Decorum Reviews…KULMUN 2018

Decorum Reviews…KULMUN 2018

Overview

 

Location: Leuven, Belgium

Dates: 6th-10th March with Pre-Conference activity on the 5th March

Number of Delegates: 145

Number of Committees: 6 + Newswire

Cost: Delegate Pack and Social Pack (No option for seperate): €100, Pre-Conference Activity (Optional): €10, Accomodation (Optional): €120 with an optional night for €25

 

Being the largest conference in Belgium, with a reputation for attracting very influential guest speakers and a high quality of debate, KULMUN has once again produced a highly polished, well organised conference, only marred by the socials, the accommodation and some professionalism within the chairs. KULMUN has maintained its status as a conference to watch for a unique experience.

 

Academics

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A delegate gives her speech during committee debate

The Committees catered to a wide variety of tastes, consisting of the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly Third Committee (SOCHUM), the UN General Assembly Sixth Committee (Legal), as well as some more unusual committees such as Historical Special Committee on Decolonization, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).

 

One noticeable committee was NATO who, rather than the usual style of Model United Nations, used the Consensus Based Approach. While a large departure from the usual approach, the new approach was well received by delegates, with many appreciating the in depth look at the topic that the committee allowed.

 

The Historical Committee also provided a unique look at two tense time periods, with some delegates changing countries between the two topics depending on the relevance of their topics. While difficult to debate the topic of South Rhodesia without the aforementioned country, the unique look at some defining historical events was welcomed by many delegates and allowed for a different way of approaching the events.

 

There was a noticeable lack of a crisis, that delegates had enjoyed in the previous years. The study guides were also noted to be to a lower than expected standard, with many newer delegates feeling disappointed on the details provided and areas given to research. There was also a few incidences of a noticeable lack of professionalism in regards to many of the chairs, with delegates being talked about in a derogatory manner by them to other delegates and other instances, providing a disappointing experience for some delegates.

 

Along with debates, there was the option to attend the Pre-Conference activity, which was a trip to the European Parliament, on the monday beforehand. Delegates were treated to a tour of the plenary session room, with a brief history and lecture on how it operates. This was followed by a talk from MEP Tom Vandekendelaere. While seen as an interesting experience, the waiting time took what could have been an hour experience into two hours, leaving many delegates feeling as though the extra day for the activity was unnecessary and that perhaps it could have been offered on the morning of the tuesday instead.

 

Ceremonies

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One of the opening speakers gives his address

The Opening Ceremony was held within KU Leuven Universiteitshal, providing a sense of grandeur to the opening ceremony and hosted two speakers: Peter Verbrugghe, a key member of the Belgium mission to the United Nations, and involved with the Belgium security council candidacy team and Herman Van Rompuy, who served as Senator for Belgium 1988-1995, and was the first full-time President of the European Council in 2009. Herman Van Rompuy provided a witty and well thought out speech, starting with an apology that his “voice isn’t as sexy as usual today”. Whereas, Peter Verbrugghe’s initially started out as a lecture on what the Security Council is, but swiftly moved onto to an interesting look at what countries do to be elected to the Security Council. Both high profile speakers made for an interesting opening ceremony which even seasoned veterans found provided a unique experience.

 

This was followed by a Opening Reception at Leuven Town Hall, where delegates were greeted by the Deputy Mayor and then were shuffled out to take a conference photo, which delegates noted would have been preferred at either start or the end of the reception. Otherwise, the ability to mingle and meet other delegates was agreed to be a nice touch.

 

The closing ceremony was held within the University Library, which is noted for its splendor and picturesque nature. Chairs were given ample time to speak and delegates enjoyed the fast paced nature of the ceremony. This was shortly followed by a Closing Reception, which was a nice way to wrap up the week and say goodbye to fellow delegates.

