Interview with Mrs Egli Pantelaki

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What does a normal day at the ministry entail?

Well, it entails about 7 to 10 meetings of many different subjects, with either the Minister or my colleagues, as well as other parties involved with the Ministry of Education and Culture. It also includes being present at various events like this one, visiting schools and Universities, as well as attending cultural activities, which also occupies a significant part of my time. I am also the President of the board of directors of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra Foundation, so this is a parallel job that I do.

In addition, I go through a lot of files and try to solve various problems, as every day is a problem solving day.  I try to be efficient and quick in taking decisions. This is not an easy job, but it is a challenging one.

 

What is your favourite memory from your time as a student at the English School of Nicosia?

It would have to be the musical events that were organised, for example the choir, the concerts and the Greek night.  Music has always been my hobby, so these were the most exciting times for me.

 

What is the most fundamental skill that your studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science have taught you in terms of getting the Ministry running as efficiently as possible?

At the LSE we learned how to apply critical thinking, which is a very important aspect of my job. This quality is also what we want to promote in our schools. This involves learning to make a synthesis of various views, looking at things from a critical prospective, speaking your mind and making fast decisions. It also is crucial not to be dogmatic, but rather to learn to listen to many views and opinions, and then make your decision accordingly. This I consider important. I believe I am a democratic person, who uses a human approach concerning management, and this is another skill that I acquired from the LSE.

 

Having been involved with music from a very young age, and now being President of the board of directors of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra Foundation, what is the significance of music in your life?

I was involved with music since I was 4 years old, as my father was a Music Teacher. I remember students coming at home, having their music lessons with my father, who bought a little piano for me when I was 3 or 4 years old. I remember listening, as the students were having their lessons, and one day I said to my father “Come on dad, I want to show you something”, and then played for him, on my little piano, by ear, what I had listened the students play to, on their instruments. My parents thought that this was promising, and so this was the start of my studies in music, which I then finished at the Ethnikon Odeon, having also obtained qualifications from the Royal Schools of Music. With the qualifications I had at the time, I could get a job as a Music Teacher, but I chose to study Economics and Management, and keep music as a very nice hobby at the side. I would say that this involvement with music has enriched my life and it relaxes me from the stress of everyday routine.  I feel grateful that, as I am approaching the end of my career, music has entered my life in an official capacity through my chairmanship of the board of the directors of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra Foundation.

 

Working in the Ministry, where the Minister may change often, how do you manage to maintain continuity in your endeavours, while co-operating with different people who wave different mind sets and different approaches to problems?

Well this is one of the features of the job, the fact that Ministers may change. I have been Permanent Secretary for 9 years, 4 and a half being at the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment, and the rest in the Ministry of Education and Culture. This is now the 6th Minister I have worked with, which shows that change can happen very often. The key is to approach a person and to try to understand their personality and character, since people are different and not everyone can be approached in the same way. Therefore, I am flexible, and usually understand how people should be approached. Additionally, I have to be concise and productive at doing my job, in order to brief them on major issues concerning the Ministry, as well as to introduce them to the Management team. This is more intensive during the first few months. Of course, I remain at their disposal later on for anything they want to discuss. Overall, I did not face any problems with the change of Ministers. Concerning the second part of your question, yes, there are different people, each with different mind sets. Sometimes people can be strange even, which is a challenge, but the only way to face this, is to stick to principles. Although I use a human approach, as I said earlier, I have a lot of patience, seldom raise my voice and try not to intimidate others, there are times, where there is no other choice but to be firm and try to get them to understand that there are principles that should not be violated. If they are, the proper thing must be done and disciplinary rules must be followed.  This is of course the last resort:  overall, if you are democratic and show respect to others, they respect you too and you have no problem with individual personalities.

 

When there are scandals regarding the Ministry, how do you handle negative publicity from the media?

This is a very interesting question, because often, what the media present may not always be as it seems. A small problem can easily be exaggerated, because media think this will be more interesting for people to read. We have achieved many things at the Ministry concerning Education and Culture, and it is unfortunate that any positive developments do not get the publicity they deserve. I am disappointed in the sense that what is often being presented doesn’t reveal all aspects of the matter.

During my early days as a Permanent Secretary I actually tried to tackle this problem, as I thought that this was because media were not aware of the full story. On one occasion, when they had written something while I was at the other ministry, I called the journalists, and told them “I want to brief you about this, because it appears that there are some things that have been misunderstood”. I then told them all the details regarding the matter. However, on the next day, I saw the same things written once again, without any attention to what I had explained. So I decided that sometimes this problem cannot be tackled. Of course, if something negative is written, we always issue a statement as a Ministry with a view to explaining our own perspective.  If however a real scandal is revealed by the press, which can happen, then we take steps, for example making an investigation, send the result to the Attorney General and follow his advice on the matter. Generally, one has to be calm and cool about negative publicity. This is the only way.

