The Financial Express

Diversity in diplomacy

Nazifa Rafa | Published: February 20, 2020 01:05:24 | Updated: February 22, 2020 13:43:59

Opening plenary session of Asian University for Women International Model United Nations 2020 Opening plenary session of Asian University for Women International Model United Nations 2020

The sixth edition of one of the most anticipated MUN conferences of the year in the country, Asian University for Women International Model United Nations 2020 (AUWIMUN2020) was hosted by the AUWMUNC Club (AUWMUNC) from February 13 to 15 in the university premises in Chattogram.

Having attained a stronghold of the hearts of avid MUN enthusiasts, AUWIMUN2020 attracted over 200 delegates, ranging from middle school to university students, from all over the globe. They came together to work towards the common theme of "Enhancing global diversity to combat racial discrimination and religious conflict", a theme which is very relevant and crucial in today's world where differences in race and religion masks the underlying issues of the power-hunger and greed. On the significance of the theme, Anamika Shil Chaity, the secretary-general of the AUWIMUN2020, as well as the current president of the AUWMUNC explained, "Racial discrimination is a very important issue to focus on as it is normalised in such a way that even in our daily life, we often ignore it. From our side, this was an attempt in reducing racial discrimination and religious conflicts that are hindrances in the path of development globally."

The event was kicked off with a plenary session conducted by Dr Nirmala Rao, vice-chancellor of AUW, and by Dr Michael Eaton, faculty member of Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE), as well as the advisor of the AUWMUNC. The opening plenary was presided over by Saraf Nawar, a PPE student, who not only served as the previous president of the AUWMUNC but also the secretary-general of the previous conference.

The conference was be led by six prodigious committees that tackled alarming issues which are currently ravaging the world. United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was to overcome the daunting task of resolving the conflict between the USA and Iran, while Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC) took on a more modern and rising challenge of subjecting drone using nations to accountability for their actions. Apart from formulating policies for the protection of the reproductive and mental health of the women in workplaces, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNW) apprehended the contentious discussion of the condition of commercial sex workers, as did the World Health Organization in an attempt to mitigate the impacts of post-traumatic stress disorder and promoting mental health awareness in conflicted areas, most of which still view it as a taboo. On the agenda of WHO, Shafin Raowan Chowdhury, who acted as the director of WHO, commented, "Mental health is something really important for an individual but many people fail to understand its significance. Thus, I believe it is very important to come up with policies by the nations so that every person suffering from mental health disorders receive proper cure." For beginners like the sixth-grader Hussain Murtaza Ali, agendas such as these were really crucial as it allowed them knowledge attainment on mental health beyond classroom doors.

The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM) undertook significant efforts for the protection of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities to ensure increased participation in social affairs. The graveness of the agenda was well appreciated by delegates like Riya Chakma, who is currently studying PPE in AUW. She remarked, "We all shared our ideas to protect the rights of our minorities. I really enjoyed it, and I came to know a lot of information that I was not aware of before. It was really a good experience for me." Finally, International Press allowed delegates to take up the role of reporters of famous media outlets, like CNN, Reuters, and Al-Jazeera, who constantly fed the conference's Facebook event page with news updates.

On the third day of the conference, the delegates of different committees huddled around to work on draft resolutions. However, because of the contrasting and conflicting policies of different nations, the failure to pass resolutions within some committees, like in UNSC and in SOCHUM was inevitable. Nevertheless, the conference ended on a positive note, and the goal of "creating informed global citizens within the youth" was achieved, according to the Under-Secretary-General (USG) of Public Relations, Rubina Rahman Chowdhury.

Insiya Khan, an AUW graduate and the closing plenary president, witnessed the evolution of the series throughout the years as someone whose history runs long with the AUWIMUN conference series, first as a delegate, then director, then secretary-general. "Previously, a vast majority of AUWMUN organisers mainly did it due to their natural interest in organising an event or for their thrill in sharing the experience with friends. But as MUN started going more widespread, and people started learning more about it, it was visible how people's interest was starting to shift. There were now more people in the organising body who were interested in MUN, have participated or were even eager to gain knowledge on it. As a result, AUWMUN developed more from an annual AUW event to an event that upholds stronger MUN communion. In addition, as AUWMUN has established into an identity of its own with age, it has been a lot easier to inform people on the event than ever before," she noted.

The organisers of the conference take great pride in being, perhaps the only diverse, all women Secretariat Body in Bangladesh, a fact that Nusrat Jahan, who was a correspondent of Al Jazeera, felt really inspired by. In fact, the Secretariat Body, according to Rubiyat Jahan, USG of Delegate Affairs, acted as "one complete unit where one drew strength from the other". She recounted the months of hard work by the different departments in preparation for the phenomenal conference that was the AUWIMUN2020.

The third day ended with the closing ceremony held at Icchamati Hall at Agrabad Hotel, where delegates donned themselves in their gala clothes and dresses. Delegates from different committees were recognised with awards for their performance throughout the conference.

The writer is a second-year student at Asian University for Women (AUW), majoring in Environmental Sciences.

She can be reached at nazifa.rafa@auw.edu.bd

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