 

Socials

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KULMUN offered four main socials and an optional dinner after the closing ceremony. Overall the socials were seen to be a bit of a let down, with the Luau Party being under attended and feeling as if it were catering to a different age than the university level students who attended. The two options on the Wednesday of a walking tour or a bar crawl were a highlight, with delegates either enjoying the picturesque sights that Leuven had to offer or enjoying the variety of beers.

 

Thursday brought with it the committee dinner, which was seen as a disappointment, where delegates were split between two different restaurants, depending on committee. While nice to chat with fellow delegates, the food did not exceed expectations and the themes often confused delegates. This was followed by a Neon party which, while nice in principal, was described by a British delegate as being like “A year six disco set in a dingy building”. The drinks token systems also led to confusion and excessive queues, which delegates would have prefered to have been without.

 

The Friday night brought with it the Masquerade ball, and with it a photo booth and free alcohol throughout the night. While the delegates appreciated the opportunity to dress up for the evening, they were disappointed by the lack of a sit down dinner and found the venue underwhelming. This was followed by the club night after party, which was widely regarded as the best event of the week, providing a night of festivities and enjoyment.

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Delegates at the club night

Venues, Communications and Logistics

 

Spread between various, constantly changing, buildings throughout the week, the committees found themselves often at a loss as to where there committees actually were, resulting in late delegates and chairs alike. While a map was provided in the conference handbook, there was too little detail to be able to accurately navigate the streets and the lack of mention of which committees were in which building did little to help this. The Secretariat were on hand to send delegates back to their rooms, which mitigated this to an extent.

 

While the lunches were provided for non-KULMUN students, the delegates mentioned that they were not to a particularly high standard, with many electing to find their own options for lunch instead.

 

The accommodation provided, while noted as a benefit, was largely disappointing, located 30-40 minutes away from the committees with no options as to public transport provided.

 

Communication before the conference was to a high standard, for which the Secretariat should be commended.

 

Right of Reply

“KULMUN would like to thank the authors for investing time in the 8th edition of our conference. Throughout the years KULMUN has made it its mission to accommodate diversity, be it in the ranks of our own members or with its events. Therefore we try to combine the successful elements of different MUN backgrounds in one setting based upon the accumulated feedback of previous editions. Moreover we try to prevent repetition by introducing brand new events, concepts and venues, while keeping our brand intact during the 5 days and maintaining an acceptable price-quality ratio. The wonderful delegates’ feedback has surely provided our team of volunteers with enough impetus to come back next year!”

 

Acknowledgements

Decorum Delegates thanks the KULMUN Secretariat for granting permission to use the photographs from the conference. Photo credits to Denver DC.

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Decorum Reviews…SWMUN 2018

Decorum Reviews…SWMUN 2018

Location: Bristol

 

Dates: 9-11 February

 

Number of Delegates: 70

 

Number of Committees: 4

 

Cost: Delegate Pack: £15 (£10 early, £20 late) for Partners, £17 (£15 early, £23 late) for

Non-Partners

Social Pack (Optional): £30

 

A unique collaboration between the Universities of Bristol, Bath and Exeter, SWMUN has provided a welcomed, varied experience. With a committee for every level of experience, wrapped within its status as a beginners conference, and with an impressive social, SWMUN has offered a new experience for people from their 1st to 5th to 50th MUN. The conference was praised for its high standard of academic debate, providing a welcoming environment for newcomers, despite some logistical weaknesses.  

 

Academics

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Delegates in committee at SWMUN

The Committees were arranged by experience level, with European Council for Beginners (tackling the Stance on Space and Closer Integration), DISEC for more Intermediate delegates (topics including Drone Warfare and Landmines) and Security Council for Advanced delegates (debating Myanmar and the Central African Republic), with the option of a Crisis based on the Nixon-Kennedy Election ran by Golding Games and Events.  

 

The study guides were noted to be to a high standard and presented professionally, even if only provided twelve days before the start of the conference. There were some noted departures from the Rules of Procedure, especially within the more advanced committees, leading to mixed and confusing chairing styles, though following closer by the sunday afternoon.