Special Committee: Confessions

To Maria: Are you ok? Cause you look like you fell from heaven.

Daniella is a fancy lady me likeyyy 😉

Russia looks a lot like Merida from Disney’s Brave

Michael’s lisp is the cutest thing ever.

To Chair: “You are having the time of your life aren’t you?”

Chairs’ response: YAS!

“Love it when Egypt speaks”

“Daniella’s dank Russian memes are lit.”

To: Chairs From: China

“Why does Peter Pan always fly? Because he neverlands!”

To: Russia From: China

I gave all my dead batteries away today. Free of Charge.

To: China The invention of the shovel was GROUND BREAKING

If you have a bad day… just think of chocolate, unicorns, kittens, puppies… Now you have a good day

I said to Kass to make her Points of Information shorter so many times that I feel bad now.

Maria is going to EXPLODE if we pass one more clause

To: Chair M From: China Two peanuts were walking down the street. One was a salted :)

After today I’m 100% sure the delegate of the US believes aliens exist and is secretly afraid

To Admin Staff with glasses: Is there something in your eye? On no it’s just a sparkle

Triggered delegates are the best

I wonder how many pens can fit/ be lost in Sana’s hair

Rodoulla looks like the cover album of Queen with that tablet below her face GALILEO GALILEO FIGAROOO!

Seriously wishing I could speak Greek

The delegate of Egypt DOES look very Egyptian

To: Russia From: China :) You heard the rumor going around about batter? Nevermind, I shouldn’t spread it

Loving USA’s red bow – tie

Saudi Arabia looks like a white American football player

UAE U Are Everything

France, what a sass though?!

When Daniella began singing the USSR anthem she was really into it Im SCARED

I love Ivan’s accent please say babys again

From: China To: Chairs Could I have some water… It’s beginning to be too salty over here…

Our Chairs are awsome :)

France was serving sass right and left yesterday. BOY contain yourself

To: Germany Your hair is GOALS

Egypt should get the sassiest delegate award

Delegate of USA is savage!!!

GIIIRLLLL SANA I WISH I HAD HAIR LIKE YOURS. IT’S SO FLUFFYYYY!!! 😀

To: Admin Staff The Russian Federation is extremely remorseful for the large amount of notes

Egypt’s rings are cool

USA is hot – By USA

Can we watch a vine compilation

The beef between France and Egypt is very entertaining

Singapore’s day 2 outfit is on fire

Danae is so cute ^^

Delegate of the UAE is cute

Egypt is a very nice delegate, he seems so friendly and he made very good points.

Maria gets automatically excited when she hears the word veto

I really enjoy the canteen’s food. It’s a huge motivation to get through the day

Egypt looks like a classy drug lord.

From: Russia To: Brazil The mother country greatly appreciates your comments made. Pelmeni wll be sent personally by the Russian Gov. Me encanta mucho!

The temperature is rising in here!

To the female chair: This is the result of you urging us to be meaner!!! (no hate)

I will always love dearly my Muslim partners and respect the holy triad, despite the fact that I have chosen to remain part of the UN.

Dear delegate of Switzerland, I have a reminder for you… delegate, delegate, delegate, delegate, delegate,

The delegate of the USA looks like Leonardo DiCaprio  when he was young except his eyebrows are ON FLEEK!

Can the pieces of brownie be BIGGER please?

The Closing of the 13th Annual Medi.MUN Conference

The delegates and organizers slowly file in and find their seats, the room turns black and a video starts playing, scenes of the opening ceremony, the debates, the efforts of the catering and photography departments. The room breaks into applause, and Mr Lodge, Medi.MUN, senior director takes the stage. After a well – deserved congratulations to the delegates, he takes time to thank everyone involved in the Medi.MUN process; the directors for preparing and bringing their students here, the Medinews and photography team for keeping record of the events, the catering team for keeping everyone well – fed, the students who graduated yet returned for the conference and the Secretarait, for all their work in bringing the Conference to life.

After a beautiful piece on the cello and piano, Secretary General Penelope Ioannou introduces Major General and Force Commander of the UN in Cyprus, Mohammad Humayun Kabir, who comes up to the podium. He states his hope that such events will develop interest in international affairs. He talks about his experience in the UN peacekeeping operations, and points to the Einstein quote: ‘I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones’, a reminder and a warning of the destruction humanity can cause to itself.

He points out the role of the UN in fighting for peace, but also reminds us of the increase in violence after the cold war, and of the humanitarian issues the UN has to come up with solutions to, from conflicts across the world, to climate change, to poverty and desperation.

‘Good news stories are rarely as well covered as disasters’, he says, and talks about the small victories of peace achieved through discussion.

