From April 16 – 19, the rural landscape of Ithaca, NY was cloaked in the spirit of debate as approximately 700 delegates attended Cornell University’s XIII Cornell Model United Nations Conference (CMUNC).
Opening ceremonies took place in Cornell’s Bailey Hall, and the keynote speaker for this event was Ravi Karkara, the Global Advisor on Youth for UN-HABITAT and the Strategic Adviser for the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women. Throughout the weekend, delegates simulated one of seventeen committees which ranged from the traditional General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament and Security to the fast-paced Knights of the Round Table.
Following an intense first day, delegates had some time to relax while attending Model UN Training sessions and touring the premises of Cornell University on Friday morning. Advisors themselves also took a breather, as they had the opportunity to attend a Seminar by CMUNC’s Keynote Speaker shortly before their students’ second sessions on Friday afternoon.
This year, CMUNC’s Secretariat continued the popular Jar Wars to fundraise money for the conference’s selected charity, Room to Read. The staff also sold CMUNC-themed t-shirts, lanyards, stickers and the ever-present candy grams, which sold fast in between committee meetings!
As another special feature, CMUNC partnered with the popular “Collegetown Bagels” to create “The Peacekeeper”, a sandwich especially designed to raise funds for the conference’s charity. For every “Peacekeeper” sold, $1 would be donated to “Room to Read”, which explains the delegate-ridden lines at the popular college venue.
Below are some highlights of this conference’s innovative committees:
Friday, April 17
Committee Session II | Security Council
A Model UN conference would hardly be complete without the inclusion of the notorious Security Council, an all-time favorite of seasoned MUNers throughout the world. As soon as the first committee session began, delegates were thrown into the heat of debate thanks to a fantastic crisis team.
In the first press release, the Council was informed that a mysterious disease deemed “Virus X” had appeared in Peru and was quickly spreading throughout the world, reaching a zenith of 40 million deaths in South America and 150 million in Africa.
Following research, it was revealed that the Virus propagated through the consumption of guinea pig meat, a popular staple in Peruvian cuisine and one of its main exports. Delegates quickly stepped up to the challenge, proposing the deployment of World Health Organization emergency response teams, the closing of Peru’s land and sea borders and the immediate quarantining of infected individuals.
Furthermore, they stressed the importance of South American airports being on the lookout for symptoms of this virus, educating people on the dangers of the pandemic and banning altogether the consumption of the mammals. Although Member States diverged in how certain aspects of the crisis had to be, the real plot twist arrived when the crisis team announced that Russia had achieved breakthrough research results in GMOs, which could potentially solve the crisis.
However, the Russian Federation refused to share its discoveries unless the international community removed economic sanctions and it recognized Crimea as part of Russia. Whilst most of the European Union reaffirmed a strong position against GMOs, other countries bereaved the Russian Federation for withholding these discoveries.
After the seemed to have reached some semblance of an agreement, the Russian delegate was kidnapped, with Western countries accused of orchestrating the incident, which in turn caused Russia to cut off all oil imports until its delegate returned to safety.
Committee Session III | Post-2015 Agenda
This innovative committee welcomed over 30 delegates, and each one of them came prepared to discuss the set of 17 goals proposed by Open Working Group’s SDG Proposal. Throughout the sessions, delegates were encouraged to speak in favor of a specific goal or a set of goals.
After extensive discussion and merging, the committee was able to agree on a preliminary agenda with the following 10 development priorities:
“Energy + Sustainability”; “Universal health services + Preventable diseases + HIV/AIDS”; “Government accountability + Transparency”; “Universal primary + Secondary education”; “Infrastructure, Technology, Phone + Internet access”; “Eradication of poverty + Hunger”; “Gender equality + Social inclusion”; “Food security”; “Migration + Refugees” and “Water”.
At the beginning of the third working session, the committee started collaborating in teams to produce “Advocacy Briefs” that defend their particular goal, while taking into account the three pillars of sustainable development: environment, society and economy.
