- Location – St. Andrews, Scotland
- Date – 30th September – 2nd of October
- # of delegates – 90
- # of committees – 6
- Cost: £20-£30 delegate fee, £25 social pack (optional)
SaintMUN, hosted by the Model UN Society of the University of St. Andrews is proudly in its 4th year of running. While it is a little remote, it’s an ideal conference for new delegates although experienced delegates may want to look elsewhere to a higher standard of debate. Nonetheless, it appears a good weekend was had by all.
SaintMUN 2016 featured the staples of MUN with ECOSOC, HRC, and the African Union. Those looking for something a little different would have found a place in either the Committee on Narcotics and Drugs, the Crisis committee set during 1920’s New York mafia wars, and the Ad-Hoc central intelligence committee (a traditional/crisis hybrid).
“A widespread array of topics were on offer. The conference was accessible to beginners as well as experienced delegates”, according to Rob O’Driscoll, University College Cork Head Delegate.
A great accomplishment of this year’s SaintMUN committee was their chair recruitment with a mixture of experienced and first time chairpersons, resulting in a high standard of chairing and study guides. Although some of the study guides did contain non-working links, it is an easy oversight to forgive considering the overall quality. The decision to omit position papers from the conference may have raised some eyebrows, but the majority of delegates did not seem to mind.
While the venue for the opening ceremony may not have been the most remarkable, the speakers certainly were. Dr. Richard English (ex-St. Andrew’s faculty, presently at Queen’s University Belfast), and Dr. Jeffrey Murer (present St. Andrews faculty) are two of academia’s most renowned experts on terrorism and security. The former gave a fascinating, and at times controversial, insight into whether or not terrorism works and the latter offered an insightful and thought provoking discussion on the mentality of violent groups. With almost universal acclaim from the delegates, the choice of speakers will stand in good memory for the SaintMUN committee.
The closing ceremony was brief and featured no speaker; the Secretariat instead opted for a straight to the point awards ceremony. It may not have been to everyone’s taste but considering the fully packed weekend, brevity was more than welcomed by this reviewer.
The University of St. Andrews’ campus is centralised to the city, creating a comfortable and accessible conference. 16th-century buildings and cobbled streets unique to St. Andrews coupled with modern infrastructure creates a well-maintained balance of aesthetic and utility. The modern theatres that house the IR department provided the perfect venues for the round table Model UN format with comfortable chairs, and access to electricity plugs. And all this located very close to each other with no issues of heating despite the bitter Scottish winter setting in.
The venues for the ceremonies were conveniently selected within minutes’ walk of the building housing all of the committees. For the opening ceremony, the building was easy to find but signs or stewards leading people to the actual room would have been welcome.
The Friday night social consisted of complimentary wine and catering, taking place in a very fitting venue for a formal affair, all highly praised by the delegates. A slight mix-up did occur when moving between venues as the secretariat had mixed up which exact church hall the ceilidh (traditional dance) was taking place in, adding extra walking and wandering to an otherwise great evening.
Saturday night was a less formal occasion, a ‘club night’ with casual attire. This was enjoyable, but some delegates felt that the formal event would have been better held on Saturday.
Logistics and Communication
As a long established University town, St. Andrews offers plenty of affordable and convenient lunch spots. Accommodation, however, must be booked in advance due to the frequent golf events taking place in St. Andrews.
All in all, the conference was run in a smooth and professional manner. Matters that deserved a mention such as delegations not turning up for the committee, chairs having to drop out due to personal and medical reasons, and the inconvenient location of St. Andrews itself, were out of the hands of the secretariat.
The loss of one member of the secretariat over summer resulted in some delay of reply to emails while a replacement was found, which inconvenienced some of the delegates seeking assurances that their payment had gone through and their places booked.
Right of Reply
The Secretariat has chosen not to use its Right of Reply.