Model United Nations Day a first at Glendon

This article was submitted to YFile by Marika Kemeny, communications officer for Glendon College.

Historic Glendon Hall was the site of the first Model United Nations Day (DayMUN) simulation. The event took place on the Glendon campus, Oct. 22. It was an all-day conference entirely planned, organized and executed by students of the Glendon Model United Nations Club. The Model UN is an authentic simulation of the United Nations bodies and subsidiary committees, observing UN rules and regulations, including the use of formal debate procedure and a western business attire dress code, with each “delegate” representing a pre-assigned country, chosen from the members of the United Nations.

Under the leadership of the club’s president, third-year Glendon international studies/political science student Abbey Sinclair, and club vice-president and acting secretary-general Sarah Walker (second year, international studies/political science), the secretariat consisted of directors Siobhan de Graaf, June Findlay and Lia Magi, as well as public relations coordinators Karolina Stelmach-Kseniak and Emily Gould.

Left: The Model UN Day Secretariat

Having worked all through the summer and fall selecting the debate topics and inviting special guest, the group prepared a conference that would feature 40 participants made up of Glendon students as well as some high-school students.

“DayMUN introduces student participants into the world of diplomacy and negotiation, by inviting them to step into the shoes of ambassadors of UN member states, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, to debate current issues on the organization’s vast agenda,” said Sinclair. “Before playing out their ambassadorial roles in Model UN, the students research the particular global problems to be addressed.

“The ‘delegates’ prepare position papers and draft resolutions, plot strategies, negotiate with supporters and adversaries, resolve conflicts and navigate the UN’s rules of procedures, in the interest of developing ‘international cooperation’ to resolve problems that affect almost every country in the world today,” added Sinclair.

Twenty “countries” were represented in the two simulated committees. The participants included 14 high-school students from Humberside Collegiate, who came to test their debating skills alongside university students, in preparation for upcoming conferences at the high-school level.

Right: High-school students from Humberside Collegiate participated in the Model UN Day held at Glendon

In addition, these high-school students were able to gain first-hand experience and knowledge about Glendon, and as a result some of the students expressed interest in Glendon as an attractive postsecondary option. Sarah Walker, secretary-general for the day, said, “I am delighted that what started as an effort to explore better ways to prepare club members for away-conferences has turned into an opportunity to extend the model UN experience, not only to other Glendon students but prospective students as well. In future years we are hoping to offer invitations to more schools.”

During the two sessions, the Model UN’s Commission on Human Rights discussed the effects of the war on terrorism on universal human rights, while the Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) explored the economic and social effects of oil on the world economy – two topics of great currency and importance on world affairs.

In her welcoming address, Acting Principal Françoise Boudreau pointed to Glendon’s proud tradition in international studies and public affairs. “The college’s founding principal, Escott Reid, was a distinguished diplomat and scholar. Another renowned diplomat, and one of our eminent professors of the past, John W. Holmes participated in the founding of the United Nations and attended the first General Assembly in 1945,” said Boudreau. “Offering a first-class, bilingually integrated education with an emphasis on public affairs, we are proud to support student initiatives that are representative of our mandate.”

Left: Glendon Acting Principal Françoise Boudreau gave the welcoming address

Three invited speakers provided a wealth of information and insights into the day’s topics. Professor Benjamin Richardson of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School explored the topic of how to make the oil-producing countries more responsible for environmental concerns. Richardson was a founding member of the New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law and a policy adviser for the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service in Australia.

Shadi Mokhtari, adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School (from Columbia University, New York), spoke about the barriers to implementation of human rights in the Muslim world. As an Iranian-American, she had special insights and observations about some of the costs of the current global war against terrorism.

The third speaker was Professor Sharon Williams, also from Osgoode Hall Law School. A participant in the International Court of Justice established in 1998 in Rome and the Criminal Tribunal for Human Rights Violations in the former Yugoslavia, Williams talked about immunity versus accountability at the international level.

The day was conducted with great professionalism, serious participation and cooperation, serving as an excellent model for the countries and representatives of the real world. Walker congratulated delegates at the closing ceremony for their diplomatic conduct throughout the day, giving awards to individuals who had proved themselves to be outstanding delegates in their respective committees. In addition, the entire Model UN Secretariat expressed its great satisfaction with the conference, as well as the hope that this will become an annual event at Glendon, further enriching the learning opportunities of its numerous students preparing for a career in public office.

The Glendon Model United Nations Club, which has been in existence since 1983, has consistently strived for “no less than diplomatic excellence” in the study of international relations, politics, economics and other issues relevant to United Nations activities and participating in conferences.