The annual National Model United Nations New York Conference, the largest model UN event in the world at the collegiate level, was held this year at the end of March in New York City.
Since the conference has long outgrown the capacity of the largest hotels in Manhattan, NMUN-NY is held in two separate weeks with identical topics and committees. This year it hosted more than 5,500 students in total at the Sheraton New York Times Square and the New York Hilton Midtown.
During opening ceremony at week A, the students were addressed by H.E. James Jonah, former Under-Secretary-General of the UN for Political Affairs, who discussed the importance of staying engaged and the necessity to hold the United Nations to a higher level of accountability.
At the week B opening ceremony, students had the honor of meeting Professor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court who discussed the challenges of addressing war crimes and crimes against humanity since the 20th century.
The opening ceremonies were also the occasion to remember Ambassador Joseph H. Melrose, a strong supporter of NMUN who contributed actively to the success and substance of the conference over the past years. He passed away unexpectedly last October, and was a person loved by all students who met him.
Attention to academic quality and elevated debates is what makes NMUN unique and attractive to delegates, and this year’s edition of the conference lived up to these standards. NMUN background guides – prepared by the volunteer staff who work all year round to guarantee the success of the conference – were available since November for delegates to start preparing and researching their topics. Committees and topics this year focused on the post-2015 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, as the United Nations itself is at a key moment in negotiating the global development process.
This year’s theme, “Impact”, reflected the desire to center the debate on the role of the UN and the international community in setting and achieving these common development goals.
The theme also encouraged the participants to make the most of the opportunities they were given during the conference: the diversity of participating schools and delegates at NMUN-NY is something that one does not experience often, and impacts all of us. The exchanges between participants, as delegates of their member states and as students from all around the world, are part of what makes NMUN a valuable experience for everyone.
In addition to the rigorous debates and bustling negotiation rooms, delegates of NMUN-NY 2015 had plenty of opportunities to interact with academics and experts in international affairs. Many delegations had reserved the morning of the second day to meet with the Permanent Mission at the UN of their assigned country.
As usual, the delegate seminars covered a wide range of topics of interest to our delegates, ranging from the ever-popular media panel to discussions on climate change, eliminating global poverty, disarmament, and addressing violent extremism after Charlie Hebdo. Guest speakers visited some of the committees to engage directly with students, like H.E. Ronald Jumeau, the Seychelles Ambassador for Climate Change & Small Island Developing States, who visited delegates of the UNDP and the FAO. The Opportunity Fair provided a chance for students to meet the representatives of graduate schools and other international relations organizations.
As the highlight of a conference that is close to the UN in spirit and location, NMUN holds its last day at the UN Headquarters for plenary sessions and closing ceremonies.
This year, closing ceremonies were held in the newly renovated General Assembly Hall where students were addressed by high-level speakers of the United Nations organization. Attendees during week A were particularly thrilled with a surprise speech from H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
He reflected on his journey from being a recipient of UN food aid as a child to leading the storied institution as its eighth Secretary-General. He encouraged the delegates to use the UN as their global platform, and to begin now to shape the future through advocacy for the Millennium Development Goals and by addressing the urgent issue of climate change.
Delegates at week B enjoyed a return to the conference by H.E. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, who has given so generously of his time to NMUN. Ambassador Isobel Coleman, United States Representative to the United Nations for UN Management and Reform, and H.E. Dina Kawar, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the UN also graciously addressed delegates at the closing ceremonies.
More than ever, NMUN is committed to providing a genuine experience of international affairs to its participants. The New York conference evolves and improves every year and the enthusiasm of the students, faculty advisors, staff, and guests grows with it.
Delegates this year were extremely satisfied with the experience they had at NMUN, and we hope that more delegations from more countries will be joining us in New York City over the coming years. NMUN-NY builds its strength and reputation around the quality of its debates, but also around the diversity and the talent that its participants have brought since its creation.
(This conference recap was submitted by Secretaries-General Théo Thieffry and Roger Tseng of 2015 NMUN•NY)