Ten Pace University New York City students participated in the Geneva International Model United Nations (GIMUN) conference in Switzerland, 4-11 March, simulating global diplomacy in the UN’s Palais des Nations in Switzerland.
“Though it did not come without its challenges, being a part of a simulation that was so immersive, geographically as well as culturally, definitely made the conference that much more enriching,” said Priya Sakaria ‘17, a Pace Head Delegate, who was recognized with a “Special Mention” for her exceptional representation of the People’s Republic of China in a simulation of the World Health Organization (WHO).
GIMUN drew students from 49 countries to the UN facilities in Geneva. They played the role of diplomats in global committees, commissions and council, representing the interests and policies of a member state or organization assigned to them. All of this makes excellent preparation for public policy research and advocacy.
“Being able to spend our days and attend committee sessions, especially an actual session of the HRC, at the UN Headquarters in Geneva added to the realness of the simulation and allowed us to get as close as possible to walking in the shoes of a real delegate,” said Priya.
The Geneva Model UN conference is unusually complex as it is bilingual – with simultaneous interpretation between English and French – and has students representing journalists, which add extra layers of depth to the educational experience.
“The international context, especially at the European United Nations Headquarters, made this conference that much more authentic,” said Julie Burke ‘16, who represented France in the WHO simulation of discussions on access to medicines in developing countries. “Model United Nations, while a simulation, is such a unique opportunity for students to engage in real-world problems to provide collaborative and sustainable solutions.”
“I had never traveled outside of the United States before this conference, so I was anxious about being able to interact with people that came from all over the world,” said Nicholas Mucerino ‘16, who represented Russia in a simulation of the Human Rights Council. Nicholas had a particularly challenging experience as he had to represent Russia in a simulation of the Universal Periodic Review process. He had to answer difficult questions about Russia’s human rights record from other students.
“It was exhilarating to be seated by the committee chairs and face the questions directed at Russia.”
Nicholas was joined in the Human Rights Council simulation by Jason Vargas ’17 representing Mexico and Margarita Moffett ‘16, Nigeria. They focused on the rights of environmentally displaced refugees and whether there is a “right to be forgotten” in cyberspace.
While GIMUN students were simulating the Human Rights Council, the real body was actually meeting across the hallway. The Pace students were able to view the proceedings from the public gallery, watching as delegates asked questions of the UN Special Rapporteurs on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The Pace students in the simulation of the UN Security Council – Jennifer Diaz ‘16, representing China; Vakhtang “Vato” Gogsadze ‘16, Russia; and Nigina Khaitova ‘18, Brazil – faced additional complexities as their committee involved “real-time” updates on a fictional crisis in South Asia. This forced them to be nimble as they responded to the dynamics of a developing situation.
The students in the simulation of the UN General Assembly Sixth Committee, on Legal issues – Syuyumbika “Susha” Galimova ’17 representing China and Matt Mainzer ‘17, Turkey – were particularly lucky as they met in the grand former League of Nations Council Room under gigantic 1936 sepia murals by José Maria Sert.
“I was surrounded by young, bright, politically-oriented students from around the world,” said Matt.
“This opportunity provides students with excellent preparation for careers in diplomacy, advocacy and public policy,” said Dr. Matthew Bolton, Associate Chair of Political Science at Pace University New York City and its Model UN advisor. Dr. Bolton and Dr. Jessica Lavariega Monforti, Chair of Political Science, accompanied the students on the trip. “Numerous alumni have informed me that they are asked about their model UN experience in job interviews and are told that it positively impacted their applications.”
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 a 65-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.
Pace’s involvement in Model UN is indicative of the university’s broader engagement with the UN. In the last few years, students and faculty have worked closely, particularly with civil society, in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Commission on the Status of Women, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, UN General Assembly First Committee, Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and Arms Trade Treaty.