Over the last weekend I participated in the 62nd Harvard National Model United Nations, as the culmination of the United Netherlands course I’ve taken this last semester. While others from my delegation participated in simulations of UN debate, I took a slightly odder role – that of Minister of Health in the Cabinet of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, 1978. The simulation covered the two years between the communist coup in April ’78 and the Russian invasion in ’79, and was essentially a kind of war game. My fellow communist cabinet members and I took actions on social reform and security, and then received updates from the Harvard staff on the new situation based on what we’d done. While the simulation ended with us all dying in a Soviet invasion, it was a useful reminder of just how tricky it is to run a country. Continue reading
It’s been a chaotic week for me, with numerous meetings, parties, and now preparation for teaching Model United Nations and Public Speaking to high school students. I’m now a trainer for United Netherlands’s High School Program, so on Tuesday I’ll be in front of a class for the first time. This has all left very little time for Your World Explained. So today it’s again a few stories from around the world that interested me this week
This week Amnesty International released its report on the year 2014. As anyone who’s followed the news (or this blog at least) knows, it wasn’t a great year, with terrible human rights abuses in West Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine. They also accuse world powers of failing to act to help refugees and victims of conflict. But as well as accusations, they make an interesting suggestion – that the UN Security Council members agree not to use their veto except in the case of national interest. Amnesty believes this would allow the UN to step up to tackle global crises. But how realistic is this proposal? And come to think of it, why do the Security Council powers have vetoes, and why those specific five countries? To answer this, let’s look back to 1945. Continue reading
Today the Nigerian electoral commission announced that the presidential election scheduled for next Saturday would be postponed for 6 weeks, due to the Boko Haram security crisis. President Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP party is pleased with the decision, but the opposition APC party is not. They believe the decision was taken to give the PDP more chance to win, and they have a point. The army apparently forced the commission into the decision by informing them that the military would not be able to provide security for the election at all, as they were busy fighting. However, six weeks is not going to solve a long running and hugely difficult conflict. To make matters worse, all signs point to the elections only bringing more violence.
Last week I looked back at the predictions I’d made for 2014. While I got a few right, I’d failed to predict the violent events of the year, from Iraq to Ukraine to Crimea. So where will these trends take us in 2015? Let’s take a look at what might hit the headlines in the year to come. Continue reading