The Fight over Oil

The Black Gold Cooperation

MUN is a popular educational simulation where students imitate conferences in the United Nations and learn diplomacy and international relations skills. At Sri Kumaran Children’s Home, we hosted the first day of the first KMUN since the lockdown. People say that MUNs attract leaders, but another perspective accurately says that MUNs make leaders. 

Black Gold or crude oil is an invaluable commodity and resource. In 1958, oil was swiftly becoming the most valuable energy source. However, some countries had abundant oil, while others depended on the oil-rich countries. These relationships sparked many political wars between oil-rich countries and superpowers such as the USA, the UK and the USSR. Power over the oil trade was priceless as whoever controlled the ‘Black Gold’ managed the world’s most valuable resource.

The Black Gold Cooperation, one of the ten committees in the KMUN, transports us back to the 1st February 1958 when the superpowers, the USA, the UK and the USSR, were trying to prevent the nationalisation of oil companies in the oil-rich Middle Eastern countries. 

Session 1 of the committee commenced with the countries specifying why oil was crucial. The delegates of the USA and UK argued that the Middle Eastern countries needed them as these countries were underdeveloped or developing. They stated that the Middle East did not have the finance and technology to extract and refine the oil to sell on the global market. The delegates of the oil-producing countries reiterated that the imperialist countries controlled oil prices even though the Middle East owned the oil. The session recessed for lunch, with the delegates seeking each other out to discuss new terms and alliances.

After a short break, Session 2 was kicked off with the Delegate of Zaire proposing a motion to discuss the need for an organisation to control the oil trade. Many countries agreed upon a corporation or an organisation to control the oil trade, putting forth compelling arguments. Superpowers argued for an organisation comprising both the producers and consumers of oil, while the Middle Eastern countries agreed. They stated that the superpowers’ influence is limited to prevent the exploitation of poorer countries. The Middle Eastern countries also specified that the terms for oil trading be stated by them and not by the superpowers. But, the delegate of Brazil seemed to disagree. Her controversial opinion stated that the creation of an organisation would supply more money to Middle Eastern countries, which in turn may be used to fund the growing terrorism there, and subsequently received harsh criticism and backlash.

The first day of KMUN ended with a bang, with the Head of the International Press Corps questioning the delegates about their statements over the sessions. He brought up the USA’s alliance with Israel which seemed to have been overlooked by the Delegate of the USA. He also put forward the question of how the Islamophobic American citizens would react to the US president striking deals with Islamic countries. He scrutinised the statements made by the delegate of Brazil, who generalised the Middle Eastern countries as terrorists, forcing the delegate of Brazil to retract her statement. The Delegate of Qatar was interrogated against her comments about a scenario when oil would no longer be important to countries, and therefore suggesting to limit investments made in oil, despite Qatar’s petroleum contributing to a significant part of its economy and the world’s export. The committee soon adjourned for the day, with all the delegates bustling with excitement regarding the turn of events and the exuberant nature of the sessions.