By Melina Joseph
NATO and the Arctic, NGO Forum and Safety
Today marked the discussions within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union NGO Forum. NATO focused on areas of sustainability, while the NGO Forum discussed ways in which the localization of combined organization efforts could work effectively.
This morning, a Russian representative appeared in front of the NATO committee to respond to concerns regarding militarization in the Arctic. They decidedly alluded to a quid pro quo situation: Russia would only demilitarize certain areas if NATO agreed to do the same. Such demands led fellow delegates to debate the merits of incentivizing Russia to act as an ally.
Most delegates felt as though implementing advantageous policies would show Russia the benefits of lowering their navy in the Arctic. While ambiguous, trade deals were agreed upon as an effective way to cooperate. Additionally, the theme of sustainability served as a guide for the institution of eco-friendly ships, with travel limitations dictated by UN law.
For a period of time, it appeared as though one bloc wished for Russia to join NATO. However, this idea was soon discarded and the cohort of delegates decided to focus on reducing tensions instead. Their main plan has been to create a joint academic research facility on land in both Norway and Russia. The motivation for this plan was a recall of collaborative endeavours such as the International Space Station.
The delegate of Turkey, who supported the joint facility plan, suggested that tensions were not as high as they might appear. “Russia has helped Turkey economically over the past year or so,” she stated. “As we develop better connections, we find that Russia is not as aggressive as they seem to be.”
In the NGO Forum, delegates grappled with the idea of centralizing and organizing efforts to combat the epidemic spreading across Eastern Europe. Many agreed that immediate medical research was needed, with delegates representing NGOs such as the Human Rights Watch recommending that experts be sent to affected areas for statistical work.
The delegate for International Partnership for Worker’s Rights recognized the critical nature of the matter at hand but asserted, “We need to put the safety of our workers first.” The representative felt that the government was aware of the impact of the epidemic, and so it was necessary for NGOs to communicate effectively with them.
The delegate for Transparency International agreed, finding that it was best for the safety of workers to be ensured in order to do the most effective work. Determining safe zones for aid and relief workers would be their priority.
The delegate for Global Citizens, which is known for their concerts that advocate for refugee crises, poverty, and other areas of concern, stated that the organisation would be willing to advocate for epidemic through a concert.
The differences among humanitarian and non-humanitarian organizations could not be more pronounced, yet their desire to consolidate resources and efforts highlights a drive to curb the epidemic. Such a drive provides hope in this time of devastation.