By Paddy Bruell and Fiona O’Hara
By this point, the readers of this blog must have a basic understanding of what every MUN (Model United Nation) entails. Wild parties with crazy students, debating of the highest quality (usually) and the opportunity for students to experience an accurate simulation of political debates, where the topics are of global significance and importance. ScotMUN 2016 was all of these things and more. With the reception ceremony, the evening parties and the committees all having touches of the local Scottish and British culture, brought into the European and global context, ScotMUN was a unique, unparalleled and unforgettable experience.
Set in the beautiful Scottish capital of Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh, it can be said that the MUN was a complete success. It began on Friday, the 4th of March with an opening ceremony in the prestigious Balmoral Hotel. After a welcome speech by the Secretary General, speeches were given by Aidan O’Niell QC (Queen’s Counsel, who has litigated before the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union) and the ECtHR (European Court of Human Rights) and Catherine Stihler, who is a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Scottish Labour Party. In their speeches, both guests addressed the importance of events such as this MUN, as it encourages people to learn to resolve conflicts in a peaceful and diplomatic manner, rather than resorting to force, which has often been the case throughout history, with disastrous consequences. Furthermore, both speakers noted the value of MUNs in bringing people together and uniting them for a common cause. To conclude the first evening, all students were treated to a taste of the rich Scottish culture in the form of a ceilidh, a series of traditional dances. Whilst at the beginning the delegates seemed to be all arms and legs, this soon improved and actual dancing could take place.
The first morning of actual committee sessions began in the same way most MUN mornings seem to begin. Some up bright and early and on time, others…well not. Sleepy eyes, yawns and the occasional headache where the morning story. As the delegates split up into their committees and began proceedings, the press team, which we were both part of, was quick to cover the relevant stories. With the UNSC discussing Nigeria dealing with Boko Haram, UN Women talking about female suicide bombers, and the Crisis committee being faced with a post-apocalyptic future where mankind is struggling to survive, the press team did rather have its hands full.
What made ScotMUN 2016 unique however, was the addition of a second Crisis committee, in which delegates re-created the 2015 General Election of Great Britain, which secured David Cameron a second term as Prime Minister. Such an ambitious committee had never been created before and it was a new experience for all involved. Delegates had to take on the identity of a certain politician and were then organised into their respective parties. Once familiar with their fellow party members, delegates had to work together on an arduous two-day campaign to try and secure as many seats as possible in Parliament. Overseeing their efforts were the Crisis Co-ordinators, who evaluated their efforts and created scenarios that the political parties had to deal with. As the media plays an important role in real-life elections, three members of the Press Team were assigned to exclusively cover the General Election committee. Their role was to cover all of the Parties activities, assist the co-ordinators in creating problematic scenarios and of course stoking the fires of gossip. We can honestly say that the General Elections were an extremely successful committee and can only recommend it to any MUN. It does however, take brilliant and dedicated co-ordinators.
As the evening drew ever closer, the delegates were less focused on their work and more on the prospect of a great night out at one of Edinburgh’s most famous clubs, Cabaret Voltaire. By 9 the joint was heaving and with two Crisis Co-ordinators at the turntables making sure that the music was excellent, the party was a great success. Apparently too successful for some as it turned out…
The next morning, rumours circulated and were eventually confirmed by members of the press team in the form of pictures. Apparently, some delegates had not managed to find their beds after the club night and had instead resorted to falling asleep in the university student bar. Needless to say, these individuals were not present until late into the second day.
The second day of committee sessions continued where the first had left of. Whilst some committees had concluded with one of their two topics and were now moving on, some found this slightly more difficult and did not manage to even start debating the second issue in question. Other occurrences during the second day worth mentioning included the surprising election of Kim Jong-un as the next Secretary General of the United Nations, Emma Watson being kidnapped by terrorists in UN Women and Ed Miliband being elected as Prime Minister in the General Election committee. Staying true to the reputation of political journalism, we (the press team) could not ignore and fail to report on a certain incident that occurred at Oxford University involving Prime Minister David Cameron and a poor, innocent pig. It was unfortunate, however, that this lead to his downfall; although he was lucky that the Panama papers were not published a month earlier…
ScotMUN 2016 ended on Sunday the 6th of March with a closing ceremony for all delegates in the university lecture hall. Here, the Secretary General expressed his thanks to all delegates and his pride at how successful proceedings had been. Awards were also distributed, with the UM delegation raking up two (one of those being awarded to yours truly). ScotMUN taught us the ins and outs of working as press inside the United Nations, and exposed us to its highs and lows. From the United Kingdom declaring war on France in the Security Council (“Long Live the Empire!”) to various committees performing ceilidh dances to Uptown Funk to composing the perfect witty tweet to take down UKIP, the press team faced many exciting challenges that will prepare us for political journalism in the real world. But in all seriousness, we had an amazing time in Scotland and cannot wait to participate in the next MUN. Bring on EuroMUN!