This article was provided by Issa Nasr, Secretary-General of BRAMUN XI.
The sight of sandy beaches, the sound of clear blue waves breaking on the shoreline, the smell of the ocean breeze…this might as well be the setting of a newly released Hollywood movie. In reality, it is the location of a Model UN conference in which 350 students from all around the world gather every March to participate in a week of spirited debate, consensus-building and challenging crisis-solving in one of the most beautiful and culturally diverse regions of Brazil.
This is the Brazil Model United Nations Conference (BRAMUN), one of South America’s premier international high school conferences which, through the 20th -24th of March of this year, was in its eleventh session in Praia do Forte, on the coast of the tropical and sunny state of Bahia. Welcoming delegates from Brazil, Argentina, Panama, the US and the UK, BRAMUN continued its tradition of making each conference more diverse than the last. This goes along with the sincere BRAMUN belief that while we learn much from the research, writing and debate, we have just as much to learn from each other. It is in this scenario that the green, yellow and blue colors of the Brazilian flag mixed with various other colors to form the light blue and white mosaic of the UN flag.
In a total of seven different committees, ranging from the Security and Economic and Social councils to the Historical Security Council and the International Court of Justice, delegates debated topics that spanned across time, geography and culture, generating exceptionally informed and spirited debate. Encouraged to break away from the current paradigms of international affairs, to think with innovation, and to suggest fresh approaches to current challenges, delegates were able to expand the inventory of possible solutions to the topics discussed while creating the most creative, thought-provoking and inspiring experience possible in such an atypical MUN environment.
While Model UN has been present in Brazil, especially in the international schools, for more than a decade now, its popularity is currently growing among Brazilian students as the country advances politically and economically on the international stage. Not only are Brazilians learning more about what is happening around the world, but with the increased access to the internet and the rapid spread of information in a globalized age, the world is learning more about what is happening in Brazil. Adapting to these changes, information, technology and innovation is what BRAMUN strived to focus on in its eleventh installment by centering the conference on the theme of “Imperialism in the Information Age.”
During the opening ceremony, BRAMUN welcomed two guest speakers with very different backgrounds: the first being the Resident Coordinator of the UN in Brazil, Mr. Jorge Chediek, and the second being Mr. Rosilvaldo Ferreira da Silva, the Cacique Babau, or the leader of the Tupinambá indigenous tribe in Brazil. Cacique Babau is a nationwide renowned human rights activist who has dedicated his life to defending the rights of his indigenous people and tribe against what he calls the “imperialist government” wishing to take over his tribe’s territory. While Mr. Chediek defended the expansion of the Security Council in light of the current change in political powers, Cacique Babau defended the creation of an indigenous-only University in Brazil to increase the educational opportunities of his people. With a display of indigenous posters and pamphlets promoting this cause throughout the conference venue, BRAMUN was also loyal to its theme when fundraising for the creation of a computer lab in Cacique Babau’s tribe, in order to increase the access to information and technology among the Tupinambá youth.
Every year, the BRAMUN leadership team strives to keep delegates stimulated and engaged in committee, but also to put a lot of work into a developing a fun and interactive social schedule. Throughout the conference, delegates might be changing constantly between their western business attire and their swimsuits as they enjoy the best that the five-star resort has to offer in regards to its beachfront facilities. This year we had the privilege of introducing our first edition of the BRAMUN Games, an inter-committee competition with activities including a MUN Trivia Bowl, a beach volleyball tournament, and a Miss/Mr. BRAMUN beauty pageant, among others. BRAMUN is a top conference because it strikes a key balance between rigorous committee experience and fun out-of-committee events. It is this dynamic mix which we pride ourselves on at BRAMUN.
To maintain a high level of debate and to ensure that our delegates are well prepared for the conference, we make sure that purposeful discussion starts even before the conference itself, another key highlight of BRAMUN. We have our online forum that is launched one month before the conference where delegates post their position papers and start discussions in their committee’s page. It is our hope that through the forum, delegates may expand their knowledge on the issues while developing written skills in the modern world of international relations and diplomacy. Separating BRAMUN from many conferences in the US, for example, is that its delegates are encouraged to use laptops during committee sessions, as much of the debate and resolution writing is done online.
Apart from these exciting aspects and events of the conference, it is the presence, passion and drive of our exceptional BRAMUN delegates that result in the success of the conference time and time again. As the Secretary-General of my fourth and last BRAMUN, it has been great accompanying the development of delegates that have grown alongside me in this journey. I have always believed that education is growth and empowerment and I have no doubt that I, together with every BRAMUN delegate, have become committed global citizens that put skills, knowledge, and curiosity together for the common good of our world. BRAMUN has inspired me to spread this spirit to you. With every wave breaking, palm tree shaking and ocean breeze spraying, I have learned the value of the “order and progress” inscribed on every Brazilian flag, heart and soul. But most importantly, it is in this MUN scenario that I have learned that today’s needs can be met, the global work for peace and justice can be supported, and the opportunities for change can be seized anywhere, anytime.