Do you often get to see 350 people dancing the Macarena during the General Assembly, simply because it’s time to have some fun? Yep, most people don’t. And that’s only the start of what happened during the recent Warsaw Model UN 2014.
Warsaw Model UN took place for the 8th time this year under the theme ‘The Role of the Internet and Technology in Modern Society’. There was a certain level of prestige associated to this conference that no other Polish session has ever enjoyed. During the Opening Ceremony, held in the National Stadium, guests were entertained with speeches from the Secretary General, the school headmaster and the honourable Mr Radosław Sikorski, Speaker of the Sejm* of the Republic of Poland (and former Minister of Foreign Affairs). The keynote speaker of the conference, Mr. Łukasz Bromirski, a network engineer and technical director of Cisco Poland, also shed some light on the technology behind modern diplomatic issues.
Following the Opening Ceremonies, delegates were directed to their committees. These we differentiated according to the level of difficulty: beginners, medium, and advanced. The conference featured 15 committees, among them, tolken ones, such as SC, WHO and HRC, specialized ones like the Commission on Science and Technology for Development or the Commission on Population and Development of the EcoSoc and newbies, like the International Criminal Court.
Delegates in the International Court of Justice and the ICC enjoyed ‘real-life’ experiences: they worked in the actual rooms of the Supreme Court. Other committees were located in the Polish Parliament and the University of Social Sciences and Humanities. The General Assembly and Closing Ceremonies were held in the Palace of Culture and Science, the highest building in Poland and the most recognizable of its landmarks.
Under-Secretary General for Staff and Logistics, Daria Rosiewicz, who was responsible for the venues, said: “the localizations are the most important aspects you can impress potential delegates with. The prestige of the place is crucial, as is its connection to actual political issues.” Venues – check! It doesn’t get any better than what WawMUN was able to pull off.
But the venues were not her only responsibility – she was also in charge of Staff, which entails managing the workload of 85 individuals. Secretary General Łukasz Bartoszcze agrees that the logistics of the conference were an enormous task. He points out how “this year [they] nearly doubled the number of delegates and changed the venues completely.” Daria, when asked why she would choose to be responsible for one of the hardest parts of organization, said this experience had been very challenging yet equally rewarding, and in fact “one of the most fantastic experiences of [her] life, so far.”
During the two days I spent there, I observed the work of several committees and participated in the General Assembly and the Closing Ceremonies. Except for my ooh-ing and aah-ing over the level of organization, I noticed two things.
First: the delegates were engaged and well prepared. Adam Dziedzic, Chair of ICJ, has worked with the committee advocates (chosen delegates) since June, as they prepared evidence packs, memorandums and stipulations, and witness lists. ”Although this was a first-timer for the advocates and judges in the ICJ, their level of professionalism and engagement was one of the highest I have ever seen over the past 5 years and the hard work resulted in particularly heated and engaging discussions,” he noted.
WawMUN team has managed to attract the best of Polish and international teams – among them delegates from both high schools and universities, and from 12 different countries. These teams were beyond satisfied with how the procedures were followed, even if there were some minor disparities between committees. Overall, attracting really great delegates and providing them with a substantively good committee work experience – check.
Second: they had fun.
Where to start with this one…yeah, the crises. Oh my god, the crises. WawMUN people are incredible at preparing them. Spotted: North Korean delegate threatening to blow up the committee room if not given bitcoins; Liberian Health Minister escorted into the WHO by two Interpol agents, begging for help with the Ebola epidemic? How much more up-to-date can you get?
Of course, some of the crises were exaggerated to make things more exciting, said Maciej Hołubiec, President of the General Assembly (who also happened to be one of the Interpol agents). I talked to him after coincidentally witnessing the North Korean terrorist attack in World Trade Organization. I learned that the crises were prepared by chairs weeks before the conference, however the actors only had one or two days to prepare for their roles (and the terrorist only had a few hours!) And there was no script. Hands down the funniest crises I have ever seen.
But is funny all they were? Which crisis was the best? “Well, it all depends on the perspective you take. One could say the best crisis is the one where delegates learn a lot. Another person would consider the best crisis to be the most interesting one.” – Maciej said. “When it comes to more serious crises, both the Security Council and WHO did a great job and the delegates learned a lot”.
WawMUN 2014 tried to have their cake and eat it too. They tried to attract excellent delegates, maintain a substantially high level of debate and, the icing on the cake (excuse the pun), do it all in the most prestigious rooms in Poland. Check, check, check. They definitely had their cake.
They also wanted to have fun in the process. They wanted to have a North Korean terrorist attack in the WTO and wanted to dance Macarena on the GA. And so they did. The Secretary General’s favorite moment? “When all of the delegates came together at the social event and simply had fun. It was a perfect example of what a MUN conference should be: not a challenge to select the best delegate or to boost somebody’s ego, but a meeting of friends…friends who do not know each other yet.” There you have it.
* lower house of the Parliament in Poland
Photos courtesy to WawMUN. Big thanks to Under-Secretary General Agata Sularz for, well, everything.