Russia overshadows debate at Model UN meeting

Matt Gardner
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Issues involving the Russian Federation dominated the discussion on Friday at a Model United Nations session involving four area schools.

Students from the Prince Albert Collegiate Institute (PACI), Carlton Comprehensive High School, Rivier Academy and St. Mary High School attended the event, which was billed as a joint meeting between the UN Security Council and invited members of the General Assembly.

The Prince Albert Rotary Club helped organize the session at the St. Mary lecture theatre in conjunction with staff advisors.

One such staff advisor was St. Mary social science teacher Dennis Ogrodnick, who praised the high level of debate by the students.

“I thought it was a really good day … For a history teacher, social science teacher, it’s so exciting,” Ogrodnick said.

“The level of debate … and the research was absolutely unbelievable -- absolutely unbelievable -- and for me, it was so exciting to see the students from all four schools enter into that debate and that dialogue that it just wore me out.”

Over the course of the day, the students primarily debated two resolutions -- both of which were vetoed by Russia.

The first resolution called upon the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to commission a global study on human rights violations committed on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Should the study find such human rights violations approved or sanctioned by member states, the resolution would authorize the International Court of Justice to rule on the actions of the offending nation and render judgment.

“People made it about Russia,” Ogrodnick noted. “It was actually supposed to be moreso about some African nations and other nations that are violating people’s human rights, but what ended up happening is countries targeted Russia.”

Despite most members voting for the resolution, the Russian veto doomed it.

The second resolution called for all sides in the ongoing dispute in Ukraine to cease further actions that would inflame the situation, calling for an independent committee appointed by the UN Secretary General to assume temporary executive functioning of Ukraine until elections supervised by the Secretary General lead to the formation of a new government.

Furthermore, the resolution stated that if present conditions continued, the UN would “create the required forces to move into the Ukraine and enforce the intentions of this resolution.”

Following a vigorous debate, the second resolution passed by a vote of 17 to 4 but was again vetoed by Russia.

I was really impressed with how well some delegates researched the topic and how well they represented their countries and not their own viewpoints. Dennis Ogrodnick

Ogrodnick noted that the veto of a passing resolution does not necessary invalidate it.

“It doesn’t pass, but what it does mean is that the world has spoken, and this is what happens when the world speaks,” he said.

“It’s a condemnation of Russia for their actions and their behaviours in the second resolution … The Security Council can’t do anything, but that same resolution can go to the General Assembly and they can pass it, and there is no veto in the General Assembly.”

Prior to the debate over the second resolution, the meeting chair received an emergency resolution, moved by Italy and seconded by Nigeria, that would have called for member nations to contribute to a fund monitoring extremist groups that practise discrimination and human rights infringements.

Justifying the resolution, the Italian representative pointed to the rise of fascism in Greece. But the majority of members ultimately voted against it.

Ogrodnick emphasized that students participating in the model UN must put forward the views of the governments they represent, rather than their own personal views.

“This morning … I was really impressed with how well some delegates researched the topic and how well they represented their countries and not their own viewpoints, and that’s what’s really important,” he said.

“It’s very difficult for students to get that concept, but there are some delegates here that have really, really exemplified representing their country.”

Each participating school represented a permanent member of the Security Council, with PACI representing China, Rivier Academy France, Carlton the United States and St. Mary pulling double duty for Russia and the United Kingdom.

Two delegates from Friday’s session will go on to attend a model UN assembly in Winnipeg this May that will include students from across Western Canada and the northern United States.

This year’s delegates are PACI student Nick Auger, who represented China, and St. Mary student Mark Kramer, who represented Russia.

“It’s a two-day assembly, so the Rotary Club of Prince Albert will sponsor them to go,” Ogrodnick said. “And Prince Albert will defend their title, because they won it last year in Winnipeg.”

Organizations: UN, Prince Albert Collegiate Institute, UN Security Council General Assembly Prince Albert Rivier Academy Carlton Comprehensive High School Mary High School Human Rights International Court of Justice

Geographic location: Russia, Ukraine, China United States Winnipeg Italy Nigeria Greece United Kingdom Western Canada

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