Political Squabbling at the UNHCR

Emma Doherty for THE AUSTRALIAN

As today’s debate draws to a close, one thing is clear enough: some kind of a resolution will be eventually reached, but only if politically-motivated arguments between the different nations are limited, and some substantive decisions are made.

References have been repeatedly made to pre-existing political divisions between the countries. Venezuela, for example, repeatedly brought up the US’s ‘imperialist’ attitudes to the South American continent.

Tensions were repeatedly hinted at between most of the nations on the committee with Israel and Russia, with regards respectively to the Palestinian-Israeli and Russia-Ukrainian conflicts currently affecting the world political stage.

However the most unexpected of political tensions that arose was between Sweden and the UK. Sweden has pushed for compassionate consideration in assessing whether displaced peoples are valid refugees in line with international law.

Proposing a resolution containing this, Sweden recommended that this resolution would potentially include accepting persons who have been persecuted in their native countries due to their sexual orientation, a policy which it has itself already implemented.

The UK however accused Sweden of being ‘idealistic’ in this approach and disregarded Sweden’s request to extend the international definition of asylum seeker to extend to those seeking for asylum from sexual orientation-motivated persecution.

Russia made no comment.

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