ZuMUN is a collaboration between the MUN Team University of Zurich and ETH MUN of ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). The idea for a joint conference was born in 2014 and the first edition of ZuMUN took place from 23rd to 26th April 2015. The success of the first edition motivated us to continue on that track. The second edition took place from 14th to 17th April 2016. It was again a huge success. We plan to make ZuMUN a yearly conference.
My name is Shuting Ling and I have been doing MUN in various functions as part of the MUN team at the University of Zurich since the beginning of my bachelor’s studies. I have participated in the two last ZuMUN editions as delegate and chair and decided to try my best to take ZuMUN 2017 to the next level together with Marc. The things that excite me most about Model United Nations are the people – the best one can find at any university – and the topics, which is why I am so happy about our conference theme!
My name is Marc Sinner. I am what other people call an MUN dinosaur. I have been doing MUN since the beginning of my studies in Civil Engineering back in 2009. Since then, I have visited around 15 national and international conferences and I have been part of the Executive Board of ETH MUN for more than two years. This is my third year in the OC of ZuMUN, after being responsible for Delegates and Registration in 2015 and for Budget & Accounting in 2016. At the moment I am in my 2nd year of a Phd in Transportation at ETH.
MUNPlanet: ETH MUN and MUN UZH existed for some time before they started cooperating on ZuMUN. Tell us a bit about their history.
ETH Model United Nations was founded in 2007 by two enthusiastic students who knew about the principle of Model United Nations and could not bear this idea of not being implemented at Europe’s leading technological university. Ever since that moment, members of ETH MUN have organized weekly meetings to simulate the work and the intense debates of the UN and to prepare for international MUN conferences. Today, ETH MUN is one of the biggest commissions of the VSETH (Students’ Union of the ETH) with an ever growing number of members and an active Alumni network.
Four political science students founded the association MUN Team University of Zurich in 2007 to organize a delegation to the Harvard WorldMUN 2008 in Puebla. Other eight members joined the association and joined in the preparation for this important conference. The experience in Mexico was great, and the delegation a huge success! To further participate at MUN conferences, two new board members were elected and later new team members joined. Today we offer weekly sessions, organize delegations to international conferences as well as workshops and events related to the UN and its work. Through continuing efforts, our young team has quickly become known in the worldwide MUN landscape.
The 10th anniversary of both teams in 2017 motivates us to organize an even better ZuMUN to share the celebrations with our ZuMUN guests.
MUNPlanet: When was it decided to unite ETH MUN and MUN UZH, and how did it actually happen?
Over the years, ETH MUN and MUN UZH made great experiences at various conferences all over the world. However, something was missing, as there was no conference we could call our own. In spring 2014, the boards of both teams got together in order to discuss a potential cooperation to organize our own conference in Zurich, putting into practice the expertise we had gained while attending past conferences. It didn’t take long for us to reach common ground and that meeting turned out to be the first meeting of ZuMUN. Our advantage is that we have gathered the knowledge of two MUN organizations in order to make this conference truly unforgettable.
MUNPlanet: This year, there are seven committees, two of which are high school level. Were there any committees that you didn’t include this year, but plan to include in the future?
The choice of committees is always carefully made in accordance with the overarching conference theme. We want to make sure that the committees we offer give enough room for topics related to our conference theme. That’s the reason why we offer a debate in the International Telecommunication Union this year – a unique choice for an MUN conference. For the moment, we cannot give information on possible committees in the upcoming years as those depend on the future conference themes, but we can promise that they will be at the pulse of our times.
MUNPlanet: The committees range from beginner to advanced. The JCC and ICJ are advanced, but which would you recommend for beginners? If someone’s having doubts about applying, how would you encourage them to come?
For beginners among the University delegates we highly recommend the following three committees:
- UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme)
- ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council)
- ITU (international Telecommunication Union).
All three committees provide a good mix of delegates from beginners to slightly more advanced ones and thus they allow for very productive debates on issues at the forefront of the international agenda.
