This is part three of a four part series about my trip to Cairo. To start at the beginning, click here.
Day 3: in session all day.
We were in session for basically the entirety of Tuesday. We began in the morning with the first topic, combating transnational organized crime. It was sort of uneventful for myself as Azerbaijan, considering that the resolution we were debating was mostly focused on crime in West Africa. The submitter, Togo, argued that the regional focus allowed it to be more effective, and then it could be used as a template for combating crime in other areas of the world in the future. However, there was one section of three clauses that were about the UN sending troops to Mali. As Azerbaijan is currently trying to fight corruption/transnational crime (and it’s not really working but that’s a different story), I proposed an amendment to remove the part about sending troops because that way the resolution was purely focused on main topic at hand. Long story short, the amendment didn’t pass, understandable once you consider that the Western countries and their allies clearly wanted to keep that part in the resolution (think: France).
The thing was, it was very frustrating because countries that should’ve been against UN intervention didn’t vote for my amendment. Whether they would be worried it would set precedence for intervening in other conflicts, or they had past negative experiences with UN troops, or some other reason, there were definitely countries that should’ve supported removing the clauses that didn’t, i.e. Russia.
Luckily, there was a real Egyptian Ambassador that was visiting the conference that sat in for part of the session. At one point, she got up and expressed her disappointment about the way some the countries were being inaccurately portrayed. She even mentioned the part I tried to remove earlier, saying that there was no reason why Russia would vote for the resolution with the part about Mali in it because of their position on Syria.
Following the talk from the Ambassador, I quickly sent a note to the Russian delegate saying that he should propose my earlier amendment again. After a few frantic notes back and forth, trying to beat the clock because debate was winding down and we were about to vote, he finally proposed the amendment again. Luckily, people had started to get their acts together and they voted in line with their countries’ policies instead of their personal opinions, and the amendment passed! Everyone was kind of chuckling and clapping, and I was pretty happy.
After lunch, we started debating the resolution I was co-submitting that took a neutral, mitigation stance on the Israel-Iran conflict. It was facing quite a bit of opposition from Israel’s allies. But then around 3:30, a couple people from the conference came in and announced that there was a crisis. *Cue dramatic “dun dun dun” sound effect* The crisis was that Iran had shut down the Strait of Hormuz (map) in response to continued sanctions from the West. I ended up teaming up with Rwanda especially, but also Russia and China kind of, in trying to find a solution that wouldn’t be sanctions and would avoid an armed conflict. We called for the Ambassadors of Israel and Iran to come from their committees and proceeded to work out a solution. After various concessions on some things and refusals to back down on other things, we came to an agreement that the two countries could agree on. You can just skip past this next part if you aren’t interested, but here’s a summary of the agreement: Israel and Iran would both allow a team of scientists from the 5 veto-power nations (China, Russia, France, UK, US) to enter all their nuclear facilities and create a report on their findings in both countries. Iran would pull out of the NPT so that they wouldn’t be violating it if it was found that they had weapons. Israel wouldn’t be forced to sign the NPT, which they claim is an attack on their sovereignty. This report would allow everyone to know what the two countries had in regards to nuclear capabilities, including Iran knowing what Israel had and vice versa. They would then sign a disarmament agreement to both lower the amount of weapons they have to a minimal amount that would allow them to still have dominance in the region.
There was more to it, but that was the basic idea. We were working on a crazy time crunch, only 1.5 hours to work all the details out before we were supposed to have a finished resolution ready to turn in. Somehow we managed, and then it was time to leave the school for the day. The 30 minute bus ride back to the stop near Amina’s flat provided some time to decompress before going out for dinner that night. We went to a restaurant called Casino, that was not actually a casino but was located literally on the Nile, on basically a large, stationary platform, like a dock. It was an enjoyable evening, full of lots of laughter and lovely conversations, a nice way to wind down after a long day.
The pictures above: Nile at night in black and white; girlfriends; Douwe, the Dutchie from UWC Adriatic; Quinten and I with Walid, the one who talked with us the night before; and Amina and I.
