"Fairfield University Model United Nations High School Conference 2009"
Fairfield University Model United Nations High School Conference 2009 Joint Crisis Committee Bangladesh and Burmese Cabinets Dear Delegates, Welcome to the FUMUN High School Conference 2009! My name is Meredith Diamont and I will be chairing the Bangladesh Cabinet. I am currently a junior at Fairfield University with a major in International Business and a double minor in Finance and French. I have been part of Fairfield’s Model UN team since second semester of my freshman year and this will be my second year involved in our High School Conference. If you have any questions at all about this simulation please do not hesitate to email me. Sincerely, Meredith Diamont firstname.lastname@example.org Dear Delegates, Welcome to the FUMUN High School Conference 2009! My name is Weronika Pleban and I will be chairing the Burmese Cabinet. I am an International Studies major with a double minor in Economics and Politics. I joined Model UN second semester of my freshman year and also participated in Fairfield’s High School Conference last year. If you have any questions regarding the following simulation please do not hesitate to email me. Sincerely, Weronika Pleban email@example.com The Crisis: The People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Union of Myanmar, two of the world’s poorest nations, are locked in a disagreement over disputed waters in the energy rich Bay of Bengal. The disputed zone, about 50 kilometers south of Bangladesh’s Saint Martin Island, are claimed by each nation as their own. Bangladesh’s Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act of 1974 named the zone as belonging to Bangladesh. Burma also enacted their own Territorial Sea and Maritime Zones Act in 1977 claiming that the zone belonged to them. In order to help resolve their oil and gas crisis, Bangladesh divided what they believe is their maritime territory into 28 blocks so that foreign companies can bid for the areas for exploration and drilling. The problem with this is that some of the blocks fall into what Burma believes is their maritime territory, even though Bangladesh claims they refrained from distributing contracts for blocks lying in disputed waters. Burma sent in exploration ships as well as naval warships to the area to begin exploration, citing that they plan to continue drilling until completion since the blocks are located in their exclusive economic zones. In response to this, Bangladesh sent four naval warships to the area saying that they would take all possible measures to protect their sovereignty. Bangladesh also demanded that Burma stop their exploration activities of gas in the disputed waters until a maritime boundary can be established through diplomatic talks. Burmese officials said they were open to discussions to establish a boundary, but insisted that their current drilling activities are located inside their territory and therefore refuse to cease operations. Bangladesh Cabinet Intro: The People’s Republic of Bangladesh is a country in South Asia bordered by India on all sides except for a small 90 kilometer border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south. Formally East Pakistan, Bangladesh declared its independence on March 26, 1971. The country saw a period of famine, widespread poverty, political turmoil and military coups until democracy was restored in 1991, and has since seen relative calm and economic growth; it is listed among the “Next Eleven” economies. However, Bangladesh continues to face many challenges, including widespread political corruption and increasing economic competition. Foreign Relations: Bangladesh pursues a moderate foreign policy which is highly dependent upon international diplomacy, especially at the United Nations. India: Their most important and complex foreign relationships are with India. The relations between these two countries are constantly fluctuating but started out on a positive note because of India’s assistance in Bangladesh’s independence war and reconstruction. China: Bangladesh has relatively positive relations with China, with economic cooperation between the two countries increasing over the past decade. Cooperation between the Military of Bangladesh and the People’s Liberation Army has also increased, with Bangladesh procuring Chinese arms which range from small arms to large naval surface combatants. Burma: Bangladesh has maintained a relatively peaceful relationship with Burma in the past. However, the current dispute over maritime territory has threatened that peace since both countries have responded with the threat of using military action, particularly Bangladesh. Economy: Bangladesh is classified as a developing nation. Even with a GDP growth rate of 6.5%, there are many obstacles to economic growth they face, including frequent natural disasters, inefficient state-owned enterprises, mismanaged port facilities, significant growth in the labor force, inefficient use of energy resources, political infighting and corruption, and weak public institutions. Despite these challenges, the economy is growing and is expected to keep growing in the future. The most important sector in their economy is their agricultural sector, especially rice and jute, with nearly two-thirds of Bangladeshis employed in this sector. Bangladesh has seen growth particularly in the manufacturing sector, but this is slowed by a lack of foreign investment and depleting natural gas reserves. The demand for natural gas in the country is increasing by 10% each year, and even though Bangladesh has substantial reserves of natural gas now, they are disappearing quickly. The dispute with Burma over the rich stretch of natural gas in the Bay of Bengal highlights Bangladesh’s dilemma over dwindling gas reserves. Both India and Burma have already discovered gas in the Bay of Bengal so it is crucial for Bangladesh to assert its territory. In an effort to resolve their impending gas shortage, Bangladesh divided their maritime territory into 28 blocks for bidding by foreign companies for exploration and drilling. Some of these blocks though are claimed by Burma and that is where the dispute begins. Both countries have sent in warships to the area and Bangladesh has said they will take all possible measures to protect their territory. Cabinet: The government of Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy with a multi-party system, the two major parties being the Bangladesh Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The Prime Minister, as the head of government, forms the cabinet and runs the daily affairs of state. The President is mostly a ceremonial position, but is given extended powers during a caretaker government, which was in place from January 2007 to December 2008. This cabinet will comprise of sixteen members, with myself as the Prime Minister residing over. The following fifteen members are as follows: President Chief of Army Staff Air Force Chief of Staff Chief of Naval Staff Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Operations) Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister of Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources Minister of Finance Minister of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs Minister of Home Affairs Minister of Information and Cultural Affairs Minister of Food and Disaster Management Minister of Communications Minister of Commerce Minister of Industries The dilemmas faced by this crisis committee will be to determine how Bangladesh