On Wednesday 11 February, I was lucky enough to attend the Victorian Model United Nations (VicMUN) conference at Monash University’s Clayton campus. I was the first FedUni student to have attended this event, and my entire trip was funded thanks to a bursary from the Student Leadership Program.
The conference went for three days and various activities were on offer to attendees — networking sessions, speeches from politicians, a club night, a finale ball and a closing ceremony which was hosted in the Victorian State parliament.
The conference is essentially a simulation of the United Nations and it promotes student interest in politics, law or international relations; increases the capacity for students to engage in problem solving, conflict resolution, research and communication skills; and creates a platform to meet new people and make friends. There are around 400 MUN conferences held each year, worldwide.
At the recent VicMUN, delegates gained insight into the working of the UN by recreating, in theory, the spirit of diplomacy that originally defined the United Nations. The participants debated and tackled various global issues from the perspective of a delegate representing a member of the UN.
There were many different committees — Human Rights Council, Security Council, General Assembly, press corps — and each dealt with a specific set of issues. Each committee’s aim was to pass a resolution which helped to address the issues that were discussed. Some committees were more successful than others, just like in real life. I was in the press corps as a representative for ABC News. As a press delegate, I was allowed to sit with each committee and to witness how events unfolded.
Participation at VicMUN was rigorous, but rewarding. Each delegate was confronted with the need to set aside their personal opinion and take up the official policy of the country they had chosen to represent. This was difficult, especially when the topics being discussed were controversial, for example: addressing the Human Rights of LGBTI individuals; and the question of continued Israeli settlement in Palestinian Territories.
We held a mock press conference where we asked the delegates questions about their opinions on particular issues. At the end of each session, I wrote articles on the committee that I was sitting in and if you’re interested you can find them online here. The press corps delegates were also responsible for updating the VicMUN Twitter feed with breaking news from each committee. In my opinion the press corps was the best way to get an idea of how the Model UN works.