This recap article was provided by Jonathan Sasson, the Secretary-General of the Montreal United Nations Conference 2018 (MUNC).
The Montreal United Nations Conference (MUNC) is a three-day international relations simulation for students held annually in downtown Montreal organized by Dawson College. MUNC emphasizes the spirit of collaboration at its conference with the aim of encouraging participants to develop workable solutions to the world’s most complex issues. Students role-play as delegates representing the Member States of the United Nations. Through their lively debates and exchanges, delegates experience the dynamics of international cooperation.
From November 16-18, more than 500 participants congregated at Dawson College to discuss and debate global issues. In the words of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, MUNC has “empowered thousands of students from every corner of the map to showcase their immense talent and engage in dynamic debate.”
Students from across Canada attended this year’s conference in addition to significant international representation from participants in Belgium, Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Mexico, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Spain and the United States.
MUNC is noteworthy for featuring committees in a Blue Division for secondary school and college students in addition to an Orange Division for university students. Each division is tailored to the knowledge and experience of the participant. The conference champions authenticity and realism, simulating committees that capture the spirit and work of the United Nations.
This year’s conference featured ten committees with some of the world’s most complex issues as topics. For example, participants in the African Union (AU) debated resolutions on how to realize Agenda 2063 and achieve an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in international arena.” Similarly, delegates in the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) discussed the legal regime of outer space and how to govern it. Delegates participating in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) were immersed in a historical simulation of the occupation of East Timor. The creativity and inspiration behind these committees was made possible through the strength and quality of the diverse conference staff comprised of students from throughout Montreal and across Canada.
The opening ceremony keynote address was delivered by Paul Clarke of Action Réfugiés Montréal. Mr. Clarke worked for 33 years in the Canadian banking industry before joining Action Réfugiés Montréal 2013, seizing the opportunity to work towards social justice. Mr. Clarke spoke to participants about his organization’s critical work with refugees, as well as the current international context. The conference similarly partnered with Action Réfugiés Montréal, raising funds for asylum-seekers and refugees.
The conference featured three social events for participants. The first event was the annual Diplomacy Reception on Friday night where participants were invited to build on their new connections from the first committee session while enjoying cake, tea, coffee and pastries. Next, the Committee Dinners were organized on Saturday and had delegates spending quality time with their fellow delegates and committee chairs, all over the course of a good meal in some of Montreal’s finest restaurants. The grand social event for the conference was the Secretary-General’s Gala hosted at the five-star Loews Hotel Vogue in downtown Montreal. The ballroom was packed as delegates were treated to dessert and beverages.
The closing ceremony saw more than 40 delegates awarded a Diplomacy Award for their outstanding performance in their committee. The Blue Division Delegation Award was won by Manlius Pebble Hill School and the Orange Division Delegation Award went to Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf. Finally, the Canadian Model United Nations Diplomacy Award was awarded to Concordia University for best representing the values of Canadian diplomacy at the conference.
This year’s conference was its most ambitious to date with delegates from across the world in attendance. Congratulations to all participants. With that, MUNC looks forward to another successful conference in November of 2019.