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Hey Delegates!

ONE DAY away from the conference, and I’m sure it’s kind of surreal for some of you (or you’re thinking “rain drop drop top can’t wait to meet my dias”). This blog post is for you folks who (still) have no idea what is happening!

Day 1: Thursday, February 23rd

Sign in begins at 5:00pm in the CCIS Atrium, right by the (oh so glorious) Second Cup! Once you see a bunch of kids (dressed to impress), find the table labelled as “Legal” – that is our committee! Here you will grab your delegate tag, and scurry on over to opening ceremonies, where you will get the first taste of the exhilarating HSMUN energy. If you are going to listen to any part of of this, I’d pay close attention to the Mock Debate (featuring all of Dias members!). If this is your first conference, this Mock Debate will give you good feel of what the conference will feel like. Our first committee session starts right after – so be prepared! We will be in room L1-160.

Day 2: Friday, February 24th

Friday, the day where delegates, and indeed nations, rise and fall. This is our long day of debate. We’ll be delving into our detailed debates, and hopefully finish our first topic by the afternoon. I know that sounds quick, but remember – it’s only a three day conference! Not to mention you get rewarded for your effort with the world famous banquet. It’s an excellent opportunity to interact with your friends, your fellow delegates and the volunteers, so do everything you can to be there!

Day 3: Saturday, February 25th

The final day. All your hard work is slowing creeping to end. Trust me though – you will be exhausted. We will wrap up the second topic, and hopefully can come up with a resolution! After closure of debate, we will head back to the large CCIS lecture hall where we had the opening ceremonies for the General Plenary Session. During this time, the sponsors of the resolution(s) in our committee will present the passed ones to the other delegates present. Awards will be presented, closing speeches given, and that will conclude HSMUN 2017.

Pro-Tips 101

  • Participate!! Participate!! Participate!! (Should I say it again?? Participate!!)
  • This is the only way you’ll feel the true essence of being an HSMUN delegate.
  • Know yo’ Policy
  • So far, positions papers look good! But make sure you really are familiar with your country’s stance on the two topics! Remember, you can also use our handy-dandy FPA Azan for help 🙂
  • Bring your Snackies and H20
  • Who doesn’t love food? Food is fuel. Water is fuel.
  • Dress Code!
  • Business professional – no Uggs, and no, leggings are not substitutes for pants. In previous years, we’ve had delegates dress in the cultural clothes of their respective countries. Exercise caution should you do this – if you have to stop and wonder if it’s appropriative, or offensive, you probably shouldn’t do it. Please check with your teachers first!
  • The banquet is black tie. If Barack Obama would drop his jaw in shock,appalled, don’t do it. Keep it classy, kids.
  • Use your Dias – we don’t bite!
  • We are pretty woke, and our purpose is to help you!
  • Mitchell, your director, and I, as your chair, will be your go-tos for procedure, decorum, and the nitty-gritty of resolution writing. As your FPA, Azan is there to  here to help you with any foreign policy related questions.

Stay woke, fam. It’s time for HSMUN 2017


January 21, 2017

Introduction to ‘The Convention’

The issue of criminal accountability for UN peacekeeping personnel has been prevalent since the inception of the United Nations Legal Committee. Fostered by the repetitive accusations of legal (primarily sexual) misconduct, ‘The Convention’, referring to the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, remains complacently situated in mid-twentieth century ideals. In this post and one subsequent, I will outline some articles and sections of this convention and provide introductory detail to hopefully foster further research; as well, all sources will be provided at the end of the relevant posts in no specific academic format.

Article V

Section 18. Officials of the United Nations shall:

(a)               Be immune from legal process in respect of words spoken or written and all acts performed by them in their official capacity;

(b)               Be exempt from taxation on the salaries and emoluments paid to them by the United Nations;

(c)               Be immune from national service obligations;

(d)               Be immune, together with their spouses and relatives dependent on them, from immigration restrictions and alien registration;

(e)               Be accorded the same privileges in respect of exchange facilities as are accorded to the officials of comparable ranks forming part of diplomatic missions to the Government concerned;

(f)                Be given, together with their spouses and relatives dependent on them, the same repatriation facilities in time of international crisis as diplomatic envoys;

(g)               Have the right to import free of duty their furniture and effects at the time of first taking up their post in the country in question.

