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 The Hague, the international city of peace and justice and home to MUNOTH 2016!
MUNPlanet: Please introduce yourself and your conference to our community.
As the Secretary-General of MUNOTH 2016, it is with great pleasure that I, on behalf of the MUNOTH 2016 Organizing Team, may welcome all international students, regardless of study, to join us in realizing an exclusive and professional conference that also maintains an exciting social programme in our City of Peace and Justice. Having dedicated two years to MUNOTH, I was given the great responsibility but even greater privilege of seeing the conference grow as much as its participants. This year, our conference builds around the theme: “World in Flux: The Apex of Systemic Fragility” by which we will be depicting the turbulent changes our international community experienced lately, and expose the current limits of international frameworks. The task will be to optimize international responses to crises of various natures, and so each committee will reveal its substantive surprises as we draw closer to our conference´s date: 28th April - 1st May 2016. At the same time, we are excited to take advantage of our location for both academic experience and typical dutch student fun!
MUNPlanet: In one sentence, tell us why we should not miss this edition of MUNOTH.
You shouldn´t miss MUNOTH 2016 because you would be missing out on a legen...wait for it… dary experience!
MUNPlanet: The Netherlands is world-famous for its outstanding delegates and delegations who win best delegate awards at almost every major conference around the globe. What’s the secret?
Since most MUN-ers will usually only go through one specific type of training a credible comparison is difficult. I would say it´s partly the students´ vast access to guest lectures, visits and small-scale meetings with experts in the fields of politics, international law and relations from institutions that are centered here in the Hague such as NATO, ICJ, and the OPCW to name a few. Those are pretty much a bi-weekly occurrence at my college already. Consequently, students here have established so many associations that train public speaking and debating, and conferences that regular practice is easily organized.
MUNPlanet: You are a senior Model UN conference! How do you maintain the quality and what are some new things you will be introducing this year?
The quality is maintained through teamwork. You can have a vision, but it cannot be realized on your own. I am lucky enough to have an honest, dedicated and inspiring team who are critical of my own ideas, courageous in bringing their own up for discussion and reliable enough to minimize stress over outstanding tasks.
This year, we are building on the activities that had been newly introduced last year whilst bringing in our own twists to the conference. With our theme in mind, each committee will have a optimized Rules of Procedure. The most distinguished adjustment in terms of Rules of Procedure, for example, will be our General Assembly which will operate according to UN4MUN for the first time. Furthermore, we consider agenda-setting a process that chairs may assist the Secretariat in. Lastly, both our delegates and journalists will have the power of deciding for a certain set of actions in each committee. The question for a delegate is, will you aim for mutual cooperation in making a comprehensive resolution or will you give in to temptation and spark a crisis? And for the journalist, will you be able to cope with the responsibility and consequences of publishing or will you consciously turn up the heat in your designated committee through selective reporting?
MUNPlanet: Tell us more about the team behind this year’s edition of MUNOTH; what are the main obstacles that you were facing during the preparation process?
At first, it was my keeping the meetings too long and too often. I must have been such an annoying SG! Another obstacle, although we are managing well, was keeping all the drastic changes MUNOTH underwent last year and the current Board´s new ideas compatible. And trust me, my team has alot of ideas! But, at the same time, they are committed enough to follow up on each constructive idea. Whilst our participants will have greater possibilities in making creative choices this year, these choices will obviously have to fit within the theme and level of realism we aim to create at our conference. Once the balance was found, we realized how challenging the dynamic but also exciting MUNOTH will be this year!
MUNPlanet: King’s Day is celebrated on the 27th of April. Are you going include that as a theme in your social events and is orange wear a must?
You can never go wrong with bringing something orange when visiting the Netherlands! Whilst we encourage all our participants to experience King´s Day, we as a conference will not be organizing anything on the day itself. But, we will be integrating typical Dutch student ways in our social program. The details, however, you will have to remain patient for and remain updated through our social media and/or website!
MUNPlanet: Do you think that delegates of International Court of Justice will be inspired/motivated to work even harder now that they are in the capital of peace and justice?
Obviously! We do not want to reveal too much, but what if you had the chance to meet someone from the international courts and discuss an actual case they dealt with over a cold beer?
MUNPlanet: “Our Mascot & Selfie Competition” You got us interested! Tell us everything about it! Also, since we have to ask, why sloth?
