Why work simulations (models) of the important world organizations are relevant for both students and the state
4 years ago my friends from the Law School Debate Club tried to persuade me into applying for a conference simulating the work of UN bodies BIMUN (Belgrade International Model United Nations). As an active member of the Debate Club, I have been carefully trying to find excuses not to attend the conference: some of them were my poor knowledge of English language or rules of BIMUN procedure. My friends have been very persuasive- and now I am most grateful to them because of that.
The first simulation that I participated in was BIMUN 2009. The application period ended in 2008. Applications usually include personal information, questionnaires, and motivational fields. The organizers choose the best candidates, assign them a committee, and a country which they are to represent. It is essential to carefully study the real standpoints of the assigned state, which a candidate is to faithfully represent in the simulation process.
It is the usual practice of the organizers to host a seminar in which the candidates get more familiar with diplomacy, diplomatic protocols, and the rules of the procedure in order to be prepared for the simulation.
All of the candidates share one goal – to learn, to debate, to lobby, and to win. If you are interested in international law, international relations, diplomacy, foreign policy, and the ways in which important world organizations operate, then you should not allow yourself the luxury of missing this highly significant event. The range of topics includes realistic and most carefully selected examples from the current world events. Some of the inevitable topics are related to Middle East, Balkans, the issue of nuclear proliferation, human rights, gender equality, reform of the UN, and EU regulations. Each committee is presented with a debate topic in advance in order for delegates to be prepared for the discussion.
The preparation involves drafting of the “position paper” on the assigned topic. After carefully studying the standpoints of the assigned state/ party/ organization, the PP helps the delegate to produce a strategy to stand up for those views. Within the prescribed deadline, the PP is submitted to the organizers’ chairboard for the evaluation of its quality and objectiveness.
Apart from an opportunity to learn a lot about the aforementioned topics, the candidates have the chance to acquire the skills to address their session colleagues with facts and good manners, and to fight for and reach the best interest of the state they represent. The debates are usually held in English language and according to the rules of the procedure, which is identical to the real sessions.
Lobbying takes place during the breaks between sessions and national dinners (when the guest delegates from all around the world present the countries that they come from), or on wild parties which seem to be a very important part of each model. Those parties make an unforgettable experience and many of the very important agreements have been arranged while the representatives of powerful states were holding a glass of high quality wine or whiskey.
The things that I have learned from the first BIMUN preparation seminar I still use today in real life: do not win at all times. This means that all your debates and lobbying should be used for bringing up all of your previously prepared standpoints, but not at any price. A compromise is the key to success in life, as well as in these simulations. Sometimes you need to step back, sometimes you must unconditionally insist on your standpoint, while at other times being neutral is the best option. It is all the matter of judgement and diplomatic skills of an individual.
Resolution (or other type of the final act, depending on the simulation) is adopted according to the real procedures. What they have in common is that after the debates the candidates take over the initiative in drafting final acts. I believe that it is highly important to take place in this process. Among many delegates and many ideas, only the most self confident and persistent candidates will get a chance to elaborate on their propositions, to debate, to lobby, and finally sponsor, first drafts and then resolutions.
The following two points are crucial for a successful course of simulation:
1. A good choice of judges – the Chairman and Vice Chairman
2. A good selection of delegates.
If the chairperson is good – the simulation is successful. It is almost a safe bet. They serve to direct the debate and maintain order by following and respecting the procedure. The selection of delegates makes another important component. Anyone who has ever participated in such simulation will confirm that an unmotivated delegate of even the most powerful states can mess up and that it can lead to unrealistic situation as a result. Therefore, a careful selection leads to a positive result.
Networking is, in my opinion, THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of this whole story, besides education. Such events allow you to meet the people with whom you share similar or same interests, future European and world leaders. The fact that you are given a chance to exchange opinions, ideas, and beliefs is significant by itself. I cannot help but notice that, after a couple of days of simulation in which you played a role (amazingly realistic) of a world calibre diplomat, you can make friendships comparable to the best ones you have ever had. The people I personally had a chance to meet in the models I took part in are, with no exceptions, one of my greatest treasures in life! Apart from participating three times in BIMUN – a simulation with 10 years of tradition (in March 2011, although already too old for the whole story, I had a great honour to carry the title of the best delegate in crisis committee session of the UN Security Council), I also participated in BEUM (the first Serbian simulation of the European Union bodies session), EUROSIMA, EUROMUN, CYMUN, and NYS simulations. In addition to their official websites, it is highly important to follow the pages with MUN calendars in order to be able to decide in which to take part.
The last but not least, you and your friends from around the world can always find some time for sightseeing, to get to know the sights, culture, and customs of the host city.
Please allow me to conclude – that models are, in my humble opinion, and also in the opinions of my respected colleagues with whom I visited Turkey, Netherlands, Cyprus, Belgium, and other countries, the matter of national importance. On the occasion of visiting The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2012 (attending the “Practical diplomacy” course) I elaborated my idea to the former Minister Vuk Jeremic: that the state budget within The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should include a special act of planned and active financial support to the Serbian students participants of the UN, EU, and other important world organizations’ models. The benefit would be twofold: the state would be sending its young ambassadors to represent it in the best possible way to the future world leaders, which would make them experienced professionals familiar with the diplomatic procedures. The Minister supported my idea, and I certainly hope that his personal experience with similar events and his present position will encourage the implementation of that idea.
Please note one thing: once you take part in such event – there is no turning back.