< http://www.un.org/en/ethics/pdf/convention.pdf >

Now while for the purposes of our debate, we can disregard sections (c), (e), (f), and (g), they do still paint a picture of absolute authority and the extent of international privilege which was bestowed upon UN officials. The remaining sections: (a), (b), and (d), detail a de facto immunity from national legal jurisdiction which can only be described as an blurred abuse of power at the conceivable expense of intranational security. Wow, okay, that was jargon-y. In more layman’s terms: The immunity, which I will explain a bit further, subjects United Nations officials to an international law developed by the organization rather than the laws of the nation which a possible crime is committed. The added bureaucracy of this process and the difference in legal standards can easily lead to cases of atrocious crimes being lost in translation and miscommunication especially if the crime is only considered such by only one of the two involved parties.

Section (a) is an integral part of this mandate and outlines the immunity which is specifically relevant to our debate. This section explains that individual members representing the United Nations in any country are free from persecution under the legal system of the host country in any form. In my next blog post I’ll go over in more depth how individuals can be persecuted, but for the remainder of this post I would like to outline the rest of the sections.

Section (b) is pertinent mainly because it has the ability to foster and promote corruption within the United Nations. I am not aware of any current issues relating to this however if I become aware of something similar I will definitely make an update about it. This section also helps outline how much UN representatives are exempt from on a national scale.

Finally; section (d) emphasizes a limitation of the persecution of officials. Unless subsequently waived, a persecuted UN official retains international movement privileges and exemptions.

That was a bit of a long one! Thanks for reading all the way to this part. I’ll see you all soon!


Perpetrators of justice obstruction don’t just come from failed authoritarian states. Much of the Western World is responsible for the failure of the international community to carry out justice.

Yemen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwwP3SiBIC8

Currently, Yemen is a global disaster that’s been largely overshadowed by the civil war in Syria and Iraq. Now, the country is divided into two sectarian spheres:

The Hadi-led government (Sunnis)  – they controlled the government up until the civil war and are actively supported by Saudi Arabia’s military and much of the western world including the United States and Great Britain.

The Houthis (Shias) – Control the western half of Yemen and are supported by Iran.

The Issue:

The Saudi military has been actively bombing the Houthi strongholds for the last year. Their bombing campaigns have been met with condemnation from human rights groups due to the Saudi’s lack of care for civilians. Saudi Arabia has been accused of bombing weddings and markets that have caused massive civilian casualties.

This has led many countries to call for an investigation of Saudi Arabia’s violations of international law.

The Obstructors:

The United States has been actively supporting Saudi bombing raids by sharing military vessels and refuelling Saudi aircraft.

The United Kingdom and the United States have also been active weapons sellers to Saudi Arabia.

This has led the UK and US to oppose any investigations into war crimes committed by the Saudi government.

The below article examines the United Kingdom’s efforts to block a European Union inquiry into Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/24/yemen-britain-human-rights-inquiry

Delegates should understand that obstruction to international justice is committed by weak countries as well as wealthy and powerful ones. Delegates should also consider a way to ensure more powerful nations don’t ignore any international rules regarding obstruction of justice.


Hello Delegates! I hope you all enjoyed your well deserved break, but now it’s just back to the grind. As many of you have exams at the end of this month, I hope you are all still looking forward our HSMUN weekend! I wanted to leave you all a quick note on current events.

Now, I know – a lot of you are already super into current events, and for those of you who are this is great! All current events influence policy, international relations and how you conduct yourself in debate. During the HSMUN weekend, you’ll find that researching current events, and knowing your country’s place will allow you engage much deeper into debate. This research can be also be focussed into your resolution writing, and in fact should be integrated into your position papers.

In the overview of our first topic, we addressed several questions such as: What is the obstruction of justice? How should (or does) the UN handle states who willingly participate in the obstruction of justice?

Our second topic addressed issues such as: What role does the UN play between legal immunity and allegations of criminal activity? How do new regulations impact existing extradition treaties between states? Should the UN deal with actions that are legal or not legal in some countries?

The important connection to make is how are these issues relevant to the larger issue? Finding connections to current events and the questions we’re looking for is how you, as a delegate will truly be able to engage in the debate we are having. There are many aspects of current events that you can explore, and the UN has an entire branch, the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), dedicated to the dissemination of information about legal procedures. Your country might be going through significant changes that will influence their judicial policy; understanding general information about your country is vital to a successful delegate.

I hope this short and sweet blog post helped you to find a starting focus for your research.

Happy New Year, and happy researching 🙂

Cheers, Akanksha Bhatnagar, Chair.

