At some point in recent weeks, we all will have noticed the TV news images of rockets launching and debris crumbling. These are images from the Gaza Strip.
Gaza, Israel, Palestine, Hamas. These are all key words that blend together into a conflict that demands some historical investigating to really be understood. But every casual onlooker can guess that the voices of peace will have to be strong to persuade the news networks to switch to different images.
If a future exists where the world map will include a safe, secure Israel alongside an equal Palestinian state, those that made it possible will have their place in history. Some of those future diplomats might now be joining DCU’s newest society, the Model United Nations.
“Each side is reluctant to accept border lines and accept recognition of each other”, says Kevin Daly, chairperson of DCU MUN. “Unless that happens, [the conflict] cannot be solved”.
Kevin is a first year international relations student. He hopes for a career in the United Nations someday, and he points to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president of Turkey, as a diplomat he particularly admires.
Atatürk led a war of independence that ended with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which established the modern state of Turkey. “He saved the country and turned it from an Islamic foundation into a sovereign, secular republic,” Kevin says. “I have huge respect and admiration for him.”
The DCU Model UN is restarting after last being active in the 2010-11 academic year. Organisations that simulate the UN’s activities can be found worldwide. The most serious budding diplomats travel internationally to renowned MUN conferences such as the one held at John Hopkins University in Maryland, USA.
It might sound like a lot of resources are going into something that is mere imagination, but the model diplomats of today could be the ones deciding how to respond to an Iranian nuclear bomb tomorrow.
“It takes a lot of preparation to do nuclear simulation for something like that”, Kevin says. “You have to put a resolution there, which has to be written very professionally. Each member state then has to pretend that they’re the diplomat of that country and they have to represent it in a proper format.”
Getting the representation correct can be especially important when your designated country is crucial to UN stability. The UN Security Council has five permanent members that wield veto power over all resolutions that determine the direction of UN security policy.
These permanent members all have one thing in common. They were on the winning side in World War II. But that war ended over 65 years ago. Is it still realistic to determine geopolitical influence based on its outcome?
“I think you need governments [in the UN] that can actually influence others”, Kevin says. “I think it should stay the way it is, but there should be no vetoing. The permanent members should be in an advisory role more than anything else”.
Last week, the United States supported the Israeli motivation for recent military action in Gaza by exercising the veto. The Security Council statement they vetoed condemned the conflict in Gaza, but did not call for a halt to Hamas missile attacks on southern Israel.
DCU MUN aims to be “geographically friendly” in deciding what countries will be represented in the weekly hour that society meetings take place. That means you can expect each continent to be featured. But Kevin reminds us that a model UN can still be a casual, fun game.
“If you’ve ever watched the news and thought it would be amazing to be in the North Korean or the Iranian diplomat’s shoes, just come along and pretend you’re them”, Kevin laughs.
Playing the role of those countries might make some people feel like they’re the villains in a movie. But Kevin admits he wouldn’t mind representing either country. “It would be interesting. There’d be stuff to do all the time”.
Students can find out additional information about the DCU Model UN on their Facebook page or by stopping by one of their weekly meetings which take place in CG20 on Wednesdays.
Aaron Mc Nicholas