Interview with the Chairperson of the SOCHUM

International Press (IP) Reporter Harsha Sista interviews Mr. Samuel Victor, a man with a great sense of humour and a vast knowledge in the field of international politics.

“You have attended so many Model United Nations (MUN) in the past, so what advice would you give to first timers in the committee?”
“I think the biggest problem that the first-timers face is the procedure. The advice that I would give to them is to not be hindered by the intricacies of procedure and to express themselves freely. Since it has a large number of first-timers, we are also pretty lenient when it comes to procedure. In addition, a lot depends on the kind of research they do. This will come by experience as they go from conference to conference and I would say that they should always look for the pertinent questions that should be asked.”

“How important do you think MUNs are in increasing the global awareness quotient among the students who participate?”
“Personally, MUNs have always been a fun kind of event for me. I’ve never done an MUN with the point of view of bringing global awareness of any such grandiose ideas, it has always been about the fun for me. You should do MUNs for fun and they are not something you are obliged to do. I will say though, that I have learnt a lot from MUNs. If I was not actively involved in MUNs, then I would not have cared about or even considered these things and would not have read about them. So I would say that MUNs are a great way to form new things and are excellent platforms to explore new avenues.”

“Tell us a little about yourself.”
“Well, I like long hair and beards (laughs). I did a lot of MUNs when I was in college and that was what I was known for. Other than that, I play the guitar and the drums and I work with Google now, which is a lot of fun.”

“As the Chairperson of the UNGA-SOCHUM, how do you think the committee can uphold the basic human rights of people in war-torn areas like Syria, especially since its resolutions are non-binding?”
“This is not the first time that an MUN, or the UNGA for that matter is discussing Syria. The resolutions that the UNGA has passed in the past have not really helped. The ability to enforce is lacking in the current system, so the resolution merely becomes a recommendation. They are not binding and the third committee can only recommend to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to look at certain situations. However, the committee should draw inspiration from those resolutions and understand why they failed. They should build upon the framework that the international committee has already built and work to find a solution.”

“If you had the chance of being in a famous politician’s shoes for a day, whom would you pick and why?”
“Ooh, Barack Obama, without a doubt. He is the coolest guy ever. I don’t think the world has seen any president as cool, as funny and as witty as Barack Obama – among the United States of America’s (USA) presidents at least. I will not comment about the presidents of the other countries, but I will definitely want to be Barack Obama. It is my dream to meet him actually.”

“Seeing the blatant violation of human rights in Syria, do you think that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) holds as much importance there as it does in, say a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) country?”
“The UDHR has a certain purpose, it is meant for something. I think that it is the failure of the international community when things go wrong like in Syria. It definitely holds as much importance wherever it is, but the point is, it is not being enforced. There is no mechanism inside a country like Syria, there is no recourse available to the people other than protests, which are being stifled by the Government. The UDHR being in place, but not allowing the kind of freedom that they are granted as an inalienable right, is a failure in itself. If you look at any NATO country like the USA or France, they have a system in place to implement the UDHR, a system of government that works for them. This, right now, is not the case in Syria because of the political, social and religious divide in the country. Therefore, I think that the enforcement of these treaties that is kind of lacking.”

“If you could change anything within the current UN structure, what would it be?”
“In my opinion, the most pertinent thing to do, which has been discussed in MUNs before, is the restructuring of the Security Council (SC). The permanent membership and the veto power should be eliminated because it gives an unfair advantages to those countries and their veto power has a huge impact on decisions. For example, there have been countless draft resolutions brought forward in the SC against Israel, but none of them has ever passed due to the USA vetoing it. Suddenly, when the USA decided to abstain after a few decades, it became a big issue. When an abstention becomes such a turning point, it is like the countries are trading favours with each other, which should not be the case in the SC. The way the veto works is very outdated and I would remove it completely if I could so that all countries are at an equal footing in the SC as well.”

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