My name is Jonathan Sasson and I am the Secretary-General of the Montreal United Nations Conference 2017. I have previously been the Secretary-General of the Montreal United Nations Conference 2015 and 2016. It is both an honour and privilege to be returning to organize our fifth conference edition. I am a graduate of Dawson College in Liberal Arts, presently studying Law at Université de Montréal. From 2016-2017, I was the President and Head Delegate of the Model UN Delegation at the Faculty of Law of Université de Montréal. Furthermore, I was the Host Team President of Harvard World United Nations Montreal 2017. Additionally, I co-founded Canadian Model United Nations with the aim of creating a unified and stronger Canadian circuit.
The Montreal United Nations Conference (MUNC) is an annual Model UN simulation hosted each November in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Sponsored by Dawson College Model United Nations (DCMUN), MUNC is organized by the team that brought Harvard World Model United Nations 2017 (WorldMUN) to Montreal. Since 2013, MUNC has attracted hundreds of delegates from across the world. This year marks the conference’s fifth anniversary, alongside the 150th anniversary of Canada and the 375th anniversary of Montreal. It is a year of festivities and celebration!
MUNPlanet: In only five years, MUNC has grown to become one of Canada’s leading simulations of the United Nations. What are some of your biggest accomplishments? Where do you see MUNC in a decade?
We are incredibly proud of MUNC’s ability to offer quality experiences to participants from around the world. Our committees are interactive and engaging, challenging delegates think outside the box and inviting them to collaborate together to reach resolution on the given issues. Each year, MUNC welcomes more and more participants. In a decade, MUNC has the potential to grow further, expand and reach new audiences making it an international conference on every delegation’s calendar.
MUNPlanet: Your sponsor Dawson College has been instrumental in providing the support and resources to make this event possible each year, allowing you to welcome so many delegates and high quality speakers from the international community. Tell us more about this institution.
Dawson College opened its doors in 1969 as the first English-language college in Quebec’s network of public CEGEPs, and is today among the largest colleges in Quebec. Dawson College Model United Nations (DCMUN) was founded in 2009 and has become the largest extracurricular academic activity at Dawson College. DCMUN provides students with opportunities for personal growth and international political awareness through training and participation in Model United Nations conferences in Quebec, in Canada and around the world.
DCMUN held its first conference in 2010 which evolved into the Montreal United Nations Conference (MUNC). The rapidly growing MUNC is notably the only Model UN conference in Canada with a division for secondary school and college students and a division for university students. MUNC strives for an authentic Model UN experience, one focused on the United Nations and its committees, as well as real-world issues and concerns. DCMUN and MUNC are committed to being open organizations, with substantial involvement of Dawson College and DCMUN alumni as well as welcoming students from other institutions as organizers as well as participants. In 2017, DCMUN organized and hosted Harvard World Model United Nations (WorldMUN) in Montreal welcoming over 2500 participants from across the globe.
MUNPlanet: In addition to university students, your conference is open to secondary school students. Should we expect mixed committees? How will it function?
MUNC is the only international simulation in Canada that is open to secondary school, collegial and university students. The conference is composed of a Blue Division for secondary school and collegial students, and an Orange Division for collegial and university students. In addition, our International Press Forum committee is comprised of participants from all three levels of education. Our committees are therefore carefully designed in function of the level of education of participants.
MUNPlanet: You are bringing back some of the creative committees - United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Press Forum (IPF). Were these usually the student favorites or has something else influenced this decision?
At every edition of MUNC, we aim to present participants with creative and innovative committee experiences centered on the United Nations. The United Nations Security, the International Court of Justice and the International Press Forum have become some of the favourite committee simulations at the conference. In celebration of our fifth anniversary, we are excited to offer delegates some of our most popular committees from previous conference editions. For example, The International Press Forum represents the effect of the media in today’s world by influencing committees and their progress. In addition to traditional committee experiences at MUNC, we are also simulating new committees such as the World Food Programme, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the African Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. In five years, MUNC has simulated over 50 committee experiences providing participants with a wealth of knowledge and opportunity.
MUNPlanet: One of the most interesting features of this year’s MUNC is the historical simulation of the Haitian Revolution of 1791 - 1804. What inspired you to pick this as a topic? What do you hope to achieve?
The Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804 is one of the committees we are most excited about at this year’s conference. Each year we organize a joint-crisis committee. In 2015, we simulated a conflict between the Russian Kremlin and the U.S. White House. Last year, we offered a historical simulation of the Italian War of 1494-1498. The joint-crisis committee is one of our most creative and challenging experiences for delegates because of the crisis arc and elements that come into play over the course of the simulation. Our committees are aimed at being educational and advancing the knowledge of participants. With our simulation of the Haitian Revolution, we are inviting participants to learn about these historical events and of their effects on today’s world.
MUNPlanet: This November you welcome both new and experienced delegates. How would you advise the newbie delegates to prepare for the conference? Which committees would you recommend for experienced and which for beginners?
