Harvard Model U.N. Conference

Between the 25th and 29th of January, 12 delegates from Bay’s Model United Nations club flew to Boston for a Harvard-sponsored conference. This was our third conference this year, and Bay School’s first ever out-of- state conference. Over 3,000 people attended the conference from 37 countries worldwide—coming together to simulate United Nations committee sessions. For four days, we met, discussed, and created policy. Here are our experiences.


I was a double delegation representing France in UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). We were presented with two topics: euthanasia and censorship, though we only ended up discussing euthanasia. My co-delegate, Amanda, and I took a while to adapt to the environment, which was a certain level of prestige and competitiveness we had not yet seen at a conference. There were over 3,000 people at the conference from 37 countries. More people came from China, India, Turkey, and Columbia each than from California. UNESCO was an extremely large committee—well over 100 people. The diversity was wonderful, and it was certainly an amazing experience meeting and working with people from all over the world. It took a lot of assertiveness to be able to get our voices in, but after a while we became more comfortable with the environment and tried to speak as much as possible. We ended up forming a resolution that aimed to create a legal tribunal to assess various cases of patients wishing to be euthanized. Our resolution took a passive stance on the issue—creating a system for physician-assisted suicide where patients could receive the means to take their life or be taken off life support, but not actively euthanized by a physician. As our committee was so huge, it took a large amount of effort just to consolidate all our ideas into a few resolutions and the last few committee sessions were consumed by mergers and negotiations. All in all, the experience was challenging, but it was worth it.

I was in the High Commissioner for Refugees Committee and we discussed the Arab Spring and its effect on refugees. We created a few resolutions which took a long time to be discussed, combined, merged, and rejected but eventually the resolution that I helped create and therefore supported was passed. I had a lot of fun at the conference; I enjoy arguing about small things just because I like to practice my “diplomatic” skills but it was interesting to talk about something that applies to our world today, and it was a gratifying experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the high number of foreigners who took their time and effort to participate in such a serious discussion, it made everything a lot more professional and realistic.

My committee at HMUN, Commission on Population and Development (2100), was focused on the population crisis on Earth in one hundred years. Being a futuristic committee, we were able to be creative with our solutions as to how to maintain a stable population. For example, at one point our chairs announced that certain nations were experimenting with space stations, which could house humans. Throughout the debates, I took full advantage of my role as a French delegate and proposed solutions based on the success of our own family planning services, medical aid, and retirement programs. Our final resolution suggested the implementation of family planning services, abortion availability, NGO funding for such programs, and stressed education on the issue. The overall Harvard Model United Nations experience was enriching and fun, giving me a well accepted challenge and amplifying my passion for MUN.

At HMUN, I represented an NGO called Prison Fellowship International. As a non-governmental organization representative, I joined a regular committee and also convened with a special NGO committee to deal with a crisis. For the majority of the conference, I joined the UN Human Rights Council—along with Julia and Ayluonne. I found that the quality of discussion in the committee was of a very high caliber, partly because many participants were extremely experienced and well-prepared. I found it to be very interesting and since HMUN was my first conference, I enjoyed the opportunity to observe and become comfortable with the committee procedures. We were encouraged to speak up and provide expertise on issues pertaining to my NGO. Yet, next time I would like to be more actively engaged by representing a country since my committee focused solely on the council’s first topic (child soldiers in Burma), while the second topic (prison systems) was much more relevant to my particular NGO. During the NGO committee session, we were presented with the crisis of a destructive earthquake in China—a country hesitant to accept foreign aid. Working with the other NGO’s, we devised an immediate action plan of disaster relief and furthermore planned long-term solutions to restore stability. While the conference was tiring, I really enjoyed the experience of Harvard Model United Nations in Boston. My favorite aspect of HMUN was the conference’s diversity—HMUN brought together students from 37 countries around the world!

I had a really good experience at Harvard Model UN. The other delegates in my committee were very experienced and that made for successful discussions and resolutions. I was in the UN High Commissioners for Refugees and Wali and I represented France. In our committee, we discussed the Arab Spring and focused on subsidizing resources and opening up borders of neighboring countries. One aspect that I thought added a lot to the conference was the international presence. Because there were students from all over the world, the discussions were richer and more informed than I had experienced in previous debates.

