The Myth of the MUN

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Model United Nations – a forum for students to act as delegates to the United Nations, and simulate UN committees. Model UN is one of the biggest, most elaborately coordinated extra-curricular activities that schools have to offer their students today. For some reason, Model UN is also one of the most intimidating activities to participate in, worldwide. That’s right – today, the concept of Model UN has spread to countries all over the world – India, China, Venezuela to name a few – yet everywhere, we see the same low-key hesitation and fear when it comes to MUN’s.

What is it that makes a MUN so terrifying?

We took a series of surveys of the delegates of HMUN 2018, where they were each asked if they had been nervous at the start of the MUN, and if so, why? Based on our results, we can say that a majority of the delegates at HMUN faced at least one of the following problems:

  1. Laziness – delegates find the task of preparing for a MUN extremely daunting, don’t do it, and then somehow find themselves unprepared, which leads to point 2.
  2. A fear of embarrassment – delegates do not feel confident speaking on a matter knowing that other delegates, or at least the Chair know more about it.
  3. Shyness – for some delegates, it boils down to an issue with public-speaking.
  4. Fear of Model UN procedure.
  5. Delegates are overwhelmed by the prospect of WBA (Western Business Attire).

Model UN can be an enriching experience, and we recommend that every student attempt it at least once in their high school years. So, here is our list of possible solutions to the problems mentioned above:

  1. The Hindu apologizes in advance for being such a mom, but delegates – time management. As simple as that. Make lists, make schedules, be efficient, even if your friends call you lame. Always remember: being organized is not lame. This is your mantra – think it, live it, love it.  
  2. One thing to remember is that a situation where the delegates are better informed about the committee’s agenda than the Chair would be highly unlikely and kind of hilarious. So, there is a 99.99% chance you will not be the only delegate feeling this way. You will find security in the insecurity of the others. (I mean this in the best possible way.)
  3. Public speaking is easy to fix because it is so easy to practise. Start with a simple exercise: try to say the most mundane sentences in the most emphatic way possible, in front of a group of people. You can practice on your friends (or on your parent – we don’t judge).
  4. There are lists on the Internet which teach you all you need to know. However, if it proves to be really impossible to learn everything, all you need to arm yourself with is one small phrase, ‘Point of Parliamentary Inquiry’, and this will get you through your time in committee. (For those who aren’t aware of what this means – google it).
  5. Western Business Attire is admittedly my favorite aspect of Model UN. However, for those who do not share this opinion – it is not mandatory in most cases. Just make sure you don’t show up in crocs.

Hopefully this helped! We’d love for our readers (the Model UN handicapped ones in particular) to right back letting us know if our solutions helped.

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Fast Track, Brazil!

The Economist

There has come a time when no one takes Brazilian politics seriously anymore, not even Brazilians.

Reading the twitter account of the @BrazilCabinet, it is clear that its primary goal is very far from keeping the people updated. Instead, its focus is on jokes about the current situation that politicians have put Brazil in.  Brazilians have already given up on trying to change the country.

After Bolsonaro, a prospective candidate for Brazil’s presidency, died, coalitions were made to decide on who would be nominated to run for president. In the beautiful pact between PSDB, PP and DEM, Joao Doria from PSDB (Fast track, Sao Paulo!), Sao Paulo’s mayor, was the chosen one. All his mayor campaign was based on lies and fake promises.  As for his vice president, Blairo Maggi (from PP) was chosen. He is minister of agriculture and second richest Politician in Brazil (I wonder why…).

This is beyond a scandal, and actually very sad. Probably every Brazilian who has started following @BrazilCabinet in twitter is crying or laughing right now. The only good thing that has happened is Lula’s arrest (we hope he remains in prison). To think about all the coalitions, all the misled decisions, all the corruption that surely is going to come afterwards is truly devastating. Learn to vote, Brazil! Don’t give up! Or we are going to “fast track” forever.

 

The Importance of Education

The Strait Times

Through the experience lived as a journalist in the SOCHUM committee, I have realized how much education plays a main role in the development of countries and its citizens.

