ever while questioning the representatives during the first press conference.

At the time the press team came to DISEC for the press conference, I was already feeling the familiar and confident with the entire concept and was about to really push for the limits during the press conference. It is, after all, our deed, as United Times journalists, to report as realistically and detailed as possible to our readers about the progress that committees had during the sessions.

The moment when the press team stepped into the room, there was a sort of happiness in the air. The draft resolution which DISEC had been working on since day one was passed as an actual legal document during the session RIGHT before the press conference. This would explain why representatives were so excited to present their results to the United Times.

The biggest issue, which accurses across all committees at CologneMUN2018, is the solutions presented tend to be vague and not bounding. The question of funding is often forgotten or ignored as a direct result. DISEC representatives, eager to present their results, found themselves cornered by questions from the press team throughout the press conference.

The delegate of Germany had to announce that the resolution, when confronted by the press team concerning the resolution being rather weak, were only a start of the effort put forward by the international community. And while talking about the issue of national information security, the delegate of Russia went as far as shouting at press team members calling the author and his co-journalists “fake new” although the United Times sees itself with all self-respect and integrity as an independent free press with PassBlue as its moral example.

Beyond any doubt, the press conference was still mostly productive for both the press team and the committee members, as it helped to clarify all paragraphs of resolution. Hopefully the DISEC committee can take the aspects pointed out during the press conference as a lesson and incorporate it into its work on Day 3.


Can DISEC Translate Their Vague Ideas into Concrete Proposals?

Dasha ZVEREVA & Yucheng GU

In the first session of DISEC, delegates first chose an agenda. They decided to discuss the second topic – Preventing Terrorists from Building Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), as it is a burning issue in the contemporary world. Then the debates focused on the topics of training of security forces; sharing information; improving securing devices; and illegal trade of components used for IEDs.

During moderated caucuses, delegates divided into two teams. Some mysterious force saw the delegations of Angola, Ghana, Mali, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States of America form into one bloc. The other bloc consisted of Afghanistan, China, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Morocco and Syria. Although differentiating in some areas, both groups have similar vision in fields of, for example, further training for the security forces and information sharing platform about the experience with IED disposal and deploying technologies.

Outside of those two groups, a quartet in the back of the room was more than happy with their silent debate. They didn’t submit any working paper while the other groups proposed two papers. Curiosity caused the authors to look up and search for the quartet in the hope of catching some thoughts from their discussion, however they were nowhere to be found in the conference room anymore. Could it be that the silence had consumed them?

Nearing the end of first day, there was already the idea in the air that there will be only one working paper, which would combine both groups’ proposals. To combat IEDs, DISEC came to the agreement of measures such as: “general information sharing”; “training sharing”; “scientific research”; and “educating the public”. Although, these ideas are great, it seems to the authors that these proposals are still far away from being practically implemented.

Lack of factual data as a solid foundation renders the arguments rather shallow, but just, as the Honorable Chairs (George Mullens and Alfie Jenkins) pointed out, during a short interview at the end of the first day: involvement is the most important part of a MUN conference and how the delegates managed to find a “balanced cooperative disagreement” is very much agreeable.

The authors are eager to know if DISEC can translate their ideas into more specific and factual proposals in the next committee sessions tomorrow. Since the delegates are working with considerably high speed, the hope of touching on the second topic is on the horizon.

Can the Freedom of Press be ensured by the United Nations Human Rights Council?

By Yucheng GU

Freedom of speech and expression is considered as one of the most vital and inviolable human rights. At CologneMUN 2018, the United Times press team is very eager to learn how the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will decide on it’s topic “Promoting a Free and Independent Press in the 21th Century” as it lies in tone with the spirit of United Times. Being a journalist is a dangerous profession in many parts of the world; more than 80 deaths happen globally each year with most of them happening in areas connected with regional armed conflict or complicated political climate. UNHRC together with the General Assembly, United Nations Security Council and United Nations Education Scientific Cultural Organization adopted, since 2012, 12 resolutions in order to ensure safety of journalists.

Beside the safety of journalist, the biggest concern of the United Times, during CologneMUN2018, must be what kind of effort the UNHRC will make to ensure that press can be free from political influence and how that information can be accessed by the public without restriction. At the United Times, journalists will try their best to report with neutrality, dignity and integrity. Yet a huge amount of world population still only has access to state endorsed media while other press mediums are restrained by the government.

In the past, the UNHRC has often condemned practices that monitor or straight up manipulate public media. However, not much can be done to raise awareness. Either in the general public or on the governmental level in order to further enforce the existing freedom of information laws in more than 110 countries. The United Times hopes to see solid progress during CologneMUN 2018 concerning this issue.