Day 4: the last day of the conference
Wednesday morning was more time in session, which for the Security Council meant it was devoted to attempting to find resolutions for both the crisis situation and the conflict in general. As Azerbaijan, I was about as against the resolution that the Western nations proposed in response to Iran closing the Strait as a country could be. Azerbaijan, as I mentioned in a previous post, is an ally of Israel but is extremely concerned about the fact that it shares a border with Iran. So the West’s resolution, which essentially proposed extreme sanctions that would basically cut off all interaction with Iran, was not a solution from Azerbaijan’s perspective, because Iran would likely just retaliate against the tougher sanctions with military action. Where would the military action be first? Logically, one could conclude the Israeli embassy in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, or our oil infrastructure which supplies quite a bit to Israel.
Because of these reasons, I gave a fiery speech that was completely against the resolution that basically boiled down to thinking the resolution would lead to a military conflict and that Azerbaijan would be targeted by Iran. This speech would not be forgotten later that day, when it was time to vote for our committee’s superlative awards. I was voted “Most Tyrannical” and “Most Likely to be Killed by Fellow Delegates,” two awards that I wear with pride because I fiercely defended my country and thought I stayed true to it’s actual position on the issue.
Anyways, the resolution didn’t pass, mostly thanks to a veto from Russia. The Security Council then moved on to debating the conflict in general, not including the crisis, which meant going back to the resolution that we had been debating the day before that was submitted by China, Russia, myself, Australia, and a few other countries that contributed pieces of it. The debate went on for a while with this resolution, but it was cut short by the Chairs because there just wasn’t enough time. In the end, the UK and US vetoed the resolution.
So, to sum up one full afternoon and the following full morning of debate, the Security Council managed to not pass a single resolution on the Israel-Iran conflict. Which I guess is about as close to the way things work in the real UN as you can get! Just kidding… sort of.
After lunch, I was interviewed for (I think) one of the national channels for a piece they were doing about the conference. I don’t think anything I said ended up being used, but it was still fun! Then it was time for the General Assembly, where all the delegates came together in the big hall and we had one huge session on the topic of fighting corruption. The resolution that was up for debate was a pretty terrible resolution, to put it bluntly. Even the person who submitted it admitted that it wasn’t a good resolution. We only had 1.5 hours to debate the resolution, so my fellow Azerbaijan delegates and I decided to just watch and have questions prepared, in the chance that we would get called on to ask them. We voted against the resolution, which had been amended multiple times throughout the debate but was still bad. But, alas, the resolution passed.
The pictures above: all the foreigners at the conference, who also happen to all be UWCers; being interviewed; Quinten and I with the logo for the conference.
And with that, it was time for the Closing Ceremony. The Closing Ceremony was unnecessarily 3 hours long, and included speeches from the Chairs of every single committee where they announced the winners of the superlative awards and Best Delegate. This is when I found out that I won those two titles, and also had been awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Delegate! It was pretty exciting considering that it was my first conference. There were also speeches from the student leaders of the conference, another lip singing performance from the young girls, a dance performance that mixed traditional and modern Egyptian/Arabic dance styles, and a speech from Turkey’s Ambassador to Egypt that somehow seemed threatening or at least a bit pushy towards Egypt that it needs to work more on being a democracy.
Then there was time for students to go home and change before a party at a club that was on the Nile. It was at a place that everyone referred to as Opium, though it was actually called Otium thanks to a legal dispute or something, and the school must’ve rented it out for the evening as we had it to ourselves. There was lots of dancing, this time to American/international dance/pop music instead of Arabian music. It was a really fun party, but as a bit bittersweet because it was quite possibly the last time I’ll see most of those people.
The pictures above: Amina and I; the club ‘Otium’ from the outside; the inside of the club; neon lights; and a different area inside the club.
But since the party ended at midnight, by the time Amina and I finally got back to her flat, I fell asleep right away, exhausted from the long day and excited to finally ‘see’ Cairo the next morning.