Y8 London Day One!

Dispatch from London and Team USA 2013

Tuesday’s opening negotiations saw a number of imperative international issues discussed amongst the working groups, with the defense committee beginning to deliberate nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and national sanctions. Language describing a need for bilateral and multilateral agreements for progressive and collective nuclear disarmament was agreed upon early on in discussions, with the U.S. refining the wording to extend to only established and sovereign nation-states, excluding rogue actors or national groups.

All present in the defense committee agreed also upon the long-term monitoring power and oversight of the International Atomic Energy Agency of the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970.

In the foreign affairs committee, delegates discussed political stabilization in Mali and options for arming or engaging the Tuareg rebels. The U.S. touched on the need for long-term stability and security along with independent monitoring of the July 28 presidential election.

“Whether we’re specifying PR campaigns or journalism, we don’t have an understanding as to what the new Malian government will need until after the election,” said Alex Haber, the U.S. foreign affairs delegate, in committee. “It can be anything ranging from grass-roots organizing to publicly disseminated information campaigns, we can’t know exactly… We need to focus on the actual election process.” Image

Others, like Germany and Argentina, were concerned with the need for the rebels and the Malian government in Bamako to engage in talks aimed at political reconciliation.

“The process of democracy is so important in Mali. Argentina celebrates this process, because it’s the basis of other states and our own. Elections are essential,” said Sofia Archaval Lastra, the Argentinian foreign affairs delegate. She indicated that Argentina had no intention of arming the government or allowing a dictatorship to form in absence of a stable government.

Forestry and agricultural exports were discussed in the energy and climate change committee during opening negotiations, but in the afternoon talk turned to worldwide water shortages and sanitation issues. The delegates unanimously agreed that standards should be set regarding the management and treatment of waste water, regulations put in place to protect natural water resources, research initiatives fostering technological developments to combat water scarcity should be supported, and water for agricultural and industrial use ought to be appropriately priced.

During the final topic of the day in the justice committee, the wide-ranging issue of corruption took center stage. The European Union favored providing amnesty and protection to whistle-blowers, creating a legally binding apparatus to protect them from charges of breach of contract or high treason.

The U.S. did not agree with this proposition, and Canada expressed dissent.

“There’s a difference between a whistle-blower revealing something to the media, which could have national security repercussions, and revealing something to a judicial body that can make a critical assessment about the threat level,” said U.S. Attorney General Dane Shikman, delegate to the defense committee. “On one hand, to hold governments accountable, if you don’t say anything, they won’t hear anything.”

However, he added, the recent information leak in the U.S. exemplifies the problems raised nationally and diplomatically when whistle-blowers ignore national security interests. If nations had “a system where a court could issue an injunction against a government,” which many of the countries present in the committee currently use, it “could potentially mitigate national security risks and give whistle-blowers another option besides going to the media,” said Shikman.

For their final issue of discussion on the first day, the defense committee discussed the security issues and disarmament issues involved with the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, or North Korea.

“North Korea has engaged in similar tactics for much of the last decade. They’ve attempted to divide the other five countries in the six-party talks, and they alternate between provocations and calls for renewed negotiations,” said the U.S. Secretary of State Yevgen Sautin, the delegate to the defense committee. “The international community must be firm in demanding North Korea give up its nuclear weapons before any kind of lasting agreement on the security of the Korean peninsula can be achieved.”

Deliberations came to a close for the day at 5 p.m., with delegates from each nation meeting to review the day’s discussions and prepare notes for the second day of the summit. Each committee is hoped to have completed a written policy prescription for the first major issue discussed this morning and afternoon, with the second major issue on the committee agenda up for deliberation tomorrow.