can peacefully hold talks with Burma in order to establish a boundary and what to do if military action is needed. Since Bangladesh needs these potential gas reserves, what can they negotiate with Burma, whether it be splitting up the disputed waters or bringing in the help of other countries? Also, Bangladesh has relatively positive relations with the Chinese army; could they possibly look to China for help if necessary? If Bangladesh were to lose the blocks to Burma, what can they do and how else can they get the much needed natural gas? Remember, Bangladesh’s foreign policy focuses on diplomacy, but in this situation military action may be necessary. Burmese Cabinet Intro: Since establishing its freedom from the United Kingdom in 1948, Burma, officially the Union of Myanmar, has experienced relentless economic, social, and political turmoil. Ruled by a military junta, Burma’s government is known worldwide as one of the most suppressive, abusive, and corrupt regimes. Recently, human rights violations including forced labor, human trafficking, and child labor have become contentious issues among global organizations such as the United Nations. The purpose of this committee is to provide Burma with the largest advantage both politically and economically from the potential resources found within the Bay of Bengal while simultaneously maintaining peaceful foreign relations and civil rest. Consideration of Burma’s economic capabilities, including financial support for off-shore drilling, as well as the benefits and burdens a growing oil industry yields on the country are of utmost importance when determining the outcome of the crisis. Economy: Under British rule, Burma thrived as one of the wealthiest countries within southeastern Asia. However, shortly after gaining its independence, Prime Minister U Nu attempted to transform the nation into a welfare state, devastating its most successful markets. Rice exports fell by two thirds and mineral exports by over 96%. Since then, Burma’s economy has steadily declined. The current GDP per capita is merely US$1, 160. Moreover, fundamental market institutions are suppressed and private enterprises are often co-owned or indirectly owned by the government. High inflation rates continue to hinder economic development. Between 2005 and 2007, inflation averaged 30.1%. Oil serves as one of the country’s most valuable resources. The Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise, the sole operator of oil and gas exploration and production, transmits domestic gas through a 1,200 miles offshore pipeline grid. Obtaining the natural resources found in the Bay of Bengal would significantly ebb the growing energy crisis in Burma as well as increase the number of foreign investors within the energy sector of the state’s economy. Burma was deemed one of the least developed countries worldwide by the United Nations in 1987 and continues to hold the position today. Foreign Relations: Bangladesh: Throughout their history, Burma and Bangladesh have maintained a peaceful relationship. However, the standoff in the Bay of Bengal has caused both countries to respond militaristically towards one another. Increases in warships continue to escalate the tension between the neighboring states. Furthermore, Bangladesh’s assertion that it will protect its sovereignty and interests “at all costs” foreshadows potential strained relations between the countries. China: The People’s Republic of China serves as one of Burma’s primary foreign investors. The country has provided Burma with millions in military and private funding, including a weapons trade between the two states. Furthermore, China has repeatedly supported Burma in matters regarding human rights and a Western push for democratization. In 2007, China vetoed a draft resolution before the United Nations Security Council calling on the government of Myanmar to respect human rights and begin a democratic transition. India: Similarly to China, India provides a substantial amount of foreign investment within Burma. Throughout its history, Burma has received over US$200 million in military aid from India. Under India’s Look East policy, fields of cooperation between India and Burma include remote sensing oil and gas exploration, information technology, hydro power, and construction of ports and buildings. However, in 2008, India suspended military aid to Burma over the issue of human rights abuses by the ruling junta, although it has preserved extensive commercial ties which provide the regime with much needed revenue. United States/European Union: Due to its human rights abuses, Burma’s relationship with the Western world is a tenuous one. The United States has placed a ban on new investments by U.S. firms, an import ban, and an arms embargo on the Union of Myanmar. Similarly, the European Union has placed sanctions on Burma, including an arms embargo, cessation of trade preferences, and suspension of all aid with the exception of humanitarian aid. U.S. and European government sanctions against the military government, coupled with boycotts and other direct pressure on corporations by western supporters of the democracy movement, have resulted in the withdrawal from the country of most U.S. and many European companies. Burmese Cabinet State Peace and Development Council: Chairman of SPDC: serves as president of Burma/SPDC as well as Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services, determines basic domestic policy of the state Deputy Chairman of SPDC: serves as an aid to the President as well as Deputy Commander in Chief of Defense Services and Commander in Chief of the Army Prime Minister: responsibility for heading the cabinet of ministers and maintaining harmony, reports to the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of SPDC Joint Chief of Staff of the Army/Navy/Air Force: advises Chairman on matters regarding the state of the army/navy/air force Secretary of SPDC: advises Chairman on matters concerning the State Peace and Development Council Minister of Home Affairs: advises Chairman on internal affairs, including civil unrest and disobedience Minister of Foreign Affairs: advises Chairman on international affairs, state-to-state relations and treaties Minister of Communications: controls internal media, including television, radio, and internet programming as well as external media Propaganda Chief: controls media information regarding Burma, responsible for maintaining positive image of the country and dispelling any untruths President of Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise: controls domestic oil exploration and production Vice President of Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise: advises president on matters concerning domestic oil exploration and production Minister of Finances and Revenue: responsible for reporting the economic status of the country as well as dispersing national finances Minister of Commerce: responsible for ensuring external and internal trade and good agreements Minister of Energy: responsible for the use and development of natural resources as well as alternative means of energy Minister of National Planning and Economic Development: responsible for state-owned companies and enterprises as well as economic expansion Sources: http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761568358/bay_of_bengal.html http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/maps/Bay_of_Bengal.shtml http://www.glgroup.com/News/Bay-of-Bengal--a-potential-giant-gas-producing-province- 42897.html