- Location – London
- Date – 22nd of October
- # of delegates – 150
- # of committees – 6
- Cost: £5 delegate fee
University of London MUN (ULMUN) bills itself as a “one-day taster” conference for beginners. It lives up to its promise: hosted at King’s College London , the conference provides a relaxed and informal atmosphere ideal for first-time delegates.
While the committees on offer were nothing particularly special, this didn’t matter for delegates new to MUN. The familiar combination of UNSC, DISEC, ECOSOC, SPECPOL and UNHRC was perfect for the 150 novice delegates trying MUN for the first time. For those looking for something a little different, the two-room crisis cabinet served as a good introduction to the crisis format.
The topics discussed – from the proliferation of arms to non-state actors to promoting a peaceful use of outer space – were a selection of classic subjects which were easy to understand but provided plenty of scope of debate. In particular, it was sensible of the secretariat to select one subject per committee, simplifying rules of procedure and making it easier for delegates to do their research. Although, it may have been a good idea to have provided delegates with some material on RoP prior to the conference.
According to Kira Gottlieb, an experienced MUN-er, leading the delegation from Hult Business School, the conference was a “great stepping stone for the very nervous [delegate]” who wanted to try MUN but did not want to commit to a full weekend conference.
Finally, the use of single-tier diplomacy awards was an excellent idea for a beginner’s conference – placing emphasis on cooperation rather than competition.
In keeping with the informal atmosphere, the opening ceremony was brief. It lacked the special guests or polemic speeches from the secretariat that are the staple of formal conferences – just quick introductions and logistical information. Hardly a memorable event, but for delegates eager to get into committee, it was very welcome.
The closing ceremony was similarly brief and informal. While the lack of pomp was welcome by the assembled delegates, desperate to hear the outcome of the awards decisions, it would have been nice to have given the chairs more time to talk about the highlights of their committees.
While King’s College London’s Strand campus served as a comfortable venue for ULMUN’s ceremonies, committee sessions and social.
The committee rooms were spacious if unremarkable. Hamza Ali, a delegate in ECOSOC from Royal Holloway, noted that whilst the rooms were “standard”, the provision of tables made writing notes and using laptops significantly easier.
The ceremonies were held in one of the many lecture theatres – again, nothing special, but giving delegates a good idea of what to expect at MUN conferences across the country.
Despite the hype from the Secretariat, the evening social was something of a let-down. The initial plan had been for drinks in the Great Hall at Kings’ campus before heading to a pub and finally onto the nightclub Roxy. So far, so good.
However, a combination of tired delegates and poor communication from the Secretariat meant that the party died down pretty quickly.
Many delegates decided not to join: perhaps understandable given that first timers are not exactly familiar with a 9am start on a Saturday, six hours of committee and then a night of indulgence. Others had difficulty finding the venue, again, understandable given the labyrinthine layout of the venue and sparing instructions from the Secretariat (“just follow someone from King’s!”).
Of course, the conference did not take any social fee from delegates so no harm done, but those hoping to get a taste of legendary MUN nightlife were left disappointed.
Logistics and Communication
The Secretariat did a good job of pre-conference communication, with chairs posting study guides and maps of the venue on committee FB groups prior to the conference.
On the day, staff were posted outside to guide delegates to the opening ceremony before chairs took the delegates to their respective committee rooms without hassle. The committee sessions themselves went off without a hitch and delegates were pleasantly surprised by the committee photo sessions held throughout the day, a nice touch for a beginner conference.
Aside from the aforementioned issue with moving delegates between the closing ceremony and the social, the conference was run in a smooth and professional manner.
Right of Reply
“That this year marks the third edition of ULMUN is something the Secretariat is very proud of. Conceived initially as a project between KCL UNA and LSE UNS, it has since grown to include nine London universities that can really call this home conference their own. Like every year, ULMUN is designed to encapsulate the principle that anyone can MUN, they just need the opportunity to do so. We hope to come back to our fourth conference, even bigger and better than before, consolidating that London MUN spirit and instilling fresh confidence and passions in another generation of new MUNners.”
– Hong Chong Wen, Secretary General, ULMUN 2016
Photos courtesy of Zeina Dowidar