This past Saturday the Metro Detroit Model United Nations Organization held its fifth MeDMUN conference. Nearly 200 delegates across 8 committees debated pressing issues from drug trafficking in the Americas to the effects of climate change on indigenous populations and a reformation of the Security Council sanctions process.
The Metro Detroit Model United Nations Organization attended the SouthEast Michigan Model United Nations Association (SEMMUNA) Conference on Saturday. Held at Brighton High School, the conference featured over 20 schools in over 13 different committees.
The MeDMUN organization, led by Undersecretary General of the Regional Bodies, Sydney McKinstry, led around 25 delegates in a simulation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The delegates argued over the situation of refugees in the Mediterranean. Areas of particular focus and disagreement were the resettlement of refugees from Greece and Italy to Northern European countries and what actions should be taken to help reduce the number of deaths in the Mediterranean. All in all, the delegates had a great time, passing several resolutions and learning more about the critical situation in the Mediterranean.
The Metro Detroit Model United Nations Organization held its first Metro Detroit Security Councils at Macomb Dakota High School. With 7 schools competing and nearly 100 delegates the event was a success. As an end of season conference, we decide to depart from our typical MeDMUN orthodoxy on offer team and delegate awards. The Best Delegation awards were won by Clay High School and Lake Orion High School.
Secretary General for MeDMUN V and MeDSeC I
As we get further into the Spring semester the Secretariat has finalized its committees, topics, and countries for MeDMUN V. We pick these topics early so as to allow our legal chairs and moderators plenty of time to research and understand the topics’ intricacies before they sit down to write their background guides and primary sources. The background guides, which are usually 6 pages, but can be as long as 10, usually take about 3 months to write from the initial topic introduction written by the Undersecretary Generals (USGs) to the final finished product published in September. Alongside these background guides staffers will write primary source documents that help direct delegates to key treaties, speeches, and agreements about the topic. Finally, before any staffers can participate at MeDMUN, they will undergo a 1-2-hour training session over skype that will go over our parliamentary procedure as well as other our expectations for the conference. Over the last year we have also worked to incorporate a training lesson on soft skills so that our moderators and legal chairs are more comfortable going and interacting with delegates to ensure that they do not need help and to direct them in a more substantive direction if possible.
Similarly, our crisis staffers also have spring and summer research to complete. At MeDMUN V we are offering our first all-crisis committee as well as our traditional integrated crisis offerings. Crisis staffers will contribute to the initial crisis breaks, create crisis trees to map out potential pathways for the crisis, and write delegate biographies for committees in which delegates are representing people rather than countries. This work will be completed over the summer, with the anticipated publication of all biographies in September and October and the disclosure of crisis updates at MeDMUN V.
We pride ourselves on our hardworking staff and know that their research helps us create a more substantive dialogue between our delegates. To ensure all of these materials are at their highest quality, all guides, primary source documents, crisis updates, and delegate biographies are edited by the USGs and Secretary General throughout the Spring and Summer.
The Metro Detroit Model United Nations Organization held the fourth MeDMUN Conference on January 6th, 2018. Despite some snow and frigid temperatures, around 250 delegates and 15 schools competed at Walled Lake Western High School.
The day started with an opening ceremony where we welcomed Josephine Jabara from World Medical Relief for a keynote address. After being dismissed from the ceremony delegates dove into debate in our 10 different committees.
The General Assembly committees saw fierce debates over cybersecurity and the situation in Myanmar. The Regional Bodies saw delegates take the role of Arctic Council member states working to protect indigenous cultures, Asian nations trying to prevent a future war, and the Arab League working to end the Civil War in Yemen. There was a particular scandal in the Arctic Council as a Russian indigenous group attempted to seize power and end oil drilling throughout the Russian and Scandinavian Arctic by holding oil workers hostage. Only back channel negotiations made it possible to avoid an all-out confrontation and save many of the hostages. Across the Specialized Agencies a similar level of drama played out. Mayors at the American City summit battled the federal government who tried to rescind their federal funding and pollutants being dumped into major waterways. The Security Council helped stabilize the Central African Republic, but not before a hostage crisis threatened to undermine the whole project. Delegates even survived several veto threats to improve legal protections for civilians in war-zones. The Ad-Hoc and UNHCR saw dynamic debate centering on arms control and the situation of refugees. Both were able to establish long-lasting solutions that garnered almost unanimous support.
