Submitted by Secretaries-General Rachel Johnson and Thera Watson of the 2014 NMUN•NY, and NMUN Program Associate Jess Hopeman
National Model United Nations, the world’s largest post-secondary UN simulation, held its annual NMUN•NY 2014 conference in late March and early April. More than 5,200 students from all over the world (including universities from 53 UN member states) met in Manhattan to address global concerns in a real world context.
For several years, the New York conference has been held in identical A and B weeks to accommodate the large number of participants. The 2014 week A participants were enthralled by an opening ceremony keynote speech by the Hon. Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, who remarked that looking over the eager crowd was like being in “nerd heaven” and that she felt that she belonged there. She spoke of her own experience as an Irish immigrant, and her path to becoming the US Ambassador, working tirelessly for peace and justice. H.E. Thomas Mayr-Harting, head of the EU delegation to the UN gave the Week B opening speech, and remarked that the students present were proving wrong those who “say that the young generation is not interested in politics, not interested in international relations, not interested in the United Nations.” He also engaged in an extensive Q and A session with students about current world events. Videos of their speeches can be found online here.
After opening ceremonies, the simulations began in earnest. Over the course of several days delegates gave formal speeches, negotiated diligently, generated working papers, cooperated where possible to produce draft resolutions and grabbed sleep and caffeine when able. By the conclusion committees adopted resolutions and reports on wide-ranging topics including: preventing terrorists from acquiring WMDs, increasing access to education and promoting multi-sector inclusion for women in an effort to eliminate all forms of violence against women, impact of the global financial crisis on the AIDS response, urban development and investments as methods to enhance living standards in slums, along with a multitude of other subjects. A comprehensive listing of summaries from each committee’s work can be found online here: www.nmun.org/ny_committee_guides.html.
The conference also included a number of other ways for delegates to engage with experts in a variety of fields. Many delegations used time the second day to meet with the Permanent Mission to the UN of their assigned country. In addition, the Opportunity Fair featured representatives from a number of graduate schools and other organizations. The European Union Delegation to the UN conducted an EU Coordination Briefing each week. The Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) hosted discussions for students and faculty advisors on careers in international relations. The conference also included a series of well-attended delegate seminars with panels talking about media involvement in international affairs, peace and security, sustainable development, equality, ending global poverty, the UN and NGOs, disarmament and arms control, and empowerment through Model UN.
After the conclusion of committee meetings, each week culminated with inspiring closing ceremonies at United Nations Headquarters. Members of the fantastic volunteer Secretariat reflected on the meaning of the NMUN experience and summarized conference activities, and delegates/delegations of distinction were recognized for their preparation, performance in committee, and overall accomplishments. Speakers for the various closing ceremonies included Ahmad Alhindawi (UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth), Chris Whatley (Executive Director of UNA-USA), D. Stephen Mathias (UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs), Ambassador František Ružička (Permanent Representative of Slovakia to the UN), and H.E. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, who encouraged students to work to diminish the gap between the world as it is, and the world as it should be.
Feedback from this year’s attendees has described this conference as a life-changing experience, which provided them invaluable lessons in public speaking, leadership, and negotiation. Delegates built skills in diplomacy and compromise. They pushed themselves and their perceived limits; they learned to consider global issues from multiple perspectives; and they made new friends from all over the world. To hear about the NMUN experience in the words of delegates, watch some of the videos posted by delegations to the NMUN YouTube channel.
NMUN has been held in New York for more than 50 years and has been sponsored by the National Collegiate Conference Association, a student-founded nonprofit educational organization, since 1968. Registration for the 2015 New York conference will begin 1 September at www.nmun.org. NMUN will also hold simulations this year in Washington, DC (end of October) and Rome, Italy (late November). More information about all of NMUN’s conferences can also be found on the website.