Pace University received 11 awards at the National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference in New York City, 27-31 March, representing China, Costa Rica, Norway and Palau in simulations of global debates on peace, development, human rights and environmental issues.
In his letter to the conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called attention to the UN Security Council’s recent Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, which called for greater inclusion of young people in the work of building peace. “Young people have the greatest stake in the future so you must have a voice in building,” wrote Ban Ki-moon. “By taking part in this Model United Nations, you are demonstrating your commitment to peace, justice, human rights and human dignity.”
Pace University ranked 6th out of 180 universities and other educational institutions that participated in NMUN’s conference B in terms of awards received. More than 5,500 students participated in NMUN from numerous countries. Pace’s Pleasantville students were recognized with a “Distinguished Delegation” award for their representation of Norway, as well as four Outstanding Position Paper awards and two Outstanding Delegate in Committee awards. Pace’s New York City students received four Outstanding Position Paper awards.
“Diplomacy is a very rewarding and interesting work,” said Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, in his address before the conference’s Opening Ceremony. “You can work for your own country or work for the United Nations and become a diplomat of the world.” Ambassador Yoshikawa advised students on preparing for a career in global policymaking to “be curious, keep an open mind, meet new people and go to new places.”
“The Model UN class and the conference helped me understand better the constraints, responsibilities and obstacles faced by one of the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council when making decisions on the international level,” said Joseph Colella ’19, who, along with his delegation partner Caitlin Boley ’16, was recognized with an Outstanding Position Paper award for their representation of China in a simulation of UN Security Council discussions on the Middle East, which operated with “real time” updates on the context, forcing them to react to a dynamic and changing situation. Another two Pace students, Kathryn Balitsos ’18 and Scott Carrothers ’19, also represented China in a parallel Security Council simulation.
“The People’s Republic of China was put under a sort of spotlight for many of its opinions and decisions, with many of the ‘smaller’ nations concerns about the significant impact the ‘P5’ can have on the world,” said Joseph.
While four students represented the most populous Member State in the UN, most of the Pace New York City students represented the much smaller countries of Costa Rica and Palau. The class was lucky to have an extended video-conference with Maritza Chan, a diplomat in Costa Rica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs who recently returned to the capital, San Jose, after representing her country at the UN for many years.
“In my internet research on Costa Rica I came to many dead ends – but the video chat with Ms. Chan enabled me to really grasp what Costa Rica was seeking at the UN,” said Danyelle Lepardo ’19, who, along with her delegation partner Jackson Morris ’18, received an Outstanding Position Paper award for their representation of Costa Rica in discussion of the impact of new technology on transnational security issues in a simulation of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
Jackson, Danyelle’s delegation partner, agreed, saying: “I learned the rules and procedures of being a UN diplomat and feel like I’m much better at researching and finding materials.”
“Even if you don’t want to be a delegate or diplomat, there is so much to be learned from Model UN,” said Danyelle. “You are connecting with people that have different lifestyles, values and cultures. You learn to accept people for who they are and what they embody and what they see in the world, and you sort of take a piece of each and every one of them with you when you leave. You learn to communicate effectively and you learn to be a patient and wonderful listener.”
Kevin Kelly ’17, who, along with Jordyn Garcia-Carey ’19, represented Costa Rica in a simulation of the UN General Assembly Fourth Committee’s discussions on the future of peacekeeping operations, also found the conversation with Ms. Chan very helpful.
“When I first signed up for Model UN I felt lost. But over the course of the semester I gradually understood more about what my role as a diplomat from Costa Rica would be,” said Kevin. “Speaking with Maritza Chan via Skype in class, researching numerous databases, and listening to Professor Matthew Bolton and the Head Delegates informed me tremendously about a country I had never visited.”
Lorraine Bishop ’20 said the experience of representing a small state like Costa Rica enabled her to see how those seemingly less powerful are still able to “get resolutions passed that not only helped my delegation country, but the entire world.” Lorraine, along with her delegation partner Mella Tumminello ’17, received an Outstanding Position Paper award for their work in a simulation of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), focusing on discussions of promoting climate change resilience in urban areas.
“In Model UN we literally had to become our delegation; our country,” said Seneca Forch ’20, who, along with his delegation partner Carina Draper ’20, represented Palau in Habitat III. “In order to be effective, we had to live and breath the state of our respective countries to truly understand why we pushed for what we pushed for. I will apply this lesson to working toward my desired career in diplomacy and international human rights activism.”
During the semester, Pace students learned that small states like Costa Rica and Palau rely on diplomacy to protect their interests and values – they cannot force others to do their bidding. This helped students develop valuable skills in persuasion and negotiation.
“Diplomacy is a way to manage international relations to work together to create resolutions to make the world a better place,” said Channell Williams ‘16, who, along with Chantal Contreras ’20, represented Palau in the UN General Assembly Fourth Committee simulation. “I believe this is an art of how to deal with people in the most effective, creative, and most interesting way.”
Similarly, Giulia Di Stravola ’21 said Model UN has showed her the “the versatile advantages of using diplomacy.” Giulia represented Costa Rica with her delegation partner Mariana Lima ’17 in a simulation of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). “Diplomacy allows for deliberate and appropriate discussions, without discrediting others; it is a language of mutual respect that, ultimately, brands your voice and what you stand for.”
Alexis Argentine ’16 said during the conference she “learned the importance of leadership, teamwork, professionalism, and writing convincing speeches – these are important qualities as I advance in my aspirations of being a lawyer.” Alexis, with her delegation partner Mathew Fontanez ’16, represented Costa Rica in a simulation of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“Model UN is a great experience that teaches individuals how to network and communicate with one another in a professional manner,” said Ashley Kaminski ’21, who along with Emily Rochefort ’19, represented Costa Rica in the General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, which discussed the challenges of transnational organized crime. Ashley and Emily were joined in this committee by Thomas Fitzgerald ’21 and Ayoub Dabbashi ’18, who received an Outstanding Position Paper award for their representation of Palau.
“The opportunity to create connections with people all around the world opens people up to a new world and new perspectives,” said Ashley.
A key concern of both Costa Rica and Palau’s diplomatic efforts is sustainability, as both countries face potentially devastating impacts of environmental degradation and climate change. Alex Lyubetsky ’18 represented Costa Rica in a simulation of the UN General Assembly Second Committee’s deliberation on expanding access to renewable and sustainable energy, while John Smith ’17 and Colin Morse ’19 promoted sustainable approaches to urban development in a simulation of the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Similarly, Annamaria Watson ’16 and Megan Zubar ’20 represented Costa Rica in a simulation of discussions in the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) on plastic debris in the world’s oceans. They were joined in the committee by Michael Marshall ’19 and Nikolay Petrov ’18, representing Palau, which is located in South Pacific and is particularly sensitive to marine environmental pollution and rising sea levels.
“Model UN offers and experiential immersion in diplomacy, encouraging students to learn how to pursue a better world through peaceable means,” said Dr. Matthew Bolton, Associate Chair of Political Science at Pace University New York City and Model UN advisor. “It teaches crucial skills in research, writing and public speaking that empower students to engage with the arena of policy and politics, whether at the global, national or local levels.”
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.