Once again, the TASIS School in Dorado had the honor of kicking off the first conference of the Puerto Rican Model United Nations season sponsored by la Federación de las Naciones Unidas de Puerto Rico, the premier Model United Nations organization on the Island. On the 20th and 21st of September, the third United Nations TASIS Dorado (UNTD III) conference welcomed over 250 delegates representing ten different schools from across the northern Puerto Rico. Everyone involved is exceptionally grateful to our secretariat, including Under-Secretary-General Alejandro Rovira, as well as TASIS Dorado moderators Celeste Surís and Beatriz Ramírez for their tireless efforts to run the best conference possible.
UNTD III sought to distinguish itself from other conferences in a variety of key ways. Firstly, as any Model UN delegate knows, talk alone will not solve the world’s problems, but rather genuine initiative will. With this in mind, the UNTD III secretariat worked to raise funds for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Each committee received several “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” that the delegates eagerly filled. In the spirit of friendly competition, the committee with the most per capita funds raised received an extra Honorable Mention. By the conference’s end, over $700 was raised for the charity. Ironically, money raised by the smallest of the five committees (with only 17 delegations) exceeded 20% of the total amount raised.
Furthermore, the UNTD conference has always strived to provide delegates the opportunity to work hard, but relax as well. This year, the secretariat was able to coordinate with the TASIS Dorado administration in order to allow delegates to enjoy the annual verbena carnival hosted on the school’s premises. Food, rides, and games were all at the delegates’ disposal. As competition was especially stiff this year, it was nice to have some downtime!
With the aim of providing delegates with the highest quality committee experience, UNTD III offered a diverse array of committees, each featuring a unique crisis or guest speaker.
For example, the conference invited Ph.D. candidate at Oxford University Bríd Ní Ghráinne to participate via Skype in our SOCHUM committee concerning the status of internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a guest speaker. An authority on the subject, Ms. Ní Ghráinne expertly answered the delegates’ questions and provided thoughtful insight on their work in committee up to that point. By the committee’s end, the delegates were able to navigate the murky waters of this issue and pass two detailed resolutions addressing the issue.
An Irish national, Ms. Ní Ghráinne was willing to partake in our historical committee, a joint crisis simulation of the Irish War of Independence. Delegates were unaware as Irish Republican Army (IRA) mole Lucas O’Maoildun snuck into the room and later took the committee hostage with the help of masked militiamen. The committee was told that if the IRA’s demands were not met quickly, they would perish along with many of their constituents in coordinated terrorist attacks. To emphasize the point, Ms. Ní Ghráinne threatened the delegates in a flurry of Irish Gaelic, translated by Mr. O’Maoildun. Later, however, the delegates (rightly) agreed that the supposed head of the IRA was “just too nice to be a terrorist.”
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee faced its own armed crisis. Moderator Celeste Surís was a hit when she addressed the committee as President Vladimir Putin and offered her input on the Russian anti-homosexual propaganda law in light of the upcoming Winter Olympics. Though the guest speaker entered with armed guards and a stony face, the delegates soon realized that it’s OK to laugh a little during these long hours of debate.
Perhaps there was a running theme throughout the conference, because the summit of the International Labor Organization was forced to deal with a fast-paced crisis situation as well. The delegates, prepared to discuss labor issues such as collective bargaining and safety standards, were unlikely to have expected a clandestine and armed labor union threatening Walmart and Monsanto with force. Addressing the committee during the emergency via Skype was the leader of this group, portrayed by TASIS Dorado alumna Krystal Morales, a political science and digital studies major at Marquette University.
Technology was evidently an indispensable in every committee described thus far. The last committee, a summit of the Disarmament and Security Committee (DISEC) discussing drone warfare, was no exception. Though this committee did not feature any cross-Atlantic Skype calls, delegates were able to present various documents such as working papers on a large projector screen for the benefit of the entire committee. In addition to this, DISEC was unique in that various staff members were invited to pose as distinct figures in international politics such as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
The entire UNTD III secretariat is happy to say that the conference ran without a hitch. For that we have to thank our hardworking staff and, of course, the first-rate delegates who we welcomed through our doors. I have been a member of my school’s Model UN team since its founding five years ago, and I can definitely attest to how much we have grown. With this perspective in mind, I have no doubt that the club will continue to host first-rate conferences. It will be sad leaving the club at the end of the year but, in the words of Julie Andrews, I know we must have done something good.
Photo credit: All photographs are provided courtesy of Teresa Bava