Location: Leuven, Belgium
Dates: 6th-10th March with Pre-Conference activity on the 5th March
Number of Delegates: 145
Number of Committees: 6 + Newswire
Cost: Delegate Pack and Social Pack (No option for seperate): €100, Pre-Conference Activity (Optional): €10, Accomodation (Optional): €120 with an optional night for €25
Being the largest conference in Belgium, with a reputation for attracting very influential guest speakers and a high quality of debate, KULMUN has once again produced a highly polished, well organised conference, only marred by the socials, the accommodation and some professionalism within the chairs. KULMUN has maintained its status as a conference to watch for a unique experience.
The Committees catered to a wide variety of tastes, consisting of the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly Third Committee (SOCHUM), the UN General Assembly Sixth Committee (Legal), as well as some more unusual committees such as Historical Special Committee on Decolonization, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
One noticeable committee was NATO who, rather than the usual style of Model United Nations, used the Consensus Based Approach. While a large departure from the usual approach, the new approach was well received by delegates, with many appreciating the in depth look at the topic that the committee allowed.
The Historical Committee also provided a unique look at two tense time periods, with some delegates changing countries between the two topics depending on the relevance of their topics. While difficult to debate the topic of South Rhodesia without the aforementioned country, the unique look at some defining historical events was welcomed by many delegates and allowed for a different way of approaching the events.
There was a noticeable lack of a crisis, that delegates had enjoyed in the previous years. The study guides were also noted to be to a lower than expected standard, with many newer delegates feeling disappointed on the details provided and areas given to research. There was also a few incidences of a noticeable lack of professionalism in regards to many of the chairs, with delegates being talked about in a derogatory manner by them to other delegates and other instances, providing a disappointing experience for some delegates.
Along with debates, there was the option to attend the Pre-Conference activity, which was a trip to the European Parliament, on the monday beforehand. Delegates were treated to a tour of the plenary session room, with a brief history and lecture on how it operates. This was followed by a talk from MEP Tom Vandekendelaere. While seen as an interesting experience, the waiting time took what could have been an hour experience into two hours, leaving many delegates feeling as though the extra day for the activity was unnecessary and that perhaps it could have been offered on the morning of the tuesday instead.
The Opening Ceremony was held within KU Leuven Universiteitshal, providing a sense of grandeur to the opening ceremony and hosted two speakers: Peter Verbrugghe, a key member of the Belgium mission to the United Nations, and involved with the Belgium security council candidacy team and Herman Van Rompuy, who served as Senator for Belgium 1988-1995, and was the first full-time President of the European Council in 2009. Herman Van Rompuy provided a witty and well thought out speech, starting with an apology that his “voice isn’t as sexy as usual today”. Whereas, Peter Verbrugghe’s initially started out as a lecture on what the Security Council is, but swiftly moved onto to an interesting look at what countries do to be elected to the Security Council. Both high profile speakers made for an interesting opening ceremony which even seasoned veterans found provided a unique experience.
This was followed by a Opening Reception at Leuven Town Hall, where delegates were greeted by the Deputy Mayor and then were shuffled out to take a conference photo, which delegates noted would have been preferred at either start or the end of the reception. Otherwise, the ability to mingle and meet other delegates was agreed to be a nice touch.
The closing ceremony was held within the University Library, which is noted for its splendor and picturesque nature. Chairs were given ample time to speak and delegates enjoyed the fast paced nature of the ceremony. This was shortly followed by a Closing Reception, which was a nice way to wrap up the week and say goodbye to fellow delegates.
KULMUN offered four main socials and an optional dinner after the closing ceremony. Overall the socials were seen to be a bit of a let down, with the Luau Party being under attended and feeling as if it were catering to a different age than the university level students who attended. The two options on the Wednesday of a walking tour or a bar crawl were a highlight, with delegates either enjoying the picturesque sights that Leuven had to offer or enjoying the variety of beers.
Thursday brought with it the committee dinner, which was seen as a disappointment, where delegates were split between two different restaurants, depending on committee. While nice to chat with fellow delegates, the food did not exceed expectations and the themes often confused delegates. This was followed by a Neon party which, while nice in principal, was described by a British delegate as being like “A year six disco set in a dingy building”. The drinks token systems also led to confusion and excessive queues, which delegates would have prefered to have been without.
The Friday night brought with it the Masquerade ball, and with it a photo booth and free alcohol throughout the night. While the delegates appreciated the opportunity to dress up for the evening, they were disappointed by the lack of a sit down dinner and found the venue underwhelming. This was followed by the club night after party, which was widely regarded as the best event of the week, providing a night of festivities and enjoyment.
Venues, Communications and Logistics
Spread between various, constantly changing, buildings throughout the week, the committees found themselves often at a loss as to where there committees actually were, resulting in late delegates and chairs alike. While a map was provided in the conference handbook, there was too little detail to be able to accurately navigate the streets and the lack of mention of which committees were in which building did little to help this. The Secretariat were on hand to send delegates back to their rooms, which mitigated this to an extent.
While the lunches were provided for non-KULMUN students, the delegates mentioned that they were not to a particularly high standard, with many electing to find their own options for lunch instead.
The accommodation provided, while noted as a benefit, was largely disappointing, located 30-40 minutes away from the committees with no options as to public transport provided.
Communication before the conference was to a high standard, for which the Secretariat should be commended.
Right of Reply
Decorum Delegates thanks the KULMUN Secretariat for granting permission to use the photographs from the conference. Photo credits to Denver DC.