The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) 2014 was impressive this year with over 2900 students and 369 directors from 190 schools representing 98 nationalities descending upon the World Forum Theater in The Hague, Netherlands for the annual conference hosted by the THIMUN Foundation.
The theme for this year’s conference focused on the positive transformation of Africa. The Opening Ceremony was led by President of the General Assembly Michael Carden (American School of Paris) who called this year’s conference officially into order. Keynote speakers included a professor who spoke about Africa’s current and future rise as well as the Deputy Secretary-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. Secretary-General Sarah Gharib (American School of The Hague) quoted Nelson Mandela in her remarks and mentioned the importance of finding solutions in Africa from her perspective as someone of Egyptian descent. The official charity benefited the UN Commissioner on Refugees in the Central African Republic.
The conference is amazing in that it is one of the most professionally-organized Model UN conferences in the world, yet it is all led by high school students who serve as student officers and chairs. Delegates spent the week lobbying, going through the approval panel, presenting and discussing resolutions during closed and open debate, raising points of information, amending resolutions, and ultimately voting on the ones to be re-presented by the main submitters and recommended for adoption at Plenary. Photos of delegates in action are here! Delegates also enjoyed their time exploring (and partying) around The Hague, and several groups also toured Amsterdam. And of course, there was the delegate dance.
THIMUN is also a time when the THIMUN Foundation provides an update to the directors about the progress that is being made throughout the organization and for these leaders in the Model UN community to connect. Here are several updates to show how the THIMUN Foundation continues to be a world leader in spreading Model UN:
1. Launch of THIMUN Uruguay. THIMUN-affiliated conferences have existed in Latin America, but THIMUN will now be launching its flagship Latin America conference in Uruguay starting in August 2014. In addition to Uruguay, THIMUN now has conferences in The Hague, Qatar, and Singapore, through Online MUN (O-MUN), and of course its network of affiliated conferences. THIMUN Hague continues to set global standards, THIMUN Singapore is coming up to its first decade, THIMUN Qatar is flourishing and the conference actually took place the same weekend (we liveblogged both), and THIMUN O-MUN has been providing unprecedented access to Model UN for youth worldwide — and the program expanding to French and Arabic soon.
2. Online Resolution Management. THIMUN does a great job of implementing custom technology to make the online resolution management and approval panel process easier. Directors (teachers) volunteer to help edit the resolutions in the approval panel which allows them to be actively engaged during the conference. THIMUN Board Co-Chair Fran Laughlin, and over 180 resolutions were edited in the approval panel this year — that is a very impressive number!
3. NGOs received voting rights. For the first time in THIMUN history, delegates representing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) now have voting rights when it comes to voting for resolutions. Although this is not an accurate simulation of real life, it has educational value in getting those delegates more involved and in return elevating the status and work of different NGOs around the world that play major roles supporting the UN’s work.
4. Ties to real world conferences. Although Model UN worldwide has expanded beyond simulating strictly the United Nations, THIMUN continues to simulate conferences that exist in real life in nature as opposed to the trend in North America to simulate crisis and fantasy committees. For example, it simulated the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) which will be held in real life in The Hague in March 2014, and the Dutch Foreign Office was consulted to ensure accurate simulation. The Hague International Conference on African Development (THICAD) simulated its counterpart in Tokyo, TICAD. And OPCW was not only invited to speak during Opening Ceremony but also had a booth to educate participants about their work.
5. Launch of European version of The Olive Branch. Best Delegate was invited to garner feedback from Directors about launching an European version of The Olive Branch Model UN Newsletter. The current editions are published through a partnership with THIMUN Qatar and THIMUN O-MUN and have been highly successful in sharing regional Model UN news, conference information, and advice for delegates and directors. Directors not only expressed interest in launching an European version, but one for the Africa continent and one in the French language as well. Keep checking Best Delegate later this month for more information about the European version of The Olive Branch — we’ll definitely be recruiting for writers!
After the conference, delegates universally experienced a common syndrome called Post-THIMUN Depression (PTD). Fortunately, they can re-live their memories through the Best Delegate Facebook photo album, MUNITY Online, and through the unofficial THIMUN 2014 Facebook group.
Special thanks to the THIMUN Foundation Board for having me visit. Best Delegate is very proud to have been able to visit THIMUN Hague, THIMUN Singapore, and THIMUN Qatar this school year!