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Hey Delegates,

As we head into Christmas break, I know many of you are studying for your finals or diplomas (or binge watching Gilmore Girls!), but perhaps you will find time to start doing some research for your position papers!

Preparatory Research

  1. CIA World Factbook
    1. This is where I reccomend delegates go to just get a quick, basic, overview of your countries statistics. It’s a great place for you to simply familiarize yourself with your country in context, however I wouldn’t consider this a main source of where your paper research should come from.
  2. Counties Websites
    1. Simply search your country in Google, and there you may be able to find more up to date information regarding your country. Here you might start to look into where your country stands on the Legal Committee’s 2017 topics: Criminal accountability of United Nations Peacekeeping forces on missions and Addressing the Obstruction of Justice Worldwide.

Stretch out those hands, and get writing!

  1. Once you have closed the Facebook tab, the Netflix tab, and you’ve decided it’s time to start your paper – you will probably say: “How the heck do I even start this?”. Fear not, check out the HSMUN Website for a few example papers. You don’t have to be flowery, and start with “Once upon a time…” – just get right into it. The more straightforward you are, the easier your position will shine through; remember the goal of the paper is to inform us that you are aware, and are understanding of your countries stances on the issues we will be discussing.
  2. As your writing, keep these two goals in mind:
    1. Your country’s background matters!!
    2. Be clear about your country’s stance on the issue(s).
  3. But Akanksha, the length??
    1. 1000 words!
  4. For you keeners, citing.
    1. Any type of citing is okay, however you must cite your sources.
    2. MLA, APA, Chicago. Whatever your soul desires.
    3. Here is an excellent website for your citing questions.

So, to keep this short, I think this is a great way to get your paper started. As the conference creeps closer, stay tuned for more blog posts!

Thanks for bearing through this read Delegates!

Akanksha Bhatnagar, Chair.

——————————————————————————————————————–

Hey there delegates,

As I was searching the web I found this article, and wanted to share it with you all. It is related to our first topic: Addressing the Obstruction of Justice Worldwide.

This article describes the trouble’s the International Criminal Court (ICC) faces when trying to prosecute individuals. In this case, there was clear evidence of obstruction of justice from the Kenyan government. However, the ICC had little power to do anything about it. The failure of the international court in the case described in the article is not an isolated incident. Sovereign states often refuse to cooperate with the ICC and consequently, the ICC can do little to counter this. Hence, in turn this contributes to the reduction of credibility of the ICC and other international legal institutions.

Delegates should discuss this very problem and look at the relevance of an international court and ways it can be improved. As stated in the article “Nine out of ten sets of cases where there are indictees are African”. Countries from Africa, will therefore, be the biggest objectors to strengthening the power of the international court system as they are the primary target of the ICC.

How can the world address the resentment of African nations to the international court systems? What can be done to repair the damaged relationship and encourage more cooperation?

Azan, Legal FPA

Link to Article: http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21696459-collapse-case-against-william-ruto-will-hurt-international-criminal

————————————————————————————————————–

Blog Post: Quick and Dirty, HSMUN Procedures

Hello Delegates!

It’s your Chair Akanksha here and in this blog post I’m going to give you a quick run-down of HSMUN Procedures. For you HSMUN veterans, feel free to read (or skim) this post at your own leisure – however those newbies, this is for you! My job as the Chair for the Legal Committee is to make sure these rules are followed, and of course, to make sure this Committee is lit.

Attendance

Attendance is a crucial part of UN procedure. Delegates are called in alphabetical order (according to country – remember, you represent your country!), and whilst raising your placard you can either respond with: “present” or “present and voting”.

  1. Present just indicates your presence.
  2. Present and voting obliges you vote, and you lose your right to abstain.

If you arrive late, please send a note up to the Dias indicating your voting status (and also feel free to bring timbits).

Speakers List

Speakers what? Fear not, the Speakers list is just where we fall back to in order to determine who who is next to speak on a matter. There are two types of Speaker’s List during debate.

  1. Primary Speakers List
    1. This is determined right off the bat, and is a list for general matters with a voted on speaking time. From this Primary List, a motion from a delegate will help determine the topic, requiring two speakers for and against the proposed topic. After we decide what topic to begin with, we create a secondary speakers list.
  2. Secondary Speakers List
    1. It is integral to get on this list. It not only allows you voice the opinion of your Country, it also is the only time where a country, when next, can introduce a draft resolution to the committee. Um, Akanksha…A draft what?? Don’t worry young Jedi, there will be another entire blog post on resolution writing (courtesy of Azan, our FPA!)

