Model students gather for a model United Nations conference
A model United Nations conference held in Wellington this month was a great success, according to organisers and participants.
The annual Asia-Pacific Model United Nations Conference (AMUNC) gives its university student delegates experience in negotiation, debate, and diplomacy through role-play.
Almost 400 delegates from 16 countries attended the conference, which was held at the Michael Fowler Centre and Victoria University.
Most were from Australia, 120 were New Zealanders and there were representatives from countries as far-flung as China, Chile, Indonesia, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.
Delegates were split into committees simulating not only United Nations bodies, but also bodies that affect how the UN functions, from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to news outlets like Fox News.
Alistair Espie (23), who is in his last semester of a law degree at Victoria University, performed the role of UN co-secretary-general. He says he received unanimously positive feedback from the AMUNC delegates.
Mr Espie puts the success of the conference down to the hard work put in by the mainly Wellington-based organising committee, or secretariat.
Victoria Rea (18), a first-year university student studying international relations, represented the Wikimedia Foundation NGO.
Ms Rea’s six-person team, which included her sister Brittany, moved between committees and commented on issues ranging from censorship to resolutions to curb violence.
“We were free agents and we got to take the moral high ground”, Ms Rea says.
She found the experience a positive one and enjoyed meeting some very interesting people.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) agreed to become a conference sponsor in 2011, Mr Espie says, which made it easier to secure additional sponsorship from the likes of the British high commission and the United States embassy.
He says the work required in organising and managing the conference “was almost like doing a commerce degree”, including managing finances, human resources and logistics.
Harry Calverly, communications representative for AMUNC, says he experienced “sleepless nights and angry phone calls at 4am” when things weren’t going well, but at the conclusion of the conference was very proud of his contribution.
For Mr Calverly, in the final year of a double degree in marketing and arts, it was a year and half of practical professional development.
It is only the second time the conference has been held in New Zealand and is a first for Wellington. The next AMUNC will be held in Brisbane.
(Photos courtesy of Vicky Chen)