MUNPlanet: Hey, how have you been? MUNPlanet is quite familiar with Rotaract Model UN, but just in case someone missed it, please introduce yourself and your conference to our community.
Rotaract Global Model United Nations http://(www.RotaractMUN.org) is a global movement led by young leaders from the Rotary community (i.e. Rotaractors). Each year Rotaractors from around the world organise a new edition of RotaractMUN which has to be in a different country than in previous years. RotaractMUN gathers together young diplomats, local volunteers, UN actors, Rotaractors and Rotary members towards a very unique and successful conference. The vision behind RotaractMUN is that of a global initiative driven by local volunteers aiming to reach as many young leaders as possible to build an international network of young professionals involved in decision-making, thus bridging together the Rotary community and UN system which have worked together for decades. Since 2013, RotaractMUN had the pleasure to be hosted in Romania, United Kingdom, Serbia, United States, Bulgaria and Lebanon, establishing itself as a prestigious conference having been recognised by Rotary International and the UN.
MUNPlanet: Rotaract Global Model United Nations is a grassroot initiative started in 2013. All grassroot initiatives have great origin stories to tell. We’d love to hear yours.
The first edition of RotaractMUN was initiated and implemented in Romania by Rotaract Club Baia Mare Team in 2013. The idea to blend the concept of Model United Nations and Rotaract came about when two club members of Baia Mare Team (Dan Ungureanu and Adrian Dan Pop, founders of the conference and now former presidents of the club) attended a local workshop for young leaders in early 2012. During that workshop Dan presented an MUN he organised in Cluj Napoca, Romania while he was a student, titled Cluj Napoca International Model United Nations (NapoMUN). It became evident during the subsequent discussions that youth leadership, diplomacy and service above self are all ideas that could be placed together by linking Rotary and Rotaract with the Model UN concept and thus giving youth a voice that could reach the UN through the Rotary community. The first name of the conference was Rotaract International Model UN (or RotaMUN), however after discussions with Rotary International the final name of the conference was found: Rotaract Global Model United Nations (RotaractMUN).
After careful preparations, Baia Mare Team club members organised the first edition in Romania in August 2013 which gathered young leaders from all corners of the world including from Japan, US, Hong Kong and Nigeria. However, the conference was not designed to stay in one place, rather it was meant to jump every year to a different location, thus giving more opportunities to young leaders to join us (hence the word Global in our name) and reach the UN with their proposed solutions to world problems. After 5 editions, RotaractMUN has achieved this vision as set out in 2013 and every year the conference and its message is presented at the UN during the Rotary-UN Days. In 2016 RotaractMUN also had the distinguished privilege to be organised at the UN HQ in New York, this being a statement of its success and recognition.
MUNPlanet: It’s impressive that year after year you gain support and recognition from Rotary International and partner Rotary Clubs. Could you tell us more about them? Do you have any advice for other Model UN organizers when it comes to acquiring partnerships?
RotaractMUN had the support of Rotary International and sponsor Rotary Clubs since its first edition, being designed from the start as a bridge between the Rotary and UN communities with the final goal of youth empowerment which is one of the core objectives of both organisations. By attending our conference you contribute to your professional development through active learning while promoting peace. Bringing communities of young leaders together makes RotaractMUN a platform where you can raise issues, provide solutions and contribute to something bigger. With your help we offer the youth perspective to world problems and together we raise awareness and empower our message.
Having a clear vision and mission is key to building strong partnerships with like-minded organisations. Our advice is:
Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for support;
Never give up and persist;
In time, great things will happen with enough patience.
MUNPlanet: In contrast to other Model UN conferences, Rotaract Global Model United Nations transcends from a mere simulation to an actual youth decision-making process. How do you accomplish this?
We achieve this by focusing on professionalism and asking for the highest experience from our Secretariat members which will guide delegates towards active participation, negotiation techniques, challenging debates and resolutions. We mirror all the UN rules of procedure and give delegates an immersive experience from which they can learn how decision-making takes place. We also encourage our alumni to join us in a global network of young leaders by spreading our message to the highest representative bodies of this world, including the UN. We organise regular visits to the UN where RotaractMUN organisers, former delegates or existing ones have the opportunity to present and speak up about the latest topics on the UN agenda as well as present our conference and achievements. These results could not be achieved without the strong support we receive from Rotary International for which we are very grateful.
Later in life RotaractMUN alumni may have the opportunity to work or represent organisations such as Rotary, UN or the EU and the experiences they have gained during our events will prove to have been a stepping stone in their professional development which they can then use to shape our world in the pursuit of peace and service above self. Through these means we create a permanent dialogue and strong partnership within the RotaractMUN network which reaches far beyond what we have imagined when we first started.
MUNPlanet: Rotaract Global Model United Nations has taken place in amazing locations over the years. This year, it is held in Beirut, Lebanon. How do you decide on the location? Have you got any ideas for next year?
Since we began this initiative, RotaractMUN was organised in the following locations:
Baia Mare, Romania, organized by Rotaract Club Baia Mare TEAM in August 2013;
London, UK, organized by Rotaract Club of Westminster in September 2014;
Belgrade, Serbia, organized by Rotaract Club of Belgrade in August 2015;
New York, USA in March 2016 as part of the Change the World Model UN simulating the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) at the UN Headquarters;
Sofia, Bulgaria, organized by Rotaract Club of Sofia Serdika in July 2016;
Beirut, Lebanon, organised by Rotaract Club of Sahel Metn in August 2017.
Each year the RotaractMUN Executive Committee composed of the founding members as well as the Project Managers and Secretary Generals from previous editions select the next organiser of RotaractMUN after an open call for applications available on our website (rotaractmun.org/apply). Any Rotaract Club can apply to host RotaractMUN in their city, there is no deadline and we welcome applications any time during the year.
