According to Oxfam International, the world’s richest 85 people control as much wealth as the entire poorest half of the world’s population. Recognizing the serious economic, social and political questions this raises, the theme of this year’s National Model United Nations conference in New York City (NMUN NY) was “Equality for a Better World.”
“Your participation in this Model UN comes at a time of opportunity and risk for the human family,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in his message to the NMUN NY delegates. “I count on you to use the negotiating skills you learn in this Model UN exercise to help navigate the real-world challenges we face.”
Pace University New York City students represented several institutions of global civil society — faith-based organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Oxfam — which have played a key role in campaigns to raise awareness of the humanitarian and human rights implications of inequality. This was one of the most challenging set of assignments Pace NYC students have had in a while, as the NGOs and Observer State they represented have some voice but no vote within the United Nations. They had to rely entirely on the power of persuasion and negotiation to get their way.
“The conference awakened the inner diplomat within me,” said Gisselle Rodriguez ’16, who with Natalia Morales ’17 represented the Holy See in debates on how to better assist displaced people in a simulation of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “The diplomacy skills that were locked within me are now unleashed and I will exert these skills every chance I get.”
Together, the combined Pace University New York City and Pleasantville programs received 10 awards for their students’ excellent diplomatic, negotiation and policy research skills. This put Pace University in joint fifth place (along with Hunter College and West Virginia University) out of the 176 participating universities and associations in terms of number of awards received at the 30 March-3 April 2014 conference. Pace Pleasantville was recognized as an “Outstanding Delegation” for their representation of Bolivia.
“Winning awards is not the goal of our participation in Model UN — the point is to educate students about global policy challenges like inequality,” said Dr. Matthew Bolton, Pace NYC Model UN advisor. “But NMUN NY’s recognition of our strong performance demonstrates Pace’s commitment to preparing students to be engaged global citizens.”
“The Model UN Conference was a wonderful forum in which ideas, experiences, and cultures crossed paths,” said Inemesit Essien ’16, who with Nelli Agbulos ’17 represented Oxfam International in a simulation of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). “As time goes on, I hope to continue to carry the spirit of vivacity and openness that the conference encouraged.”
Nelli and Inemesit were awarded an “Outstanding Position Paper” award for their research on Oxfam’s policies on gender equality issues. Read Nelli’s blog post reflecting on her experience at NMUN NY here.
Chris Thomas ’16 and Kaiyan Griffith ’18 also won an “Outstanding Position Paper” for their representation of Oxfam’s efforts to overcome discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in the a simulation of UNAIDS. “As a delegate it is important to understand your material,” said Kaiyan. “It is essential to not give up on the research process when it becomes difficult to locate key information, instead you must delve deeper into your search!”
Also representing Oxfam, one of the world’s largest humanitarian and development NGOs, were Randi Dunagan ’15 in a simulation in of the UN Environmental Programme; Olivia Mallano ’17 in the Economic and Social Council; and Hartley Cavallaro ’15 and Matthew Jamele ’15 in UNHCR.
“Model UN has been the most challenging, yet fun experience in all my years in college,” said Hartley. “It has taught me how countries and NGOs work together to solve complex issues.”
Pace students had the opportunity to listen to speeches, workshops and panels featuring diplomats, UN officials, NGO workers and academics working to address global inequality. A highlight was the Opening Ceremony address from US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, who joked that upon walking into the conference she felt she was in “nerd heaven.”
“The Model UN experience is both exhilarating and fulfilling. It’s an opportunity for every delegate to make a difference and represent the ideas that will shape the future,” said Harsh Mehta ’15, who represented Amnesty International with Vato Gogsadze ’15 in a simulation of the CSW. “The experience gave me a window into the work happening behind the scenes and the power of diplomacy.”
Also representing human rights group Amnesty International were Marshal Digiovanna ’16 and Lilly Bogner in a simulation of UNHCR and Omar Algergawi ’18 and Munaza Javed ’14 in the Human Rights Council.
“What I have learned about my self is patience and speaking up,” said Munaza. “Both factor into the pre-conference preparations and in the conference itself.”
Hannah Liot ’15, who was the only Pace NYC student representing a full UN Member State at NMUN NY, agreed. “Model UN has taught me wisdom, which has made me open and reflective.”
Hannah represented Australia in a simulation of the UN Security Council received an “Outstanding Position Paper” award. Read Hannah’s blog post reflecting on NMUN NY by clicking here.
Located only two express subway stops from the iconic United Nations complex on the East River, Pace University’s New York City Model UN program has more than a 60-year history of excellence in regional, national and international conferences. Model UN at Pace is a class, uniquely integrated into the political science curriculum within the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences and aims to encourage students to develop wisdom, knowledge, skills and community for global vocation and citizenship.