Meeting in the United Nations’ grand Palais des Nations, Pace University New York City students were recognized with three awards for their participation in debates regarding the challenges of “Access to Energy” at the 15th annual Geneva International Model United Nations (GIMUN) conference in Switzerland March 22-28, 2014.
“GIMUN was an extraordinary learning experience that made me realize that my true passion lies in helping others and working for human rights,” said Lindita Capric ’16, a political science major and peace and justice studies minor, one of the seven Pace students who were selected to participate as delegates in the prestigious conference. “It taught me about policymaking protocol, how the United Nations functions, current international issues, public speaking skills and persuasive writing tactics; all of which will be useful for my future career.”
Pace students joined 191 other students from more than 55 countries, meeting in the auspicious surroundings of the Palais — the former League of Nations headquarters and now home to the UN Office in Geneva.
“Access to energy is one of the most pressing issues of our time and it relates to many of the other challenges facing our world, including achieving environmental sustainability, human development, fair trade and peaceful resolution of conflict,” said Dr. Matthew Bolton, faculty advisor to the Pace University New York City Model UN program, who, along with Dr. Emily Welty, director of peace and justice studies, accompanied the students to Geneva. “I was very proud to see the research skills, diplomatic aplomb and cross-cultural savvy our Pace students displayed in debating these complex topics.”
Unlike many Model UN conferences, GIMUN — an initiative of the University of Geneva’s Global Studies Institute — places an emphasis on “collaboration not competition” and endeavors to add layers of complexities to the simulation. These include a daily newspaper that reports on the delegates’ work and bilingual simultaneous interpretation between French and English.
“Since the conference was bilingual, it pushed me to learn more about being diplomatic — skills I know will continue to be useful throughout my life,” said Shade Quailey ’15 — a political science major with minors in pre-law, business and peace and justice studies — who represented Italy in a simulation of the Human Rights Council and will serve as a Pace Model UN Head Delegate in the 2014/2015 academic year. “It was truly an amazing experience to be in the actual United Nations building, knowing that there were real life discussions, going on in the real HRC, which was meeting in a room right above us.”
Shade was joined in the HRC by fellow Pace delegates Elena Marmo ’15 and Jacqueline “Jackie” Kelleher ’15 — current Pace Model UN Head Delegates — and Lindita, who will join the Head Delegate team next year.
Their committee considered questions of whether access to energy should be considered a human right and whether foreign control of natural resources represents a violation of national sovereignty. These topics pitted Pace students on opposite sides of the debates.
Elena and Lindita, representing Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch respectively, teamed up to push states to uphold high standards of human rights. As Non-Governmental Organizations, they could speak in the committee but were not able to vote. They thus had to seek out other, less direct methods of persuasion, including buttonholing delegates, publishing a voting guide and calling out states which consistently violated global norms. Elena, a political science major and peace and justice studies minor, was recently profiled on Pace University’s website in recognition of her many accomplishments.
Occasionally, Elena and Lindita were able to persuade Shade — representing Italy — to join them and bring along some European Union states. However, their strongly expressed positions put them in direct conflict with Jackie, who was representing Venezuela. With Pace delegates gave competing accounts of the proceedings, the debate even spilled into the pages of the daily conference newspaper, which dedicated a full page profile highlighting Jackie’s work.
“My big takeaway from this conference was that I was able to make connections to people from all over the world who share my passion for International Relations,” said Jackie, a political science and international management major. “Who knows? I may be working with some of them again in the future!”
Elena and Jackie were awarded for their impressive performance in the committee, embodying the principles of tough but diplomatic representations of their respective positions.
“The linguistic aspect of the conference was very exciting for me,” said Kyla Korvne ’15, a political science major with minors in peace and justice studies, sociology/anthropology and French, who received an award for her representation of Burkina Faso in a simulation of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). She found her French minor particularly helpful at GIMUN. “It was incredibly empowering to be one of the English speakers on the committee whom the French speakers knew they didn’t need an interpreter to speak to.”
In their ECOSOC discussions on sustainable energy, Kyla and Rumsha Zahid ’15, found themselves at the center of fierce negotiations between oil-exporting and industrializing countries whose economic growth depends on fossil fuels and states seeking protection from environmental degradation and climate change.
“GIMUN challenged me in ways that brought out the best in me, both as a student and as an someone yearning to make the world a better place,” said Rumsha, a political science major and criminal justice minor who represented Albania. “This conference gave me the opportunity to experiences different cultures, to explore and see the other side of the globe.”
In the UN Development Programme (UNDP) committee, GIMUN participants considered the intersections of energy access problems with poverty and natural disasters, focusing particularly on the situation in Haiti.
“I am so grateful for the amazing experience I had at GIMUN,” said Klaudia Remiszewska ’15, a political science major and peace and justice studies minor who represented Germany in UNDP. “It can be very intimidating to work with individuals from around the world with different cultures, but after this class I feel more comfortable doing so and feel inspired to work at the international level.”
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 more than a 60-year history of excellence in regional, national and international conferences. Model UN at Pace is a class, 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 vocation and citizenship.