The home of Robin Hood and Wayne Manor saw a very different sort of movie play out over the weekend of the 14th to the 16th of November in 2014, as nearly 200 delegates from 50 countries descended on the city for the seventh iteration of the Nottingham International Model United Nations (NottsMUN) conference. Contingents came from all over the UK and even beyond, with delegations came from as far as Switzerland and Georgia.
This NottsMUN was its most diverse ever, extending its beginner-friendly stylings to committees usually reserved for experienced delegates. Fresh faces to the world of Model UN had the chance to dabble in NottsMUN’s first-ever International Court of Justice simulation, led by three eminent law students and some of the most seasoned experts on the circuit. The Multilingual Security Council brought the real United Nations experience that much closer for delegates, who had the wonderful opportunity of experiencing the magic of real-time in-ear interpretation, as their fellow colleagues debated in French, Russian, English and Mandarin.
Also making waves was a very robust Arab League, a firecracker of a committee that was simulated entirely in Arabic. Easily the liveliest of the committees, the Arab League also broke new ground by bringing in members of the University of Nottingham’s Arabic society and introducing them to the world of Model UN.
Not forgetting of course the mainstays that have made NottsMUN the premier conference it is; delegates as always were spoilt for choice between solid favourites like the UNODC, UNDP, HRC and SPECPOL – the more ambitious could of course jump into the conference’s signature Future Security Council or Crisis simulations.
NottsMUN hit the ground running, with the fantastic Mr John Everard gracing NottsMUN’s opening ceremony. A former British ambassador, Mr Everard has enjoyed an illustrious and respected career in the diplomatic field: with a career spanning over three decades, he has been Coordinator of the United Nations Panel of Experts on sanctions against North Korea, a diplomat to Belarus, Uruguay and North Korea (or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as we tend to prefer!) and author of Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North Korea. To top it all off, he speaks a smorgasbord of languages and cycles wherever he can – so it was fitting that he biked from the rail station to the country’s greenest university!
Mr Everard gave an exceedingly human, personable and fascinating talk on his time as a diplomat and his insights into the DPRK. As one expects from a Model UN conference, there were plenty of questions and not enough time – but nice man that he is, the guest of honour stayed on for NottsMUN’s icebreaker evening reception.
Set in a tall, spacious glass atrium, the reception had delegates mingling and swapping stories over drinks and nibbles. After a long day of travelling the chance to unwind was no doubt a relief. The Secretariat had something else in store, however – and soon enough secret icebreaker games found their way around the delegates, with random ‘chosen ones’ called on to put their skills to the test and deliver an impromptu speech to the floor. ‘Directives’ were also passed around the room, inspiring delegates to meet new people, chat and indulge in some picture-taking. A ‘Community Scrabble’ game also made the rounds, yet another opportunity for delegates to have a bit of nerdy fun while making new acquaintances.
The crowd eventually moved on to the city for a cracking night out at a favourite haunt of Nottinghamites – Coco Tang! Any delegate who’s ever been knows what awaits them there – a great cocktail menu, a clean and classy dance floor, a cool top floor lounge and a thumping playlist.
On Saturday night, delegates were treated to something of a Casino Royale night as they dined at Alea Casino, one of the swankier properties in the city and a bustling location on any weekend. In between appetisers and mains delegates strolled the casino floor, placing the odd roulette or blackjack bet; while waiting for dessert those tux-clad lads and dressed-up ladies enjoyed a cool drink at an exclusive hidden bar. Before long though the tables were wiped clean and the resident DJ brought his tunes to a rocking dance floor. It wasn’t till the early hours of Sunday that the delegates placed their last bets and headed home.
By the time Sunday evening rolled around, there was a sense of new understanding among the many (first-time) delegates. Compromises had been brokered. Solutions had been refined. And friendships had been made by the boatload.
Before they parted ways and boarded their buses and trains and flights, they were given one last send-off:
We are only ants in the scheme of things. The Earth is just a dot, and it’s the only dot we have – and what else is the UN but a recognition of our cosmic smallness and a reminder of our responsibility to keep it going?