Location: Cardiff, UK
Dates: 3rd-5th March 2017
# of delegates: 150
# of committees: 5
Cost: Delegate fee £20 (£17 holiday special), social pack £30 (optional), accommodation pack £50 (optional)
CardiffMUN, hosted by the Cardiff University and held in Wales’ capital city, saw its third edition last weekend. A notable conference at the end of the MUN season in the UK, it featured a high quality of debate amongst delegates, mostly-fun socials and a heart-warming end.
CardiffMUN offered a selection of 5 committees: UNHRC, UNHCR, ECOSOC, UNSC and Crisis. The first 4 committees seemed to be geared towards beginner/intermediate delegates, discussing topics dealing with current political or humanitarian crises. The Crisis Simulation consisted of a British, French and Greek cabinet dealing with the influx of refugees into Europe. It was distinct from typical crisis committees – focussing not on directive “wars” but on discussion and resolution-writing.
Committee study guides were released well in advance and detailed sources were provided by chairs to aid delegates’ research. Another nice touch was a summit on the last day between UNHRC, UNHCR and ECOSOC on the influx of refugees into Europe. Proposed by the co-chair of UNHRC, this allowed for the three committees to interact with the Crisis Simulation. Delegates were especially enthusiastic about writing working papers to add to the treaty being negotiated in the Crisis Simulation.
The opening ceremony was held at the National Assembly of Wales. Overlooking Cardiff Bay, the view provided a splendid backdrop to proceedings. The guest speaker David Hughes, of the European Commission, delivered an inspirational speech on the future of the EU. Though it was slightly Euro-centric, delegates paid close attention, some even taking notes for reference during committee sessions! The ceremony ended with the Watoto choir, which received a standing ovation from delegates. Comprising of Ugandan orphans, it brought home the impact that the policies discussed during the weekend had real effects outside the conference.
The closing ceremony was more laid back, with chairs talking about committee dynamics and giving out awards at a leisurely pace – a stark contrast to many conferences, where chairs are either allowed to ramble on for too long or forced to cut their speeches down to soundbites. This inclusive atmosphere was further supplemented by impromptu speeches by delegates, though the Secretariat could have given them more warning beforehand.
The social dinner on Friday was held at the Jurys Inn Hotel. Though a long walk from committee, it was held in a beautiful ballroom and felt very cosy. The food was delicious, though hungry delegates noted that the dinner service started late and was a tad slow. The choice music playing during the dinner was slightly distracting, but things really picked up pace when delegates started hitting the dancefloor after dinner.
The casual social on Saturday started in the pub Kokos. It was a less-than-ideal start to the night, as it was packed with patrons watching a live wrestling match on TV, causing some delegates to forgo the pub entirely. However, the optional club night was a better experience. Held at the club Walkabout, delegates had a private space to themselves and cheap drinks allowed them to unwind after the day’s debate. Both socials were well-attended.
Venues, logistics and communications
Generally, the conference ran smoothly with no significant hiccups in the entire operation – for which the Secretariat should be commended. Coffee, tea and biscuits were provided during the breaks, and there were decent places to have lunch around campus.
The Secretariat was prompt in responding to requests and were extremely open to suggestions from chairs. This was especially true with the aforementioned summit, which received an overwhelmingly positive response from delegates.
The conference venue itself was satisfactory. The rooms were of appropriate size for committees but lacked power sockets, which was essential to the smooth running of the Crisis simulation. Besides that, some delegates initially had problems with accessing the Internet on the first day – though this was mostly resolved by the second day.
The accommodation provided, however, was disappointing. Situated quite far from the campus, the hostel felt slightly cramped. Though it was clean, delegates felt that it was not worth the money they paid for it and it dampened the enjoyment of the conference for some.
Right of Reply
“CardiffMUN17, our third and biggest edition to date, has aimed to build on previous years’ experience and provide delegates with a fun and productive weekend. We wanted to introduce some new elements — such as the performance of the Watoto Children’s Choir — in order to make it an exciting experience even for the most experienced of delegates. But most importantly, we wanted to give CardiffMUN17 the personal touch that many conferences lack. The Secretariat has couch-surfed all the members of the chairing team and has been in constant contact with the delegates, trying to answer all their queries and facilitate all arrangements to the largest extent. Most of the issues raised here were, unfortunately, out of our control — such as a sporting event drawing a loud crowd to the pub on Saturday — but we did try to act on the feedback we received from delegates on Saturday regarding the hostel and got in contact in an attempt to coordinate and resolve all complaints to the best of our ability. Nonetheless, we are definitely going to take everything into consideration when planning next year’s conference.”
– Casandra Boruzescu, Secretary-General, CardiffMUN17