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This article is published as part of MUN Spotlight, a special series dedicated to Model UNs from around the globe. The aim of this series is to introduce MUNs and their organizers to our MUNPlanet audience and beyond. Today we're taking you to amazing London, the home to the largest conference in Europe, LIMUN 2016!
MUNPlanet: Please introduce yourself and your MUN to our audience.
I’m Dalí ten Hove, Secretary-General of LIMUN’s 17th annual session in 2016. It’s a real pleasure to have the opportunity of organizing an event enjoyed by so many, and I look forward to greeting you when the time comes. LIMUN is one of the most successful conferences in the world, and the largest in Europe. We started off in 2000 with a tiny initiative by a few committed students, and evolved year on year as word of the quality of our service spread. LIMUN 2016 promises to be one of the best, if not the best, edition we have ever put up, featuring a set of new intriguing committees, smaller committees to stimulate more participation per delegate, and a host of fantastic events at our opening day including an opportunity to informally network with real diplomats.
MUNPlanet: Tell us more about the LIMUN Foundation as a charitable organization and about the values that it promotes?
The success of LIMUN is in large part due to the structure of our organization. LIMUN is a programme of a larger non-governmental organization, the London International Model United Nations Foundation, which exists to promote cultural empathy and knowledge of international affairs among young people. The Foundation is headed by our Honorary President, Mark Malloch Brown, former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations under Kofi Annan, and is governed by an experienced board of trustees from the private, public and charity sectors. The annual LIMUN conference is in turn organized by students from the various constituent colleges of the University of London and associated universities. We also maintain an outreach programme, run by a separate branch of the Foundation, which carries out valuable outreach work to promote the United Nations and Model UN where it would otherwise not flourish.
MUNPlanet: You are the largest university-level Model United Nations in Europe and having 1500 delegates is something that not a lot of MUNs can brag about. What’s it like to organize such a demanding conference?
This being the third time I am personally involved in organizing LIMUN, I am quite wellplaced to tell you what it’s like! Surely there is a great deal of work involved, and it can consume a serious part of your life while you’re working on it. But that makes the experience all the more enjoyable and the product more impressive. It is terrifically rewarding to see the fruit of your labour when the event is underway.
MUNPlanet: LIMUN has a proud tradition of attracting notable speakers to its Opening Ceremonies. Can you give us a sneak peek at this year’s most remarkable speakers?
We can’t give you too many details yet, but note that it will be grand! After all, at LIMUN 2015 one of our speakers was the former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, the second highest-ranking official of the entire UN System. We’ll make sure to keep that momentum up ;)
MUNPlanet: Behind every great project, there is a great organizing team. Tell us more about yours and share a few tips on what makes it outstanding?
The talent base of LIMUN’s organizing team is wide. We’re lucky enough to have some of the world’s top universities right here in London, and as we’re not organized by any one university we get to recruit from all of them. Probably the key factor of our own success is that we’re all extremely committed to the task – LIMUN isn’t an extra-curricular activity, we treat it like a job! – and we’re a fairly small team so it’s easy for us to coordinate and hold each other to account. Sometimes I see conferences half our size with twice as many people running it, and I wonder how on earth they’d manage to coordinate efficiently among themselves.
MUNPlanet: Committees: Will LIMUN 2016 be featuring the standard ones, or the delegates will also be able to participate in some more ‘exotic’ ones?
Standard ones are always on the menu, but for this year we’ve introduced some new, more exciting ones to diversify the Model UN experience of veteran participants. For the first time, in addition to our Historical Security Council, we’re simulating a League of Nations to discuss the Abyssinia War of 1935-6. We’ve also got four crisis cabinets representing corporate monopolies battling for control of America back in the 18th century! With 32 committees at LIMUN 2016, we’ll surely cater to everyone’s interest.
MUNPlanet: With the pub culture being deeply integrated into every pore of English society, we cannot leave without asking: What are you guys cooking in your socials kitchen?
We definitely have some exciting things coming up, and in more fancy places than just a couple filthy pubs! Have a look at pictures from our 2014 or 2015 socials and see for yourself. Now this part isn’t sure yet, so don’t expect it with certainty, but we may just have ourselves a good time at London’s old Town Hall where, back in 1946, the very first UN General Assembly delegates had their own dinner party.
MUNPlanet: You’re expecting delegates from all over the world. Will the platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross station be in function?
Obviously. And Dumbledore will be there to welcome you with your own owl and wand.
MUNPlanet: Now to the MUN questions: Why is Model United Nations significant in students’ professional development? How can students benefit from it later on in their careers?
Model United Nations teaches students a host of abilities that employers look for. Leading a block teaches you leadership skills, speaking in front of a large crowd makes you confident, analyzing a resolution’s flaws develops intellectual capacity, and responding to critique on your position forces you to think on your feet. MUN is truly an opportunity to fast-forward one’s professional development, as the attributes you learn would normally only come as you progress through the first few years of your career.
MUNPlanet: Where do you see MUNs in the next five, ten and fifteen years?
It’s already incredible how prevalent MUN has become in university life over the last fifteen years since the start of the 21st century. LIMUN itself began in 2000 as a small initiative and look at us now. Over the next decade or so I hope that MUN will reach out to more and more students around the world, particularly in countries where it isn’t much practiced yet, but also in places where it is highly prevalent and yet so many social science students don’t take part. It is also wonderful to see that MUN attracts more and more students from disciplines other than the usual law, international relations, politics and economics. In our own secretariat this year of eight people we have one medicine, one engineering and one biochemistry student – it would be great if participation from such people could be increased. I also hope MUN will become more prevalent in secondary schools. In my own country of origin, the Netherlands, we have a lively Model UN community for high school students but in the United Kingdom, where MUN is big in higher education, it is virtually unknown in secondary education. The LIMUN Foundation’s outreach programmes serve to mend this discrepancy.
MUNPlanet: What do delegates need to bring to London beside an umbrella?
Just a camera to capture all the wonderful stuff going on. The delegate packs we offer at the conference covers everything else.
MUNPlanet: Final question! What is one thought, one idea, that you want your delegates to leave with once the conference is over?
Part of the reason we have LIMUN is to put people more in touch with the United Nations and for them to consider how global issues might be tackled through multilateral action. The UN is derided in the news on a constant basis, and no doubt there is good reason to. But the conclusions drawn from such criticisms are generally wrong: UN failure does not mean we do not need the UN, it means we should come together to strengthen it. We sincerely hope that this message is carried through by the LIMUN experience.
MUNPlanet: Thank you for devoting your time to MUN Spotlight and telling us more about you and your MUN. MUNPlanet is looking forward to your conference and strongly advises all MUNers to check it out. Good luck on your conference!