Location: Cork, Republic of Ireland
Dates: January 27th – 29th
# of committees: 5
# of delegates: 70
Cost: Delegate fee €30, social pack €30
EireMUN, hosted by University College Cork, is the Republic of Ireland’s premier international conference and is in its third year. Broadly speaking EireMUN was a successful event, with a high level of debate and memorable (or in some cases, difficult to remember) socials. However, head delegates lamented a cornucopia of logistical issues, with poor pre-conference communication, flip-flopping on position papers and late allocations.
EireMUN is a modestly sized conference, but was incisive in its selection of committees. There seemed to be a focus on the more active types of committee, with delegates participating in the UNSC, North Atlantic Council, European Council and UN Women. The crisis simulated the Franco-Prussian War, which one delegate in the French Cabinet praised as ‘interesting’ though at times ‘too slow’ in the processing of directives. Nonetheless, the crisis was reported to be of high-quality, and debate in the other the committees defied expectations given the inexperience of most of the delegates in attendance.
The study guides were well received, and this reviewer was pleased with the clear structure and sufficient content of the UNSC guide. It provided a good amount of information relevant to the debate for delegates to build their own research off of, without constituting an anthology on the issue. However, some delegates, such as Lauren from York University, found that it was “lacking in certain areas”, such as in terms of bloc positions, and many delegates lamented how late they were sent out.
Opening Ceremonies are always a difficult affair, and unfortunately, EireMUN was no exception. The room was about half full, and all of the attendees opting to cluster to the back of the lecture theatre which made it look even emptier. The first speaker, a professor from UCC, gave a lecture on the role of faith in Barack Obama’s foreign policy. While to a student of international relations the topic was an interesting one, the speaker blasted through his material at the speed of sound, making it almost impossible to follow at times. Not only this, but he ended up going on for so long that even the Secretariat looked bored by the end of it. The second speaker, a former Senator in the Irish Upper House, was mercifully brief in his remarks, speaking about his political career serving in various branches of the Irish government.
The closing ceremony was another matter entirely. Miraculously the room was almost full, charged with the energy of a hundred hungover but focused delegates. The chairs remarked fondly on the substance of the debate, regaling the audience with stories of bizarre policies, comprehensive resolutions and commendable diplomatic skill. This is with the exception of the UN Women chairs, who were barely able to refrain from throwing shade at some of the more divisive delegates in their committee. The Conference Director and Secretary-General made their final remarks and sent us packing to the airport.
The socials, too, were a mixed bag. The Friday social was held in a bar called Urban Jungle, a nice enough venue but with prices a little steep for some delegates (5 euros a pint). Moving from the disappointing to the bizarre, we found that while one had to be 18 to enter the venue, on that particular night one had to be 21 to purchase alcohol. Consequently, the atmosphere was remarked as lacking and subdued. Many delegates left early as a result.
Fortunately, the Saturday night formal social was a substantial improvement. This reviewer would place it as quite possibly the highlight of the weekend. Taking place at the Clayton Hotel, delegates massed in their finest dress attire to sip champagne and take photos in the foyer, before being ushered up to an impressive private room. There we were served a quite delicious three-course meal, accompanied by what felt like an unlimited supply of wine.
We were seated by committee, which provided a nice avenue to get to know our fellow delegates outside of an unmoderated caucus. With dinner concluded, the party commenced, lasting until the early hours of the morning. The DJ was noted by some delegates to be quite amateurish but by the time he took to the decks many of us were too jolly to care. All in all, the Saturday night was a remarkable success, leading Trinity College Dublin delegate Fiachra Bourke to comment, “it was amazing . . . I could not believe the amount of work and money and detail that was put into it all”.
Logistics, Communications and Venues
It is worth noting at the outset that EireMUN this year, by all accounts, was mired in organisational difficulties. Several of the study guides, including those of the crisis and European Council, weren’t released until the week of the conference, and the conference schedule had not been sent to head delegates until around a similar time. Communication between delegations and the secretariat was slow and plagued with misinformation, including finding out about a week before we flew out that positions papers were not required (after some delegates had already written them. Delegates such as Joanna from Kent University also were left dissatisfied with the lack of an official website, with the Secretariat operating mainly through the conference’s Facebook page. Even the first speaker at the opening ceremony, in what was perhaps an off-the-cuff comment, remarked that he had been quite a last minute booking.
That being said, we were impressed with the effective operation of the conference during the weekend itself. There were no significant hitches, replacement placards were procured with almost military efficiency, and one UNSC delegate noted the nice, “added touches such as the leather folders“. It was clear that a lot of pride had been taken by the Secretariat in real-time conference management. Volunteers were helpful and attentive, and issues that we faced were seen to very quickly, and usually resolved in no time at all.
The entire conference took place in the Brookfields building of the UCC campus, a health sciences facility located a little further afield than the site of previous EireMUNs. There were some issues with Wifi accessibility in this building, with some delegates unable to connect to Eduroam (the only available network) and thus being placed at a significant disadvantage in terms of draft resolution writing and bloc communication vis-a-vis other delegates. Aside from this, the room sizes were ample, even feeling a little cavernous for the small size of the committees.
Right of Reply
The Secretary-General chose not to exercise her Right of Reply.