Thursday, April 27, 2017

UNO's National Model United Nations Team Marks Seven Years of Award-Winning Performances

The University of New Orleans Model United Nations Delegation recently returned from the National MUN Conference in New York where its representation of the Republic of Haiti and Ukraine earned an honorable mention award. NMUN-NYC is the world's largest and most prestigious conference of its kind, bringing nearly 5,000 students from around the globe to spend a week simulating the caucusing, resolution writing, and negotiating of the United Nations.

"All of the UNO students enjoyed the opportunity NMUN affords them to network on an international level while at the same time showcasing the University of New Orleans," said John Hazlett, director of the University's bachelor's degree program in international studies. "After seven years of award-winning participation, it seems sure that the program will continue to grow. Interested students should keep an eye out for open recruitment starting in September."

According to Hazlett, this is the eighth time that UNO has been selected to compete and the seventh consecutive year the UNO delegation brought home an award. The team has previously represented St. Vincent and the Grenadines (2010), Honduras (2011), Austria (2012), Socialist Republic of Vietnam (2013), Syrian Arab Republic (2014), the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal (2015) and the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand (2016).

The 20-member UNO delegation was as diverse in countries of origin as it was in academic levels and disciplines represented. Students from nine different home countries, including Austria, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Jordan, The Netherlands, Palestine, the United States and Venezuela, represented all levels of study and 13 different fields of study, including anthropology, biology, chemistry, engineering, film, history, interdisciplinary studies, international studies and political science.

Conference attendees included Matthew Bravender, Hope Brusstar, Nigel Copeland, Adriana Farrell, Ariel Hernandez, Milan Holman, Daniel Lamplugh, Jamie Lloyd, Juan Jose Lopez, Lorvelis Madueño, Amanda Mancilla, Lana Mitwali, Hannah Mohr, Alexis Reed, Barbara Roberson, Lauryns Rodrigue, David Sala, Nicholas Wallis, Chance White and Rana Zeidan.

Year-Long Preparation

The group began meeting early in the 2016 fall semester, when they selected their delegation members and successfully petitioned the National MUN Office to represent Haiti and Ukraine at the conference. In the spring, the group began meeting twice weekly in the course IS 3060 (Model United Nations), a course Hazlett organized as part of the University's B.A. program in international studies. During the course, students had the benefit of meeting several Haiti experts who were current and former diplomats and Department of State representatives. The group met with Linda Thomas-Greenfield, former U.S. ambassador to Liberia, to learn about diplomacy in the lesser developed countries of West Africa. The class participated in an online colloquium held at Brooklyn College that featured Kenneth Merten, a former ambassador to Haiti and current state department acting principal deputy assistant secretary and Haiti special coordinator, who spoke on recent Haiti foreign policy. The class also held Skype sessions with Stacy Williams, executive secretary in the state department’s Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator, and Pamela White, U.S. ambassador to Haiti from 2012-2015. The MUN delegation’s final briefing session took place in New York with two representatives from the Haiti Permanent Mission to the UN, Minister-Counselor Willy Louis and First Secretary Azaire Paul, who have roles most resembling those that the students would play during the conference.

In the Model UN course, students paired up to practice public speaking, study Haiti history, and write position papers covering 27 topics chosen by the National Model UN staff. These topics included terrorism, sustainability and development, nuclear disarmament, migration and human rights, civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict, green economy and transportation and clean water accessibility, among others. During the extensive preparation process, the 2017 delegation had the benefit of guidance from fellow student David Teagle, past president of the UNO Model UN student organization and a key advisor to the group.

Rewards and Opportunities

Once again, the UNO Model UN received generous support from the UNO administration to cover airfare and hotel costs for the trip to New York, Hazlett said. Additional support was provided by the UNO Division of International Education, Center Austria, the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Human Development, the B.A. in International Studies program as well as several UNO faculty, students and private citizens who contributed through a crowd funding campaign conducted with help from the UNO Office of Advancement.  The UNO community’s commitment to and support for the MUN program has, as always, helped motivate the team to perform at their best.

Students worked diligently from 8:30 a.m. until midnight every day of the five-day conference, which was held from April 9 to April 13.  As representatives of Haiti’s interests, it was the UNO delgation’s job to articulate that country’s position on the assigned topics and to work with other delegations to formulate a UN resolution. The two students who represented Ukraine on the Security Council were tasked with finding a solution to the failed state crisis in Libya. Students had to employ all of their speaking skills to persuade other nations’ delegates to adopt a program compatible with the priorities of Haiti and Ukraine. The highlight of the week came on the final day, when all delegates packed the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations to listen to closing speeches by diplomats and UN officers and receive their awards.