Model UNers Receive Seven Awards for Portrayal of Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia
Pace University New York City Model United Nations students were recognized with seven awards at the 2015 National Model United Nations conference in Washington DC, 30 October to 1 November. Pace was ranked fifth out of 68 participating universities and organizations in terms of awards received; it is also the most award Pace has ever received at the NMUN DC conference.
“Model UN has become a hallmark at Pace and the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences is proud to support the team’s great efforts,” said Dr. Nira Herrmann, Dean of Pace University’s Dyson College. “Their hard work and excellent preparation really make a difference, as shown by the consistently high performance of the team, leading to this year’s truly outstanding showing.”
Model UN is a simulation of diplomacy, negotiation and decisionmaking by international organizations. Students play the role of diplomats from Member States of the UN and discuss issues at the top of the global policymaking agenda. Before the conference, they prepare by writing “Position Papers” outlining their delegation’s agenda. Participants in NMUN DC came from institutions in 20 countries.
“As the United Nations this year marks its 70th anniversary, we know there is still a great distance to go in realizing the vision set out in our founding Charter,” wrote UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a letter to the conference. “Through your participation in this Model United Nations, you demonstrate your concern for peace, justice, human rights and human dignity.”
Pace students were representing Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia in simulations of the UN General Assembly, UNESCO, UN Environmental Programme and UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The students representing Croatia were recognized with an “Honorable Mention” delegation award (Yousra Bashir ’16, Hani Bousaleh ’17, Julie Burke ’16, Latrelle Gray Jones-Booker ’17, Melanie Guptar ’18, Margarita Moffett ’16, Emily Patterson ’18, Taslim Tavarez Garcia ’18, Ingrid Soto Tornero ’15 and Amandine Tristani ’15).
Pace students are taught to think critically about their involvement in Model UN and not to see it simply as a “game” or “competition.” The issues being discussed are some of the most sobering global concerns and Pace students seek to represent their countries faithfully and considerately. They benefited from the opportunity to receive briefings from two diplomats from the region working at their countries’ UN missions in New York.
“Our class was an excellent opportunity to gain deep knowledge about a country on specific issues that are current topics through readings and discussions with other students” said Amandine Tristani who, along with her delegation partner Yousra Bashir was representing Croatia in a simulation of the General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security.
“Having interned with an NGO at the UN in the past, I thought everything I could ever learn would be done there. This was not the case,” said Yousra. “Model UN shed light on critical skills regarding negotiation and inclusivity that helped me make sense of what I witnessed as an intern, and can apply to my next job as well.”
Together they received both an Outstanding Delegation and Outstanding Position Paper Award for their work in deliberations on the humanitarian impact of antipersonnel landmines. As a state that has suffered the impact of landmine contamination, Croatia has a significant interest in ensuring effective international “mine action.”
“Being able to meet with a representative of the Croatian mission at the United Nations was a unique academic opportunity, allowing us to get first-hand testimony from a UN diplomat,” said Amandine.
“The Model UN class pushed me to research, find out everything I need to know on the country I was assigned and the readings helped me understand Slovenia’s point of view,” said Prabjoot Lally ’16, who along with Syuyumbika “Susha” Galimova ’17 was also in the First Committee simulation, representing Slovenia, which has coordinated mine action funding in Southeastern Europe. They too were recognized with an Outstanding Position Paper Award.
In the General Assembly Second Committee on Economic and Financial issues, Hani Bousaleh and Latrelle Gray Jones-Booker were awarded an Outstanding Position Paper Award for representing Croatia in discussions of disaster risk reduction. They were able to draw on Croatia’s experience responding to the 2014 Balkan Floods.
In a simulation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), students discussed the growing concerns about threats to World Heritage Sites.
“As a first-time Model UNer, I was not sure what to expect. My familiarity with the UNESCO committee was limited, and even more was my knowledge of Croatia,” said Ingrid Soto Tornero, who represented Croatia in the UNESCO simulation with her delegation partner Margarita Moffett. Also in the UNESCO committee were Kathryn Balitsos ’18 and Ly Nguyen ’17, who represented Serbia.
“My Model United Nations experience was a great opportunity to step into the shoes of another country and collaborate with other students from countries around the world,” said Margarita. To read more of her reflections, click here.
Ingrid and Margarita were recognized with an Outstanding Position Paper Award – Croatia has particular concerns about balancing increased tourism to sites like Dubrovnik with preservation. Ingrid said, “I was utterly shocked when I heard our name called to pick up our award!”
To read more of Ingrid’s reflections on the conference, click here.
Following the UN’s adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in September and anticipating the Climate Change Convention Conference of Parties in Paris, many of the students at the conference found themselves considering the environmental dimensions of their work. This was the focus on a simulation of decisionmaking in the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), in which Nicholas Mucerino ’16 and Jason Vargas ’17 were recognized with an Outstanding Position Paper Award for representing Serbia in discussions on climate change.
“One of the guest speakers at the conference explained to everyone that we must find out what we have a passion for and work for it,” said Jason. “By the end of the conference I realized what my passion really is, it is to work within the field of international law.”
To read more of Jason’s reflections on learning about international law at NMUN DC 2015, click here.
The massive influx of refugees through Southeastern Europe was another major focus of discussions across several committees, but particularly in the simulation of deliberations in the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).
“The unique opportunity to talk to people who work for the UN Missions of some former Yugoslav countries greatly improved my understanding of the country I was about to represent,” said Nigina Khaitova ’18 who, with Antonio Ruggiero ’18, represented Slovenia in the UNHCR simulation, discussing the protection of refugee’s rights in complex crises. They were joined in the committee by students representing Serbia (Thomas Winquist ’16 and Matt Mainzer ’17) and Croatia (Taslim Tavarez Garcia and Julie Burke). To read more of Nigina’s reflections on the UNHCR committee, click here.
“Before our class my understanding of Serbia was superficial, but afterwards I came away with solid comprehension of Serbia’s interests and their goals in the world today,” said Matt. “I plan on pursuing a career in the foreign policy realm and it was immensely constructive to gain an insight into the world’s main body for international negotiations”
The Pace students were supported by four student Head Delegates – Lindita Capric ’15 (graduating this fall), Jennifer Diaz ’16, Vato Gogsadze ’16 and Priya Sakaria ’17 – who have co-taught the class, supported their colleagues and assisted with conference logistics.
“I want to particularly thank the Head Delegates for all their hard work,” said Dr. Matthew Bolton, the Pace New York City Model UN adviser. “They worked diligently to make sure our students were well prepared – without them we wouldn’t have done so well.”
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 65-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.
Pace’s involvement in Model UN is indicative of the university’s broader engagement with the UN. In the last few years, students and faculty have worked closely, particularly with civil society, in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Commission on the Status of Women, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, UN General Assembly First Committee, Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and Arms Trade Treaty.