On the weekend of February 23 to 26, 2017, hundreds of participants from around the world gathered at the Lord Elgin Hotel, in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, to take part in the 14th Canadian International Model United Nations (CANIMUN 2017). Since its inception in 2003, CANIMUN has brought thousands of bright, motivated young people together to discuss and debate some of the world’s most pressing issues. CANIMUN, which is an initiative of the United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada) and is committed to delivering on its goal of growing global citizens, was proud to welcome participants from 4 different continents this year.
CANIMUN 2017 started its Opening Ceremonies with a bang, thanks to a series of unique presentations from an inspiring lineup of guest speakers. Senator Thanh Hai Ngo delivered a riveting address, outlining his experiences and perspectives as a refugee, diplomat, and politician. Next, Sarah Fountain Smith, the Assistant Deputy Minister for Global Issues and Development in Canada, spoke about the country’s role in the ever-changing global diplomatic sphere. Finally, Dalia Alix spoke about her experiences as a youth delegate to the United Nations.
Before the start of committee sessions on Friday morning, delegates had the chance to take part in CANIMUN’s signature Embassy Visits Programme, which allows them to visit an Embassy or High Commission in the Ottawa area. During these visits, delegates had the opportunity to meet with diplomats and embassy staff to discuss multilateral relations and foreign affairs. These visits are a unique part of the CANIMUN experience and are possible because the conference is held in Canada’s capital city, which hosts over 125 embassies and high commissions.
Concurrently with the Embassy Visits, delegates had the opportunity to take part in a Diplomatic Briefing hosted by UNA-Canada, where they were able to gain insight into Canada’s own foreign affairs. Diplomatic officials from Global Affairs Canada were present to discuss and answer questions on international relations, diplomatic affairs and their experiences in the foreign service.
Once familiarized with that glimpse of diplomats’ experience, delegates headed to committee session. Over the years, CANIMUN has worked to create the most realistic simulation possible of United Nations bodies, in order to facilitate an engaging and impactful experience for delegates. This is facilitated through a committee lineup consisting exclusively of UN bodies, and rules of procedure designed to mimic the UN as closely as possible. CANIMUN 2017 featured a unique and dynamic lineup of committees, including one committee held in French. In the United Nations General Assembly First Committee, delegates discussed the implications of technological development on international security, while delegates in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees committee crafted plans to end statelessness and to distribute the influx of refugees among member states.
For the first time at CANIMUN, two committees featured crisis elements. The United Nations Security Council, a specialized agency with crisis elements, focused on the topics of global terrorism and the situation in Syria. It was also impacted by constant crisis developments including a missile misfire by Egypt into Saudi Arabia which spawned a diplomatic crisis, and an interrogation of a lone wolf terrorist who was captured in Italy. Meanwhile, the International Court of Justice, which examined the cases of Certain Iranian Assets (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America) and Immunities and Criminal Proceedings (Equatorial Guinea v. France), was tasked with an impromptu case to resolve, related to the United Nations Security Council crisis.
After the first day of committee session, delegates were able to unwind at the conference’s formal social event, where they discussed with other delegates over small bites, drinks and a live music performance at the conference venue itself. The night continued at the conference’s pub night at D’Arcy McGee’s, where casual mingling met discounted drinks. The following evening, CANIMUN held committee dinners for delegates, giving them an opportunity to connect with their peers and staff members over a good meal. Later that night, delegates had an eco-friendly blast at CANIMUN’s club night, dancing the night away at a club with no carbon footprint.
To wrap up, our Dais members and Crisis Directors from around the world distributed Best and Outstanding Delegate, Honorable Mention and Best Position Paper awards to the delegates that best exhibited diplomacy and collaborative problem-solving skills in each committee. Concordia University received the Best Large Delegation award, while Carleton University received the Best Small Delegation award.
CANIMUN provides an outlet for delegates’ voices to be heard beyond the committee room. Although delegates leave Ottawa and go home at the end of the conference, their ideas carry over into real-life discussions and debate on important issues facing the world. As an initiative of the United Nations Association in Canada, CANIMUN has access to a broad network of organizations, diplomatic officials, stakeholders and other parties. Resolutions and debates from the conference are often passed on to policy-makers and stakeholders at all levels. In an age where the ideas of young people are valued more than ever before, delegates should be proud that their ideas will be heard outside of the committee room and will have a lasting impact on the world around them.