- Location – Manchester
- Date – 28th – 30th October
- # of delegates – 190
- # of committees – 7
- Cost: delegate pack £35, social pack £30 (optional)
ManMUN, hosted by the University of Manchester MUN Society, continues to be a great conference for beginners with its classic committee selection and relaxed approach to the formalities of MUN. Unfortunately, the socials missed the mark this year thanks to organisational problems and a woeful lack of affordable drinks.
The committees on offer were definitely geared towards beginners to give them a taste of staples such as DISEC, Security Council and ECOSOC. WHO and UN Women added some extra diversity: less often seen at entry-level conferences. An India-Pakistan Crisis was also run in a classic two cabinet format for those wishing to get an experience of crisis.
The topics ranged from classics such as the South China Sea and the Syrian refugee crisis to perhaps the more adventurous “transfer of power in the Central African Republic” and “non-self-governing territories” in SPECPOL. On the whole, topics provided sufficient scope for debate but were at times too broad for a conference where the aim is to pass resolutions on both topics. Delegates in WHO and ECOSOC, in particular, found that their second topic was too broad and that the study guides provided were not helpful in narrowing the debate to key issues, leaving beginners adrift.
The conference’s approach to MUN formalities was ideal for beginners. Position papers were encouraged but not essential and feedback was provided by chairs. Mistakes in RoP were usually forgiven and constructive criticism given to new delegates, providing a great environment to learn. However, it may have been useful to provide delegates with RoP material prior to the conference. Furthermore, whilst the study guides were generally good and straightforward, the lack of bloc positions may have hindered the quality of debate in some committees.
Held in a large, modern lecture theatre, the opening ceremony featured only one guest speaker and some warm, if forgettable, speeches from the Secretariat. Tony Redmond OBE was an exceedingly likeable speaker, who gave a brief but interesting overview into his work on delivering emergency aid following natural disasters as part of the UK International Emergency Trauma Register.
The closing ceremony was held in the same lecture theatre and featured further speeches from the Secretariat. The President of the Society attempted to go through the best tweets from the conference but was failed by technology and forced to give up early. Funny awards followed, featuring best costumes, before getting into committee awards. These started off with excessively long speeches by chairs, but this was quickly corrected by the Sec Gen, who must have noticed people drifting into sleep.
The University of Manchester’s campus is enormous and this meant that some committee rooms were difficult to find, but the Secretariat provided maps to help with this. Committee rooms were standard, thankfully with tables. Nothing remarkable, but all ran smoothly.
Unfortunately the socials this year were a definite miss. The Friday social was described as ‘food, drinks and mingling’ and the word travelled that there would be a buffet dinner and good drinks. So it was disappointing to arrive on time and discover only rations of chicken skewers and bruschetta. To top this off, £8 drinks were an unwelcome surprise. The venue itself was lovely and elegant, but hungry delegates quickly left in search of a source of food. The Sec Gen did his best to advise people that more was coming, but the initial selection was not encouraging and neither were the drink prices.
On Saturday, delegates were invited to a Halloween themed three-course dinner. It started off on a bad foot: due to some logistical issues, dinner was delayed by an hour. And while committee tables had been organised, many delegates were disappointed to find that there was not enough space: scrambling for the remaining seats ensued.
The dinner was rather mediocre and some delegates were left waiting a while for their food. Drinks were similarly disappointing. The two bottles of wine per table quickly disappeared and delegates were forced to visit the expensive bar or go without alcohol. Perhaps unsurprisingly, sober delegates weren’t exactly in the mood to dance, and the dance floor quickly came to resemble a school disco.
Logistics and Communication
The Secretariat were very helpful prior to the conference, regarding refunds and other logistical questions. Maps were shared on the Facebook groups to warn about road disruptions and signs posted to direct people to their correct committees. Overall, the Secretariat were very helpful and friendly, according to all the delegates spoken to by this reviewer. The only problem encountered was late registration, which rather ironically was delayed by almost an hour.
Right of Reply
Tomas Mjartan, Secretary General, ManMUN 2016:
“We hope ManMUN 2016 was a fantastic fun entry-level conference for all of our delegates!
At £30 for two evenings with dinners, our aim was to make the Socials accessible for all. We will however re-evaluate our targeting and improve the socials for next year based on feedback, as well as consider venues with cheaper beverages/increasing price and providing more beverages included/increased food quality.
We would like to clarify that the full RoP were published in our Resource Centre together with the Study Guides and advertised to the delegates.
We hope to see you all at an even better ManMUN next year!”