 

The Crisis was unusual in not having directives, not commonly seen within the UK, however,  it was said to be too restrictive and boring in its comparison, leaving delegates disappointed. The conference was halted both days for Presidential Debates, lasting 45 mins, which were remarked to be particularly dry by the other delegates, resulting in most committees electing to skip the second.

 

Ceremonies

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The Secretary-General gives his opening remarks

The Opening Ceremony was relatively short, with Guest Speaker Dr Mark Allinson being a Professor of the University, speaking on the topic of Uses of Referendum. The speech, while providing much local interest, felt too close to a lecture, and perhaps could have been shortened from its forty minute length which saw many delegates lose interest. This was followed by the Secretary-General, who quickly wrapped up the ceremony.

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The guest speaker, Dr. Mark Allinson, delivering his keynote address

The Closing Ceremony was held in a lecture hall, which had some challenges with audibility, leaving delegates, even at the front, struggling to make out speeches. The whole ceremony went by quickly with an acceptable amount of time given to chairs.

 

Socials

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Delegate and chairs participate in the black tie social

SWMUN’s £30 social pack consisted of two socials, with only the friday being included in the cost, making the best of the places Bristol had to offer. The Friday night ball was a veritable hit with the delegates, being held in the iconic Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel. A free drink was provided on arrival, which slightly offset the hefty cost within the establishment. This was accompanied by a three course dinner, followed by a live band and Ceilidh, providing many hours of merriment and being rounded off by a tasteful waltz. The Secretariat then led the group to a local pub, continuing on the festivities for a few more hours. The Saturday was a trip to the Student Union bar, followed by a local club in the heart of Bristol, which received positive responses from delegates, if not their chairs the next morning.

 

Venues, Communications and Logistics

 

The rooms were all within a couple of floors of each other and, despite being in different locations than advertised, were quickly found with only a minor delay. The Secretariat member being provided to each committee was commented upon as a nice touch, allowing for easy access when problems arose. Lunch became a minor issue when the Student Union Restaurant’s kitchen closed, but the Secretariat quickly rectified this on the second day, with their chosen pub providing for the large group.

 

A smaller welcome pack in comparison to previous years was remarked upon, with many preferring the previous approach. However, the provision of writing equipment was appreciated by the delegates.

 

Feedback was acted upon quickly and effectively, and despite some noted strains between the Secretariat, the level of communication between them and the delegates before was of a quick and organised manner, with email responses being marked in their timeliness.

 

Right of Reply

“Thank you for a positively constructive review! Though SWMUN is in its third edition, it is imperative that we learnt from the best practices of other conferences, which the reviewer has fairly picked up upon. However, we are grateful that the reviewer has also identified our shortcomings, which will be a priority for our successors to learn from – for it is only through experience on the MUN circuit that these mistakes can be avoided. Nevertheless, we welcome all delegates to come to next year’s edition of SWMUN in Bath, where it will certainly mature into a South-Western MUN circuit staple.”

Acknowledgements

Decorum Delegates thanks the SWMUN Secretariat for granting permission to use the photographs from the conference.

Decorum Reviews…YorkMUN 2018

Decorum Reviews…YorkMUN 2018

Overview

 

Location: University of York

Dates: 2 – 4 February

Number of Delegates: 75

Number of Committees: 4

York Model United Nations is a gem of the North in the UK Model United Nations scene and provides the best of Yorkshire for a weekend conference experience. With a quiet campus location for four committees, YorkMUN offers delegates new to MUN, or those looking for something more avant-garde, a great way to connect with people on engaging topics in a relaxed committee environment.

