Location: Universiteit van Amsterdam (University of Amsterdam)
Dates: 21st – 23rd April
# of delegates: 120
# of committees: 4
Cost: delegate fee €50, social pack €20
Amsterdam’s first independent Model UN conference, DamMUN, held its inaugural session on the weekend of April 21st. Despite being new to the scene, the conference was excellently organised and brought a refreshing take on the traditional MUN format. Delegates praised the standard of debates as well as the socials.
DamMUN’s committees consisted of two beginner’s committees (ECOSOC and HRC), an intermediate committee (European Council) and an advanced committee (Historical Security Council, run as a crisis simulation).
Even though a large proportion of the delegates were inexperienced, the standard of debate was generally high. However, Raphael Heliot, a delegate in the European Council noted that it was a shame that, “not all countries were represented” in the committee.
The conference recruited experienced chairs, receiving generally positive feedback. Delegates appreciated the willingness of their chairs to help during committee as well as the overall knowledge of ROP.
The crisis (UNSC) was well received, with delegate Carlen Leonard complimenting the “good crisis directing” and enjoyable experience overall. The use of Deus Crisis Software to handle directives was effective in facilitating a smooth crisis experience.
The opening ceremony was held in a university lecture hall, but, unusually, scheduled before the registration period. Presenting a keynote speech was Yama Akbari, an Afghan refugee and Ambassador for Hope XXL. Despite her fascinating background, the speech itself meandered around various global issues with no real overarching theme or message.
Nevertheless, the ceremony soon took off once the Secretary General took the floor and introduced the inaugural edition of DamMUN. It was a light-hearted and positive beginning, using this time to expand on the Dutch element of the conference and general housekeeping. After registration, the Secretariat had organised walking tours and an introductory workshop for crisis delegates which were both well-attended.
The closing ceremony was similarly lighthearted and succinct. The chairs gave their addresses, followed by the Secretary-General who gave a round-up of the conference, followed by some photographs from the socials, the less flattering of which generated much laughter in the room!
The Friday night social took place at the Boom Chicago Comedy Club in Amsterdam, where delegates were treated to a comedy show. This was followed by a night out organised by the Secretariat and local delegates, who helped those from out of town get to know Amsterdam’s nightlife.
Saturday’s club night took place at the Akhnaton Club in central Amsterdam. Though prices were relatively high (€3 for a small beer), this was not unexpected given the club’s location. The night went on until around 2am, when most of the delegates had left.
The final social came after the closing ceremony on Sunday, where delegates and staff were invited to the university bar to indulge in beer and wine free of charge. This was an enjoyable wind-down after the conference and provided delegates with the opportunity to socialise without the thought of committee debates hanging over their heads.
DamMUN 2017 did not hold a formal dinner, but Daniel Page, Director of the UNSC Crisis, said, “I didn’t mind the lack of a formal dinner,” and that overall, “the socials were good value for money.”
Venues, Logistics and Communications
The conference was held on the modern CREA campus. Though the UNSC was held in a room that was slightly smaller than ideal, there were no other noteworthy issues. The building also conveniently had a bar/cafe area which was appreciated by sleep-deprived delegates. Lunch on both Saturday and Sunday was provided by the Secretariat in the form of fresh sandwiches and fruit, as well as coffee and tea.
For the first 30 minutes of committee on Saturday, delegates were unable to access the university WiFi network which had gone down across campus. This was annoying but hardly the Secretariat’s fault.
Communications were fairly efficient, taking place through the Facebook page, various committee groups as well as MyMUN. The Crisis study guide was published fairly late, with country profiles being distributed either on the day or the day before. One noteworthy addition was the DamMUN Homestay group, which allowed local students to connect with delegates in order to find centrally located accommodation for prices far cheaper than hotels and hostels.
Right of Reply
“Building DamMUN one step, day, and delegate at a time allowed us the opportunity to tailor every part of the conference, and create a MUN experience by and for MUNners: being professional yet youthful, critical yet open, progressive yet classic, and of course, being serious while still having a good time.
Reflecting back on the conference now, I can say without hesitation that DamMUN’s inaugural edition was all that we hoped for and more. Of course, DamMUN hit some minor road bumps, notably half-an-hour without wifi and an eccentric opening speaker; but overall, the high quality of debate, logistic fluidity, overachieving chairs, and truly outstanding delegates made DamMUN a “dam” good conference (according to my mother). Stay tuned for DamMUN 2018!”
– Madeline Lawrence, Secretary-General, DamMUN 2017