Student Voices: On the Ground at the Model United Nations ConferenceFebruary 23rd, 2012 | Posted by in Events | Student Voices | Students
Endicott Junior Pieter Bednar is the head delegate for Endicott’s Model United Nations (MUN) team. He studies Sport Management and has lived overseas his whole life. Pieter has been participating in MUN for 8 years, and this is his 14th MUN conference.
Read on for Pieter’s man-on-the-ground account of the Model UN Conference , which took place last week in Boston.
Things started out with us traveling into Boston for our conference, changing into our business attire and then waiting for the opening ceremony. The opening ceremony never ceases to amaze me, as there are numerous different cultures, ethnicities, schools and countries represented. What was utter chaos as everyone filed into the ballroom to the sounds of Avicii was blaring over the speakers, soon became people enthralled by the keynote speaker of the opening ceremony, Lawrence Summers. Lawrence Summers is a renowned American economist who was the President of Harvard when Mark Zuckerberg was there developing Facebook. This was followed by everyone heading off to their separate committee rooms to set the agenda for the weekend.
Our delegates were spread throughout the Park Plaza, from the regal Imperial Ballroom and the Castle to the little Emerson breakout room. The General Assembly committees included the Disarmament and International Security committee, the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural committee, the Special Political and Decolonization committee, the Legal committee, World Health Organization, Special Summit on Non-Discrimination, and Historical General Assembly of 1956. The Economic and Social Council Committees include the UN Human Rights Council, World Intellectual Property Organization, and Global Health Cluster. We also have a representative in the Specialized agency committee of the 1991 Historical Security Council.
The first night is focused on discussing which of the two topics in each committee should be placed first on the agenda. As trivial an aspect as this may seem, it oftentimes is some of the most heated debate because chances are the second topic won’t be discussed at all over the course of the weekend, and therefore everyone wants to discuss the topic that applies the most to their delegation.
Overall, the popular topic in all the committees seemed to be topic A:
- In the Disarmament and International Security committee, this was on Hezbollah and Hamas.
- In the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural committee, this was on Humanitarian intervention.
- In the Special Political and Decolonization, this was on the Effects of Radiation and Nuclear Safety.
- In the UN Human Rights Council, this was on Third-Generation Human Rights.
- In the World Intellectual Property Organization, this was on Access to Knowledge.
- In the Global Health Cluster, this was on the Crisis in Libya.
- In the 1991 Historical Security Council, this was on the Somali Civil War.
- In the World Health Organization, this was on the Double Burden of Disease.
- In the Special Summit on Non-Discrimination, this was on Sexual Discrimination.
- In the Legal committee, this was on Revision of the Geneva Conventions in the Role of War
In the 1956 Historical General Assembly there is only one topic, which is focused on the Hungarian Revolution.
After committee sessions got out at 10:30 that night, we all went back to our rooms, got comfortable and spent the night socializing with fellow delegates at the Casino night they hosted, or just spending time together hanging out.
This morning, most of our team took advantage of the one day that HNMUN has scheduled to allow us to sleep in. For those of us who were brave enough to wake up early, there was an international career and study abroad fair with information on numerous opportunities to study abroad and potentially find a job abroad.
What was great news for our team was that two of our delegates, Mariah Scanlon and Amon Pacasew from the World Health Organization, are actually one of the main sponsors for a resolution, so we had a meeting this morning starting at 8:00 with members from Africa and Latin America in order to fine-tune their paper and get it introduced onto the floor this afternoon. Committee doesn’t start until 1:30 this afternoon, but it is sure to be some of the most interesting debate as working papers are introduced for the first time.
Throughout the day as I moved from committee to committee, listening in on debates, a couple of things really stuck with me. One of the things that intrigued me the most was the lack of knowledge about a given country’s policy. This was most evident in the 1991 Security Council where the Chinese delegation was openly encouraging the development of a democracy in Somalia. Even more shocking was the wish of the USSR and the United States to impose an arms embargo on the region, where the majority of arms in the conflict were secured from these two nations.
On the lighter note, one thing that was funny to watch was a delegate in the Legal committee quoting the forever-eloquent Michael Jackson’ “Man in the Mirror” during a debate on the definition of terrorism and what should be included in the scope of terrorism. Overall, during debate today, each committee has had numerous working papers brought to the floor, with some committees having as many as 13 working papers!
In the evening, HNMUN had organized a delegate cocktail hour to allow for delegates to mingle in a more social environment. For those of us who were 21, it was possible to buy drinks, however it was quite out of the question when a beer costs $7 and a mixed drink was $9. Just goes to show how everything is overpriced in Boston! The neat part of the evening was seeing people from international schools being dressed in their national dress, making for quite a colorful environment.
Saturday brings the introductions of resolutions, which is the first step to passing a solution on the given topic, and can often times take numerous hours to debate a single resolution.
Immediately, my first observation is the shocking amount of delegates that are missing from committee this morning. In the Imperial Ballroom, where there is a committee of almost 300, there were perhaps only half of the delegates present. Some of the notable countries that were not present include the African Union, Council of Europe, Czech Republic, Denmark, European Union, Finland, Germany, DPR Korea, Lebanon, Morocco, and the Netherlands. This lack of delegates was the case in many of the committees; however they did slowly trickle in as the morning progressed.
There were numerous resolutions introduced in each committee with a lot of debate as well. However, not everything was as serious as it could be, with some light moments in all of the committees. In the Global Health Cluster when it was time for the “Italian Prime Minister” to give a speech, he came with four of his lady friends and actually gave a rose to a female in the committee (who just so happened to be our very own Ronnie Frohm).
After lots of fruitful debate our session was done for the day, so our entire team gathered at Vapiano’s for dinner. This was a nice way for all of us to interact in a casual setting while enjoying a nice meal (on the college, nonetheless, thanks Endicott!). Good Italian food was had by all, and was an enjoyable experience for everyone and a good closure to the weekend.
At this point it was time to head back to the hotel and rest up and get ready for the ever-popular HNMUN dance. The room where the dance was held was extremely packed, making it very difficult to breath, let alone move. The team stuck together pretty well, making sure we all had a good time before heading back to our rooms for the night, hot, sweaty, and tired.
This morning we collected all our belongings in Prof. Nastasi’s room, as we all had to checkout while we were in committee and he had a late checkout room. We then met in the lobby to take a team picture. Took us a little while to get this all going, so we technically left for committee late, but everyone was running a little late due to the dance on Saturday night.
The committee sessions this morning had aspects of seriousness to them as all committees attempted to pass resolutions, but once that was done all order was lost as they tried to lighten the moods. In some committees, superlatives were given; in others they had mini talent shows for the delegates in the committee. Overall, it was a successful weekend with our delegates being involved on the majority of resolutions that did pass, having an influence on the shape of the conference as a whole.
Unfortunately we didn’t take any awards home with us this year, with the majority of the awards going to University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Florida International University, and a slew of schools from Venezuela. At the culmination of the closing ceremony we were all happy to head back to school (if not quite looking forward to making up the work that we had missed!).
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