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Students share their experiences from MUNiM 2016

THINK Global School’s Model United Nation’s team, the TGS Sharks, recently traveled from Sarajevo to Mostar to participate in the Model United Nations in Mostar (MUNiM) conference. The theme of this year’s event was “international unity across borders,” and the topics chosen for discussion by the various committees were reflective of the transnational opportunities and threats that countries and their representation face as they strive for this goal. Our students were divided into four committees: the Security Council, World Health Organization, Human Rights Council, and World Trade Organization, and two of our students, 11th graders Victor and Samaya, were chosen to co-chair the General Assembly.

(Most photos courtesy of the MUNiM Flickr page)

Like our host country, this conference was very unique. Its tone was rooted in the history of the region, and the participants representing the United Nations were heavily criticized not only in UWC headmistress Valentina Mindoljević’s welcoming speech, but in the halls and committee rooms (context: the United Nations are largely viewed as failing the Bosnian people during the Bosnian War. Over the course of the four-year conflict, the United Nations declined to intervene as Serb forces participated in the systemic ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks and the heavy shelling of Sarajevo and other cities, among other atrocities).

In addition, although the procedures were officially THIMUN, student representatives from United World College Mostar made their own special hybrid version of the conference that included not just awards, but theatrically tyrannical chairs, a surprise terrorist intervention by Black Ops (apparently in cahoots with Anonymous), and a surprise appearance by the delegate of North Korea in the Human Rights Council. Aside from a few hiccups in organization, this was a very interesting and dynamic adventure critique of the ineffectiveness of the current United Nations and an exploration of how it could be improved by the next generation of leaders.

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Committee topics and members:

Human Rights Council (Victor):  In the year 2015, the world saw an immense increase in refugees entering Europe. These refugees are entering a completely new land, often with little to no understanding of their host country’s language. On top of that, Europe has seen a rise in Islamophobia and anti-immigrant movements. The Human Rights Council were charged with solving the following three questions:

  1. How could the UN, in cooperation with host-nations, prevent the radicalisation of young refugees?
  2. In what ways can the UN help Europe overcome the increasing prejudice and islamophobia as a result of the growing amount of refugees?
  3. Do host nations have the right to reject refugees applying for asylum based on their cultural background, to preserve their country’s liberal values and traditions?

World Health Organization (Nicolas, Taran, and Andrew): This year the World Health Organization discussed topics relating to developing framework for actively working to achieve universal health coverage, while also accounting for notable stakeholders in the healthcare system, such as women and refugees. The council worked to solve the following questions:

  1. How can we devise a strategic plan for overcoming the factors inhibiting countries from obtaining the requisite criteria for achieving universal health coverage?
  2. What measures should be taken to further the campaign to end violence against women and ensure an appropriate response to this violence from the health sector?
  3. How can we develop a global strategy to ensure access to necessary medical supplies for refugees?

World Trade Organization (Pablo and Samaya): The WTO is an international organization that sets the rules for global trading and resolves disputes between its member countries. The World Trade Organization were charged with drafting a resolution that addressed the following questions:

  1. How can the EU and the USA be proved to reduce their subsidies to improve market access for developing countries’ exports?
  2. Should more developed countries, such as India and Brazil, lower their barriers to imports of manufactured goods for the sake of free trade across the borders?
  3. What actions should the WTO take regarding anti-dumping legislation?

Security Council (Chris, Ana, Danielle, and Isabel): With various conflicts escalating around the globe, such as the ones in South Sudan, Syria, the Central African Republic, the threat of the ISIS, eyebrows have been raised over the credibility and power of the Security Council as the most vital unit of the UN. For the 2016 session of the Model United Nations Conference in Mostar, the Security Council discussed the notion of its very own reformation. The Security Council was charged with drafting a resolution that addressed the following questions:

  1. Is a reformation of the Security Council in the face of rapidly escalating global conflicts absolutely necessary?/li>
  2. What problems does the veto power create and how should they be countered?
  3. Is the Veto Power an unfair advantage to more powerful nations over less important nations in the Security Council?
  4. Should there be an increase in the number of Permanent and Non-Permanent members of the Security Council? If so, what should be the set criteria for a nation to be granted a permanent member status in the UNSC?

RESULTS

Here are the condensed results for MUNiM 2016:

Delegates selected to be Ambassadors for the General Assembly:

Danielle R (Grade 11): Lebanon
Pablo H (Grade 10): Croatia
Isabel S. (Grade 10): Republic of Turkey
Andrew D (Grade 10): India

Resolution Summaries and Awards per committee

UN Security Council – Increase in membership, no veto for 80% majority
Honorable Mention: Isabel (UK), Chris (Italy)
Best Delegate: – Danielle (Russia)

World Trade Organization – Anti-dumping policies on foreign trade, excluded Norway from WTO for unfair regulations, trade subsidies favouring economic development of LEDCs
Honorable Mention: Samaya (Russia)

World Health Organization – Universal healthcare and Zika
Honorable Mention: – Andrew (UK)

Human Rights Council – Refugee integration program.
North Korean intervention: Move all Syrian refugees to North Korea and bomb Syria. He was was publicly executed by the delegate of Russia.
Best Delegate – Victor (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

General Assembly – International military force will invade to destroy Daesh
(Chairs Victor & Samaya)

Testimonials

Samaya P. (Grade 11)

samaya“Last weekend, the Shark Club went to attend the Model United Nations conference in Mostar, organized by UWC Mostar. MUNiM for short, was a four day conference that was composed of four councils and a general assembly.