It is important to note that the format of these briefs differ from that of the traditional resolution projects we have become acquainted with through Model UN. In these briefs, delegates had to incorporate an executive summary, indicate the provisions/operative clauses, the monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and the desired implications & effects of implementing these goals as part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Saturday, April 18
Committee Session IV | Knights of the Round Table
With 19 delegates present in total, the committee simulated King Arthur’s Round Table where, contrary to popular belief, quite a few individuals sought to fulfill their personal agendas. Crisis updates were ever flowing in this committee where the French seized control of Camelot, a Wizard School had been opened in the Midlands and King Arthur himself was executed as part of an intricate plot to determine who would reign over all of England.
Following the tragic assassination of the King, one of the knights introduced the “Right Knight” directive, which proposed the celebration of a knighting competition where the winner would be appointed the new King. Following this proposal, Arthur’s representative stepped into the committee and informed the knights of Arthur’s will, which was left before the destruction of Camelot: in it, the new King would be decided by a tournament, divided into two parts: swordsmanship and general talent. The committee had to agree by simple majority, and a panel of judges was in attendance in order to veto any potentially dangerous candidates.
In an entertaining turn of events, delegates went outside and had a sword fight with foam swords! We were outside for approximately half an hour and the winner was Mr. McCarthy, a Frenchman. However, this reign was doomed to an untimely end, as a group of vikings took the life of King McCarthy, in a plight to refuse the authority of a foreigner.
Sunday, April 19
Committee Session VI | European Council
In this 15-person committee, the main topic was the “Ascension of Turkey into the European Union”, yet this committee proved to be anything but a traditional simulation as the Crisis team immediately took action: civil unrest erupted throughout Cyprus, and the small island was divided into two.
The “Hellenestic Brotherhood”, deemed a “meta ISIS” terrorist organization, threatened the committee to gain better footing inside Southern Cyprus. In this highly political simulation, the delegate from Bulgaria attempted to build an energy hub and a natural gas pipeline that went through several EU countries including Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia; Angela Merkel attempted to use agents from the Lufftwaffte secret group to assassinate Turkish and Cypriot officials.
Delegates were divided on whether to send troops for offensive initiatives against the Brotherhood or to simply defend military bases. Furthermore, the Council attempted to collaborate with Turkey to contain the problem in Cyprus, and directives specifying funding and battle plans to deal with the situation were passed. In the end, Turkey joined the EU and the Hellenestic Brotherhood secured a stronghold in Southern Cyprus.
However, CMUNC was not only an ongoing strife for power and the discussion of the Development Agenda’s future; its Delegate Dance took place in the beautiful Museum of the Earth, and it certainly did not disappoint! The DJ mixed Merengue, Salsa, Reggae, EDM and other popular genres as delegates.
The dedicated CMUNC staff danced under the skeleton of a “right whale”, while others read up on the many exhibits dotted throughout the locale. As the Dance’s hours trickled into minutes and finally ended, everyone left with a sense of satisfaction after what had been a very hectic weekend.
Following this fun evening, it was time for Closing Ceremonies in Cornell’s Kennedy Auditorium. Secretary-General Madeleine Skaller bid delegates a warm farewell with the following words:
“Thank you so much for being here today. It means so much to me and my staff that you’re all sitting here bright and beaming. We’re running on empty up here and after what is, for us, the best, most important, and most stressful weekend of our semester.
Your unmatched energy is what keeps us going and makes the work we put into running this conference worth it. The enthusiasm you’ve put into this conference is inspiring. Whether you’re giving a crazily passionate speech during committee session, sword fighting in front of Rockefeller Hall, or getting down on the dance floor at the delegate dance, you all have poured your heart into every aspect of this conference and for that I feel like the luckiest Secretary-General in the world.”
Following her speech, the Secretary-General announced the results of the conference’s philanthropic efforts: delegates, staff and advisors helped raise over $1,500 for Room to Read, funding a year of education for over 30 students. Knights of the Round Table were announced as the Jar Wars winners, having raised approximately $200.
Overall, delegates put up impressive performances, and the top awards went to these schools:
Outstanding Small – Red Hook High School
Outstanding Large – The Dalton School
Best Small – Geneva City School
Best Large – Horace Mann
Congratulations to the CMUNC Secretariat for an incredible job! This conference had been in the works since August 2014, and witnessing the incredible caliber of debate and how invested each and every one of the staffers were, it is easy to see why CMUNC has become such a favored conference. We wish you the best of luck and huge success in the upcoming years!