SSUNS 2015: Commonwealth Heads of Government
The general assembly double-delegate committee of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) started off at a fast pace. Nick D’ascarnio, Aleksandra Kasikiovic and Tajana Mitrovic had a short but sweet introduction, which surely helped the young delegates feel invited to speak. Speak they did, with the majority of raising their placards high into the air at the first chance. This is an expected action, with SSUNS being one of the most competitive High school conferences in North America, with delegations coming from as far away as California. The question is, did CHOGM continue to live up to these standards?
As a committee director for CHOGM I had the ability to both watch the assembly with a critical eye and act as a supportive liaison between the delegates and the chair. Under the primary speakers list, the topic of sustainable development and women’s rights was the popular topic. The motion to open debate on it however failed, presumably because the delegates wanted to go through the primary speakers list a little further. In discussion, it seemed motion after motion failed and it was difficult for the delegates to decide on a topic to debate on. So much so, the chair had to address it. After a short unmoderated caucus to discuss the topics, the committee decided on discussing the relevancy of the commonwealth alliance.
On the topic of speaking, the delegates had a mixture of abilities within the committee. It was easy to spot the best delegates, especially when I went around looking at the alliances being formed in the undmoderated caucus. In fact, one delegate was so keen that they even tried to form an alliance with me, before seeing my badge. It was interesting to see how the delegates were working with their double. Overall, the atmosphere of the conference was ambitious, yet stress free.
As I stepped out to grab water, I realized how GA can have a slower pace than other committees. I saw multiple staff members, dressed in army helmets, bearing flags of New Orleans and America, about to bombard their room with a re-enactment of Hurricane Katrina . My hopes of livening things up were answered when delegates started to reject each other’s ideas. Debate had truly started. Controversially, and presumably against the wished of the delegates of the United Kingdom, Papua New Guinea suggested discussing what they wanted to do with the monarchy. Toes and sovereignty were being stepped on. The committee moved on to discuss how to strengthen the Commonwealth. Their main idea was to focus on enriching the support to smaller, weaker countries and increasing trade between countries without the help of organization such as the United Nations. This is a huge step for this committee, as most general assemblies, specifically in high school, use the United Nations for resources and support.
The second day the next topic, women’s rights was decided upon. Our guest speaker, Professor Subho Basu addressed South East Asian and Colonial history. The delegates and staffers were intrigued by his words, and asked him questions that pertained to the Commonwealth and to our world today. The delegates mentioned seemed to be happy they were with the committee; and some mentioned it was a “perfect mix of fun and serious.” The professional tone returned as delegates made their powerful remarks on the issues following women’s rights. Once committee recessed, we got to know the delegates more and they were having a wonderful time. Again, CHOGM was a perfect balance of carefree intensity.
Lastly, in light of the tragic attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad, a somber moment of silence was held. Rightfully so, as it was necessary to show our solitude with the victims and their families. Some staff throughout the conference left to go to the vigil for the attacks held at the French Consulate.