Danny Contreras, our amazing Development intern, share his experience at the model UN conference in L.A.
From October 21st to October 24th, UNM’s World Affairs Delegation competed at Trojan Model United Nations (MUN), which was a collegiate model UN conference hosted by the University of South California (USC) in Los Angeles.
The four day competition brought together college students from around the country to work together to identify and articulate solutions for a variety of worldwide issues. Schools as diverse and different as UNM, the University of Chicago and the University of Denver participated in the conference. Students were separated from their respective university delegations into completely different committees. The topics were wide-ranging and were intended to address a plethora of issues and the diverse realities individuals face around the globe. Topics included creating a COVID response in New Zealand’s Parliament, bioterrorism and even the weaponization of AI, which are all front of mind for today’s diplomats. Creative ideas and innovative discussions were embraced in order to identify solutions by using character role playing. For instance, the students portrayed characters from the Marvel Phase 2 Cinematic Universe with the idea that they would fight out threats from other worlds or some even went back in history to be part of the Imperial Russian Court struggling to keep the government afloat after the assassination of the Romanov Family in 1918.
Once the students were divided into their respective committees, students scrambled to build power blocs. These blocs are formed by a group of delegates who would jointly sponsor bills or resolutions. Sponsors are always going to vote for the resolution, but as each committee session was held it was our respective goal to advocate, fight, negotiate and even compromise with other delegates to obtain votes from other members. To secure votes, delegations were forced to compromise each time, in some form or another, to earn the vote. This typically meant the clauses from the resolution were either amended or deleted to barter for a vote. Historically, blocs merge at the end to secure votes to only have two large blocs. Even up to the last minute these mergers were taking place. Swing votes are most sought after throughout the fast-paced conference.
Conferences like this give students the opportunity to play the role of a diplomat. It forces them out of their comfort zone as students try to balance the problem at hand as well as the clashing interactions with other delegates. It also teaches delegates to stand up for themselves and their ideas, but in a diplomatic and respectful way. At the end, resolutions are voted on. More the one resolution can be passed, and the important thing is to work together to come up with collective solutions and not necessarily advance individual priorities.
The conference ended on Oct 24th, which coincidentally was on United Nations Day. UN Day is a day to commemorate the founding and longstanding history and impact of the institution. The United Nations was created on that day 76 years ago in 1945 after the ratification of the Declaration by the United Nations. Since then, delegations have worked together to combat crises and create solutions for the good of mankind. That is why it is important we support students interested in international relations. These conferences are giving students better training for future endeavors in the field of geopolitics and diplomacy.
Although, it is important to retain people here at home. It is equally important to send them out so they can represent the nation, our individual regions and in some cases even our state to teach the world about New Mexico. Therefore, it is critical to support student organizations like this to further their experience and training. These students are our future outstanding diplomats and global policy makers. The UNM World Affairs Delegation is doing just that. In fact, it is New Mexico’s only collegiate-level MUN club. Next week, it will host New Mexico MUN, which is a high school level Model UN competition in Santa Fe. It will be life changing for high school participants and will take place in the grand setting of New Mexico’s Roundhouse. The delegation knows the importance of giving back today’s youth as it creates and organizes local conferences like this. Apart from helping today’s youth, the delegation sharpens their own skills in the process. They meet weekly to discuss procedures and run through drills in preparation for the big event. Currently, the delegation is fundraising and preparing for its next conference. The World Affairs Delegation will compete next year at the international level at World MUN hosted by Harvard in Tokyo, Japan.
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