Academics

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United Nations Security Council delegates in committee

Two committees were General Assembly and security-based, with the United Nations Security Council (debating on North Korea and recognising Kurdish independence) and the Disarmament and International Security Committee (topics include monitoring the weapons trade of small arms and maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea). Beginner delegates made up a significant portion of these committees, however they surely delivered in providing a great way for delegates new to Rules of Procedure and dynamics of debate to engage with more experienced delegates.

 

The Crisis Committee was based on The First Opium War and was widely enjoyed by delegates new and experienced to crisis with a chance to engage in a simulation of naval battles and colonial invasion. Without deviating from the traditional war game of crisis committees, crisis staff and delegates were serious the entire way through with satisfying reviews.

 

The Brexit Negotiations Committee delivered a completely different approach to debate with soft crisis elements of ongoing talks and moderated debate with more leadership and participation in establishing topics and respective national positions. With an ambitious objective of simulating negotiations still in progress, delegates were thrusted in a trial of fire in learning the art of the deal.

Ceremonies

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The guest speaker, Natalie Bennett, gives the opening remarks

Opening and closing ceremonies were short and sweet, with no unnecessary sections while engaging the entire audience attention. The opening ceremony hosted Natalie Bennett, former Leader of the Green Party, who gripped the room in sharing her views on foreign policy and international issues, followed by the opening of the conference by the Secretary-General without delay. Closing ceremony went by quickly with a wholesome end, featuring a video of candid moments throughout committee sessions and in between.

Socials

The socials of the conference made the most out of York’s finest establishments for the town’s diverse population and added a Northern touch to a good night out. Delegate social pack costed £35, which covered entry into the final venue for Friday’s bar crawl and the Saturday Night Ball, hosted at The Hilton York.

The bars on Friday were interestingly different from each other with a different class to each one, the final venue being the club Society, which was conveniently hosting a student night. The Saturday Night Ball was a great evening with something different, giving delegates a generous 5 free drinks and started off with a live band performing rock and metal classics, before a DJ served tasteful chart music for the dancefloor.  

 

However, there was a confusion of venue location as there were two Hilton Hotels in York and a member of the organisation posted the wrong address, resulting in some people missing out the first half of the social.

Venue, Logistics and Communications

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The Secretariat take a quick break for their official photograph

All rooms and committees were in the same section of the same building, including the Secretariat room within easy reach. Crisis Committee rooms were on the same floor and there was plenty of space and provision of electric extension cables to go around. Lunch was provided on Saturday with an assortment of sandwiches and all committees were well hydrated. Campus stores and cafes were within reach however there was not a lot of variety because of the considerable distance between the town centre and the university.

Secretariat paid special attention to immediate feedback for chairs and always were committed to seeing the progress of debate. As the organisational aspects went by smoothly, there was always an opportunity to talk to Secretariat and member of other committees throughout the conference.

Right of Reply

The YorkMUN Secretariat would like to say nothing more than thank you for the honest review, we hope to see Decorum Delegates reviewers at future YorkMUNs!”

Acknowledgements

Decorum Delegates thanks the YorkMUN Secretariat for granting permission to use the photographs from the conference. Photo credits to Becky Sparks Photography.

Decorum Reviews…LSEMUN 2018

Decorum Reviews…LSEMUN 2018

Overview

Location: The London School of Economics

Dates: 26 – 28 January

Number of Delegates: 120

Number of Committees: 6

London Security Exercise Model United Nations is a staple of the UK circuit and often draws in delegates that otherwise prefer General Assembly committees elsewhere. The conference featured a broad range of crisis themes for different experience levels, impressive socials and well-run ceremonies.

 

Academics

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A delegate in the Harry Potter Crisis plans his next move

The conference featured 6 crises committees. For lovers of fantasy, there was a Harry Potter committee that role-played the Second Wizarding War. For beginners looking for a more traditional crisis experience, the conference offered two different crises: The dissolution of the USSR and the Spanish Civil War. There were two historical crises on offer that generally had more experienced delegates. One dealt with political and military tensions over British Hong Kong in the 1980s and the other was set in Japan, during the Boshin War.