As Jan Eliasson said : « Without peace there is no development, and without development there is no peace »

Development is the education, development is the awareness, development is the economic empowerment, development is the assistance to the ones in need, development is the security, development is giving to each human being a chance.

For the good of the humanity, we have seen that the majority of the delegations committed sacrifices, have made alliances even with their worst enemies just to solve the issues that they are all facing : Migrant-related xenophobia, racism and violence.

This problem covers every part of the world and concerns everybody.

This problem is the consequence of the lack of education.

« We cannot and should not stop people from migration. We have to give them a better life at home. Migration is a process, not a problem » William L.Swing

In order to make this real, it was really breathtaking and flabbergasting to see how 193 countries were reunited, all together, working hand in hand.

They have all understood the main role of education in our lives and societies.

Furthermore, it is qualified as the long-term solution that could fix what is going on in the world : an “easy and mature way” to eradicate discrimination, said the Nigerian delegate.

Education is the best pacific weapon to fight against such controversial issues.

In fact, we all remember Nelson Mandela’s famous quote : « Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world »

In a nutshell, to solve any kind of issue in general, education is the most efficient way. It permits to transmit the humanitarian values to populations’ mentalities from its beginning and prevents the potential existence of such inhuman acts.

As a Singaporean journalist, coming from the other part of the world, this adventure was so enriching and beneficial.

This is a lifetime experience !

Cultural exchange between EU delegates

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“Let me teach you some Latin dance moves,” the German representative said before bringing life to the people waiting outside of the EU committee room. As she takes the hand of the UK delegate, other representatives start introducing their own cultures and dances. Thereby, the lost hours between the committee sessions transform into a “fiesta”. Delegates start teaching others their own language. From Spanish, to French, to even Arabic, each representative has learned new expressions, or even jokes to tell their friends in esoteric languages that only they will understand.

This beautiful experience shows the power of HMUN in gathering teenagers from around the world and anchoring them in our global world. HMUN is now more than a simulation of the UN, it has become the incarnation of the essence of the UN: the harmonious cohabitation of different nations and folks. It is through these interactions that the teenagers grow their human identity while preserving their own national identity and culture.  

 

A COLLECTION OF CULTURES: LAST NIGHT’S EXTRAVAGANZA

Clarín

  The delegates of the HMUN 2018 were met with an eye-opening opportunity the night of  January 27th. Gathered together before a stage, everyone in the audience was witness to a plethora of cultures coming alive.

  Although many delegates showed up in formal Western attire, an equal number grasped the chance to flaunt their traditions and the hall was brought to life by the colourful apparel. Among the most noticeable were Nepali delegates in their traditional hats and the Pakistani delegates- a large delegation- all sporting their national dress of ‘shalwar kameez’.

  Because delegates had gathered from all over the world, there was a collection of cultures being put on display on stage last night, each as breathtaking as the last. There were only a few performances, however, that stole the show. The first was the singing performance prepared by the Indian delegates. One of the boys stepped up to sing the new but beloved Bollywood song ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ while the rest sang internationally popular music such as ‘In the Name of Love’ and songs by Taylor Swift. The Indian delegation ended its performance with the heart-touching melody of ‘We Are the World’ which they felt “fit the situation at hand”.

  Closely following the Indian singers were their neighbours, the show-stopping dancers of Pakistan. As Pakistan is comprised of 5 provinces, the delegates had prepared the traditional folk dance of each province, including the much-loved Pathan ‘atan’ and the Punjabi ‘bhangra’. The performance ended with the audience being swept off their feet in applause. Other delegates got to see the patriotism of Pakistanis as the rest of the Pakistani delegation was constantly cheering the dancers on.

  The event came to an end with an absolutely beautiful performance of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’ by 2 members of the HMUN staff, which delegates began to sing along with.

  All in all, it was an enjoyable experience to see people passionate about and proud of their roots.

A TALENT SHOW IN SPACE: WHERE ARE DELEGATES MORE CONFIDENT?

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The last day of committee in the UNOOSA was spent by the delegates embarrassing themselves. During this last committee session, countries went to the stand and showed off a ‘talent’ to the rest of the committee. When I walked in amidst two delegates belting Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”, I knew something was different. These delegates, who spoke within formal committee for a total time less than the song’s length, were at the front of the room with fifty pairs of eyes and ears focused directly at their poor singing skills. Why couldn’t have they been as charismatic during committee as they were during the “talent” show?

By not having to stress about the pressure of a goal, an award or passing a resolution, due to the committee’s formal conclusion, seemed to take away the nervous air within the cramped conference room. Everyone was enjoying their last few hours at the conference without any cares. But why put that energy into performing silly songs instead of during moderated caucuses, or writing working papers and resolutions? The time here at Harvard Model United Nations would have been much more well spent for delegates that did not contribute as much as they did if their well stored vitality was used productively .

However, that is now in the past and HMUN 2018 has come to a close and resolutions have indeed been passed. Hopefully those apart of the UNOOSA will forever remember South Africa’s rather good Frank Sinatra serenade, the U.S.’s dramatic rendition of Queen, and (somewhat trashy) Taylor Swift, because I know I sadly will.

What Draws the Line Between Politics and Humanity?

irna-news-agency-logo

The room falls silent. Intensity perspires off of the delegates who concentrate deeply on their task at hand. All of a sudden, one delegate cheers as the other puts his or her head down in utter disappointment.

This is not political. There is no debate, and there is no animosity. Instead, there is amusement, celebration, and cooperation between delegations of two drastically different countries. It ties them together and engenders their compassion. What can it be? Video games.

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Inside committee, delegates must advocate the ideals and opinions of their nations. The Delegations of Swaziland and New Zealand from the Disarmament and International Security Committee know this very well. “We may be delegates who possess national obligations to our country, but we are also humans who possess moral obligations to ourselves,” asserted the Delegate from New Zealand. Although the countries of the two delegates have divergent beliefs on the weaponization of natural resources, it doesn’t stop them from sharing an entertaining and humanizing experience outside of committee.

Over 2018 Roses Delivered this HMUN 2018

With Valentine’s Day less than three weeks away, love is in the air, or at least … roses are on the daises. Over the course of HMUN 2018, at least 2500 roses have been sent to delegates in around 30 committees.

“When you walk into the committee … everyone’s really excited,” said HMUN staffer, Andrea. The committee could be mid-debate, but all activities will come to a halt when delegates spot the yellow-and-pink bundles heralding smuggled giggles and blushes to come.

One of the most popular committees, according to HMUN staffer Ryan, has been Legal. In fact, one delegate took to crafting a “love saga” out of rose notes.

The delegate started out his saga through sending at least four roses asking his chair for a thin mint. Once the chair acquiesced, the delegate decided to spice up the narrative up with some poetry and cookies.

With the next rose, the delegate sent up a pack of cookies, with the following attached poem (as paraphrased by HMUN staffer Ryan):

You’re doing a good job,

You’re looking like a snack.

You’re doing really well,

So here’s a whole pack.

In addition to cookie poems, HMUN staffers have been amused to read a plethora of country and Model UN puns.

“You’re the MUN for me,” read one note.

Anyone looking to send a rose must do so before committees end around 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, January 28th. Direct(ive)ing a rose to a committee is a MUNderful way to show your comprehensive, multifaceted appreciation for a delegate. Time’s ticking, so grab a rose and send it to your favorite delegate to end this HMUN 2018 with some color!

UNODC: United Nations Office on Delight and Cheer

South China Morning Post

This morning, Saturday, January 28, the South China Morning Post revisited the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for the last time in the HMUN 2018 Conference. During this visit, students were asked to give their favorite stories from this year’s conference.

The representatives of Chile quickly raised their placard, eager to answer the question. They shared that, before every committee session, the UNODC moderator would put on music and listen to it, sometimes even singing along and dancing. He especially enjoyed “Finesse” by Bruno Mars featuring Cardi B, which eventually became the committee’s “special song”. The delegation of Chile highly enjoyed this daily phenomenon.

Vietnam was next to answer the question explaining the following scenario: during one committee session, the moderator was sharing the messages that come with roses. He found one of these messages particularly funny, and laughed about it for around two minutes. He thought it was so funny, in fact, that he broke into a second bout of laughter during voting procedure and said, “I can’t stop thinking about that joke.” Representative of Vietnam, as well as many other students,  thought his laughter was even funnier than the joke itself, which was, “Steve, you don’t know what those blue Crocs do to me.” Upon hearing this joke again, the UNODC moderator fell to the floor with laughter for a third time, causing the rest of the committee to follow suit.

The delegation of Azerbaijan waved their placard around frantically, excited to call out the UNODC Chair Staff for taking an entire seven and a half minutes figuring out how to lower the blinds. At this point, I decided to try to figure it out myself, only to find a control panel for the blinds on the wall about 30 seconds into trying. Azerbaijan then said that a high school senior from Upstate New York figuring out how to lower the blinds quicker than a group of Harvard students then became his favorite moment of the conference.  

When it came time for me to leave the committee room for the last time, the room erupted into applause, excited to finish the last committee session but also saddened that the 2018 conference is coming to a close. “Everyone has this way of thinking like Harvard Model UN is boring, and that the students participating are no fun,” the representative of Sweden began. “I came into this fearing the same thing. But this committee and the conference as a whole proved me and everyone else wrong. HMUN can be fun!” With that, it comes time to lower the blinds on the HMUN 2018 Conference… and to start preparing for the 2019 conference!

Narrowly Escaping World War 3

New York Times

The fate of the entire world was decided in the conference room of the Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (MCMFA) yesterday evening. As China and the United States inched closer to an all-out war, the ministers in MCMFA were struggling to prevent a conflict that would have cost the lives of thousands, if not millions of soldiers and civilians alike.

The Panama Canal has always been a strategic goldmine, allowing hundreds of freighters and passenger vessels to pass through daily. Unfortunately, some of these ships belonged to the recently established, infamous, and widely feared drug cartel: Frontera Libre. This has led to much discussion among the delegates of MCMFA about tighter control measure surrounding the canal.

But last night, the ministers received even more shocking information. China had invaded the Panama Canal for its own use. When approached by the ministers, a representative told the committee that the national superpower was willing to go into a nuclear war with any nation daring to attack them over the canal.

In an appalling report from the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), it was revealed that an organization known as Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC), supported by numerous countries represented at the conference, had been acting as a middleman for information and arms between China and the Frontera Libre.

At the height of the scare, the United States and China found themselves playing an extremely dangerous game of chicken, with the lives of both of their citizens hanging in the balance, while the other ministers fought to find a diplomatic solution. Thankfully, the committee was able to pass Directive 7, which outlined a comprehensive plan to deal with the invasion, while risking as few lives as possible.

“We want to avoid a nuclear war.” Stated the minister of foreign affairs for the nation of Uruguay shortly after the reports arrived. This quote arrived among calls from other ministers to act against China militarily. The strongest supporter to instigate war with China? The United States, who’s minister was the only one to vote against the decision to grant China access to the canal, ending the standoff.

In an open statement, the minister from the United States had previously told the room “China is working as a terrorist organization.”

If the US had gathered an army to attack the Panama Canal, this would breach Panama’s sovereignty as a nation, and begin what could have been a long and bloody war with China. Because of Article 5 of the NATO treaty, if war had been launched between the US and China, all nations allied with the United States under NATO would be obligated to join the war on its side.

“The canal is open to all business; Chinese, American, European.” Spoke the minister of foreign affairs for Panama, an answer that seemingly satisfied the Chinese Representative. While the United States was clearly not satisfied with the diplomatic solution, there was some amount of celebration between the other ministers after the 14 to 1 vote officializing the diplomatic answer.

China was promised the ability to use the canal just as other nations were able to, even with the possibility of its smuggling of arms and supplies for Frontera Libre. In return, the citizens of the countries involved get to live a war-free life for another day.