When selecting the next organisers the Committee bears in mind the vision and mission of the conference and balances several factors such as project proposal quality, team expertise, geographical location, host country, etc. Over the years the Committee aims to ensure a fair selection of Rotaract Clubs across the globe so that each edition of RotaractMUN can give the opportunity to as many young leaders as possible to attend the conference.
We have not selected yet who or where we will organise the 2018 edition of RotaractMUN, therefore if you are a Rotaract Club interested in doing this then we invite you to join us in this journey and shape the future of RotaractMUN by applying today to become the next organiser of RotaractMUN. Every year we announce the next organiser of RotaractMUN at the UN during the Rotary-UN Days in New York (usually in November).
MUNPlanet: This year’s topic is “A Nuclear Free World”. With the rise of nuclear activities, how do you predict the near future when it comes to this area?
There is a decline in the number of nuclear weapons in the world today to 15000, down from 70000 during the cold war era. This is indeed a positive step in the right direction. Although countries such as North Korea and Iran have been purportedly developing their Nuclear Arsenal in recent years, we refer to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) the core of which states “countries with Nuclear Weapons will move towards disarmament; countries without Nuclear Weapons will not acquire them; and all countries can access peaceful Nuclear technology.” This issue is clearly a very sensitive one and, we believe that, although the NPT is just a piece of paper, it has achieved a lot in the past. We therefore believe strongly, that we will be able to move to a world where all countries will abide by the treaty and move towards disarmament.
MUNPlanet: You offer multiple conference packages. What’s the difference between them? Which would you recommend and why?
We offer 2 main Packages: Full Board Package and Half-Board Package.
Since the conference is less than a month away we are now at the late Registration stage from 15th July till 31st July.
Half-Board package includes the conference participation fees, meals, water, coffee breaks, Gala dinner, Lebanese traditional dinner and party, Global village (sunset gathering), closing party and transportation.
Full-Board Package includes in addition to the previously mentioned points 3 nights accommodation at the “Three O Nine Hotel” in the heart of Beirut City, within walking distance from AUB campus where the conference is taking place.
We definitely recommend the Full Board Package even for Local participants as staying with all the participants for 4 days at the hotel is an enriching experience specially that they will get to discover new cultures and build friendships from all over the world.
MUNPlanet: There’s four committees at your conference this year. If a beginner was thinking of applying, which committee would you recommend for the start of their Model UN career? Which would you recommend to the more advanced delegates?
When assigning delegates to committees, we look at their MUN experience and their knowledge of the topic, through their written statements. We then move to fill our committees with an eclectic mix of delegates, to ensure that there is a rich dynamic within the committees. Rich dynamic in that, there are persons who sit at all parts of the spectrum. No experience, limited experience and experienced. That way, those with limited and no experience, can quickly learn from the others, and contribute to the debate. For this topic, we would recommend new MUNers to sit on the ECOSOC and advanced MUNers to sit on the Security Council. However, we do give delegates a preference of which committees they would like to sit on.
MUNPlanet: Beirut is known as the “Paris of the East”. What are some things that your delegates should see and do there to get the authentic experience?
Beirut, is the social/economic hub of the country, its Mediterranean atmosphere throbs with joie de vivre. The city is pulsating with culture, heritage, fashion, and nightlife.
Taking a walk around Beirut central district to discover the traditional architecture is a must. Make sure not to miss any of the following: Place de l’etoile (Nejmeh Square), Lebanese Parliament Building, Roman Baths Ruins next to the Grand Serail, Roman Cardo Maximus next to the maronite cathedral of Saint Georges, Saint Georges Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Mohamad al Amine Mosque, Ruins of Fakhreddine Palace at Martyr’s Square.
You can start or end your tour at the Souks a reconstructed medieval market consisting of a complex network of alleys and pathways and it is currently one of the most vivacious neighbourhoods of Beirut Downtown.
Don’t miss out on a walk around the modern extension of Down Town, the new waterfront district around Zaytounay Bay, a quayside strip with restaurants stretching along the Beirut Marina surrounded by seafront skyscrapers.
Raouche Rock is also a must see, have a refreshing drink in one of the many restaurants surrounding it and watch the sun sets in the Mediterranean.
Jeitta Grotto, a complex of Caverns sculpted by water and time, located at only 30 minutes’ drive of Beirut was one of top 14 finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition, it is definitely a must see.
MUNPlanet: How can the role of technology and new communities such as MUNPlanet affect the future of conferences?
We live in a digital world that is evolving much faster than before which brings tremendous opportunities for communities such as MUNPlanet and RotaractMUN to grow far beyond what was possible a few decades ago. Grassroots initiatives such as RotaractMUN that started from a simple exchange between two friends now have the means and tools to reach thousands of young leaders around the world, uniting them around a common set of values and together shaping the world we live in. This was simply not possible before. We can make an impact, the only limit is the one we impose on ourselves.
MUNPlanet: Finally, what is one sentence that you want your delegates to leave the conference with?
Never doubt what you can achieve, be inspired and leap forward.
We would like to invite you to our 2017 edition in Beirut, Lebanon between 17 – 20 August http://(www.beirutsahelmetn2017.rotaractmun.org) and please feel free to reach out to us by contacting one of the below persons. We look forward to hearing from you!
Dan Ungureanu (firstname.lastname@example.org) & Adrian Dan Pop (email@example.com) – RotaractMUN Founders and Co-Presidents of the Executive Committee
Maxton R. Scotland (firstname.lastname@example.org) – Secretary General RotaractMUN Beirut 2017
Victoria Chefrane (email@example.com) – Project Manager RotaractMUN Beirut 2017 (Rotaract Club of Sahel Metn)