As the delegate of the Russian Federation in the World Trade Organization, the conference was both a challenging and interesting experience. Within the first day of lobbying, prior to any actual debate, the council had clearly split into groups and I found myself in cooperation with the People’s Republic of China and strongly opposed to the delegates of the United Kingdom and United States of America.

Over the course of the debates, the council worked towards enabling LEDCs through improved access to agricultural markets by means of subsidies and tariffs. However, it was difficult to come to numerable changes due to protectionist policies practiced by many MEDCs through international regulatory bodies such as the CAP. While my resolution was debated, the council ultimately passed a resolution submitted the United States due to a ‘supposed bias’ that was presented in the resolution submitted by the Russian Federation. My main argument over the course of the debates turned out to be over import and export transparency. While the Russian Federation did see the relevance of such information regarding agricultural products, certain clauses urged for the transparency of all imports and exports of participating countries. As a country with a notoriously acclaimed military influence, it was my task to ensure that such a law would not be enforced in order to secure peace for all countries present in the council.

Besides participating in the debate, Victor and I were also given the opportunity to chair the General Assembly. Though hastily assembled and only together for a morning of debate, it was an honor to be able to co-chair the debate. I can now say that it is a lot more work to be a co-chair than I had expected, with constant amendments and procedures that must be taken into account. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the debate elements of the conference.

Also, UWC organized various social events to show us around Mostar, introduce us to other students and just to have fun in general. I am proud to say that I was part of the Global Visions competition and was in fact, a part of the winning team representing the Netherlands! At the conference, I was able to make great friends and look forward to keeping in touch with them!”

Isabel S. (Grade 10)

isabel 2“After the Model United Conference in Mostar (MUNiM), I went into a sort of shock. At first, it didn’t seem like it had really happened because it was so insane. Insane in a good way of course!

Before the conference started, I was able to shout a quick hello to my co-delegate, who I would be working with for the next few days. The conference began with a lobbying session where all the delegates got to make their points, make allies, and make enemies. I aimed to make allies, and luckily was at least a bit successful. My co-delegate and I made sure all our points lined up and got to work writing a resolution. I finished it that night and sent it in (very proud of how it turned out!).

The next day the chairs announced that we would be discussing two resolutions that day, but I was disappointed to hear that mine was not one of them. At first I assumed this meant it would not be discussed at all, but the chair assured me we would discuss it the next day. After a few hours of spirited debate on the Russian resolution, all of a sudden people known as “Black Ops” stormed the committee room and kidnapped the P5 members. This included my co-delegate and I, as we represented the United Kingdom. After sitting in an obscure room for 20 minutes we were released and informed that the council, in our absence, had voted down the Russian resolution and instead passed an Italian resolution that took away our veto powers!

The third day of debate, and final day in our normal committees, my resolution was finally discussed, but first a crisis arose: ISIS stormed the committee and took hostages! They told us that we had to give them a permanent seat on the council or every 20 minutes they would kill a hostage. In the end, we were able to pass a resolution brought up by the Russian delegation, but sadly the Syrian delegate was killed. (But then he got up and it was proclaimed that he was merely sleeping, yay!) When it got to discussing the United Kingdom resolution, my co-delegate and I fielded many questions and accepted multiple amendments. We were drawing near the end of the day and had enough support from the council, save for one veto power. Unfortunately, this one veto power, China, could keep my resolution from passing with its singular vote! After long discussions between all of the veto powers, we were finally able to come to a consensus. The resolution passed with none against and only one abstaining. It was a very rewarding day of debate!

The next day they revealed who would be participating in the General Assembly. The delegates chosen would be assigned random countries to represent in a debate on ISIS. I was chosen to represent Turkey! It was a very interesting debate due to the quick preparations, but we were able to pass a resolution that was proposed by the USSR.

Overall, the trip to Mostar for MUNiM was an amazing experience. I was able to meet even more amazing people from around the world and learn about their lives. I improved my public speaking and debating skills as well as my ability to compromise. In the end, I was even able to explore and learn more about the rich culture and history of Mostar.”

