Decorum Reviews… PIMUN 2017

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Location: Paris

Dates: 31st May – 4th June

# of delegates: 450

# of committees: 18

Cost: delegate fee + social pack €105 (€90 early bird)

As the largest university-level international Model UN conference in France, PIMUN has a lot expected of it. It is also more pricey than many conferences, but is much longer and the delegate fee is included a social pack. Overall, the conference met these expectations with good quality debates and excellent socials, but it was let down by numerous and significant logistical issues.

Interconnectivity
An intense session of one of the “Interconnectivity” committees

Academics

PIMUN’s committees were varied and diverse, with a total of 18 for delegates to pick from. Notably, there were three multi-cabinet crisis simulations, as well as “Interconnectivity”, a series of GA committees which reacted to what other committees had achieved.

PIMUN also featured the Arab-speaking Arab League, the French-speaking UNESCO, and the Spanish-speaking Organisation of Ibero-American States. Finally, the crisis simulations consisted of a two-cabinet UNSC crisis discussing the Taliban in Afghanistan, a “Face-Off” crisis based on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and a massive four-cabinet Historical Crisis based on the 1978-9 Iranian Revolution.

The conferences ended with a Plenary Session, which consisted of all delegates being assigned to a country and being placed together in a big hall, debating one topic. Due to the scale of the session, it was understandably slow and chaotic, though three draft resolutions were eventually produced with one being passed.

Ceremony
PIMUN’s opening ceremony

Ceremonies

The opening ceremony took place at the stunning Theatre de Paris. The ceremony itself, however, was hampered by poor ventilation leaving delegates suffering in the summer heat. Moreover, delegates were forced to wait outside for half an hour. Once inside, participants had to wait another 30 minutes before kick-off, setting the ceremony back an hour.

The ceremony itself followed the standard routine of the Deputy Secretary General introducing speakers, which included the President of SciencesPo Paris, followed by the guest speaker, former Spanish Foreign Minister and lecturer at SciencesPo, Miguel Angel Moratinos. The guest speaker talked about the need for optimism towards diplomacy in today’s uncertain world. Finally, the Secretary-General introduced the conference’s theme, “Pioneering a New World Order” and officially opened the conference.

The closing ceremony was also similarly badly timed. After starting 20 minutes late, the exhausted participants were treated to a 40-minute speech by Professor Bertrand Badie, who tackled many subjects passionately, ranging from income inequality to social disparities. Whilst the content of his speech was fascinating, the excessive length of the address meant participants lost interest, with many falling asleep after an extended week of debates and socials.

Awards were similarly drawn out, with chairs refusing to adhere to the Secretariat’s request for them to speak for only three minutes per committee. This meant that by the time crisis awards were given out, chairs were only allowed to quickly give honourable mentions, with the best delegates not even being invited on to stage.

Pub Crawl
Delegates unwind during the pub crawl

Socials

PIMUN featured a large number of socials, ranging from low-key pub crawls to club nights. Two of the more relaxed events was a cocktail reception after the opening ceremony and a pub crawl. The reception featured free wine and cocktails, which was greatly appreciated after a hot and stuffy opening ceremony. The pub crawl was a nice opportunity to break the ice and meet delegates from every committee, although some groups got strung out and ended up lost in the city.

The second social was a committee dinner, which took place at a location quite far from the university itself. Some delegates arrived before the Secretariat turned up and confusion ensued. The food itself was not included, though it was served remarkably quickly.

There were two club nights, a “cultural exchange” and a visit to Club Haussmann. The cultural exchange was a little pricey, with €5 beers and €7 cocktails, although one free drink was included. There was more confusion with some delegates showing up in black tie, having been informed that this would be a “formal event”. Club Haussmann was beautiful and the drinks prices were more reasonable plus another free drink was included.

The Secretariat also organised a “Touristic Afternoon”, with three themed guided tours of Paris, which was greatly appreciated by those delegates which didn’t take the free afternoon to rest!

Registration
Delegate registration

Venues, Logistics and Communications

The logistics were PIMUN’s greatest weakness. Whilst all the committee rooms were comfortable and WiFi connection adequate, the conference changed venue during the conference. This move was poorly communicated, resulting in delegates turning up late to the last day of committee.

The venues for the opening and closing ceremonies were grand but not easy to reach. For the closing ceremony, the Secretariat notified delegates at the last minute that luggage would not be allowed into the building, something rather inconvenient given that many delegates had to catch flights right after the ceremony. An ad-hoc solution was found but this was not publicised.

The free lunch that was given to delegates every day by the Secretariat was highly commendable. On the first day, some delegates were left waiting for over 20 minutes in a crowded and hot stairway, though this issue was solved in the following days. The Secretariat also kindly gave out pastries for breakfast in committee, something highly appreciated by hungover delegates.

Communication between delegates, chairs and secretariat was poor. The website and social media were underutilised, with updates and news being released far too late or giving partial information. For instance, the room of Plenary Session and Closing Ceremony was shared with delegates but not the building itself, leaving many delegates lost.