Perhaps the most innovative crisis at the conference was the US Election crisis where every seat counted towards the final presidential victory. Although the delegates weren’t really able to send directives on the last day of the conference, the televised elements of the crisis and the anticipation of final results provided adequate entertainment.

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The President-elect of the USA is sworn in

Ceremonies

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The Secretary General officially opens the conference

Both the opening and the closing ceremonies went by smoothly despite some expected initial delays and the secretariat successfully stuck to the schedules. The location, whilst largely unremarkable was the same for both ceremonies and at the site of registration which was rather convenient for participants. The closing ceremony featured a series of heartfelt speeches by the secretariat and a video of conference highlights that served as a good conclusion to a very dynamic conference.

 

Socials

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Members of the Secretariat at the Saturday night social

The socials were a real highlight of the conference. LSEMUN allowed delegates to purchase £25 full social packs for both Friday and Saturday nights or a £15  half-social pack for the first night only. Friday’s social was held at Bloomsbury Lanes, a short bus ride from the conference venue. A social pack included entry to the venue as well as 2 drinks vouchers and pizza. The venue featured 5 private bowling lanes, a karaoke room, arcade games as well as pool, foosball and ping pong tables. One participant described the night as ‘the best social they’ve been to in London”. Many stayed until the 2 AM closing time.

 

Although Saturday night’s social had a hard time living up to the first night, the conference still managed to secure a semi-private area for conference participants at Tiger Tiger London in Piccadilly and provided 2 drinks vouchers that somewhat offset the steep price of drinks at London clubs. The night also benefited from being generally less busy than you’d expect a central London club to be on a Saturday night.

 

Venues, Logistics and Communications

 

All crisis committees were based in the same building, which was great for seeing both old and new friends no matter what crisis they were participating in. The location also had convenient public transport links and had a good variety of restaurants for delegates to choose from during lunch. The secretariat were generally easy to find and provided snacks and bottled water throughout Saturday. Pre-conference communication was also good with emails swiftly notifying delegates of any room changes.

 

The only noticeable issue was that some rooms were particularly smelly due to issues with sewage in the building which were only partially fixed by the end of the conference, although that is hardly the fault of the secretariat.

 

Right of Reply

“Thank you again for another year of positive feedback! As one of the few crisis-centric conferences in Europe, we always try to focus on improving the delegate experience and we are glad that our better-value socials, more immersive crises, and beginner training session were so well received. While room booking complications and external logistics out of our control meant that some delegates had problems with their room, we tried wherever possible to move delegates to better locations. On behalf of the Secretariat, thank you for your kind review and we look forward to welcoming delegates again next year for our 10th edition of the London Security Exercise Model United Nations Conference.”

 

Acknowledgements

Decorum Delegates thanks the LSEMUN Secretariat for granting permission to use the photographs from the conference. Photo credits to Zeina Dowidar.

Decorum Reviews…SGMUN 2017

Decorum Reviews…SGMUN 2017

Overview

Location: University of St Gallen

Dates: 9-12 November, 2017

Number of delegates: 67

Number of committees: 4

Cost: delegate fee €99 (early bird), €115 (normal price), €54 (without accommodation), social pack €45

SGMUN, held at the Swiss city of St Gallen, saw great success in its inaugural edition. Despite being run for the first time, delegates praised the well-run committees, smooth conference organisation, and high quality socials. On the whole, this year’s edition has joined the select few newcomer conferences that hold great promise for the future and has the potential to become a mainstay of the European MUN circuit.

 

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Delegates at the pre-conference training session

 

Academics

SGMUN’s committees were notably varied and innovative given the smaller size of the conference. Apart from two main branch committees (DISEC and WHO), the conference offered a three cabinet Joint Cabinet Crisis simulating the War of the Pacific in the late 19th Century, featuring Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. Delegates thought that both the main branch and crisis committees were well run.