To those having doubts we would stress that our conference emphasizes high-quality debates and superb logistics on part of the organization committee. We also cater to those who wish to get to know their fellow delegates, as our committees rarely contain more than thirty representatives. Thus, you will definitely get speaking time and an opportunity to truly work out working papers and resolutions you may call your own!
The increasing digitalization has the potential of deeply transforming our societies. On the one hand, it bears great opportunities as it allows people to connect much easier and great technological advances potentially benefit people and the environment. On the other hand, it also bears risks, as jobs and social security in certain industries might disappear. The political discussions on Uber and AirBnB are only the tip of the iceberg of what is to come in the future. As the world’s future leaders, MUN delegates need to address these issues and familiarize themselves with how they are dealt with internationally. Furthermore, since ZuMUN is co-organized by Europe’s leading technical university, we believe it is fitting to discuss the issues of digitalization precisely where the technological means of our future are created.
MUNPlanet: Should there be awards at Model UNs? Why or why not?
ZuMUN stands out from other MUN conferences by not offering Best Delegate Awards. Instead, we firmly believe that we do MUN because we have fun doing it and a passion for the topics of debate. We debate because we think it gives us back something greater: new friends, the ability to analyze complex issues and soft skills for the future. We believe delegates do not need awards to motivate themselves to excel at MUN. Finally, in our eyes awards encourage competition instead of cooperation among delegates, which in turn lessens the quality of debate. As president Obama has said to Humans of New York: It’s about the work, not about the result. Finally, we are convinced that outstanding delegates will receive recognition one way or another and the most valuable one is that of their peers. We absolutely respect the decision of other conferences to offer awards, but we have chosen a different approach for ZuMUN.
MUNPlanet: ZuMUN is famous for its packed social schedule. There will be two parties and a dinner this year. Could you tell us more about these?
The first party ZuMUN is going to host is the legendary “Nachtseminar” at Plaza Club. Delegates are going to have the opportunity to connect not only with their fellow delegates, but also with the young party crowd from all over Switzerland. The package includes free entry and some specials that will be revealed on our social media.
The formal dinner is exclusively for the members of the conference. Socializing while enjoying the multi-course meal and taking professional pictures at our photo wall: everything to make them feel like the special guests that they are. An additional specialty is that the delegates will have the opportunity to vote over the dress code. The Formal will be followed by a Pub Crawl through the beautiful alleys of the old town called “Niederdörfli”.
The last social event at ZuMUN will be the Club Night at Stuz2. There will be a dance floor, bars for refreshments and even a karaoke stage, not to forget a photo booth in order to make the final night truly unforgettable.
As you can see, this year we have decided to be further connected with our delegates through social media. Therefore we will post all details about the conference and social events on our social media accounts. Make sure to follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ZurichMUN) and Instagram (zurich_mun)!
MUNPlanet: How can the role of technology and new communities such as MUNPlanet affect the future of MUNs?
We believe the effect of technology on MUN is very positive, as MUNPlanet and similar communities connect MUNers from all over the globe. Through online communities dedicated to MUN, it is possible to pool valuable knowledge on MUN and on current affairs in general. Furthermore, passionate MUNers receive information on conferences that might interest them, while keeping in touch with friends made during conferences. In times where our Facebook feeds burst with a quantity of information that is difficult to digest, specialized communities can help us to focus on the things that are most important to us.
MUNPlanet: MUNs are very popular nowadays, but what makes ZuMUN stand out and what do you predict will happen in its future?
ZuMUN stands out because of three aspects: excellent logistics thanks to Swiss efficiency, unique and coherent selection of committees and topics, and a conference spirit that emphasizes high-quality debates over competition. It is difficult to make predicitons for the future, we do have hopes though, namely that our conference will have a firm spot on the European conference circuit in the near future and that it will always be well-loved by all participants, but constantly evolving and improving the experience for everyone involved, from delegate and chair to OC member, nevertheless.
MUNPlanet: What is the most important message you want your participants to leave your conference with?
Let our debates during and after committee sessions inspire you to tackle the challenging questions surrounding digitalization and to actively shape the direction in which it is moving!