Ana Perković--MUN Reflection by hedongchenchen

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									Ana Perković
May, 2010
                                      The Art of Diplomacy


Preparation
        Applying for this year’s Model United Nations was somewhat nerve wracking for me. I
was aware of the fact that Europe was already represented in 2008, and as someone whose
concentration is Europe and International Law Organizations, I was worried about my
qualifications for this year’s team and my ability to represent a country outside of my region of
expertise. Nonetheless, I applied. Finally, Dr. D’Amico’s infamous email was sent and I skipped
through all the other things in my inbox and finally found her name and opened the email. My
worries were silenced for a short moment when I saw my name on the list of this year’s delegates,
but then I grew anxious about the country we would represent, about all the time we had to
prepare, about the committee I would select.
        After our first meeting, most logistical questions I had were answered, and all we had to
do in the month we were going to be home for the break was to learn everything about the
Republic of Perú. Sounded simple enough. I began my research, and found out that there were
quite a few things to learn. I began with the general history, which is in itself very rich and
complex. The historical aspects were very important in distinguishing our allies from those
delegations we would probably stay away from during the conference. In other words, this part
of my research was essential in my ability to immerse myself fully into the character of a
Peruvian delegate which I would play during the conference. Additionally I looked into Perú’s
economics, the social matters that the country is attempting to address, the direst areas of
concern that the international community can assist in tackling and its political structure. Coming
back from break we began our weekly meetings. Our first order of business was to choose our
committees. Being a rookie at MUN as this was my first conference, I turned to one of my
friends for advice. Having done MUN previously he suggested a smaller committee. Since we
were both interested in humanitarian aspects of the World Food Programme we decided to have
that as our first choice.
        After being selected for our committee we learned the topics on which we were to
become specialists before April 19th. The following topics were to be discussed during the
meeting of the WFP committee: Changing Market Policies to Address Hunger, Addressing the

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Impact of Hunger on Disease, and Enhancing Disaster Reduction Strategies to Avert Famine. My
partner Mert and I did a great deal of research with regard to these topics, but we ran into a road
block early on. Since most of the material on the above mentioned topics was written by people
with outside perspectives we found it difficult to distinguish the position of the national
government on these matters. The Peruvian graduate students helped a great deal with this task;
through their presentation we got the sense of the tremendous pride of Perú and its commitment
for progress. Nonetheless, the stance of the Peruvian government on the specificity of the topics
was still unclear. So we resorted to more research. The general Mission statement was also
helpful, so were various other documents we retrieved from the Peruvian mission, yet they too
were limiting.
       We knew that Perú was firmly committed to free trade and capitalistic tendencies because
these policies had worked thus far for its economy. We used this information along with similar
past policies to come up with a position which would represent that of the Peruvian government.
As we were compiling our final position paper we stumbled upon an address of the head of the
WFP in Perú and we decided to email her and see whether she could provide us with additional
information on the specifics of the topics we were addressing. Amazingly, she replied within a
few days and she had also attached numerous documents that were of concern to us. These were
the final touches that we needed to make our position paper sound. After we submitted the
position papers we continued to read relevant news articles and made sure that we kept up with
all of the things Perú was doing at the United Nations.
       Being sure of our position papers and knowing that they had been submitted, we entered
the fun stages: role playing. We had several sessions to play out various delegations’ roles which
would assist us in learning the procedures of the MUN. These sessions I believe were vital, one
can read these procedures and study them for a long time but the practice cannot be substituted
by any amount of reading. We learned how wonderful role calls are; we learned when we can
make particular motions, etc. It was a great way to prepare for the practical side of the
simulation that would take place in a few weeks.


Participation
       Before we knew it, the first day of the conference was here and we had to wake up early
to catch our train. Needless to say, I did not sleep much the night before. All excited, we used the

