LU represents Benin at Model UN

Beth McHenry

Last weekend, seven Lawrence students attended the Arrowhead Model United Nations Conference held at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus. Students from the Model UN campus group represented Lawrence University, as well as Benin, for the first time.
Starting with registration on the evening of Thursday, April 28, and concluding on Sunday morning, the weekend was a whirlwind of committee sessions designed to simulate UN sessions, complete with similar rules and procedures. According to participant Pat Breese, who served as a delegate to the Security Council, “we basically role-played a day at work for the United Nations delegation from Benin.”
Schools from all over the Midwest attended the conference. This year, 13 schools represented 24 countries. Each school supplied one or more members for the Security Council, Social and Humanitarian Committee, Environmental Committee, Economic and Finance Committee, and Political and Security Committee. Over the weekend, each committee took part in discussing and voting on resolutions submitted by schools in attendance. As part of the conference, students need to bear in mind the interests of their country: in Lawrence’s case, Benin.
Although Lawrence is very new to the conference as a whole, Lawrence was well-represented. One of Lawrence’s delegates, Caitlin McIntyre, received an honorable mention for Best Delegate on the Economic and Financial Committee. McIntyre reported that Benin played a central role in selecting and revising several key resolutions.
Said Breese, “Considering that none of us that attended the conference had ever done anything like this, we all did a great job and students from other schools were impressed with our showing.”
There were some drawbacks to the weekend as far as conference organization and the atmosphere of the conference. Yuliya Zoricheva, one of the representatives on the Social and Humanitarian Committee, mentioned the intense competition and unfriendly attitudes present between countries.
Several Lawrence representatives were also disappointed with the lack of gravity from other schools present. Zoricheva added, “Expecting a high level of competence from others, I was really surprised to see that many delegates were doing it simply for the class requirement and were totally apathetic during the sessions.”
Despite some negatives, the conference was overall a positive experience for Lawrence delegates. Abed Khatib, delegate on the Security Council, commented that the conference as a whole demonstrated “how difficult it is to pass resolutions when you’re working with numerous countries, each with their own interests. It takes a lot of compromise and discussion to find the middle ground that would be accepted by the majority.”
Zoricheva said that what made the experience “the three most exciting days of the spring term” was working with delegates from other schools who “demonstrated high skills in representing their country, negotiating, and suggesting ways to deal with global or regional issues. I think Lawrence has a chance to be among the top delegates, now that we have some experience.”
As a whole, delegates found the Model UN conference challenging, interesting, and fun as well as highly applicable for a student interested in international politics. The Model UN group plans to attend conferences in New York City and Toronto next year.
Model UN meets on Wednesday nights at 9 in the International House; interested students are encouraged to attend.