Dispatch from London and Team USA 2013
Afternoon deliberations at the Y8 Summit began with committees working against a 6 p.m. final deadline, after which the Heads of State and Government committee would revise and ratify a final communiqué for the summit.
Early in the afternoon, talks in the Foreign Affairs committee took on the wide-ranging topic of the conflict in Syria, with the U.S. and Russian delegates clashing over key issues and phrasing. American Secretary of State Alex Haber opposed once again putting the need for a “neutral, impartial, international observer team assembled by the UN” before the UN Security Council, and dismissed the possibility that chemical weapons had not been used by either the Syrian government or rebels.
However, by 3 p.m., the committee was able to reach a consensus on wording, strongly condemning the human rights abuses, use of chemical and lethal weapons, and endemic conflict in Syria.
“This is the biggest thing we could have hoped for in this conference – to get Russia to agree to investigating the use of chemical weapons and finding a way to bring that before an international body,” Haber said following the unanimous vote of approval.
Shortly after, the Heads of State and Government committee took on the issue of the conflict in Syria as well.
Both Russia and the U.S. agreed on the need to open a dialogue between the two countries regarding “principles behind military contracts connected with both parties of the conflict.” Delegates also concurred that a cooperative network should be created to assist non-government organizations in determining the amount of and delivering necessary aid to the Syrian people.
“The best part is that we agreed to the creation of a ‘refugee corridor’ with international peacekeepers and a no-fly zone,” said U.S. President Jeremy Iloulian following an initial round of compromises in the committee. He noted that the most difficult U.S. position for which to garner acceptance was the acknowledgment that the use of chemical weapons constituted an egregious human rights abuse.
Closing in on the 6 p.m. deadline, the Defense committee finalized wording outlining the current uses of and reporting on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The group was able to come to an agreement – with respect to the high potential for civilian casualties and the frequent need for military confidentiality – to encourage transparency in national UAV programs and increased security mechanisms.
After much compromise and changes in phrasing, the policy recommendation on UAVs was passed unanimously.
The final issue of the evening touched on by the Defense committee, how best to address and combat piracy, received general agreement amongst all delegates. The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Yevgen Sautin, recommended continued coordination in combating piracy and its root causes in the Horn of Africa and around the world. He suggested ramping up the G20-wide rotation of open water monitoring in the most affected regions.
“I would echo my Indonesian colleague in saying it’s worth studying why the scourge of piracy reemerged a few years ago,” said Sautin. “What socioeconomic causes have prompted this… How can we combat this from all sides?” He supported providing economic assistance to governments in areas experiencing endemic piracy, noting that additional resources could both deter would-be pirates and provide alternatives for income.
The institutionalization of an international anti-piracy monitoring body governed by the UN received committee-wide approval, on the suggestion of the Indonesian delegate.
When the 6 p.m. deadline for all five committees passed, a few groups were still working to revise and format language before submitting their policy initiatives. The Heads of State and Government reconvened at 7:30 p.m. to review and ultimately ratify all proposals. Thursday, the third and final day of negotiations, saw delegates finish up just before 10 p.m.