By Mily M. Kao
Adjunct Faculty, School of Security and Global Studies, American Public University
Have you heard of the APUS Model United Nations Club, the 2019 recipient of the Outstanding New Student Organization Award? The club promotes and participates in the Model UN, a simulation exercise of experiential education and a model for teaching and learning.
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In the annual simulation exercise, student delegates debate current world events and negotiate agreeable resolutions with other student groups from the perspective of the country they are assigned to represent.
In addition to learning about the functions and rules of procedure of the United Nations, the simulation enhances students’ understanding of diplomacy, international laws and institutions, and global governance. The Model UN simulation helps students improve their research, writing, public speaking and leadership skills in a competitive setting. The conference is also a rare opportunity for APUS online students and faculty to meet in person.
Getting Ready for the Annual Competition
Representing Italy this year, the APUS Model UN Club is now recruiting new team members for the upcoming D.C.-National Model United Nations Conference scheduled for November 8-10 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.
Preparation for the annual competition begins in late summer when students develop a national profile about their country. The team members then choose the committees they are interested in and start to research assigned issues. In the fall, team members work on their position papers and the wording for resolutions to be negotiated and written on-site.
Students are encouraged to stay informed of recent events to reflect changing situations in their policy advocacy positions. To craft realistic and feasible resolutions, students must have a thorough understanding of the nuanced positions on each issue taken by their assigned country. For effective negotiating, they need to set policy targets and identify potential allies and opponents, as well as prepare a range of possible concessions without jeopardizing the country’s national interests.
To stay in character of their assigned country, students sometimes must overcome the discomfort of espousing positions that could deviate from international norms or which they personally find objectionable. To bridge that awkwardness during the preparation process, team members work closely with all three advisors and other team members via emails, weekly conference calls, and webinars.
Guest Speakers Are Invited to Share Their Knowledge of the Team’s Assigned Country
Guest speakers are invited to share their knowledge of the team’s assigned country or of a particular policy issue. Last year, for example, the APUS team represented the Czech Republic and benefited greatly from a briefing by a Czech embassy official prior to the conference.
Representing Italy at the Model UN and the Issues to Be Debated
As Italy, the APUS team will be an active member of five Model UN committees. In the First Committee of the General Assembly, we will present Italy’s views on issues concerning global arms control and nonproliferation.
In the Fourth Committee, the focus will be on the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. A comprehensive review of Special Political Missions is also on the agenda. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Committee will examine the impact of climate change on global food security and capacity building for low-income, food-deficient countries.
In the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA), our team will share its knowledge of and best practices for preventing plastics pollution of marine life through sustainable consumption and production. The UNEA will also discuss ending illegal wildlife trade and whaling.
Lastly, through the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Italy will seek to identify sustainable solutions to the current crisis of displaced persons and refugees in Latin America as well as the economic integration of these populations.
These are all timely and relevant real-world situations, so delegates must be fully prepared for contentious debates on these controversial issues.
Interested in Participating in the Model UN Conference?
As one of the largest intercollegiate NMUN conferences, the National Model United Nations conference gives students the chance to meet other student delegates from all over the United States and from several international institutions. In addition to the potential academic merit, networking opportunities at the Model UN are unlimited.
Participation not only brings out the delegates’ competitive nature, but is also an asset in resume building. In its Model UN debut last year, the APUS team took home a Best Position Paper award and an Honorable Mention for the delegation.
The Best Position Paper award attests to the recipients’ writing, critical thinking and analytical skills, not to mention the prestige that the award adds to their resumes. Winning the best delegation award by popular vote is not just an honor. It is a strong statement of APUS’s commitment to high standards of professionalism and excellence, two qualities prospective employers appreciate.
There is no better way to demonstrate your abilities to lead and work in a team environment, plan strategically, and negotiate diplomatically than by excelling in Model UN caucus activities where delegates form and manage coalitions to maximize support for proposed resolutions.
Whether because of a passion for learning, a desire to develop and improve transferable skills, or just enjoyment of the competition, the Model UN Club has many things to offer. If you are interested in debates and forming unique opinions, I strongly encourage you to contact the Model UN Club on the student activities webpage or link to the group’s Facebook page and sign up.
All students can join the club regardless of their field of study. Even if you cannot attend the conference this year, you are always welcome to join the Club and assume officer positions.
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About the Author
Dr. Mily Kao is an adjunct faculty member of the International Relations program in the APU School of Security and Global Studies. Mily finds the study of International Relations captivating because it is timely, thought-provoking and, most of all, ever-changing. She is also one of the three advisors of the APUS Model United Nations Club. Her research and teaching interests include Asian politics and U.S. foreign policy regarding the Asia-Pacific region in general. This year is her seventh year teaching at APU.
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