Encouraging such discussions is the role of the MUN conferences, he says, where students take on the role of representing other states to debate and come to a solution with their countries’ views in mind, and he congratulates the delegates for the dedication they have shown, leaving the stage after expressing his hope that this dedication and interest will continue.

After another musical performance, this time of the song ‘Blackbird’, Deputy Secretary General Raphael Ellinas makes his speech. Starting with an anecdote of his random decision to apply for Medi.MUN, and the subsequent decision to try for this position in particular, he talks about the knowledge he has gained. He also takes the time to thank the managers of the organizing committees, the teachers involved in the event, as well as his two fellow directors. ‘Our reward is right here in front of us’, he tells them.

President of General Assembly Mikaelena Kokkinou describes the day as ‘the end of an amazing journey’. She tells the story of her own first Medi.MUN experience, her lack of debating experience, and a journey of self discovery and new memories. She proceeds to thank the organizers, delegates, delegations from abroad, chairs, as well as Mr Lodge and Ms Papadopoulos. and the other two members of the Secretariat, before ending her speech with an inspiring quote by Harriet Tubman: ‘Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world’.

Finally, Secretary General Penelope Ioannou steps up to the podium. She thanks Senior Director Mr Lodge for the work he does every year, and addresses her fellow Secretariat members, saying that ‘When you want to express something for so long, when the time comes, the feeling is overwhelming’. She takes the time to discuss the ‘Me too’ movement, and the bravery of the people who have come forward with their stories. She shares her fear that the sheer amount of stories of harassment who have been told in these past few months will make hearing them ordinary, and her hope that they will never become so and continue leaving an impact every time they are shared. Finishing on with belief that persisting on change results in change taking place, she officially ends this year’s Medi.MUN session to the sound of the audience’s applause.

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Goodbye to the Special Committee!

11.03 a.m: The delegate of Egypt announces the withdrawal of the country from the UN and welcomes any military action. The delegate of Saudi Arabia follows suit, and Egypt announces cooperation with North Korea. The delegate of the USA suggests removing all the clauses suggested by Egypt, but the action is opposed by the Chairs, who find the contributions of the delegate of Egypt important to the debate.

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The delegate of Egypt reinforces his intention to ally with North Korea, and the chaos in the room continues, with Saudi Arabia retracting his stance and choosing to remain in the UN. The Chairs try to calm the room.

Chair Maria Mandritis: We ended on a clause asking for cooperation between nations.

Delegate of the USA: Member nations.

11.29 a.m: The Chairs read out the Committee’s confessions, quickly move through superlatives (Singapoore wins best outfits and France wins Most Likely to become a dictator), and take a last picture together before the Committee officially ends for the year.

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Preventing Child Sexual Exploitation Today

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10.56 a.m: The delegate of Norway passionately delivers her opening speech on the topic of Prevention of Child Sexual Exploitation in the Age of Information and Communication Technology, urging all delegates to vote for this resolution so as to reduce this terrible tragedy from happening to ‘any of these innocent children’.

This is immediately followed by a point of information made by the delegate of Bolivia, drawing attention to clause 4, which refers to reinforcement of sanctions and punishment as a legislation. As the delegate of Bolivia points out, this legislation already exists in the USA.

Delegate of Bolivia: ‘Acknowledging the fact that this legislation has in fact been existing in this world for years now and since then, not only has there been no improvement, but the percentages of child exploitation cases have also dramatically increased, this clause is undoubtedly ineffective and useless.’

11.03: The floor is yielded to the delegate of Thailand. As the delegate asserts, ‘how can we allow a reality like this to continue?’ This is then followed by a point of information made by the delegate of Saudi Arabia, regarding clause 3, who mentions the fact that children may not be able to speak up against these predators.

Against the resolution speaks the delegate of Iran, clearly stating that clause 5 is a disaster.

Delegate of Iran: ‘There are some glaring flaws in this resolution, which completely ignore the reality of what technology has evolved into.’

The delegate then accepts a point of information by Eritrea who wonders if there should be any guidance toward sexual matters, ‘when it comes to kids’. However, the delegate skilfully replies, saying that this form of guidance ‘already exists and it’s called parental guidance’.

The delegate of Belgium is also against this resolution, since as the delegate supports it has nothing combating the psychological grooming of the children and there is no sense of censorship since legal websites, such as YouTube, lack any surveillance.

The delegate of Netherlands, makes another point of information, drawing attention to Clause 3 sub clause a of the resolution, noting that this clause ‘has nothing to do with justice’.

After all points of information are heard and answered the voting procedures begin. With 56 votes against, 20 votes for, and 9 abstentions the resolution does not pass.

Intellectual Property rights for Pharmaceutical patents and technology

11.22 a.m The opening speech is delivered by delegate of Ukraine points of information were made by Jamaica Pakistan DPRK. Jamaica clause 13  we should eliminate this problem and ergo Ukraine agrees. Pakistan’s point of information was regarding operative clause 12; ”how does the delegate propose to achieve these proposals as this doesn’t have methodology?”.

