Model United Nations: From Youth Engagement to Global Diplomacy

EuroMUN is the Model UN conference held every year at Maastricht University. It’s an exciting way for students to learn about global governance, what drives international law, and the purpose of research into public policy and human development. Basically an academic simulation of the United Nations, the event gathers young people from around the world to debate issues of global concern while learning the procedures of a real international conference.

217009_10151353275726971_1477528041_nIn the course of five days EuroMUN replicates the work of 12 committees, with debates on everything from e-commerce in Europe to the rights of indigenous populations. It gives participants a comprehensive understanding of the operations of the committees and an environment to reflect on ‘hot’ topics in the global policy agenda. Ahead of the conference, delegates study the procedural rules and set out their country’s ‘position’. What makes it really interesting is that they rarely represent their countries of origin.

2013: Diversity and Diplomacy
This year’s EuroMUN was held in Maastricht from 1-5 May under the banner ‘Global Engagement: Embracing Diversity Through Cultural Diplomacy’, drawing 600+ student-delegates from various nationalities and educational backgrounds.

As the delegate of Burkina Faso, I took part in the Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian (SOCHUM) committee, one of the two biggest committees of this year’s conference, with 110 delegates representing countries from all over the world. SOCHUM is an advisory committee to the General Assembly of the UN concerned with social and humanitarian issues.

The agenda included the political 11915_10152163697667565_1595399014_nparticipation of indigenous communities and setting up a follow-up framework for the Millennium Development Goals. The delegates raised many issues related to the two topics and presented various points of view throughout the conference. Diplomatic alliances emerged on the basis of common priorities, and working papers were drafted, discussed and voted upon.

As a Bulgarian representing Burkina Faso I had to study the situation of a Least Developed Country, understand the problems it faces and defend its position on various issues. It was a great learning experience. My fellow delegates and I found that being assigned to represent foreign countries challenged us to alter the angle from which we look at global problems and helped us to develop a broader view on the topics.

Taking part in the conference allowed us to see how difficult it is to reach common ground on global issues and how challenging the process of policy making on a global level can be. EuroMUN made me realize the importance of sound diplomatic skills in high level policy discussions. The ability to express views and opinions in a very clear and at the same time diplomatic manner was essential to forge successful alliances and accomplish our mission as delegates.

First and foremost, EuroMUN was a learning experience in learning by doing. In other words, joining formal discussions, drafting official working papers and resolutions, and getting to know different people and considering various points of view.

947277_10152163706362565_423100542_nby Eli Stoykova, Research Intern at Maastricht Graduate School of Governance / UNU-MERIT.