The day concluded with a closing ceremony where we recognized the Consummate Diplomats and Consummate Staffers. The Consummate Diplomats were recognized by the moderators and legal chairs in their committees. We seek to recognize not those delegates who write the most resolutions, or sponsor the most amendments; but the delegate who contributes to the committee in a substantive manner. They also continue to advocate for the position of their nations while seeking to forge compromise.
MeDMUN IV was a successful conference and we look forward to building on the day’s success for MeDSeC I and MeDMUN V next year. We hope to see all of you again soon.
We are pleased to announce the election of Alison Shereda, Julia Iaquinto, and Sydney McKinstry as the Undersecretary Generals for the General Assemblies, Crisis Committees, and Regional Bodies, respectively. The three of them will join Mitchell Dennis, Secretary General, and Jordan Philllips, Undersecretary General for the Specialized Agencies on the Secretariat for MeDSeC I and MeDMUN V. Alison is a freshman at Michigan State University where she is studying international relations. Alison brings positive experience to the Secretariat, having attended MeDMUN I, II and III as a delegate, and staffing the Security Council at MeDMUN IV this January. Additionally, she competes on and staffs Michigan State’s Model UN team and high school conference.
Julia Iaquinto will serve as the USG of Crisis after having served this past year as the USG for the Regional Bodies. Studying political science at the University of Michigan, as well as staffing their high school conference, Julia will help make MeDMUN’s and MeDSeC’s crisis updates and scenarios as innovative as possible. Before joining the Secretariat for MeDMUN IV, she helped run Dakota’s Model UN Club and participated at MeMDUN I and II as a delegate.
Sydney McKinstry rounds out the recently elected Secretariat members, having won a 2-year term to organize the Regional Bodies. A student at the University of Michigan studying History and Psychology, Sydney staffs the University’s competitive conference as well as various MAGEC conferences. Bringing this experience to MeDMUN, she has staffed MeDMUN III and IV and looks forward to bringing innovative committees to life at MeDMUN V.
All Undersecretary Generals serve 2 year terms and will serve for both MeDMUN V and VI in this capacity.
Secretary General for MeDMUN IV
On Saturday November 18th, 4 MeDMUN staffers participated in the SEMMUNA Conference. They ran a simulation of the Special Political Committee in which delegates discussed and debated the Lake Chad Basin Crisis. Despite nearly all the delegates being brand new to Model UN, a positive and informative debate was held. The MeDMUN staffers were especially pleased with the level of participation exhibited by all delegates.
After several hours of debate, the committee entered voting procedure with 2 resolutions and several amendments. The first resolution, which had been attacked for being too vague, saw one amendment added to it. Ultimately, Resolution A1 failed to pass, with 5 delegates voting in favor, 13 against, and 3 abstentions. The committee then voted on Resolution A2, which had been assailed for being too prescriptive and specific in its solutions. Resolution A2 saw all 4 amendments successfully pass and was ultimately passed with 17 votes for it, 3 against, and 1 abstention.
Undersecretary General for the Specialized Agencies
Jordan: How did your Model United Nations journey begin?
Chris: After a successful first year and only year of MUN in high school. Mitchell Dennis asked me to join the MeDMUN staff during its inaugural conference. I started as a moderator during the first two years and then ran for Undersecretary General my third year.
Jordan: What is your most memorable Model UN moment?
Chris: Considering I only did MUN for one year, the most memorable moment was the MAMUN conference. It was at this time that everything finally clicked for me and the conference went much better than I could’ve ever expected it to.
Jordan: What is the best part about being an Undersecretary General for MeDMUN?