Our conference staff is trained to accommodate new and experienced delegates in their committees. Considering MUNC is hosted in November, it frequently happens to be the first Model UN conference for several delegates. We adapt our committees to reflect that by encouraging our daises to communicate with delegates often and offering them with advice. Prior to the conference, we invite participants to consult the rules of procedure on our website, in addition to the guidelines on resolution writing and position papers. All of our committees are suited for new and experienced delegates. The crisis committees, however, tend to be the most challenging and we generally recommend them to experienced delegates.
We encourage Model UN organizers to be creative and innovative with their conferences. For example, MUNC 2017 will be the first Canadian conference to feature “Diplomacy Awards” rather than the using the traditional model of “Best Delegate Awards”. Furthermore, we are the first Canadian conference to be using the MyMUN.net Conference Management System. Choices such as these make the conference experience unique and different.
MUNPlanet: MUNC is such a high-profile conference that even Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that “MUNC has empowered thousands of students from every corner of the map.” In your opinion, why should every student attend MUNs? How do they benefit?
Model UN challenges participants to learn of new issues, advancing their understanding of today’s world and the preoccupations of the international community. As a result, Model UN leads to the development of global citizens. Throughout the world, we are seeing new Model UN conferences and delegations being created at increasing rates, in addition to platforms such as MUNPlanet to connect those participants. Model UN provides therefore participants with the opportunity to network and establish meaningful connections, benefiting them in their years ahead.
MUNPlanet: Considering that this year you are marking Canada’s 150th anniversary and Montreal’s 375th anniversary, the visit to Montreal should be so much more magical. What are some of things that participants should do in Montreal to get the authentic Canadian experience?
This year is special for us. We will be celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary and Montreal’s 375th anniversary throughout MUNC 2017. Since the conference is hosted at Dawson College in the heart of downtown Montreal, there are numerous activities participants can do nearby to experience the city. We recommend participants visit the underground city in Montreal, in addition to checking out the museums, such as the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to view Canadian art. Restaurants are located throughout Montreal and we invite participants to try out the local cuisine. The Province of Quebec is known for its poutine, traditionally a late-night snack made with French fries, cheese curds and gravy. Furthermore, smoked meat is another staple in Montreal. Delegates can head to Schwartz’s Deli, known for its giant smoked-meat sandwiches.
MUNPlanet: It is usually the social events that students remember the best. What do you have prepared for this aspect of the conference?
MUNC 2017 offers participants with three incredible social events that capture the energy and uniqueness of Montreal. On the first night, we are bringing back our annual Diplomatic Reception for Head Delegates to network and interact with our conference staff over the course of dessert, coffee and tea. On Saturday evening, we are organizing committee dinners in Montreal’s finest and most famous restaurants, providing participants with the opportunity to try local cuisine and socialize with their fellow delegates outside of committee session. Following Saturday’s committee dinners, our third and most glamorous social event is the Secretary-General’s Gala. It is the first of its kind and will mark the celebration of the conference’s fifth anniversary.
MUNPlanet: How do you see new technologies, especially communities such as MUNPlanet, changing Model United Nations landscape in the coming years?
New technologies have the potential to transform and modernize Model UN by creating connected global communities and assisting participants with their research. MUNPlanet has been one of those leading forces by bringing together delegates from every corner of the map onto their platform, and featuring great articles on interesting topics that advance the education of readers. In recent years, MyMUN has challenged the traditional conference management system and improved upon it by delivering one of the most powerful tools for Model UN organizers. MUNC is excited to be the first Canadian conference to use the MyMUN Conference Management System. There are additionally new platforms such as InMutual, a social network for Model UN, or DelegatePal, helping delegates with their research. A new initiative called Canadian Model United Nations (CMUN) was recently launched with the objective of a creating a stronger and unified Canadian circuit. The future of Model UN is very likely to be focused on these connected communities that promote networking and increase the awareness of Model UN.
MUNPlanet: After five years on the scene, some funny situations have to have occurred. Can you share a funny anecdote from MUNC with our community?
Our crisis committees are home to some of the greatest and funniest moments at MUNC, thanks to the incredible delegates and staff we have working to make these experiences memorable for all participants. In 2015, our Crisis Director of the Berlin Conference 1884-1885, Manoug Alemian, dressed up as a missionary and surprised the delegates by jumping out of a cupboard (French and English missionaries had been assassinated in Africa, with only the Spanish surviving). You can relive that moment in its entirety by watching the highlights of the Berlin Conference 1884-1885.
We place our focus on the committees and providing exceptional experiences for participants. We carefully select our committee staff in addition to the committee topics. Thus, our committees are designed with the delegates at their center. We aim to challenge delegates with the topics and encourage them to take a position, build consensus and further their knowledge of the issues. MUNC is a vehicle for global citizenry by promoting the values of diplomacy and education. Participants will depart MUNC 2017 with new friends and new knowledge.
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