Reflections: Stanford Model UN Conference

The Bay School’s student participants in the Stanford Model United Nations Conference reflect on their experiences.

Click here to flip through photos from the conference.

Please note: Keep an eye out for a separate update detailing Bay students’ recent participation in Harvard Model Congress, held Jan. 18-21.

Student reflections:


Gemma ’13 representing Vietnam on the Social and Humanitarian committee

At SMUNC, I represented Vietnam in the Social and Humanitarian Committee (SOCHUM). We covered two topics: women’s reproductive rights and the use of torture. Vietnam has one of the highest rates of abortion in the world, so my main priority in dealing with the first topic was to establish educational programs and campaigns, particularly in rural areas, on the use of contraception and the spread of STIs and HIV/AIDS. I authored and passed my resolution along with the delegates from Singapore, Mongolia, Syria and Pakistan. For my second topic, Vietnam acknowledges their use of torture in prisons, in drug detention centers, and for prisoners of war. Vietnam’s constitution also states that as it is the state’s duty to protect the citizens’ rights, it is the citizens’ duty to defend their state, and that the state may go to any means necessary in the case of emergency to protect their national security. As such, I worked on a resolution with the delegates of Russia, Syria and Angola to protect states’ sovereign rights. While the resolution urged that countries create their own guidelines keeping in mind the UN Declaration on Human Rights, it mainly called for the committee to stay out of issues involving a sovereign state’s national security and allowed the states to use whatever they deemed necessary to protect their state. I passed this resolution as well. We also had a crisis – China decided to conduct mandatory virginity testing on all of their women. The committee argued that this was not the best use of funds and questioned the efficiency and ethics of the endeavor. It got heated from there, and Israel declared nuclear war on the United States, who put sanctions on China. This was my favorite conference yet, and I earned the Outstanding Delegate award for my committee.

Minkee ’13 representing Mongolia in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

I represented Mongolia in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an organization aiming to serve Central Asian interests. Our topics included mediating regional conflict between Russia and China, creating requirements for countries to join the SCO and regulating trade of rare earth metals. I had fun expanding Mongolia’s role in the SCO and mediating military stalemates that formed during the conference. At this conference, I won Best Delegate.

Anni ’14 representing Vietnam in the World Food Programme

I represented Vietnam in the World Food Programme. During the debates on the first topic on improving responses in emergency crises, I noticed how different countries are willing to set aside differences to end world hunger. Even though it was a broad topic, our crises encouraged each country’s representative to think about what the first step should be if a natural disaster struck. Our second topic –genetically modified (GM) food – was the most controversial. While Vietnam and a majority of the countries represented in the committee support GM food, those who were against GM food propelled me to think about its risks. My committee passed a resolution to make GM food available, require extensive research and encourage food labeling. Overall, SMUNC was a great first conference to attend.

Henry ’13 representing Vietnam in the United Nations Economic and Social Council

As the delegate of Vietnam in the United Nations Economic and Social Council, I had to argue some points for positions that were in opposition to my personal views. During the debate on the topic of women’s equality, a crisis came up when a girls’ school was attacked in Afghanistan. While every other country condemned the attacks, I stuck to my position of valuing national sovereignty and made sure to vote against any legislation that would impose the will of outside powers onto a sovereign nation. I enjoyed my time at SMUNC, as it was a great exercise in better understanding views antithetical to my own.

Danielle ’15 representing Vietnam in the United Nations Development Program

My experience at SMUNC was extremely positive and enriching. I represented Vietnam in the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Our focus was sustainable development, particularly concerning developing nations around the world. Vietnam’s economy is almost completely dependent on the use of chemical growth hormones in agriculture and fossil fuels for industrial purposes. Over the past few decades, Vietnam’s economic growth can be directly correlated with the introduction of these technological developments. However, while these tools have greatly helped boost the economy, their negative environmental effects have been a major concern for the future. The main challenge I encountered with other delegates was how we would encourage development of underdeveloped nations without backtracking on the progress of nations such as Vietnam. The resolution that we passed included educational programs for workers and employers on how they could slowly integrate green technology into their work. The resolution supported creating research facilities for development of new technologies and setting long-term goals for the development of growing nations. Overall, my experience at SMUNC this year gave me new insight on how difficult it can be to integrate environmentally friendly techniques on a worldwide scale.

Morrey ’15 representing Djibouti in the International Disarment Committee

This was my first conference, and I was very nervous. I represented Djibouti in the International Disarmament Committee . I had an interesting position because I wanted NATO to intervene because Djibouti has no military. Although there were some complications, ultimately we were able to solve our crisis which involved Gadhafi loyalists mustard gassing in London and Paris. SMUNC was a great conference to start with because it was a manageable size, but at the same time, the committees were very serious.

Zach ’14 Vietnam in the East Asia Summit Committee

I was the Vietnam delegate in the East Asia Summit Committee . We were assigned to write a resolution on how to approach new relations with Myanmar. The East Asia Summit had no authority to interfere in the internal affairs of Myanmar or order action, but we were able to negotiate a settlement between the delegate representing the military junta of Myanmar and the rest of the countries in East Asia plus the United States. An earlier resolution was about to go into voting bloc when the delegate of the civilian government of Myanmar was kidnapped by the military of Myanmar, so solving the social problems within Myanmar became harder. I contested the resolution of the rest of the committee and gained China, Thailand and Malaysia as my allies. While China, Thailand and Vietnam threatened to remove all funding from the country if the military junta voted for the other resolution, the delegate of Myanmar voted against the resolution I proposed. The other resolution passed, and Myanmar lost the source of most of its funding – China. The conference was fun, but several delegates, such as the one for the military junta of Myanmar, acted off policy. I was voted “Funniest” during Superlatives after we finished our debate.

Julia ’13 representing Romania in the European Union

I represented Romania in the European Union. The committee topics were the European debt crisis and the accession of Montenegro. I hadn’t realized I’d signed up for a crisis committee. We were writing resolutions, directives and press releases. Each country had executive power to carry out orders publicly or secretly within their country. We focused on the European debt problem (specifically that of eurozone countries) but got off track because multiple crises were presented to us. We got a lot done; we wrote resolutions A-L and directives 1-18. The delegate from Portugal was kidnapped, and when she came back she declared war on Germany. I sent my troops to secretly aid Portugal, was held hostage and almost died. It was one of my favorite conferences.

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