Congratulations to Victoria Yong, a sophomore at Franklin High School, for winning the RUMUN 2010 Writing Contest. Not only was Victoria's winning entry published in IDIA's magazine, "EMPOWERED by IDIA," but Victoria also received a scholarship to attend any IDIA conference of her choice. Picking PhilMUN 2011, Victoria will represent Ireland in the United Nations Office for Project Services committee. See Victoria's entry below:
Crisis Cultureby Victoria Yong
"How will you fund this plan?" is a popular question in Model U.N. Overused as it may sound in simulated debate, it’s significant to the real circumstances which the international community presently faces. Today, it’s becoming increasingly hard to come up with a legitimate response to that inquiry because of one massive blockade: the global economic crisis. The recession shifts the world’s focus away from social, cultural, and humanitarian issues and can even cause them. Since money is scarcer, aid for these causes are as well.
With fewer resources, individuals are less willing to give away part of what they have to relief efforts. In fact, one is fortunate to have a job and a steady income in this economy. Charity is an exclusive privilege for developed countries while developing countries focus on getting out of poverty. According to the Red Cross Red Crescent, governments are more occupied with trying to end the economic crisis than dealing with the consequences from it. There is a lack of investment in nonprofit organizations and social services because political figures are already spending trillions of dollars on stimulus packages to fix the economy. This is not to say that humanitarianism is dead—it’s simply lower on the global list of priorities.
The low global economy triggers human rights abuses and less response to them. Drawing upon this, the reason why certain social issues spring up is because of the recession. Child labor, begging, and piracy stem from the peoples’ need to survive. Myanmar does not have enough money to allot to its population. As a result, the Burmese riot for better conditions, though the government cannot achieve this. Far worse off are the nations that rely on military power and trafficking to sustain their fragile economies. Colombia’s GDP and paramilitaries lean heavily on the narcotics trade and Myanmar uses child soldiers to assert control over shaky ground. Over 27 million victims of human trafficking circulate the globe. Individuals resort to crime and putting their lives at risk when no other financial options are available. Crime rates increase when money, food, shelter, and health care dwindle.
Multiple world problems are intertwined with the economic crisis. At this rate, the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) may never be accomplished. The economic crisis deters their success. How does one expect to end world hunger, provide universal education, and stop the spread of AIDS with little to no funding for these programs? It is difficult to fulfill these lofty goals in five years when the world is currently struggling with the one crisis that binds them together.
Poverty fuels discrimination in all forms. Some countries deny certain groups rights and education because there is not enough money to supply everyone in the nation. Deep-rooted cultural biases play a part in who some governments distribute welfare to. They believe it’s unnecessary to spend on "inferior" ethnic groups or women. This in turn marginalizes groups and establishes a pecking order in the country’s culture, thus creating a cycle of poverty for these groups. In the wake of the global economic crisis, national governments are more inclined to focus on securing their wealth rather than giving equal rights to its citizens. Class divisions have become more prevalent due to the economic crisis. Those who are impoverished stay below the poverty line. It is more difficult to get out of poverty than to become poor.
There is still hope. Just because the world has less money than before does not mean that it ignores non-financial problems altogether. Nations find their own grassroots solutions to social, cultural, and humanitarian issues. To name a few, Argentina’s Gleducar organization gives free software to its schools and recycles computers to avoid the extra cost of educational supplies. The United States’ plethora of student activist groups raise funds and awareness about human rights causes. Japan sponsors overseas programs to promote understanding of Japanese culture. If each country contributes its part to solve a problem, then the international community would have eliminated it altogether. Despite the harsh economic climate, people still give to charity, although though it is more concentrated among the wealthier population. Also, the United Nations drafts small, cost-effective solutions which serve as steps leading up to long-term goals.
The United Nations cannot expect to solve world issues if the world does not have the means to support it. The recession deeply shook the foundation of society and hindered its ability to give. A smaller economy limits a nation’s capacity to address social, cultural, and humanitarian issues. The economic crisis may have delayed the world’s progress in these areas, but smaller solutions will ensure their long-term improvement and sustain the international community into the future and beyond.