Independent Commission of Experts: Switzerland's Armed Neutrality 

Committee Chair, Sammi Chan, talks to The Emissary about the Bergier Commission

By Petros Kwan, Journalist

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Next week, delegates from around the world will be attending the North American Model United Nations conference, held at the University of Toronto. This year, the conference consists of sixteen committees, debating on a number of political issues. One such committee, the Independent Commission of Experts, otherwise known as the Bergier Commission, will investigate Switzerland’s domestic and international policies during the World War II. Policies discussed include the refugee policies of Switzerland, Swiss foreign trade relations, and asset transactions with Nazi Germany.

Committee Chair, Sammi Chan, tells The Emissary more about herself, the committee and the preparations in the run-up to the conference.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Malaysia, grew up in Hong Kong, spent a while in Switzerland and Malaysia, before coming to Canada to attend high school in Hamilton, Ontario. I guess that you can say that I am like rojak*. When I am stressed, I like to go to Early Bird Brew on Queen Street West to read and have a coffee. Check it out if you don’t mind surly service! My friends and I also run a viral Instagram food account - follow us at @foodventurer.to. I think there’s a constant food theme running through my life here.

Give us a rundown of your Model UN experience.

I started doing MUN in grade 12. My first conference was Change the World MUN at the UN headquarters in New York City. It was one of the craziest moments of my life - it gave me the ambition to become a UN committee chair one day. It was also one of my more embarrassing moments - I fell asleep while listening to one of the keynote speakers (world politics is hard work). In my first year at UofT, I was the vice director for the World Health Organization committee at UTMUN, and also a crisis analyst at NAMUN2017. NAMUN 2018 is my first time chairing, and I am very excited!

Let’s get down to business. What is the Bergier Committee?

The Bergier committee focuses on investigating the extent of Switzerland's involvement in WWII. Reputedly neutral, Switzerland was covertly involved in dealings with Nazi Germany. We will also be looking at Swiss involvement in depositing Nazi war loot, as well as Swiss crimes against humanity.

How do you ensure that things run smoothly in the committee? Run us through the preparation process.

Our team has been working really hard to make sure the committee will run smoothly. We have been holding simulations weekly to test out crisis materials.

What are your expectations of the delegates? Do you have words of wisdom before the conference begins?

Not only do I hope that delegates will find this committee academically challenging and stimulating, but I also hope they will have a lot of fun! This committee is about working together to creating our own ICE report. It will be hard, but myself and the crisis team believe that it will be a memorable committee! On behalf of all the staff in the ICE, we wish every delegate the best of luck and we can't wait to meet you guys!

One last question - as a foodie, what would your last meal be?

Any meal cooked by my mum, with bubble tea.

The NAMUN conference will be held at the University of Toronto from the 22nd to the 25th of February. Read more of the Emissary’s coverage on this year’s committees here.

*rojak is a popular Malaysian street food that incorporates a huge variety of fruit and vegetables that come together with peanut sauce to create a savoury salad. To be rojak is to be a product of many diverse experiences.