Pace University New York City Model United Nations students were recognized with six awards at the 2017 National Model UN conference in New York City (NMUN NY), 19-23 March 2017. This tied them 17th (along with California State University-Sacramento and Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics) out of 153 participating universities and institutions in the number of awards received.
Pace University students were representing Iraq and Tanzania in simulations of 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.
“Today, people around the world are inter-connected,” wrote Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General in a letter to the conference. “At Model UN, you broaden your horizons. By learning and networking, you can be part of the UN’s efforts to establish peace, secure human rights and enable all people to live in dignity.”
The Pace students representing Iraq were recognized with an “Honorable Mention” delegation award (Alanoud Alammar ’18, Emili Kalashnikova ’20, Sarah Khanfar ’20, Dorin Khoiee-Abbasi ’19, Malissa Kelly ’19, Curtis Robinson ’19 and David Sharif ’19).
“Model UN is a life-changing experience,” said David Sharif, who represented Iraq in a simulation of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. “My participation at the conference motivated me to apply my skills through public speaking, interactions with others, and writing papers in different formats. These skills will be important for my future.”
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.
Helping “those who are very shy be heard in the group,” was key to the success for Malissa Kelly who, along with her delegation partner Curtis Robinson received Outstanding Position Paper awards for their representation of Iraq in a simulation of the Commission for Social Development.
“When the same person continues to speak you can stop them and say that another person who has been trying to speak has something to say,” said Malissa. “This helps the group trust you more, since you care about their voices as well as yours.”
NMUN NY “was extremely diverse,” said Sarah Khanfar, who was awarded an Outstanding Position Paper award for her representation of Iraq in a simulation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “I had the opportunity to work with so many brilliant students and make connections and friendships with people from around the globe.”
Emili Kalashnikova and Dorin Khoiee-Abbasi also representing Iraq, received an Outstanding Position Paper for their work in a simulation of UN Habitat.
“During this time of great political polarization in the United States, the Model UN conference and class have taught me how important it is to advocate for people especially those who have been marginalized,” said Dorin. “As a student who has taken various political science, peace and justice studies, and philosophy courses, I was finally able to apply skills I learned in those classes at the conference.”
More than half of the participants of NMUN NY came from outside the USA. The conference’s opening ceremony featured speeches from Hina Shamsi (director of the National Security Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Michael Eaton, NMUN’s executive director. Both speakers stressed — given concerns about growing xenophobia, bigotry and racism in the USA — that “all are welcome.”
Maria Parubi ’19 and Edward Thiede ’20 were also given an Outstanding Position Paper award for representing Tanzania in a simulation of the UN Environment Assembly. Other students representing Tanzania included Deanna Turzi ’17 and Elianie Disla ’18 (in a simulation of the Commission on the Status of Women) and Carina Babenko ’22 and Kaisia Williams ’19 (UN General Assembly Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian).
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. In 2016, Pace University was featured in a report by then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, recognizing its “growing role in disarmament education.”