Caucuses

During our time, there are three main motions you will need to know;

  1. Moderated Caucus
    1. A motion for a moderated caucus must include three things:
      1. Topic
        1. A focussed issue related to the topic being debated.
      2. Speaking Time
  • Time Limit
    1. Cannot exceed 20 minutes.
  1. Unmoderated Caucus
    1. A motion for an unmoderated caucus must include:
      1. Reason
        1. Typically it is a time in which debate is suspended, in order for delegates to work on a resolution.
      2. Time Limit
        1. Cannot exceed 20 minutes.
      3. Motion to Extend
        1. Motion to extend either a moderated or unmoderated caucus.

After approval by the Chair, all motions require a simple majority vote by the delegates to pass.
Points
There are really five main points that will be useful for you delegates during debate.

  1. Point of Parliamentary Inquiry
    1. This point is addressed to the Chair and can be used to ask a question about committee procedure.
    2. This point cannot interrupt another speaker.
  2. Point of Order
    1. Used to indicate incorrect parliamentary procedure.
    2. Can interrupt another speaker, and takes precedence over any motions.
  3. Point of Personal Privilege
    1. Used to indicate a delegate’s personal discomfort, and hence hinders your ability to participate in debate.
    2. Can interrupt another speaker
      1. Usually used if one delegate cannot hear another delegate.
    3. Right of Reply
      1. This is to be used with restraint.
      2. Only to be used if a delegate believes another delegate has singled out their country and has wrongly criticized their country.
      3. You cannot right of reply a right of reply (say that 10 times fast!)
    4. Yielding Time
      1. A speaker may yield their time to:
        1. Another delegation
        2. The Chair
  • To questions,
    1. During a Q&A Period after the introduction of a Draft Resolution

Voting Procedure

A quite exciting, and perhaps nerve wracking time, for countries! This is where we, the Legal Committee, will vote on the Draft Resolution of the chosen topic. Voting procedure is often confusing so, I urge you read the detailed rules of procedure page on the HSMUN website. Anywho, I will try to simplify this for you to the best of ability.

  1. Only one draft resolution may pass on any topic, requiring a ⅔ majority approval by the Committee.
  2. Division of the Question
    1. Clauses of the Draft Resolution is divided into two or more parts that may be voted on separately.
  3. Roll Call Voting
    1. Usually voting is done via the tedious task of counting placards, however a delegate may motion for roll call voting.
      1. Delegates are called on individually.
        1. Potential Answers:
          1. “Yes,”
          2. “No,”
          3. “Yes with rights,”
            1. This delegate will be returned to post voting to explain their vote.
          4. “No with rights,”
            1. This delegate will be returned to post voting to explain their vote.
          5. “Abstain,” or
          6. “Pass.”
            1. The delegate will be called on post voting and may not abstain or vote with rights.
            2. They must answer either yes, or no.

WHEU. If you made it this far – stop and do the juju! Or go watch some Netflix again.

If after reading this, you are still like what the fudge sticks, feel free to send us an email at legal.hsmun@gmail.com, and/or read the full Rules of Procedure handbook located on this website 🙂

Cheers,

Akanksha Bhatnagar, Chair.

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What is the Legal Committee?

Before you go about studying procedure and resolutions, it may be helpful to look at what the Legal committee actually is. The Legal committee is the sixth main of the United Nations was established during the congress of Vienna along with the United Nations itself. As a forum to discuss questions regarding international legality, the Legal committee has handled topics spanning everything from the treatment of hostages to human cloning.

The Legal committee has universal membership meaning all member states of the UN are members by right and cannot be specifically exempted. This membership policy helps ensure an unbiased forum by which all nations are able to express concern without threat of exclusion. As well, this membership policy means that we will be in the presence of non-member ‘observer’ nations during committee which will surely induce unequivocally intellectual debate.

The Legal committee is known have developed many treaties pertaining to legal matters over the last 71 years. Despite the common knowledge of a treaty following a formal conflict, the development of ‘treaty law’ pertaining to a variety of subjects is one way in which the Legal committee has established itself as a governing body under the umbrella of the United Nations.

If you are looking for a video to help grasp the goals of the Legal Committee, here’s an interview with the Under-Secretary-General of the committee:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9x5Ubed8NM

Until next time!

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