Her answer was ” this would be best for developing countries”

Time for this resolution has elapsed now speaking against this resolution. Surprisingly there were no delegates against it. And so voting procedure time with 55 votes for 13  against and 18 abstains,  the resolution paIMG_3855sses!

Interview with Olga Demetriou, Guest speaker at GA4

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What inspired you to follow this career?

I was interested in how other people live and I wanted to understand society better, but I wanted to understand it from the ground perspective, so that was Anthropology.

What do you do at the Peace Research Institute Oslo?

PRIO Cyprus Centre is a branch of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, we carry out research connected to peace and in Cyprus we focus on aspects of peace building around the Cyprus conflict. We look at issues that are connected to the conflict, we try to analyse what the parameters are and we try to produce information for academics, for the public, for policy makers, that would help make better informed decisions about future peace building.

As someone who researches both refugees and gender equality, how do you think the way society sees women differs between Cyprus and a country like Syria?

I think that gender inequality is an issue across the world. It’s an issue in Norway, it’s an issue in Cyprus, it’s an issue in Syria, and I think what we need to understand is that gender inequality, bad as it is on its own, a lot of the time comes with a host of other inequalities. That also plays into the way which we often see the world. As divided into developed and developing countries, into a Christian West and a Muslim East and so on and so forth. So the question about comparing Cyprus and Syria also falls partly into that gap of seeing some countries as more developed than others in terms of gender equality and so on. What I prefer to concentrate on, is how gender inequalities play out on the local level given the specific of the place in question. So for example in Syria we have a war going on, at the same time we have a process of peace negotiations. And in the process of peace negotiations we have great debates and with the Gender Advisory team in which I’m involved we have invited Syrian women in events to talk about their experiences of the situation in Syria at the moment. We’ve had a conference a couple of years ago that included perspective of this sort and we’ve seen that Syrian women have been very vocal about being included in the peace negotiations, about having their say on the peace table, about having gender inequality being addressed in a new constitution or an agreement. Cypriot women also have been waging similar kinds of struggles so there’s actually a lot that connects the experience of Cyprus and Syria. Cyprus is also in a process of negotiating its own peace and in a process of hearing its own women ask for a place at the table as well so that’s very instructive and it’s always instructive to hear how women are waging their struggles against inequality no matter what place they are from.

What do you think must be done to ensure a prosperous future for refugees?

I think that the place to start is to start talking to refugees and to actually start seeing them as individual human beings with human dignity and political identities who have ideas about their own expectations, their options and their plans and I think we’ll start forming more realistic policies about how those expectations can be met rather than having our own biases dictates about how we treat them.

How do you balance a successful career and a healthy personal life?

With difficulty. (Laughter)

Security council superlatives

  1. Best bromance:  China and Equatorial Guinea
  2. Cutest couple: The Chairs/ Kazakhstan and Russia
  3. Most likely to break your heart: Bolivia
  4. Most likely to end up in prison:UK
  5. Dictator delegate:UK
  6. Best dressed: Kuwait
  7. Funniest: Ivory coast/ Peru
  8. Naughtiest: Peru/China
  9. Most innocent: Netherlands
  10. Sexiest delegate: Sweden
  11. Most likely to become famous: Ivory coast
  12. Most handsome(m):Bolivia
  13. Prettiest(f): Sweden
  14. Best hair: USA
  15. Cutest smile: Sweden
  16. Kindest: Sweden, Ethiopia, Russia
  17. Sleepiest: Bolivia

Security council gets interrupted!

11.09 a.m: During a vital moment in the Security council the Special Committee on Bioethics council burst into the room in order to see if they can kick a permanent member out of the security council. The delegates seemed dissatisfied and confusion was written on all their faces. However, debates are continuing on schedule and the speakers are getting more and more heated as the time passes as all delegate are very invested in the topic of the reform of the security council. In fact, the delegate of Peru even threw a plastic cup on the delegate of the UK’s head during a very heated moment!

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Special Committee: Tensions between France and Egypt rise once more

10.40 a.m: The delegate of Egypt comes up to make a speech for his clause, which calls for the creation of the International Cybernetics and Prosthesis Organisation which would be a branch of the United Nations Development Program. This Organisation would be focusing on the scientific and research aspects of cybernetics and prosthetics, unlike the previously suggested organisation which would focus on the legal side of the issue. The delegate of the USA makes a point of information attacking the clause, calling it vague due to measures to be taken by the proposed organisation like deciding of a stance for countries who do not already have a ‘hard stance’.

10.48 a.m: The delegate of France makes a speech against the clause, enhancing the USA’s point that the clause suggested is vague and irrelevant. Several delegates make points of information, and the tensions in the room rise.