Chris: The conference without a doubt. It’s the moment when of all your work culminates from the past year. As an Undersecretary General, the day is a whirlwind of events, but seeing the final product makes it all worth it.
Jordan: What is the most challenging part of it?
Chris: I would say the time management aspect. Working as a USG can be time consuming at certain points throughout the year; especially with classes, work, and other extra curricular activities. However, Mitchell, our Secretary General makes sure to provide adequate amounts of time to complete tasks.
Jordan: What inspired you to take on the role of charity coordinator for MeDMUN?
Chris: Honestly, it was just something that Mitch and I both felt was important to improving the conference and engaging the delegates with the community at a more tangible level. I was excited that we had the opportunity to give back to the community and provide delegates the chance to take what they did in their committees and apply it to the metro Detroit area.
Jordan: In your opinion, what skills does partaking in Model UN teach students?
Chris: It really teaches individuals how to debate in a diplomatic manner and requires students to gain a world view as they represent their country. Students have to understand both sides of the topic and what solutions may appeal to the majority. All the while, delegates will obtain global perspectives that they would not come across otherwise.
Jordan: Why is Model UN important to you?
Chris: MUN is important to me because it taught me how to be confident when speaking in front of large groups.
Jordan: Do you have any advice for students looking to get involved in Model UN?
Chris: If your friends told you to jump off a bridge, should you do it? No (well, that depends on how high up it and what’s below). If your friends tell you to join MUN, should you do it? Yes! Because it is a great experience that prepares you for college, looks good on a resume, builds countless skills, and is so much fun that you will wish you joined a year earlier.
Undersecretary General for the Specialized Agencies
Jordan: So what made you want to start your own Model United Nations conferences?
Mitchell: I decided to start MeDMUN as I felt that some of the conferences I had attended as a high school delegate did not reflect what I felt should be included in a conference. This is not to say that these conferences were not well run, educational, or enjoyable; rather I felt there were clearly areas for improvement. Additionally, after attending my final conference as a high school delegate, I just did not feel as if I could stop participating in Model UN in some form.
Jordan: What obstacles did you encounter as you developed MeDMUN?
Mitchell: In its first year, MeDMUN faced plenty of obstacles. The first thing I did, in March of 2014, was write a plan that outlined the basics of the conference, such as its format and date. Also included were schools that we knew had Model UN clubs. In May of 2014, I sent out invitations via mail to nearly 40 schools, and not one school responded. That fall I ended up switching over to email invitations and luckily was able to get into contact with several interested schools. In this way, right from the start, we were faced with the major obstacle of whether schools would buy into coming to a new conference that was not backed by an existing set of organizers or a University.
Jordan: Were there times where you doubted yourself?
Mitchell: Yes! I would say that in the months leading up to conference, about 60% of my time is spent doubting how well the future conference will go. Luckily, as we’ve grown our conference and our secretariat, I am beginning to doubt less and less about our viability and the quality of MeDMUN.
Jordan: Who and what contributed to the success of your vision?
Mitchell: There have been so many people who have contributed to bringing MeDMUN together. From my parents, to Walled Lake Western’s adviser and my first staffers. Above all, I think that the vision we articulate, of inclusivity, participation, and engaging with new perspectives, is a vision that delegates and many like and want to experience. Furthermore, being able to organize and stay on top of the many little details is really important to bringing the vision together. You need to start with an outline and then be able to change the outline as you move forward and learn more about yourself and more about the vision you want to achieve.
Jordan: What is your favorite part about running a Model UN conference?
Mitchell: There is so much that I love, but what I think I enjoy most about running MeDMUN is seeing all of our planning and effort result in a finished conference that allows delegates to learn for themselves and from each other. We start planning for the next MeDMUN the Sunday after the conference, we develop plans, committees, and assemble our staff; but all of this is done in the abstract as we cannot know what the next MeDMUN will actually be like until we make it to the next conference.
Jordan: How much time do you dedicate to MeDMUN?