The highlight of the conference, however, was the Brexit Negotiations committee, run using the structure of main branch RoP but containing novel aspects that simulated the scheduling of negotiations as well as incorporating the press into the debate. Two “teams” of negotiators, representing the British and EU sides, negotiated over various aspects of the final settlement. Throughout the session, delegates were held to account by press briefings, where they were questioned on what they had agreed upon. Delegates were impressed by the innovative format of the committee, with one delegate remarking during feedback sessions that it was the “best committee [he had] ever been in”.

Ceremonies

Both ceremonies were held in unglamourous but practical settings. The opening ceremony featured two speakers, Jessica Graf, a professional consultant, and Dr. Dirk Lehmkuhl, a professor at the university. The first speaker was gave an uninspiring and disjointed speech, talking about her personal career, from working in NGOs through to the transition into the private sector. Her speech ended with her telling the audience to stay away from a career in the UN and to join the private sector. The speech was overall rather controversial but contained no real point to it. This aimlessness was made worse by the speaker’s monotonous tone. Dr. Lehmkuhl provided a slightly more lively and content-focused talk on the European Union and its future which was better received by delegates, though the consensus was that the opening ceremony was too long and felt more like a series of lectures.

The closing ceremony was held in another lecture theatre, which was modern and well-lit. Beginning with fellow delegates advertising their own conferences, the ceremony then proceeded to the conference’s third guest speaker, Sabine Fankhauser, a former UN Youth Delegate who relayed her experiences in the United Nations to the audience. The talk was personal and quite interesting, though due to the international nature of the conference some participants found it less relevant than it could have been. Finally, the chairs gave their remarks and presented awards, followed by the Secretary General officially closing the conference after a brief speech.

 

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Participants enjoy traditional Swiss fondue at the Thursday social

 

Socials

SGMUN’s €45 social pack consisted of 3 socials, starting with a Fondue Night on Thursday. Participants were split up into small groups of approximately 5-6 and given addresses of hosts. This novel idea was well received by participants, who complimented the fact that the personal setting helped them to get to know each other more. This was followed by an informal drinks session held at a bar in the city. The social may have benefited from more coordination between the hosts and non-local participants, some of whom got lost in the city with no data signal.

The second social was a bar crawl, organised by committees, which started off a little slowly because delegates failed to turn up to the starting venues on time. However, once people showed up, the atmosphere became much livelier, culminating in all groups joining up at the university’s student bar.

Saturday’s social was held at what was described as a “frat house”. Dinner in the form of burgers were provided, as was copious amounts of free alcohol in a well-stocked fridge. Despite lasting for almost five hours, there was still a significant amount of beer in the fridge. Participants stayed in one place until they were directed to the club night, which was enjoyable but very crowded.

The social pack overall was great value, given the astronomical cost of living in St Gallen.

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Venues, Logistics and Communications

The conference’s venues were spread out over the main library building. Delegates reported that committee rooms were often too cold, though the Secretariat could do little given the university’s central heating system. There was also a lack of extension cords on the first day, though this was soon remedied.

Also commendable was the preparation the conference had for international delegates. Plug adapters were readily available throughout the conference, making committee sessions much more convenient for participants. Communications were maintained between the Secretariat and participants for the most part, though some delegates had issues with country allocations being given quite late.

SGMUN was also notable for offering 4 days’ accommodation with its delegate fees, which streamlined the conference organising process for delegations coming from overseas and was much appreciated. Free lunch was also provided on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Right of Reply

First of all we would like to thank our delegates and chairs for coming and making our conference possible and awesome! After reviewing the overall positive feedback we received from the participants we are happy to announce that we decided to organize a second edition of the conference next year! We hope to again bring you a great value proposition, as we recognize that Switzerland is an expensive country to visit, and provide you with great academics, warmer rooms and an even better and smoother organization! See you again next year in St. Gallen!