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Delegate of Saudi Arabia: ‘Does the delegate not contradict himself by calling the clause both overly long and vague at the same time?’

Delegate of France: ‘This delegate has already stated that it is the quantity and not the quality that matters.’

Delegate of Russia: ‘You mean the quality and not the quantity.’

 

Delegate of France: ‘Can the delegate make his point in the form of the question?’

Delegate of Egypt: ‘I’m getting there. Wait.’

Chair Maria Mandritis: ‘Whoa!’

 

Chair Maria Mandritis: ‘I was so dead this morning and now I’m so alive!’

The clause passes but is vetoed by France, China and the USA, and France calls for a P 5 caucus, and Chair Andreas Economides returns with news that the P 5 will be consulting the Security Council.

The P5 return after being unable to talk to the Security Council and make an announcement. France states that all the P 5 members will be vetoing the clause, before handing the podium to the delegate of Russia.

Delegate of France: ‘I will leave it to Daniella.’

Delegate of Russia: ‘To me?!’

The P 5 air their grievances with Egypt, but the Chairs stop the debate and move to the last clause, which ironically suggests cooperation between member states. The clause is voted for without a speech, and quickly passes so that Saudi Arabia and Egypt can make an announcement of their own.

Economics of Gender Discrimination

10.20 a.m: The second resolution of the Plenary Session on the topic of the economics of gender discrimination begins.

Clause 2 is highly achievable as it is very adaptable, states the delegate of Russia and goes on to establish clear parameters of casualty estimates. Russia’s delegate delivers a powerful opening speech speech. Gender discrimination remains the second largest violation of human rights.  This resolution aims to increase gender equality through legislative clauses. The delegate of the Russian federation would like to emphasise that it is to the prosperity of everyone to pass this resolution. The debate continues with a point of information by Ukraine asking the delegate to elaborate how they will deal with the issue of Syria and its economic problems of gender discrimination. The floor is yielded to the delegate of Cuba for a defence speech. However, the best part was by farIMG_3120 Germany’s attack speech. Germany’s delegate disagreed firmly with Cuba and Russia, and went on saying: ‘Gender equality is vital, and that the delegates lack the fact that women are hated more than black people by 75%. Moreover, he does not even accept points of information. Lebanon is recognised to make an attack speech right after that with points of information made by Russia asking if the delegate of Lebanon about his awareness on the fact this point is completely irrelevant, completely anti discriminatory.

 

The voting procedure begins. with 33 votes for, 40 votes against and 14 abstains, the resolution clearly does NOT pass!

Interview with Zein Fakhoury (American Community School of Amman, Jordan)

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Have you been in any other MUN conferences?

No this is my first one.

Describe your journey to Cyprus

My journey to Cyprus was very easy actually. The flight was amazing. When entering Cyprus it smelled amazing and there’s a lot of greenery which I really enjoyed because in Jordan we really don’t see a lot of trees and the environment isn’t really good there, but in Cyprus it’s pretty good.

Tell us your favourite thing about your culture back home.

My favourite thing back in Amman is the food. We have a really delicious dish, the main dish of Jordan, it’s called Mansaf and it’s really good.

What’s a typical day at school for you?

A typical day is stressful and fun because I hang out with friends at school. Studying really hard but also having fun.

The Plenary Session Begins!

9.42 a.m: The delegates gather for the beginning of this year’s Plenary Session.

The chairs, Penelope Ioannou and Mikaelena Kokkinou welcome the delegates to the Plenary session and the event starts with the resolution on the question of autonomous weapons.

The delegate of Canada begins delivering her passionate speech on the topic, highlighting that autonomous weapons should be restricted but not limited to LAWs (lethal autonomous weapons) not being significantly intelligent, due to the fact that they lack morality and will never be capable of military honour. The delegate goes on, skilfully answering all points of informations before yielding the floor to Poland, who strives to combat all areas of the issue.

The delegate of Myanmar then steps in to deliver a passionate attack speech, followed by another attack speech from the delegate of Cambodia.

Delegate of Cambodia: ‘This resolution reminds me of the Titanic. It looks great on the outside, but in reality it is doomed to sink to its fall and fail.”

After the auditorium erupts into a heated argument between delegates, the chairs call for an order in the house, before the voting procedures begin. The resolution passes, despite the passionate attack speeches against it.

Special Committee: Congratulations to our delegates!

10.27 a.m: The delegate of the United Arab Emirates defends her clause calling for the creation of Committee on Legal Affairs for Prosthesis and Cybernetics under the Jurisdiction of the international Court of Justice. The Committee would provide member states with guidelines on the development of prosthesis and cybernesis. The delegate of the Russian Federation suggests an amendment, adding that human augmentation for unethical reasons such as physical enhancements, which the delegate of Egypt supports, making a point of information stating the importance of defining the conditions under which human prosthetics can be used. The amendment passes with an overwhelming majority. The debate pauses for a few minutes, for the delegates of Russia and France to receive ‘Best Delegate’ certificates, and congratulations form their peers. The voting resumes for the clause, which passes unanimously.

