Written by CNBC
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees met during the weekend of April 4-7, 2019 to discuss the climate refugee crisis and create legislation that addresses the problem, and thus far the RAIN block is failing to embrace a spirit of collaboration.
The committee has over 30 nations represented, each hoping to collaborate with other nations in an effort to get their ideas implemented, and all in an effort to improve human dignity and standards of living. Such a high minded pursuit is no easy task, and so it needs to be addressed with delicacy and a spirit of collaboration.
While some may view this editorial in poor-taste, the editorial board of CNBC stands by its decision to write it. We must hold our leaders and representatives accountable for not only their policies, but also for their behavior and attitude.
In recent years poise and respect have been in decline in the spheres of international and national politics especially. This is a trend that goes beyond being just harmful; it is downright dangerous. Human dignity is the most valuable asset we have, and it erodes when we refuse to treat one another with decency.
When our leaders lose respect for one another, it is reflected in their policies and hurts the most vulnerable among us.
The split in attitudes among the 5 voting blocks, (RAIN, RISE(ing) TIDE, DRRIP, Comrades, and TIER DROP) was plainly evident in debate. While a natural part of reaching solutions to complex problems is actively seeking out the best solution possible and criticizing more problematic solutions, this can be done without stomping on the solutions which are perceived as lesser.
During debate about various working papers and potential amendments to them, some delegates laid on criticism rather than congratulating one another their hard work. The delegate of Tanzania, from the RAIN block, began his speech with the rather harmless statement that, “RAIN is the only comprehensive plan we have.” This claim is perfectly acceptable; delegates have every right to trumpet the merits of their working paper.
His speech, however, devolved into arrogance; he ended it with the rather pompous claim that his block’s working paper should be passed simply because it’s the obvious decision, implying that one would have to be intelligent not to support it by finishing his speech by stating, “C’mon. It’s RAIN, man.”
The delegate from Rwanda spoke directly after him, voicing the sentiments of the rest of the committee by saying, “This delegate would like to remind the committee that we can in fact pass more than one resolution.” This statement, while not very radical, is important in spirit.
Delegates do not need to put one another’s ideas down because they are seen as less than perfect. They can instead either pass multiple papers or work together to make the apparently lacking papers more comprehensive.
When asked for comment about accusations that the RAIN block has not acted in a collaborative spirit, the delegate of Tanzania said, “The RAIN block has been more exclusive in their implementation of who actually gets to contribute to their paper, given that they don’t want externalities to come in and essentially ruin it.” This very much contradicts a collaborative spirit in which everyone’s ideas are valued.
When told that some of the terms within their working paper were poorly defined, RAIN dismissed the constructive advice as simply political semantics rather than viewing it as what it was: a friendly offer of advice.
Regardless of which working paper is actually the best solution to the climate refugee problem, it is unacceptable for blocks to treat one another rudely: without the respect they would wish to receive themselves.
Delegates, particularly those of whom are members of the RAIN block, need to remind themselves of the spirit of international bodies such as this one. These exist not as a space in which to assert one’s dominance in a poor and tasteless attempt to seem superior to other nations. Delegates should instead work together, learning from one another, and collaborating to truly reach the most comprehensive and effective solutions.