Nicolas H. (Grade 11)

nicolas“This was my first conference and I have to say, I was feeling quite nervous  about it before I arrived in Mostar, BiH.  I felt especially nervous because I got assigned China in the World Health Organization.  Representing one of the P5 in my first conference was definitely something that I was looking forward to doing, but at the same time didn’t know exactly how to feel about. During the first hour of my debate I observed what other people were doing which made me feel a bit safer to start participating in the debate.  The first time I stood up to debate China’s position on NGO funding I felt quite nervous but managed to express myself well.  After that first time speaking, everything I had feared kind of went away and I felt a lot more confident to debate.  After lobbying and deciding to write my own resolution with Taran (France) and Andrew (UK), we went for coffee and discussed the first day of debate. I feel like the people from UWC made this conference unforgettable.  The jam sessions that were planned, the Eurovision event that took place, the party that they hosted; everything was just so welcoming and “different” from TGS.  I felt that the people I met at this conference are people I would get along with very well if they were at TGS.  I learned many things from this conference, the most important being; the ability to grasp what a proper MUN conference is really like.  I got clarification on many procedures that were unclear to me in the past and overall represented my country pretty well in the WHO.  The resolution I drafted with the UK and France got passed and was disappointed not to get an honorable mention in the closing ceremony.  I think this conference was a complete success and I am happy to be part of the 2016 MUN Sharks.”

Andrew D. (Grade 10)

andrew“Although I have only gone to one other conference during my time in the MUN club, I feel the MUNiM conference was planned in such a manner that both fun and professionalism were allocated equally. When first arriving, we were greeted by the chairs in our committees and felt indoctrinated into their communities.The time put in by all of the student administrators and coordinators made it possible for all students to come together and form relationships that will last well beyond the four-day event.

Viewing then the more serious aspects of this conference, participants were able to see that much time was dedicated to becoming informed on our given topics. Through such academia, I thoroughly enjoyed the competitive and intelligent debates that ensued.

Overall, I believe that our experience at MUNiM was of the utmost success. Not only did we make new friends and connections, but we represented how THINK Global School excels in the fields of interpersonal communication and critical thinking.”

Danielle R. (Grade 11)

danielle“So, of the four councils, we had two winners of best delegate from THINK Global School: Victor (Bosnia and Herzegovina in Human Rights Organization) and myself (Russian Federation in Security Council) along with several honorable mentions: Isabel (UK in Security Council), Chris (Italy in Security Council), Andrew (Uk in World Trade), and Samaya (Russian Federation in World Trade Organization). I think that’s it in terms of awards.

At the conference, we had the opportunity to really interact with the UWC kids which was AWESOME. They were all super cool and most of us had a great time hanging out. We went to a jam session in their residence where Samaya and I performed the first night. Then GlobalVision (a take on Euro Vision) where Samaya preformed with Dutchies and won! The third night was the delegate dance. There was also a tour of Mostar’s old town as well.  Another cool thing was when the Black Ops kidnapped Isabel and I, along with the rest of the P5’s, when me and Chris’s resolution was going to pass (Isabel’s resolution did end up passing).

All in all, we really made the MOST-ar of the trip ?”

Taran K. (Grade 10)

taran“MUNiM was a great experience in every sense, from interacting with the community and forming friendships to sharpening critical debate skills. MUNiM was also filled with fun twists such as the ISIS delegate and the abduction of the secretary-general. Otherwise, it was a professional MUN conference. It was my first conference so I wasn’t sure of what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised by the mixing of fun and serious events. Everything from writing resolutions to ‘WorldVision’ was great fun and a good way to develop MUN skills.”

Chris S. (Grade 11)

ChrisFour days, four councils, and tens of future leaders all at one conference. This is just one of the ways how the MUNiM could be described.

Model of United Nations is a conference model practiced all over the world based on how the UN works. Students meet at the one place to debate current issues that are discussed in the UN, or that are crucial for the future development of our World, and it’s political situation.

The MUNiM, Model of United Nations organized under the UWC in Mostar, has been an exceptional conference for a small number of selected students. The organizers of this session have performed an incredible commitment towards the MUN values and gave the delegates the opportunity to experience one the best conferences; I have ever been to. The best thing about this is that while other MUN conferences are often co-organized by teachers, the MUNiM was all ready for it’s tenth time organizes only under passive support from the school. What I know from talking to the head of media and head of finance of the conference, the students had everything under their responsibility and they performed an excellent job organizing themselves in teams, finding sponsors and, in general, ensuring that the conference will go smoothly.

Looking back at how the conference goes, I can say that I enjoyed every minute with the truly unique body of the UWC students. And still it is amazing how a group of few TGS students can shine in a student body of a whole UWC school. Most of our students got an honorary mention and two out of four got the best delegate award. Myself, I got an honorary mention from the chairs of my committee being one of the best and most active delegates, plus submitting and passing a very original resolution based on a seven – seven – seven that has been proposed by a working group led by Kishore Mahbubani, former president of the UN Security Council. My delegation – Italy – has also been mentioned many times in the press of the session, firstly referring to us, as to the “adorably aggressive Italians.” – My co-delegate and I were pushing to pass our resolution.”

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