In general, the Harvard Model United Nations Conference was an amazing experience. There was a certain prestige in the air that made every day particularly exciting. Additionally, the Chair provided extensive background information, the committee sessions were highly structured, and almost everyone was productive and insightful. There were some issues, however, that involved aspects of the conference. We only covered Topic A, meaning Julia did not feel as engaged or confident. Also, while I know it is not the moderator’s fault, there were some people who dominated much of the debate. This was quite frustrating when we wanted to make a point. In all, our delegation was up against extremely assertive, experienced and powerful delegates, so speaking was a bit intimidating.  In terms of our topic and committee, we represented France in the U. N Human Rights Council and debated the use of child soldiers. After much negotiation, our committee was able to agree on one comprehensive draft resolution. We proposed a resolution that consisted of three focuses: preventive initiatives such as education, immediate action involving Demobilization, Disarmament and Rehabilitation programs, and organized mediation with offenders. Overall, the conference offered us the incredible opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and to discuss complex world issues in a high-energy setting.

I participated in the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and represented the Republic of France. We dealt with the issue of the Military Use of Children. The Harvard conference was very organized, professional, and well-run. Unlike the Stanford conference, there were five chairs rather than two—a moderator, director, and three other chairs. We only had time to cover one topic, and it was not the topic that I had researched at length. Therefore, I had a tough time participating. Next time, were we to go to Harvard again, I would like to research both of the topics so I can participate more actively within committee meetings. We presented only one resolution at the end, which meant we had to merge several. Additionally, there were people from all over the country and world and the hotel was filled with the buzz of many different languages. Being surrounded by people from all different backgrounds, cities, and countries made my experience feel unreal. Overall, Harvard was wonderful. Although it was a different kind of energy than Stanford, I would love to go back again!

I was in a specialized committee; I was in the Ministers of Colombia 2010. The crisis was really realistic. We had to wake up at midnight, once, for a hostage situation by the FARC where they pushed us into a room. If someone got caught sleeping, there was a punishment. After a while, people with fake guns came into our room and forced us to stay in the room. We also were not allowed to communicate with the outside world. We were not sure of how we could escape a room surrounded by the FARC troops. The crisis was definitely elaborate, but related to the topic. On the last day we did manage to escape the room. The only thing I did not like about the conference was the difference in powers for all the roles. For example, one person was the Minister of agriculture—and she didn’t have much to do, nor did the transportation person.  The role of Defense Minister for example, had a great deal of power and was able to dominate the conference.  My own role was the Director of National Planning Department; it was an obscure role and hard to research.

My experience at HMUN was an excellent one. I enjoyed my small committee in which we discussed the aftermath of the Japanese Earthquake. I represented the Finance Minister of Japan, Yoshihiko Noda, and my duties were related to protecting the Japanese Economy using the central bank as well as maintaining a balanced budget. The committee was given many crisis: the most exciting of which was a nuclear disaster caused by damage from a Chinese Patent spy. For my efforts in the committee I was awarded best delegate.

Harvard was a very good Model United Nations experience.  For this conference I was assigned to a futuristic committee on population control and resource development.  The task of the committee was to find a solution to the problems posed by the growing world population and the lack of resources to feed and fuel it.   The committee took place in the year 2100 with the world population having just reached 14 billion or so.  Over the course of the weekend the committee was only able to discuss one topic, population growth, but resolutions we came up with did a good job of addressing both topics seeing as resource scarcity is one of the problems resulting from the rapidly growing world population.  Many of the delegates were from other countries varying from England to Columbia to India and they all had unique opinions and views to contribute to the discussions despite the fact that they were in role the entire time.  All in all, Harvard was a great experience that taught me a lot about different cultures and about the topics being discussed.

Harvard Model UN was a great experience as a conference. I was part of a specialized committee where I assisted Saddam Hussein in fighting Shiite Islam and the newly formed Iranian government. It took place in 1980 just after the Iranian revolution. During committee session, we went to war with Iran, quelled rebellion in the Shiite regions, and assassinated the leader of a newly formed Kurdish nation. My committee was for the most part based on crisis that was brought out at random time during committee. This added a realistic aspect to the committee that I enjoyed.

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