16th February saw the commencement of the 2nd session of the Zenith Model United Nation Conference, hosted by Miranda House, Delhi University. The two day conference was held in the sprawling green grounds of the college itself, and is part of Miranda House’s yearly event, Zenith– the Economics department fest.
Proving that Zenith is not just a name, the college saw the simulation of six committees this time, a marked improvement from last year’s four. Besides including “traditional” committees such as General Assembly, International Court of Justice and the Security Council, ZMUN also featured specialised and different councils such as UN Women, G-20 Financial Summit and more importantly, Ministry of Magic of the Harry Potter universe. “We were different because we dared to be different” quipped Aayushi Sinha, Secretary General.
The Indian MUN circuit is also widely divided on the topic of fantasy committees being simulated at Model UN conferences, with a large number of people believing that Model UN is meant for UN and IR related committees only. It would be wrong to say that ZMUN did not face any negative comments following the announcement of the committee line-up which went on till the conference itself.
However, all doubts about the success and popularity of the committee were put to rest on the first day itself- which saw full attendance and extremely expert debating from the delegates. Prateek Namrata Kumar, who has the experience of 37 Model UNs to his name and who chaired Ministry of Magic as Elphias Doge, commented –“These are the best set of delegates I have ever chaired. The level of debate and the seriousness with which they follow the rules is as good as, if not better, than normal UN committees. Most people here care more about the Potter universe than they do about Model UNs, which is a good thing- because only when you are passionate about something can you learn the skills of it.”
The commitment of the delegates to this council and its agenda could be seen not only in their discussions but also their attempts at British accents, imitating characters as well as attires.
The unrelenting question of whether or not such councils should be formulated in Model UN might not get a final answer any time soon, but ZMUN’13 definitely adds a strong point in their favour.
For purists who like their Model UN to be as close to the UN as possible, there was a lot in store with councils like GA: DISEC, HSC, ICJ and the G-20 Financial Summit. The well thought out agendas covered a range of contemporary issues such as safety and legitimacy of nuclear programs, the polemical issue of Palestinian statehood and its consequences on the claims of Kosovo and Tibet, and the European debt crisis; as well as turned a page back in history to the 9/11 bombings and its consequences.
UN Women, one of the fastest committees to fill in during the application process, was hugely successful as well. A women’s college, Miranda House felt it imperative to simulate a council which catered to cause of the rights and issues faced by the fairer sex. UN Women discussed the essentially gendered nature of poverty and war imposed catastrophes which force women to turn to prostitution, and the need for gender mainstreaming which entails greater incorporation of women into the political dimension. The Best Delegate award was won by the delegate of Israel.
The GA is usually a difficult council to manage due to its sheer size. But at Zenith MUN it was managed with an efficiency which is hard to match up to. The delegates were very impassioned and the multiple stances only added to the depth of the debate. The Executive Board encouraged first timers to speak up, and by the very end, every country had had a chance to contribute, making the debate very interesting. The delegate of USA insisted on the peaceful usage of nuclear energy, but many questions were raised about its constant downplaying of the nuclear programmes of India and Iran while constantly promoting the nuclear interest of Israel. After a very close competition between India and Pakistan, so much so that Executive Board was divided in their opinion, the delegate of India was awarded the Best Delegate Award.
ICJ could easily be labelled as one of the best councils of this year. It was executed brilliantly, keeping in mind its intricate rules of procedure. The country matrix was skilfully designed to ensure the drafting of a resolution which could inculcate comprehensive and diverse points of views about the statehood of Palestine and its subsequent effects on Kosovo and Tibet. Justice Donoghue and the representative of Israel were the most vocal with both of them vehemently, though with tact, going against the idea of Palestine ever attaining statehood. The Best Delegate award was won by Justice Donoghue of US.
The G2O Summit was one of the tougher council to simulate due to its technical nature. The choice of delegates needed to be taken into account due to the limited capacity of the council, and the Secretariat at Miranda House ensured that every participant was skilled enough to contribute to the debate in a holistic way. The expertise displayed by the delegates made the debate highly skilful, to the point that many members complained about it being too serious! The Best Delegate award was won by the representative of the European Union who highlighted the plight of the developing nations, laying emphasis on how the over-inflation present in the Eurozone causing negative global impact on the prices of crude oil.
UNSC is one of the fundamental bodies of the UN and utmost care was taken to ensure its authenticity. The agenda was the emergency meeting of the UNSC took after the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon in USA. At ZMUN, the council was double delegation. Such an endeavour took double the efforts and concentration on the part of the Secretariat, but was pulled off well. The teams were in perfect synchronization and the debate turned out to be interesting. The delegation of Iran showed a drastic change in their foreign policy by making it known that they would like to forget all past differences and would like to help the United States of America in their re-building efforts. However this sudden change to passive attitude was not shared by the committee, the most noticeable example being Israel, threatening Iran with bombing runs and covert operations in response to Iran’s message that they would not stand any attacks from Israel. The Best Delegation award was given to delegates of the United Kingdom.
True to its theme “Let there be light!” Zenith MUN was an enlightening experience for both first timers, whose interest in Model UN has been sparked, and seasoned MUNers, who expressed their wishes to return next year.