Mitchell: During less busy periods, I devote usually 5 hours a week to MeDMUN, checking out potential committees and at other conferences, reading their rules of procedure for ideas and other things like that. In the busy months, such as the 2 months preceding the conference, the week we hire our new staffers, and the last background guide check, I usually spend 10-15 hours a week focused on MeDMUN.
Jordan: Why is Model UN important to you?
Mitchell: Model UN is history, politics and international relations in action. As someone who loves to study these topics, being able to interact with my peers in a competitive environment was perfect. However, more importantly, Model UN has truly changed me as a person, making me more social and confident. As a conference organizer, Model UN has a similar meaning, but has also allowed me to create a venue for delegates to explore more unusual topics from new and different perspectives. As an educational tool, Model UN is phenomenal.
Jordan: Do you have any advice for students looking to get involved in Model UN?
Mitchell: DO IT! I was really shy in high school, but Model UN was so important in helping me get out of my shell and become more confident in myself. At first it can seem daunting to put oneself out in front of other people, but I think it is really liberating in a way. As a new delegate, you should keep in mind that all the other delegates are as nervous and self-conscious as you are, so get involved!
MeDMUN IV Secretary General
As we have finalized the countries for the 10 MeDMUN IV committees, now listed on each committee's web page, we are often asked how countries are selected. The process by which conferences select countries for their committees and assign countries to participating schools can seem opaque. While all committees that are based on real, existing committees have their membership determined by the real world, such as the United Nations Security Council and Regional Bodies like the Arab League, larger committees that are simulated at MeDMUN are often times too large to include all the countries. How do we select which countries to place in the committee and which to not include? Moreover, how does MeDMUN assign countries?
For some committees, we do not pick the countries. These committees are generally smaller, so it is possible to ensure that every country will be represented in each committee. Because we limit our largest committees to 50 countries, so that delegates will have more opportunities to speak and participate, in our simulations of the General Assembly or our customized Ad-Hoc and Local Committees, we pick the countries. We choose to simulate committees in which we cannot fit all of the countries because we think the topic is important and often overlooked at larger conferences, and we want to limit the size of our committees. In this way, it is important that we balance our larger committees so that a variety of perspectives are represented, not just the major countries of the world. It would be unfair and an unrealistic to only have a certain perspective represented in a committee. That committee's debate would be less revealing and we feel that delegate's would not be able to engage with the topic in a substantial and worthwhile manner.
Across our General Assembly committees we make sure to always include the permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council. After selecting those 15 countries, we then pick countries that are highly relevant to the topic being discussed. Perhaps the topic is about a border dispute between two neighboring countries, in this case we would have to select the countries that are involved in the border dispute and the major supporters of each country's claim, or the entire committee would be missing a fundamental understanding of the topic. For some committees, only a couple countries are considered most relevant to the topic, while other more amorphous topics are relevant to all countries. To fill the remaining positions, we try to ensure that countries that are often not represented are selected. This year, in particular, we made a concerted effort to increase the representation of Sub-Saharan African nations across our committees as we feel that we have poorly represented these countries in the past.
In terms of how we assign countries to schools, we look to give schools a variety of different countries, geographically, culturally, and politically. However, we must balance this variety against not concentrating the most relevant countries for a topic with a single school. In the case of a committee debating a border dispute between 2 countries, we would not assign a school both countries involved. We would look to assign those countries to different schools so as to prevent delegates from cooperating before attending the conference. We want the ideas developed and reflected in a resolution to come from time spent in the committee, not the result of collusion in advance of the conference between delegates from the same school. That being said, if specific countries are requested by schools, we try to give those countries if they are available, while also throwing in other countries so that schools have a good mix of perspectives to represent. We want delegates to learn about an issue from a different perspective than the one they are most accustomed to arguing.
Striking a good balance between the perspectives represented in committee can be difficult. Often times we are left wanting to include additional countries that did not make the cut. We take the process of country selection in our General Assembly, Ad-Hoc and Local committee simulations very seriously. Additionally, our country assignment process is as fair as possible and we work to ensure that all delegations, both large and small, enter a committee with equal footing.