Discussion over balancing ocean preservation with human need flooded Red Deer College this past weekend.
Student delegates at the Alberta Intercollegiate Model United Nations debated the slippery issue for two days, mimicking real national positions as the UN struggled last year with its Oceans Compact to ensure environmental sustainability amid development and transportation pressures.
About 35 local students joined 45 colleagues from the University of Alberta, Concordia University College and Mount Royal and Grant MacEwan Universities in role playing priorities from 39 nations.
Opening statements outlined national positions and resolutions to oceanic concerns.
Numerous countries promoted pollution and development controls, sharing of research projects and their data and the need for diplomacy.
Turkey said sovereignty must be recognized while the Philippines wanted more oil and gas and tourism development to economically support its population,
Venezuela’s firebrand speaker blamed the United States for the Kyoto Accord’s failure, prompting the American delegation to storm out.
Russian Federation speaker Creighton Garson, a second-year RDC psychology major, spoke in Russian with a translator, pounding his fist while demanding a Bering Sea fishing moratorium.
He returned to his furry-hatted delegation and gulped from an empty vodka bottle for comic effect.
Debate followed as delegates grappled with the issues; messengers flitted to and fro delivering private missives between the suit-clad delegations.
RDC political science instructor Dave Baugh said students learn to research and debate as well as “about process at the UN, negotiation and how difficult it can be to reach agreement.
“They learn about a lot of real world skills and how it’s important to keep trying. Some will go on to careers in the diplomatic corps or leadership positions in international commerce.”
Participants are assessed by instructors with awards going to the best opening speech, delegation, delegate and national costume.
“It’s a good experience,” said Kamal Kamaleddine, a first-year RDC political science student.
“You gain more knowledge and it gives you better skills.”
Mature student Mark Bretherton said participating is “a way to connect with the youth.
“I have an interest in the machinations of the world and it’s interesting to see how other people react at an impromptu social event.”
The event was sponsored by RDC’s humanities and social sciences department with support from the RDC Foundation and RDC Students’ Association Cultural Events Trust Fund.