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GA2 Confesses…


Are you an Arab Dictator? Because you’re starting a political uprising in my pants.

Is it just me, or does the delegate of Azerbaijan look like Bruno Mars?

I am a very tall midget.

Is the delegate of Madagascar one of the penguins?

The topic on space pollution makes no sense to me 

The delegate of Afghanistan is God’s gift to mankind.

I hate the word ‘wholeheartedly’

Is it bad that I’m voting for, without reading the resolution?

The chair is so obsessed with confessions from 14 year old boys, he might as well be a Catholic priest.

Kazakhstan, why does your hair look like the fuzz on a tennis ball?

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Special Committee: Debate paused for a press conference with Egypt and Russia

9.50 a.m: The delegates of Russia and Egypt make a joint press conference before the USA’s clause, pointing out the excessive spending on the military by the USA, and warning for the possibility of future developments such as super-soldiers. The delegate of the USA takes stage to say that the US is not planning to start World War 3, not with exosuits or supersoldiers as suggested by Russia and Egypt. The delegate of Egypt then asks the US if they are preparing for a future alien attack, to which the US responds that they are aware of alien life and are preparing for possible attacks, but do not intend to start a war. Chair Andreas Economides points out that the USA’s plan to prepare for alien invasion is similar to Hitler’s plan to prepare for World War 2, to which the delegate responds that it is also similar to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, eliciting gasps from the room. The press conference starts getting out of hand, and the Chairs bring the discussion to the delegate of the USA’s clause.

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10.02 a.m: The clause in question – which has incidentally been co-submitted by Russia – calls for the creation of a UN-led body called the Human Enhancement Limiting Organisation, which among other things will be in charge of production of prosthetic limbs. The delegate defends his clause, highlighting the importance of measures such as encryption chips in prosthetics to ensure that the function of the limbs will change according to the users’ age and to protect against hacking. The delegate of Russia points out that such chips will be costly, but the delegate of the USA replies that the MUN Special Committee has unlimited funding.

10.13 a.m: Before time against can begin, a picture of E.T. appears on the board. ‘Oh on’, exclaims Chair Andreas Economides, ‘The USA was right.’ After the laughter that follows, the delegate of Egypt steps up to the podium to point out the aggressive nature of some of the President of the USA’s remarks, and suggest that technology in the hands of the USA could be dangerous. He goes on to question the fairness of giving older people limbs that cannot function better than their own limbs would. The vote begins, and the clause ties, with delegates calling for a motion to divide the house, with 5 votes for, 5 against and 4 abstentions. The clause ties again, and does not pass.

Italy and Germany to become permanent members?

9.54 p.m: The first clause of the day concerning the question of Germany and Italy becoming permanent members of the UN. Shortly after, an amendment was made excluding Italy from the clause but the clause has still not passed due to a slim majority. It seems that the day has gotten off to a slow start. Hopefully the next speaker will be more successful!

Humans of MEDIMUN – Daniel Todd (The English School of Kerynia)

Who is your favorite political leader and why?

My favorite political leader is Jacinda Ardern, who’s the prime minister of New Zealand. She was elected quite recently and she’s also quite young, she’s the second youngest prime minister of New Zealand. The reason why I like her so much is because I think it’s awesome that she is really interested in solving many major problems in New Zealand  such as the housing crisis. It is quite specific but as a person from New Zealand it is so important to me. And she’s promised free tertiary education in the first year and an allowance for students has been increased, which is great for meunnamed (11).

Special Committee: Debating operatives

9.30 a.m: With the debate on pre-ambs quickly finished, the delegates move to debating operative clauses. The first clause is Russia’s, endorsing the participation of all member states in competitive events such as the Cybathlon. The delegate of Russia emphasizes the importance of such competitions to give incentives for the member states to improve human mechanics technology. The clause receives unanimous support.

9.34 a.m: Next is a clause by the delegate of France, that requests an increase in funding by the UN of hospitals treating medically impaired patients in developing countries. The delegate makes an emotive speech, highlighting the difficulty that people in developing countries to afford prosthetics, or even trips to and from the hospital.

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The delegate of Switzerland points out that the extra funding would not help countries and areas that do not have the expertise regarding prosthetics, but the delegate of France responds that the extra funding would encourage developing countries to expand their knowledge and equipment. The delegate of Egypt submits an amendment, adding a sub-clause that would allow the hospitals that would receive the funding to conduct their own research.  The delegate of Germany makes a point of information, saying that corruption in some developing countries may affect the usage of funds. to which Egypt replies that although it is a problem, further clauses could deal with it. The amendment passes unanimously, as does the clause, without Chair Maria Mandritis noticing.

