Debate and controversy over New Zealand mosque shooting, gun laws, and LGBTQ+ rights on day one of HKMUN

Debate and controversy over New Zealand mosque shooting, gun laws, and LGBTQ+ rights on day one of HKMUN

delegates_in_the_us_senate_represent_different_political_figures_during_unmoderated_caucus.jpg

Delegates from the US senate represented different political figures during a caucus.
Photo: Natalie Kainz

Hong Kong Model United Nations (HKMUN) kicked off to a fiery start last Sunday, with an impassioned speech by Secretary General Aarushi Jain, 17, from West Island School announcing this year’s theme of ‘A torch to carry forward’.

“We all have the ability to grow and pursue goals that seem impossible,” she told a crowd of 500 students gathered at the amphitheatre podium in Hong Kong Science Park. “We hope this conference will inspire students to find innovative solutions to the problems which the world faces, and hope that they will shape our future into a better place."

The event then launched into an enthusiastic question and answer session, with questions being fired from the crowd at a panel of keynote speakers including Sam Ho, CEO of ThinkCol, an AI tech startup; barrister Michael Lok; and Harvey Sernovitz, a public affairs officer from the US consulate.

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At one point, Sernovitz was asked that, “given the recent shooting by a white nationalist in New Zealand, what do you, as a member of the US government, see as the lesson the US should learn from it?” A series of enthused gasps rippled through the audience.

Sernovitz held his own, however, tying his response into the importance of MUN. “Events like the one you mentioned are rooted in hate and as a government, we need to do what we can to root out extremism and racism,” he said. “As a society, we need to educate the young to root out hate. This is why we have events like MUN.”

Students then separated into their chosen committees: the European Union, which debated over border control and terrorist attacks, and the Historical Security Council (HSC), which discussed past historical issues and how they could have been resolved.

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Young Post talked to Cartman Tai, 16, chair of the HSC, about what he enjoyed about Sunday’s debates.

“The delegates really worked together to propose new solutions to the historical issues that we were debating, [including] the Vietnamese and Yugoslav wars. I’m looking forward to seeing the new perspectives that they bring to these issues in the coming days,” he said.

Cartman then explained that although the HSC is not a real council in the UN, it still holds value in getting students to think about new perspectives and solutions. “In HSC you don’t have the benefit of hindsight,” he said. “Being set in a historical context, you have to be aware the roles of each country within the global community at the time so it forces you to do a lot more research to communicate with other delegates. That’s what really pushes the boundaries of MUN.”

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Some committees, however, dealt with more controversial issues. Chair of the Human Rights Council, Alice Bai, 15, explained that her council discussed topics such as free press and universal LGBTQ+ rights. 

“All the delegates have been pretty civil but human rights is inherently controversial because it affects all of us,” she said. She then chuckled and told us about the delegate of Yemen, who talked for 30 seconds straight about how he was going to perform lobotomy on homosexual people. “The topics that we’re debating here I have seen discussed at another conference, but it seems that every single time people come up with new things to talk about”.

 

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