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time on the train to finalize the order of topics we wished to discuss and review information we
were still vague about. We finally arrived in New York City and settled into the rooms. We
prepared for the opening ceremony, which was very exciting since we didn’t know who was
going to speak, and the previous years Ban Ki Moon had delivered a statement. Of course,
diplomacy began as we were waiting to be seated in the main ballroom. By the time we were
seated networking was in full swing, and our delegation began compiling business cards. Finally,
the MUN Secretary General presented the US Ambassador to the United Nations, H.E. Susan
Rice. She gave a wonderfully moving statement and the conference was opened. Before we had a
chance to ponder on the things Ambassador Rice had discussed in her speech we were in the
conference room discussing the order of topics that our country favors. Peru was vested into
discussing topic 3 first because of the recent tragedy that struck Haiti, but we were also
interested in discussing the market policies. Therefore, we were willing to negotiate the order of
topics if the fellow delegates would consider co-sponsoring a report with us on both topics in
which infrastructure was a main focus. The agenda was finally agreed for 1:3:2.
       The next day we were scheduled for our mission briefing. The actual Peruvian delegation
was fantastic in their hospitality and patience with our never ending questions. The brief was
informative and this gave us more confidence since for the first time we could ask questions
about our topics and debate the possible answers with the representatives of the Peruvian
government. Mert and I compiled some more information that we could use in our deliberations
and we were ready to fully represent Peru’s interest. We came back to the hotel and our second
session started, since we had already established our agenda, it was now important to distinguish
the foundation of the reports.
       This is where competition can get the best of delegation and there might be reluctance to
work closely with delegations that may have problems with particular aspects of the initial report.
Because of this our committee had 11 drafts reports initially, of which the delegation of Perú was
a signatory to 5 and a co-sponsor of 4. The important thing to note is that becoming a signatory
to reports or resolutions does not mean that our delegation fully agrees with what they are
suggesting but rather that we would like to see them debated. Ultimately, we merged to a total of
five reports of which two were co-sponsored by Perú, and both passed.
       The difficulty of being in a small committee such as the WFP is overlooked until
deliberations begin. Each member state is greatly vested into specific aspects of the reports. For

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example, Iran was heavily concentrated in the reduction of bio-fuels use as a way to address the
high cost of food. Our delegation worked closely with the Iranian delegation on softening the
strong language of their proposal and reducing the enormous goal it demanded to be achieved
within the next five years. Yet, by the time the deliberations were concluded and the Iranian
delegation trimmed as much as they could from their report without jeopardizing their country’s
policy, the Republic of Perú still could not co-sponsor their resolution because of the strong bio-
fuel policy. You may be wondering why we did all this work over one aspect of the report if we
did not agree with Iran’s main demand. Perú’s interests were represented in the remainder of the
report, especially the demands for improvement of local infrastructure. Even though an
agreement was not reached, we learned that sometimes agreements are simply not possible, but
that does not mean that working closely on this report did not build good relations between Perú
and Iran and made collaboration on future reports more likely.
       Needless to say with such thorough deliberation we were only able to get through the first
topic, which was a little disappointing but because of the great collaborations such as the one I
just mentioned and the successful mergers that resulted, I think that the three-day long
deliberation was a success. In other words, the long days and hard work definitely paid off.
       The closing ceremonies were held in the UN General Assembly Hall, which is one of my
favorite places in the world. I am still baffled by the fact that this is the one room in which every
country in the world is heard, every voice is given the same weight (or it should be give the same
weight) and this is where people’s lives are being discussed, the place where global
representatives meet to better human conditions worldwide. It is here too that numerous
delegations were recognizes for their excellence and the wonderful experience we all began just
a few days prior had slowly come to an end.


Reflection
       I still wonder how we were able to go through the week with short lunch breaks, the few
hours of precious sleep a night, exhausting negotiations, and various long debates which did not
stop once the committee meetings ended. Yet looking back at the experience we shared, I think it
is amazing how much we accomplished those few days in NYC. How much I personally learned
about negotiating, about diplomacy and about the hardship that comes about when we try to get
two parties to agree, let alone 36 or 192 for that matter. I have definitely grown to appreciate


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diplomacy a great deal more after this week; in fact I see it as an art which must be mastered if it
is to be performed correctly.
       Although most of the learning as far as procedure and the ways UN works will take place
at the conference, the preparation stage was essential for the confidence which is required to soak
up all the things that the conference has to teach. I believe that Perú had great confidence
because of our exhaustive preparation and this was clearly reflected in our work. It is this
preparation that helped us stay in character when we arrive at the conference, even though others
may not have been doing the same.
       We can learn about diplomacy and criticize countries for not agreeing on something that
sounds very minor to us as students of diplomacy, but this experience has taught me that very
few things are minor when it comes to the foreign policy of countries. I strongly recommend
participation in this conference to everyone studying international relations. I firmly believe that
one must not only know, but also do, and this conference has absolutely reinforced this belief.
One can learn everything there is to learn about diplomacy, but without practicing this art as I
have called it, it is difficult to imagine and understand how the theory of diplomacy plays out in
the real world. It is difficult to understand why some agreements fail, and how we can better our
relations with member states to efficiently reach viable solutions that address the most pressing
needs of the people. Overall, one absolutely irreplaceable experience.




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