Decorum Reviews … UCLMUN 2017

Location:  London

Dates: 27th-29th January

# of delegates: ∼80

# of committees: 4

Cost: delegate fee £35, social pack £30 (optional)

UCLMUN, organised by University College London’s MUN society, is a relatively small conference on the crowded London MUN scene. This year’s edition faced mixed reviews. Delegates praised the standard of debate, interesting topics and conscientious Secretariat. However, the socials and closing ceremony divided opinion and pre-conference communication was poor.

Academics

While the committee choice was fairly standard for a beginner conference (DISEC, SPECPOL, UNSC and crisis), the chosen topics were creative. DISEC dealt with the issue of propaganda in the internet age (think fake news, Russian hacking and all things Trump) and SPECPOL examined the MINURSO Operation in the Western Sahara, for instance.

Also on offer was a three-cabinet Crisis Committee, dealing with the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991. The committees consisted mainly consisted of inexperienced delegates but the standard of debate was generally reported to be of good quality.

However, there was some confusion with study guides and position papers. Decorum understands that due to organisational issues, study guides were released a matter of days before the position paper deadline giving delegates minimal time to prepare.

Ceremonies

The opening ceremony took place in an unassuming lecture theatre on UCL’s main campus and was a fairly straightforward affair. There was no guest speaker due to a last minute drop-out. Instead, delegates were addressed by the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General before being given a walkthrough of RoP, a nice touch considering that many of the delegates were beginners. While the ceremony generally ran smoothly, some delegates complained about the unruly behaviour of chairs during the proceedings.

The closing ceremony was a more controversial affair. The guest speaker, Senator Rehman Malik, the former Minister of Interior of Pakistan, will not soon be forgotten by delegates. He delivered a passionate but also lengthy and politically divisive speech, accompanied by a Pakistani press corp, who were broadcasting the event on national television.

Some appreciated the departure from the dry, academic speeches that delegates are accustomed to at closing ceremonies. However, one delegate said that his remarks were “inappropriate” and that his attacks on particular countries had made her feel “uncomfortable”; a chair described the whole experience as “bizarre”. Most concerning of all is that it is not clear that delegates had agreed to be filmed during the event.

As a result of the Minister running over his allotted time, the awards were rushed through, resulting in more complaints from delegates.

Socials

Friday’s social was a three-course dinner at an All Bar One on Oxford Street. Delegates generally enjoyed the event despite some early logistical issues. Ben Head, a delegate in  UNSC commented that “the food received was very good” and delegates appeared to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

The Saturday social began with a Black tie wine reception in a private room at Browns Bar, located near Leicester Square tube station. The event was generally well received, with the two free drinks going down particularly well.

Unfortunately, the club night which followed was jarring by contrast. As to be expected on a Saturday night, Tiger Tiger was incredibly crowded and the small number of delegates who attended had a hard time finding one another. Despite, this UNSC chair George Mullens commented that the social pack provided “extremely good value for money”, which included free entry and two free drinks at Tiger Tiger (in addition to everything else).

Venues, Logistics and Communications

The conference took place across the central UCL campus. Unfortunately, no committee was able to stay in the same room or building for the entirety of the conference with resulting logistical issues (including double-booked rooms and security guards blocking delegates’ access). However, the Secretariat was usually fairly speedy in resolving these issues.

Both delegates and chairs described the Secretariat as being very helpful. Kiwan Richard, a Crisis staffer praised the Secretariat who, “checked on us regularly, asking if we needed anything.”

This helped to make up for the significant issues with communication prior to the conference. In addition to the problems with the study guides and position papers, the UCLMUN website had not been updated since last year’s conference, causing much confusion amongst delegates and chairs alike.

Right of Reply

The Secretariat were not granted a right of reply. 

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