The Model UN Experience
The Fifty-Second North American Invitational Model United Nations
Washington, D.C., February 12 – 15, 2015
It is Presidents’ Day weekend, and the Washington Hilton is humming with the bustle and excitement of some three thousand high school students dressed in Western business attire. This rather unusual sight is due to NAIMUN LII, the fifty-second annual North American Invitational Model United Nations conference, at which students take on the role of ambassadors to the United Nations, another international organization, or even a historical body. Organized by a large staff of Georgetown University students under the auspices of the Georgetown International Relations Association, delegates debate and negotiate complex diplomatic issues.
The German School’s Model UN team members cap months of preparation when they arrive on Thursday afternoon. Armed with background information on principles and purposes of the United Nations, the organization’s system, the profile of the country or person they represent, and the topics on the agenda, all are eager to deliberate the issues and reach a consensus with other states. The Opening Ceremonies seem almost overwhelming with the sea of faces, but then each delegate moves to his or her committee where the real work is done, and the hallways grow quiet. In the traditional UN or crisis committees, our issues range from international terrorism, sustainable food production, grassroots technology in developing countries, cybersecurity, and the conflict in the Middle East to the composition of the Second Socialist International, the Russian Civil War, and the U.S.-Mexican War on Drugs. Rules of Parliamentary Procedure are followed closely in the larger GA or midsize ECOSOC committees to facilitate debate, caucuses, arguments over working papers, and drafting resolutions. On the other hand, debate in the smaller crisis committees is usually faster-paced, depends on the introduction of new crises, and may take unexpected turns when, for example, “our” Commissar for War Affairs in the Russian Civil War defects to the Whites.
In addition to the work in the committees, we have the opportunity to visit the Saudi-Arabian Embassy on Friday morning. In freezing temperatures and icy winds, we make our way to the Metro and then to the embassy. Almost numb with cold, we warm up as we are given an informative introduction to Saudi Arabia, have questions answered about the Saudi-Arabian position on various issues, and learn about traditional Arabian dress. Between the afternoon and evening committee sessions, the Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders educates us on the work of this humanitarian organization. Friday’s Hilltop Madness and Saturday’s delegate dance provide some relief from intense discussions, but then some of us are called up for an exciting midnight crisis.
After final committee sessions on Sunday, the conference concludes with the Closing Ceremonies, and the hotel slowly returns to normal operations. Until next year!
Director of Model UN Program