By Ashley Angus and Stephanie Falconer
The 2015 Asia-Pacific Model United Nations saw outstanding participation from La Trobe University. Three students won awards for Best Delegate, Honourable Mention, and Best Director – the highest award possible.
A team of 8 students studying degrees in Law, International Relations, Politics and Psychology travelled to Perth to compete in the 21st Asia-Pacific Model United Nations conference (AMUNC).
All but two of the delegates were new to the Model United Nations scene and they represented La Trobe superbly. The model UN is an academic simulation of the United Nation in which students debate issues and situations that impact the world. This includes navigating the rocky relations between many nations and juggling concepts such as Western imperialism in order to reach diplomatic and workable solutions to real world problems. Each participant was assigned a country to represent and was required to participate in UN committees. Students were required to submit two resolutions outlining their countries’ position on the assigned topics. During a week of gruelling six hour committee sessions, delegates debated their assigned topics and worked toward draft resolutions. Mimicking the ‘real’ UN, some committee resolutions passed whilst others failed.
The La Trobe delegation joined over 800 students from universities across the Asia Pacific to compete in one of the largest Model UN competitions in the region. The conference, which lasted for 5 days, saw many debates, insights from guest speakers such as Dr Fiona Wood and Senator Scott Ludlum and, of course, amazing socials! The delegates made a lot of new friends and lasting connections during the conference which they will carry with them for the remainder of their studies and well into their working lives.
Of the La Trobe delegation, three were recognised with awards at the closing ceremony. Jackson Dyer, an experienced competitor, was a director of the Crisis Council, which operates alongside the standard committees. He demonstrated outstanding leadership and organisational skills to win the most prestigious award of Best Director. Steffi Falconer, the Head Delegate of the La Trobe delegation, won Best Delegate out of 30 people in her committee, in her role as Libya on the African Union. Edmund Simpson received one of two Honourable Mentions awarded to members of the ASEAN committee.
La Trobe University has participated in a number of MUN conferences and has developed a strong reputation in the student international relations community. Indeed, La Trobe had delegates representing Turkmenistan at the Harvard World Model United Nations Conference (WorldMUN) in Seoul, Korea in March 2015. A group of 6 delegates ventured to Seoul and enjoyed hearty debate on topics ranging from global responses to cyber warfare, where to go after the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals and even the universally topical issue of the right to seek asylum. As one of the largest MUN conferences across the globe, WorldMUN saw 2,500 delegates come together from all over the world to participate in a truly international event. A highlight of WorldMUN was the amazing socials that included ‘Global Village’, an event where delegates could sample food and drink from nations that had students attending the conference. (The delegates from all of the Australian universities banded together to set up a stall where people could taste vegemite, fairy bread and Minties). Other socials included a dance party at a hybrid night club/ice skating rink and a Cabaret night with themed acts by brave delegates (La Trobe included). Delegates even got to enjoy one of two in-conference trips which took them to see either cultural landmarks in Seoul or the DMZ.
La Trobe is also hoping to send a delegation to WIMUN in New York City in November 2015. This conference will take place at the UN Headquarters and will involve direct exposure to the operations of the UN.