Interventionism of Chairs

by Ivo Tarik de Vries

The chair of UNCTAD, Tom Vesters, has been chairing MUN conferences since 2011. What is clear of this UCUMUN, is that he favours being a chair that is in the debate rather than the man who solely keeps time.

Yesterday, the UNCTAD delegates got into a debate about the TRIPS agreement – the most comprehensive international agreement on intellectual property rights. As the debate continued, it became apparent that not all delegates understood what the TRIPS agreement was nor its importance. At that point, Vesters explicitly filled the gaps for them.

Vesters also steered the delegates away from irrelevant discussion points and made clear distinctions between small businesses and large corporations, and WIPO and the WTO.

The chair finds this “interventionism” as he describes it as setting a baseline to the debate, that “benefits the debate, and … benefits the delegates.” Otherwise, the delegates waste time and are unmotivating to delegates that are savvy about international agreements or other.

Chair Kiki Bouwmans of the GA committee agreed, mentioning that she has noticed that first-timers are sometimes out of step with the debate and sharing some knowledge or explaining the formal procedures to them can improve the debate.

However, Bouwmans also noted that the debate “should be in the hands of the delegates” and that delegates that are unaware ought to have done their research.

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