Delegate Reflection: Using NGOs’ Weaknesses as Strengths

Harsh Mehta, Nelli Agbulos, Inemesit Essien, a friend and Vato Gogsadze in a simulation of the Commission on the Status of Women at the 2014 National Model UN conference in New York.

Harsh Mehta ’15, Nelli Agbulos ’17, Inemesit Essien ’16, a friend and Vato Gogsadze ’15 in a simulation of the Commission on the Status of Women at the 2014 National Model UN conference in New York.

The 2014 National Model United Nations conference in New York (NMUN NY) was a rewarding educational experience unlike anything I have done before. My partner Inemesit Essien ’16 and I represented the non-governmental organization (NGO) Oxfam International in the Committee on the Status of Women (CSW).

Being an NGO, we were only granted “consultative status”; but we used that weakness as our strength to spread Oxfam’s influence and presence. NGOs were not allowed to vote, but we influenced the debate and incorporated programs and policies crucial to solutions stated in countries’ working papers.

We acted as unofficial consultants for countries, worked with our fellow NGOs to create frameworks and set standards for the working papers, and we acted as liaisons between working paper groups.

In my opinion, being able to shape the conversation and written documents are just as powerful as having the privilege to vote in committee. Participating in this Model UN conference reaffirmed what I wanted to do with my life – and that is to work for or to create my own NGO.

Through class simulations, I practiced and improved my writing, public speaking skills, and learned the art of negotiation and persuasion. It was always an exciting moment to have countries who originally opposed Oxfam’s beliefs to want to work with us after several sessions of talking.

I met people at this conference who constantly challenged my opinions; and while at times it was frustrating, it reminded me to embrace the differences in opinion and to apply creative problem solving. While I came to this Model UN conference with my organization’s agenda, it was more important to reach a consensus with other countries to effectively implement change.

Model UN has challenged and prepared me with the diplomatic skills I need to pursue my dream career in the field of NGOs.

– Nelli Agbulo ’17

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About Matthew Bolton

I am assistant professor of Political Science at Pace University and author of Foreign Aid and Landmine Clearance.
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