Even though the United Nations has received a blow to its reputation with the ensuing war, Concordia’s Model United Nations (CONMUN) club members’ appreciation for diplomacy has finally paid off with three exceptional awards this year.
Concordia engineering student George Adal, and CONMUN VP Finance Jason Hatrick both won Best Delegate awards, while Samer Jarjoui was awarded with Honourable Delegate.
“I think that the club went through a rebirth this year and the strong performance just goes to show that Concordia’s new team can debate and compete with some of the best students from Universities across the world,” said Benoit Charron, president of the club.
The club sent twelve members to represent Concordia in the first ever pan-Canadian International Model United Nations (CANIMUN) Conference held in Ottawa from March 12 to 15. Canada’s United Nations Association (UNA-Canada) in partnership with Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade organized the conference.
The four-day bilingual event was held at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa, and managed to attract 800 delegates from across Canada and the world.
Some of the International participants in this event came from Nepal, South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Norway and Colombia.
“Students representing different cultural ideas were able to meet and enrich the various debates with an international perspective,” said Catherine Letendre, secretary-general at CANIMUN and project officer for Model UN activities at UNA-Canada. Catherine is also a former Concordia student and member of CONMUN.
Over the course of four days, CONMUN participants sat on 11 out of the 18 committees and negotiated current issues that are part of the United Nations’ immediate and future concerns. However, some of the most pressing issues relating to the war in Iraq were found under the Joint Crisis Committee – Iraqi Cabinet and United States National Security Council.
Jason Hatrick picked up his Best Delegate award representing American Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Samer Jarjoui was presented with Honourable Delegate for his role as the Iraqi Minister of Finance.
“We had a constant stream of media outlets interested in monitoring our progress, so this helped create an even more realistic experience,” said Samer Jarjoui.
The city of Ottawa presented delegates with an opportunity to meet with representatives from diplomatic missions, government agencies and non-governmental organizations. In addition, students were able to debate in prominent conference venues and benefit from simultaneous translations in French and English.
“I am French educated, so this conference allowed me to express my opinions and thoughts a lot better,” said George Adal, a student in electrical engineering who won his award for Best Delegate while sitting on the Commission on Sustainable Development.
“Experiences like these make us more open to listening to others and teach us all to put our differences aside to work on a resolution,” he added.
According to Letendre, UNA is open to organizing another conference next year, but they are still evaluating their plans. However, all Model UN conferences attended throughout the year across North America give students first hand experience of what the UN’s procedures and policies require. In preparation for conferences, students write short position papers and research their countries’ foreign policies.
There are 25 active members in CONMUN this year, but the club is looking to increase its membership. Anyone keen on acting as an ambassador to Concordia at numerous competitions across North America can simply attend a meeting held in room H-937 every Wednesday evening at 8:30 p.m. For further details please visit: http://www.conmun.org/.