Our WorldMUN 2017 Experience in Montréal

The twenty-sixth session of Harvard World Model United Nations conference was held in Montréal, Canada, from March 13th to 17th. Over 2000 students from about 115 countries attended WorldMUN this year. Our delegation represented the Republic of Sierra Leone in three of twenty-one committees – in the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC), in the World Health Organisation (WHO) and in the African Union (AU).

The city of Montréal and especially the Palais des congrès de Montréal, located at the heart of downtown Montréal, offered us a unique environment for debate and discussion. The Palais de congrès represents the modern and innovative spirit of the city and offered us the perfect setting for the committee sessions.

Our trip started with an exploration of the city. We saw the Mont Royal which gave the city its name and had an amazing sunny view from the top of the mountain. Another highlight of Montréal is the Saint Joseph’s Oratory that we visited afterwards. After this first impressions of the city, the opening ceremony was the next point on our list. The ceremony took place in the Palais the congrès, so that we could have a first insight in the definite conference venue. We got the possibility to hear some very interesting speeches that were completed by musical interludes and a special act of the dancer and motivational entertainer Luca „Lazylegz“ Patuelli.

All delegation members had a very special time in Montréal, during committee sessions as well as during our delegation activities and the social events. The trip ended with the closing ceremony, that was the last highlight of the week and let us feel the unique spirit of Harvard World Model United Nations.

With the following remarks, we would like to give an overview over the committees we took part in, the topics that were discussed and the strategies that our delegates followed; besides the experiences we made during the conference.

Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC)

The delegates Antonia Rausch and Lukas Syskowski discussed the second topic „Women in Armed Conflict“ in the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC). This topic wasn’t the preferred one of the delegates, who wished to discuss the topic „Global Mass Surveillance“. Nevertheless, both tried their best to represent the interests of Sierra Leone during debate. The second topic was chosen at the first committee session on Tuesday. The main interests of Sierra Leone concerning this topic were related to the sovereignty of nations and the integration of women in the army and police. Moreover, women in terrorist groups reflected a main issue, especially the prevention of terrorist groups.

On Wednesday, working papers had to be handed in to discuss them in public. Sierra Leone worked on a working paper together with Latin American countries like Honduras, Chile and Ecuador, that were also supporters of the mentioned aspects. From this day on, they mentioned delegations together for the next few days.
Thursday was mainly affected by the discussion of the Draft Resolutions that were developed versions of the working papers. The delegates of Sierra Leone worked closely together with their negotiation partners to present a Draft Resolution that included all important aspects.
Finally, Sierra Leone provided the fourth Draft Resolution together with the other delegates. The Resolution passed and therefore the delegates of Sierra Leone were satisfied with the past days of discussion.

World Health Organization (WHO)

Marike Seusing and Marcel Sommer represented Sierra Leone in the World Health Organization (WHO).  On the first day, the committee members decided to discuss the topic “Reforming the Global Pharmaceutical Industry”. The second topic, “Combating the International Obesity and Diabetes Epidemic”, was found to be too specialized and could even be discussed within the first topic.

From Sierra Leones standpoint of being a West African country with a precarious medical reliability of supply and infrastructure, Marike and Marcel decided to look for allies among countries with a comparable background. Therefore, the first exchange of information took place with the delegates of Guinea and Kenya. The Sierra Leonean delegates pursued a strategy with two aspects: On the one hand, they tried to find an agreement with regional partners which would encompass the fight against counterfeit medicine. On the other hand, our delegates approached to the People’s Republic of China which play an essential role in the supply of cost-effective generics in West Africa.

As the topic was verbalized in such a general way, many countries could join each other to claim theirs interests. As representatives from Sierra Leone, Marike und Marcel worked collaboratively with China and Kenya among others. But due to the emerging differences during the debate which referred mainly to the expansion of intellectual property rights hampering the production and transport of generics, the negotiations with those partners stagnated.

Consequently, Marike and Marcel preferred to work on a working paper together with South Africa and Chile. This working paper included the implementation of a monitoring system to fight counterfeit medicine. Moreover, other aspects which represented the interests of Sierra Leone, like the medical education of local actors to help the so called Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to develop from inside, could be included. Although the required majority lacked for this draft resolution, both tried their best to add the most important issues and bring them on the table for further discussion. Finally, another draft resolution passed, but Marike and Marcel were more than happy to have experienced such unique days of discussion and fruitful debate.

African Union (AU)

Sebastian Witte represented the delegation of the Friedrich-Schiller-University in the African Union. The committee decided to discuss the daily topic „Rise of Radical Islam“. Due to the comparatively manageable number of delegates, rapid progress could be made both in the plenary and in the informal discussions. The almost confidential working atmosphere encouraged an „outside of the box“ thinking, so that even unusual solutions, like the integration of social-media to combat radical groups could be discussed.
From the point of view of Sierra Leone, the adopted resolution could also be seen as a success, because some points relevant to the delegation, such as the institutionalization of interreligious dialogue, were taken into account.

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All of us had an amazing time in Montréal, during committee session as well as during social events. We would like to thank again all of our sponsors that made our trip possible and gave us the opportunity to experience all aspects of this unique event.