Chair Maria Mandritis: ‘Wait we have to pass the amendment.’

Chair Andreas Economides: ‘We did.’

Chair Maria Mandritis: ‘The amendment and the clause?’

Chair Andreas Economides: ‘Yeah.’

Chair Maria Mandritis claps delightedly.

Humans of MEDIMUN – Ilya Razinkin (The Grammar School Limassol)

Who’s your favorite political figure and why?

”My personal Leader and perhaps my own hero is definitely Abraham Lincoln. As you know his drive, passion and determination for the abolition of slavery not only influenced the West , Europe but also influenced the East. Really he is the most legendary individual known in History. For the 16th president of the United States, a lot of things were made after him. For me he is just incredible.”

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Just a few punishments to start the day in GA4!

9.21 p.m: The beginning of day three in GA4, the delegate of Canada arrived late. He had to start dancing to the rhythms of ‘Wannabe’ alongside the delegate of the USA. In addition he sang the lyrics of ‘Despacito’ in Spanish.

Furthermore,  the chairs get the punishment they deserved from being late yesterday by Michael dancing to rhythm of Dancing Queen and Eliza singing, as they even take their shoes off.

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Special Committee: A dynamic beginning to the day

9.17 a.m: Punishment for the delegate of the USA is to butt spell ‘Russian Federation’ to the tune of the USSR national anthem, to which the delegate of Russia sings along.

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9.18 a.m: The debate of topic 2 resumes with a clause by Germany, which calls for the arrangement of a specialized scientific committee of scientists, medical professionals and other relevant persons that will work alongside the World Health Organisation to monitor genome editing. With no speeches against, voting begins and the clause passes with 13 votes for and 1 amendment.

9.20 a.m: Topic 2 ends and topic 3, human mechanics begins with a press conference with IBC (International Bioethics Committee). The delegate of Egypt, taking on the role of the representative points out the lack of information that the public has regarding the issue, leading to vagueness and hesitation, as well as the dangers of leaving new technology solely in the hands of the military, bringing up the example of the atomic bomb (IBC representative: ‘Thank you America’).

9.26 a.m: The debate begins on a pre-amb by Russia, noting the participation of 25 nations in the world’s first Cybathlon. The pre-amb passes unanimously, and France takes the stage to defend his pre-amb acknowledging the financial burden of prosthetics.

Interview with Susana Elisa Pavlou, Guest speaker at GA2

What inspired you to pursue your career?

”I don’t think there is one particular person that inspired me. I think that I -through the course of your life- there are many people that come in and sort of lead your or push you along that path. That was probably sort of predetermined, but I would say that they are all women. If I had to point to one person I’d say that it was my mother because she was a fighter who overcame extreme challenges that had a lot to do with gender equality. But I think I always had a strong sense of justice and I came across professors, friends, mentors in my life that were huge inspiration to me. I cannot point to one, except my mum.”

Who’s your role model?

”My mum is my role model. But I’ve got a lot of role models. One example – you know one thing I keep saying to myself and my colleagues- is that women need to be braver and the first woman I heard this from is a radical feminist called Julie Bindel who will be in Cyprus on Wednesday evening talking about prostitution and violence against women and she always says that women need to be braver. I think that a lot of women often do not speak up as well as a lot of men do not speak up about injustice. That’s kind of something I always had in my mind. That we must be braver, I must be braver in order to speak out and take action. This is often associated with risk, that people might disagree with you, people might attack you for your opinions but we must be brave if we want to see change in the world.”

What do you think is the biggest problem women in Cyprus face ?

”That’s a difficult one. Again I can’t give higher priority to such issues. How can I say that violence against women is not as serious as women’s economic independence? I said it in my speech and I’ll say it again all forms of inequality are related. But I would say that something that is a part of all issues is women in decision-making positions in all sectors including political and economic. I think that would have an impact on policy and legislation across the board and benefit women. ”

Any upcoming projects with the Mediterranean institute of Gender Studies?

 ”We have many many many projects. I would say in terms of we always accept volunteers. Mostly our projects have to do with research and raising awareness. But we have public events. One example is the event on the 14th of February 2018 where we have invited a very prominent feminist, Julie Bindel. Everyone is welcome to attend. It’s very important that men and women attend many of these events to raise awareness.”

Interview with Sarah Eltell (American Community School of Amman, Jordan)

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Have you been to other MUN conferences in other countries before? How is this one different from those?

I’ve been to two THIMUN conferences in Qatar and one local conference in Dubai. This is the first time I met people from Cyprus, that’s pretty obvious, and it’s really global, there’s a lot of students from all around the world, which is big.

Describe your journey to Cyprus

The school proposed the idea of going to Cyprus for MUN and I was really intrigued by that, because Cyprus has always been a place I wanted to visit, so I signed up for it. The journey was an hour flight, I got to know my classmates better, learn a bit of Greek.

