Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of World War I

The French and German Mission to the United Nation jointly organized a special event in commemoration of 100th anniversary of the start of the seminal catastrophe of the 20th century – the World War One. Mr. Launsky-Tieffenthal, the master of ceremonies, brought the audience’s attention to the 25 member states that co-hosted the event. They span from five continents, which serves to remind the audience that the global effect that the World War I left to people around the world. The global nature of the conflict is also reflected by the letters and diaries of those in the war, which were read during the event. The letters read are not only letters of the soldiers of the belligerent nations in Europe, but also those of the Red Cross nurses and colonial expeditionary forces drafted into the conflict.

IMG_9057 The Secretary-General commented that “the First World War was supposed to have been the war to end all wars”, yet “the battlefields of the Somme, Gallipoli, Passchendaele, Ypres and Verdun form just part of the human roll-call of carnage and unconscionable casualties etched into our collective memory”. He also said with regret that despite of the lessons learnt, military option is still chosen by some as a means to resolve problems. The Secretary-General also took the opportunity to remind the audience of the nature of the settlement followed by the war, and said that it is a particular apt time to reflect the way to ensure peace in the world as the UN steps into its 70th anniversary next years.

Three pieces of war-inspired music were played by the ORPHEUS Chamber Orchestra. The pieces, which are composed by Samuel Barber, Maurice Ravel, and Ludwig van Beethoven respectively, reflect the different moods of the grief of war and anxiety for peace and fraternity among all.

Meeting Title: Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Beginning of World War I

Speakers: H.E. Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information; H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Interns from the Permanent Missions of France and Germany; and an Intern from the Department of Public Information
Location: Economic and Social Chamber, United Nations Headquarters
Date: 8th July 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Harrison Chung
Edited By WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and People

A special committee meeting was convened to discuss the situation of Puerto Rico, with regard to the granting of independence to colonial countries. The meeting was based on the General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) that affirms independence to colonial countries and people and recognises the passionate yearning for freedom in all dependent peoples and the decisive role of such peoples in the attainment of their independence.    

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Petitioners drew attention to the major political challenges facing Puerto Rico, resulting from its relationship with the United States: (i) the United States military presence in Puerto Rico; (ii) the imprisonment in the United States of pro-independence Puerto Ricans; and (iii) the application of the death penalty to Puerto Ricans convicted on federal charges. They, therefore, emphasised on the need to defend their inalienable right to sovereignty, which has been denied to them for many years.

Mr. Pedro Pierluisi, stressed that the government of the United States has the ministerial and moral duty to act upon the 54% of votes rejecting the commonwealth status. It is imperative upon the international community to find a common objective and a mechanism whereby the people of Puerto Rico can determine their status without any colonial restraints.

Ms. Wilma E. Reverón-Collazo, highlighted the plight of workers who have been majorly challenged by American businesses and have consequently suffered economic damages. Furthermore, petitioners also underscored that Puerto Rico is the fourth country for military recruitment in the US. In 1917, 27,787 Puerto Ricans fought WWI and thousands of them lost their lives or are suffering from PTSD, arthritis, brain damage and severe disabilities.

Most petitioners posited that even though the US is seen as a major proponent of human rights, its colonial rule in Puerto Rico can be seen equivalent to a form of slavery. Mr. Juan Dalmau, denouncing the role of international community stated that the subordination of Puerto Rico is a testimony to the failure of the idea that the relation between nations should be conditioned as per international law.

Meeting Title: Granting of independence to colonial countries and people
Speakers: (Chair)H. E. Ambassador Xavier Lasso, Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations; Mr. Pedro Pierluisi, Resident Commisioner of Puerto Rico; Wilma E. Reverón-Collazo, human rights activist; Mr. Juan Dalmau, Candidate of the Puerto Rican Independence Party.
Location: CR2, CB, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Nusrat Laskar
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark