In recent months, the popularity of Model United Nations (MUN) has soared across campus. It may seem an odd choice of hobby, outside the expected student debauchery, but there have been numerous factors proposed as the reasons for the interest. A hugely popular School of Politics module called Politics of the Great Nations, students back from Erasmus with experience of the competition and those who participated in it during secondary school all seem to play a role.
With this growing interest, a group of students are in the process of gaining society status for the currently unofficial MUNSoc. When asked why there was never this level of interest prior to the last year, Gordon Walsh, at the forefront of the potential society, said that there was a “perceived lack of interest” or “outright mismanagement”. He believes the best way to combat the problem would be to make an official Model United Nations society, to have a dedicated team to both host a MUN competition and to promote it at collegiate level.
UCD LawSoc are also conducting a National Model United Nations (NMUN) for the first time this year. Talking to Ian Fahey, Auditor of LawSoc, he said the idea was spun when their NMUN convenor, Danielle Curtis, returned from Erasmus having represented the Université de Bruxelles in New York last year and was the only Irish delegate out of the 5,000 students participating. He says that they realised there was a “gap in the market”, they believed that the competition would appeal to many students and thought it would be a good idea to hold it under the “umbrella” of a society, believing there to be a “better chance of it happening.”
When both Walsh and Fahey were asked about the potential conflict between the two groups, both were certain that the other’s endeavours could only be good for them. Walsh said that LawSoc’s competition could only aid their application, saying it would demonstrate the interest that the student body has in the competition. Fahey said that LawSoc had been in touch with the potential MUNSoc and believes what they’re doing is “fantastic” and encourages and supports their application.
The format of Model UN is a copy of the actual United Nations process; its General Assembly, its committees such as Chemical Weapons, Probation and UNICEF, and its nation states are all represented. Each delegation represents a country that in reality sits on these committees. With the NMUN, which is the competition that LawSoc is participating in, delegations are given scenarios in late October/early November, after the delegates are chosen. Delegates comes up with a position paper, outlining two or three potential strategies on which to base your argument.
Fahey says that it will “build up your negotiation skills through weekly training” which the society will be providing. Delegates have the opportunity to discuss real-world issues such as aid in Africa, political strife across the world or as the first year politics students discussed last year in their Model UN simulation, the ongoing Crimean crisis. Walsh says that it helps in “better understanding global issues” and the “way international discourse works”. For him it “creates a diversity of opinion that is lacking in traditional two-sided debate formats.” Fahey says that it “develops your mind politically” to have the opportunity to put aside your own personal beliefs and morals towards how one views certain countries, and says it “doesn’t matter” if you disagree with that country’s policies, you have to embody their views regardless.
LawSoc launched the initiative last week with their head delegates, Ian Fahey, Ian Murphy and Danielle Curtis, and will be having information talks on Wednesday, 17th September at 1pm in Meeting Rooms 5, 6 & 7 and Monday, 22nd September at 2pm in the Fitzgerald Chamber. The potential MUNSoc are currently taking applications to participate in their event, which will take place in late February/early March.
For more information, see the UCD NMUN 2015 Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To apply to particpate in MUNSoc’s event, email your name, year, course of study, reasons for wanting to participate and a top five list of countries you’d like to represent during the MUN to email@example.com