Tell us your favourite thing about your culture back home.

The culture in Jordan is very family-based, every weekend we meet with family, there’s like 20 people in one room. The food is also a major part of the culture, the traditional food with rice, meat and all that. We speak Arabic in Jordan, which is the main language. Other than that, it’s a very diverse and accepting culture because we have a lot of international residents in Jordan.

What’s a typical day at school for you?

A typical day at school is going in the morning, meeting with friends before class, working on different projects. I’m in the yearbook so I work for things in the yearbook and we take pictures. Cause we’re seniors we do a lot of things around school.

 

Confessions in HSC

9.30 a.m: ‘I see you dazing off there during the debate North Korea what did you do last night?’

‘Is the delegate of France single? Oh la la.’

‘So many hurt parts in this committee, eyes, thumbs’

‘Well…Sofia the admin’s kinda cute’

‘How did you get out of Iraq? Iran’

‘The delegate of UK has beautiful huge blue eyes’

And so much more…

Interview with Carsten Lederer, Guest speaker at Special Committee on Bioethics

What are some Bioethics concerns you have to think about in particular in your area of research?

Well, the risk – benefit analysis is a major concern because I don’t work on permanent correction of the germline or in neutral lethal diseases so we normally deal with adolescents or adults in therapy and there the concern is you know, is the risk justified by the benefit that the patient gets. In Cyprus in particular because you have disease management which is very successful so even the conventional treatment of bone marrow transplantation is not taken up for most Cypriot patients but that’s also because it’s not available here. You have to go abroad to do it. But it’s also because they feel that the management regiment is safe. So do you want to put them through you know this kind of treatment and the danger of developing cancer later on against them having a reasonable life at the moment. That is of course not my decision, but that is something that is relevant. The other point is how to get things effective against how to get things safe. Initially there was a huge discussion for thalassemia about whether we should give complete chemotherapy, and now it turns out that yes we should. But the initial discussion was you know, thalassemia is not lethal, with management, so we should just mildly do that, which is safer, but is probably not efficient and then you might as well not do the therapy at all. So for these type of concerns you’re going to know the answer with time, when you get the data in from those initial experiments.

You mentioned that when it comes to Bioethics, you are not only concerned about the possible effects of using a particular technique, but also about the effects of not implementing it. Could you expand on that? 

Well if you don’t provide a therapy at all, for some patients, they die, because while management is good in Cyprus, it’s not that widely developed so it’s not available in other countries. And while you may not be able to treat every patient there, maybe you will be able to help some of them doing this. So providing therapies is an obligation, and that’s something we work for so you always have to balance this, you know, the dangers like what if editing the germline endangers them in the future or opens the floodgate for society going for wider applications, for cosmetic research and so on, against the responsibility you have towards the patient who has a right to be treated with the best treatment available.

Could you tell us about Global Globin 2020? What is the goal and what is being done right now?

Our laboratory has the biggest, most important database on hemoglobinopathies worldwide, that’s the Ithanet Portal, and we got involved with Global Globin 2020 because the project is about mapping mutations in thalassemia in different countries. It was created by the Human Variome Project and they’re inherently interested in human variations and single nucleotide polymorphisms and they saw that our data base was probably the best around for this kind of analysis and for integrating data. The Human Variant Project is based in Australia and on these molecular aspects and they see  that now that the genome has been completely sequenced they plan from being molecular focused on being diagnostic and societal focused, to now apply the knowledge we’ve gained as benefit to society. So Global Globin 2020 wants to apply the technologies available to us also to low and middle – income countries. There are 40 countries involved already with representatives in the project. At the moment it’s all on finding money. Different organisations fund for network meetings and so on and the idea is that we actually implement the modern countries’ centers of excellence from which then we can start implementing similar diagnostic centers and screening programs also in other countries. The focus there is on Africa for Sickle Cell Disease and on South East Asia for thalassemia, because there’s huge poverty there, low income generally and absence of prevention programs, that cause huge suffering.

Other than thalassemia and sickle cell disease, what are other areas where you’d be interested in seeing the application of genome editing?

Well genome editing can also be used to do research. So you can knock out stuff and find out what it does basically. The classic approach was to look at mutants and see the phenotype and then find out what causes the phenotype and the mutation to take place. Now it’s the other way around, we can do reverse genetics and introduce a mutation and you know where and what takes place so you can chart the phenotype, so you can confidently map things. You can find out what different things do. Because our department is the thalassemia department so we really look at thalassemias and rare anemias. There are more diseases that also affect your blood, which affect a smaller proportion of people, that are much more diverse and one of the scientific programs we’ve proposed now is to look into other rare anemias. Of course, worldwide thalassemia is still rare, only in Cyprus and European countries, so we could also look at other anemias that can be treated with similar types of methods.