The Secretariat have not yet provided a Right of Reply.

 

 

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Decorum Reviews … DamMUN 2017

Decorum Reviews … DamMUN 2017

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.

Academics

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.

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UNSC, DamMUN’s advanced 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.

Ceremonies

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.

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DamMUN’s closing ceremony

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!

Socials

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.

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Delegates enjoying Sunday’s closing social

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.

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Lunch was provided on both days of conference

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

Decorum Reviews … WorldMUN 2017

Decorum Reviews … WorldMUN 2017

Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Dates: 13th – 17th March

# of delegates: 2,250

# of committees: 20

Cost: Delegate fee $150, Social pack $100, Night Zero Social $15

Harvard World Model United Nations is one of the largest college-level conferences in the world. Hosted in a different city each year, the conference is organised jointly by Harvard and a host team. This year’s edition was held in Montreal, with Dawson College as the host team.

The weeklong conference is expensive but offers extremely competitive debate and excellent socials. The conference was also exceptionally well run this year despite serious weather challenges. Unfortunately, the conference continues to be let down by inexperienced chairs.

Academics

WorldMUN is well-known as a competitive conference: most delegates are either experienced, well-trained or well prepared. The conference offered a wide range of committees, 20 in total, including seven GA committees, six ECOSOC and regional body committees, and seven historical and crisis committees. Most committees were double delegate, making the average committee size extremely large. This provides a unique and often hectic lobbying experience but lowers the quality of debate.

Sadly, the experience of delegates stood in stark contrast to that of the Head Chairs. The selected chairs were frequently less experienced than both the Assistant Chairs and delegates. Numerous delegates reported Head Chairs who were ignorant of some or most aspects of RoP. This severely limited the overall academic quality of committee sessions.

Ceremonies

The opening ceremony was held at a conference venue and featured a large number of speakers from both the organising teams and invited guests. As a result, the ceremony lasted a lengthy two-and-a-half hours, a point that even one guest speaker alluded to. Nonetheless, the ceremony featured many highlights including a pipe band and an incredible (and at points tear-jerking) performance by Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli, a breakdancer who suffers from Arthrogryposis.

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Maison Symphonique du Montreal

The closing ceremony was held at the stunning Maison Symphonique du Montreal, home of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. After a brief performance from a stringed quartet, the organisers launched into a number of speeches thanking those who had helped put on the conference. Next followed three guest speakers, who mercifully kept their remarks brief. After much nervous anticipation, the ceremony eventually moved onto the awards presentations. Naturally, given the large number of committees, chairs were not given the opportunity to speak and the awards were instead presented by members of the Secretariat. Whilst the closing ceremony was fairly lengthy, the excited and friendly atmosphere made the experience enjoyable.

Socials

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Farewell “Discotheque” at New City Gas

WorldMUN put on an impressive array of socials. For $100, the social pack gave access to five club nights; another $15 allowed delegates to attend the pre-conference “Night Zero” social.

The venues were unique across all five nights. In particular, delegates found were wowed by live dancers at Club Unity, delegation performances at Cabaret, and the massive New City Gas. The cost of drinks varied according to the venue, but only a one or two venues were particularly expensive (for clubs, at least). Delegates initially complained about the need to pay for coat check, given that they had already paid the social pack fee, although the cost was much lower or nothing later in the week.

A traditional highlight of WorldMUN is “Global Village”, where delegations bring food and drink from their home countries and participate in vigorous cultural exchange. This year was no exception. Unfortunately, some delegates enjoyed themselves a little too much, resulting in the party being closed down by the police and chaos as delegates attempted to leave the venue, although this was hardly the Secretariat’s fault.

Venues, logistics and communication

Delegates reported that logistics were exceptionally smooth, despite an unseasonable snowstorm. The conference offered a number of accommodation options nearby the conference venues and most of the social events were located within walking distance of the conference venue. Delegate registration was very well run, with few delegates reporting any issues.

The conference venue was held at the Palais de Congres, a gargantuan conference centre, situated in downtown Montreal. The rooms were adequately sized to comfortably accommodate each committee and delegates had easy access to tables, water and reliable WiFi. Numerous lunch options were provided within the conference venue and the organisers had negotiated discounts are a few of these.

Communication, both by email and in-person feedback sessions, was frequent, fast and accurate. The organisers were quick to respond to any issues that arose and were approachable and courteous throughout the conference.

Right of Reply

The Secretariat could not be reached for their Right of Reply.

 

 

Decorum Reviews … CardiffMUN17

Decorum Reviews … CardiffMUN17

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.

Academics

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.

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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.

Ceremonies

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.

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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.

Socials

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.

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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.

