When the United Nations Security Council meets to deal with the most pressing political issues of our era, time does not conveniently stop until negotiations have been concluded. The world’s most intractable problems are constantly changing, they shift rapidly, becoming more complex, adding new dimensions, or even coming to resolution. By contrast, most Model United Nations conferences effectively have a “time-freeze” the day of the conference and only deal with what has happened in the past.
However, the 2013 Model UN conference of the UN University for Peace, attended by 13 Pace University New York City students, had an ongoing “real-time crisis” dimension, a dynamic simulation of conflict in the Korean penninsula. Participants were given regular “news” updates that they had to respond to in their debates and negotiations. In addition, several students — including Pace student Kimberly Alonso ’13 — were given the role of broadcast, print and web media professionals, who held participants to account for their statements in interviews and peppered them with questions at press conferences.
“The world is a dangerous and volatile place and when its leaders meet with the goal of solving contentious international issues, diplomacy under pressure is absolutely necessary, even as if the situation escalates or slides out of control,” said Michael Zona, a head delegate of the Pace University New York City Model UN program, who was recognized with a “Most Diplomatic” award for his savvy representation of Russia in the conference’s simulation of the Security Council. “The cultures of the world are many in number and form, and in order for different cultures to work together, they must be respectful and forthright.”
Michael, a political science major minoring in history and spanish, from Mission Viejo, California, has been involved in Model UN has a long record of excellence in Model UN conferences. He has been recognized with numerous awards at the University of Pennsylvania Model UN Conference (UPMUNC), the National Model UN (NMUN) conferences in New York and in Washington DC, North American Model UN in Toronto (NAMUN), Southern Regional Model UN (SRMUN) in Atlanta and World Model UN in Taipei. He also participated in Model UN all four years in high school.
Also in the Security Council simulation were Pace students Jean Dorak ’13, Kelsey McGhee ’14, Brandon Snively ’14 and Nathaniel French ’15. The theme of the 2013 UPeace Model UN conference was “The Path to Peace in an Increasingly Global Society.” Participants, a mix of 150 college, graduate school and high school students, hailed from 49 countries, the most diverse ever UPeace conference.
“The crisis dimension of the simulation was exciting as I’ve always wanted to participate in such a conference,” said Jean Dorak, an honors student majoring in political science with minors in queer studies and peace and justice studies. “Representing the People’s Republic of China, I was deeply involved in the negotiations and was quoted in the news updates, which was surreal but gave insight into more aspects of public policy.”
“The experience of seeing how delicate the balance between inside the Security Council and what goes on outside is invaluable,” said Jean. “I was able to obtain better insight on the relationship between the media, current events and diplomacy and how they affect public policy and negotiations.”
Jean has also participated in Model UN simulations in Geneva, Philadelphia, and Washington DC, where she was recognized with an “Honorable Mention” award. From Commack, New York, Jean is Senior Budget Allocation Advisor on Pace University’s student government and is an intern at the Association for a Better New York.
“It was really interesting to have to deal with an emergency situation and I loved having the media around as it made the simulation that much more real,” said Kelsey McGhee, a political science major minoring in peace and justice studies, from Laurel, Maryland, who represented Australia. “It allowed me to get to know committee members better as we all had to think on our feet.”
Kelsey has been a volunteer with Viziwi, the Diocese of Central Tanganyika Deaf Partnership in Tanzania. She is also treasurer of the New York campus chapter of Amnesty International.
“Being in a crisis simulation enabled me to learn how to prepare impromptu speeches quickly,” said Brandon Snively, a communication studies major from Newark, Delaware, who represented Argentina. “Even though it was higher pressure than other conferences, I enjoyed the positive work environment and optimistic outlook of the conference.”
Brandon has has participated in Model UN conferences in Philadelphia and New York City, where he won an award for the “Best Position Paper”, representing Tunisia in a simulation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. He has been to Costa Rica before, along with several other Model UN students, as a participant in a Semester at Sea focused on the Millenium Development Goals, which also took him to Peru, Ecuador, Panama and Belize last year.
“This conference was simply life-changing and eye-opening,” said Nathaniel French, a political science major from Amesbury, Massachussetts, who represented Azerbaijan in the simulation.
“Participating in a crisis simulation required the utmost diplomacy in every step of the way,” said Nate, Student Government Association president for Pace’s Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, who has participated in Model UN conferences in Philadelphia and New York City, where he won an award for the “Best Position Paper”, representing Tunisia in a simulation of UNESCO. “It enabled me to respond quickly to the situations at hand while also utilizing techniques of we learned in class.”
Located only two express subway stops from the iconic United Nations complex on the East River, Pace University’s New York City Model UN program has a 60-year history of excellence in regional, national and international conferences. Model UN at Pace is uniquely integrated into the Political Science curriculum within the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences and aims to encourage students to develop wisdom, knowledge, skills and community for global citizenship and vocation.