The joke of the sloth started with my “occasional” jealousy over it´s relaxed and sleep-filled lifestyle, both of which many students are lacking. In a greater context, the selfie competition reflects on our aim of integrating personal individual traits of the board on both an informal and formal level of MUNOTH. Personally, most of my friends describe me as random and so parts of the social program should be random as well. Whilst I do want the delegates to dedicate the weekend to discovering new skills and gain an understanding of the issues they will be addressing in their respective committees, let us not forget that conferences are supposed to be fun as well! Finally, when was the last time anyone thought about this most elegant and fabulous animal for a whole weekend?
MUNPlanet: Will Heineken be the official drink of MUNOTH? P.S We know that the brewery is not originally from the Hague, but we were curious nevertheless.
Even though the MUNOTH Team will be seeking out all opportunities to optimize our social program, including Heineken, as students we do not discriminate against other alcoholic beverages. Also, our fellow MUN addicts and friends should not be limited in any regard. All drinks are beautiful.
MUNPlanet: Where do you see your MUN and MUNs in general in next five, ten, and fifteen years?
Well, that depends where our delegates take us as the years go on. As the Secretary-General, I firmly believe that each component that constitutes a conference: the Secretariat, the press, the chairs and each and every participant; defines a distinct niche of the MUNOTH concept each year. If I were to think in terms of my personal but plausible vision, it would be MUNOTH continuously growing in the next few years as a conference that emphasizes the privileges of its location. I hope to see the conference staying its current size, for a more intimate bond between all the bodies of a Model UN conference, whilst extending both its social and professional program apart from the committee sessions inter alia visits to international bodies centered in The Hague, more speakers and lectures, and a greater emphasis on our Diplomat´s Soirée. This is what the MUNOTH 2016 Board is already pushing forward this year. As a grammatically incorrect Dutch saying would read: More diplomats and experts, more better!
MUNPlanet: In relation to the previous question, how do you see new technologies, especially communities such as MUNPlanet, changing Model United Nations landscape in the coming years?
Let me answer that with another question: What better way to host a conference in the International City of Peace and Justice, the city that breathes all that the United Nations stands for such as diversity, mutual understanding and tolerance, and justice, than by having as many nationalities present as possible? Online media platforms have become an economically feasible and time-efficient way of getting the MUNOTH spirit out there! At the same time, participants remain connected after a conference via social platforms and so an entire global network is created. This is a crucial aspect that made me personally “fall in love” with MUN, as I have shared so many experiences, memories, lessons and gained so many friends from all over the world throughout the years of my MUN career. On the other hand, the substance of any conference and its unique properties are increasingly getting the spotlight they deserve and need. Thus, technologies, a well-planned marketing schedule and a committed promotion person are the key in planning a conference that fit a much wider audience which only improves the quality of the conference. It´s a mutual relationship.
MUNPlanet: What is one thought that you want your delegates to leave with?
My aim is for delegates, at least for a brief moment, to forget that we are merely simulating debate. Especially this year, the MUNOTH Team is committed to providing the foundations for realistic, yet intense debates by planning (surprise) crises, collaborating with chairs on the agenda and tailoring the Rules of Procedure to each committee. At the same time, our social program will blur the line between a student-run conference that entails parties and a crash course in Dutch culture, and a professional atmosphere that is academically challenging through our Day 0 guest lecture and Diplomat´s Soiree.
MUNPlanet: Tell us more about MUNOTH Observer and what can we expect from it?
The MUNOTH Observer is a pillar of our conference that we are especially proud of, as it purely stems from the enthusiasm of students that assisted in making the conference happen last year. Also, it addresses an audience that is often ignored in the Model UN world, namely journalism-enthusiasts! The magazine functions as an online blog that reports on the substantive developments of each committee. Apart from the online blog, the Press Team also publishes a newsletter for each day of the conference which balances the social and the academic aspects. The Press Team will also play a distinct role in realizing the crises at MUNOTH 2016, and we will be developing our press conferences as well. Thus, MUNOTH is reaching out to various schools and/or organizations known for their journalism programs, but also remains open towards individual applicants. Another new addition is the MUNOTH Observed, which will address all rumors, memes, jokes or any other entertaining social matters of the conference!
Looking forward to meeting all MUNOTH 2016 participants soon,
Naomi Jo Erny
Secretary-General MUNOTH 2016
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!
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