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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

Decorum Reviews … ScotMUN X

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View over Edinburgh, ScotMUN’s host city

Location: Edinburgh, UK

Dates: March 4th – 6th

# of delegates: 350

# of committees: 12

Cost: Delegate pack £40 (early bird £29), social pack £30 (half social pack £10)

Celebrating its tenth year, Scotmun X is one of the largest conferences in the UK. It is organised by students of Edinburgh University and held at venues across the city. ScotMUN is a little pricey but provides a fun, engaging and, most importantly, Scottish experience. There were, however, some aspects of communication with delegates that could have been improved.

Academics

The committees on offer this year were very similar to those last year and are seen across many MUN conferences. There were options for all levels from DISEC and WFP to advanced committees such as the ICJ and a three-cabinet crisis. Three conference also featured a double-delegate UN Security Council. The quality of debate was reasonably high across the conference.

Study guides were released very early and provided all of the useful information required for writing position papers. Some committees who were not expecting to hand in position papers were asked for them at a later date, leading to some left rushing to hand them in or missing them all together.

Ceremonies

Both ceremonies were brief. The Opening ceremony was held at the majestic Balmoral Hotel, which offers a lovely view of the famous Edinburgh castle. The speaker, the right honourable Sir George Reid, provided a very entertaining and engaging speech about globalisation, bringing together his experience in both domestic politics and global humanitarian efforts. The opening ceremony captured the excitement of the conference and saw many happy reunions between delegates and chairs alike.

The Balmoral Hotel . . . ScotMUN’s opening ceremony venue

The closing ceremony took place in a lecture hall that, whilst less inspiring than the Balmoral, was conveniently located next to the committee rooms, allowing a quick transfer between the end of committee and ceremony. There was minimal pomp and ceremony and most of the time was given over to awards. The atmosphere was jovial but a little muted, perhaps due to the delegates’ exhaustion.

Socials

The social pack included a Friday night dinner and dance and a Saturday club night.

Friday’s social was a black tie dinner at the Balmoral. The dinner was generally well received, although the vegetarian option left a few delegates feeling hungry. The dinner was followed by a ceilidh (traditional but accessible Scottish dancing) which helped delegates get acquainted as they twirled each other around the dance floor. Unfortunately, the grandeur of the Balmoral came with drinks prices to match – one bottle of sub-par wine set you back £25. But for delegates more interested in the ceilidh, the provision of free, iced water provided a welcome way to cool down. Delegates’ main complaint with the evening was that it ended quite early – at around midnight (earlier than in previous years).

The Balmoral shortly after the opening ceremony, transformed for dinner

The Saturday social was a club night at the Caves nightclub. The venue was a maze of stone-lined, underground basements which provided a novel atmosphere for clubbing. The Secretariat took it upon themselves to DJ but perhaps a professional would have been better. The night was more affordable overall: drinks prices were much more reasonable than Friday and there was a free drink included in the social pack. The event was slightly less well-attended than the Friday social but the assembled delegates and chairs had a great time nonetheless.

Overall, the socials provided very good value for money and let delegates relax and get to know each other outside of committee.

Venues, Logistics and Communication

In the build-up to the conference, the Secretariat provided was quick to respond to questions. However, there were a couple of occasions on which delegations were given contradictory information by members of the Secretariat, which had to be cleared up.

The conference provided delegate packs with a cloth ScotMUN X bag, lanyards, a handbook, a pen and some sweets, with placards being provided at the first committee session. The Secretariat provided lunch for delegates on Saturday, including a range of sandwiches and biscuits which was greatly appreciated by all. Tea and coffee was also available – although this wasn’t well advertised to delegates.

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50 George Square is full of modern and spacious rooms

All of the committees were located in a single university building in the heart of the city. The rooms were modern and adequately sized, with the exception of the crisis rooms which were located in an attached but outdated building. One major issue was the distribution of crisis rooms: the three cabinets were split over two floors and the backroom was located nine floors above them, which slowed the crisis down. There was a serial problem with a lack of power sockets but this was resolved quickly after the Secretariat ran out to buy extension leads. Eduroam was available for university students but there were also a limited number of additional logins for those who couldn’t access the WiFi. These were provided upon demand although it took some time for some of committees to get access.

Right of Reply

“ScotMUN X, as the tenth anniversary of our conference, aimed to be the most enjoyable of our conferences to date, and I hope we achieved that for our delegates. We wanted to improve on last year’s well-received conference, introducing a new Saturday social in a stunning venue, providing lunch for free and generally improving communication across the board. Some of the issues raised here are sadly out of our hands (the ‘outdated’ nature of David Hume Tower is much maligned amongst us as well) however we are happy to take on board the comments presented and move forward to an even better conference for ScotMUN 2018.”

– Robert Kemp, Secretary-General, ScotMUN 2017

Decorum Reviews … LIMUN 2017

Decorum Reviews … LIMUN 2017

Location: London, UK

Dates: February 24th – 26th

# of delegates: 1600

# of committees: 35

Cost: Delegate fee £70 (£65 early bird), social pack £30 (£25 early bird)

Now in its 18th year, LIMUN 2017 continues to serve as Europe’s largest MUN conference. Organised by an inter-university secretariat and hosted by Imperial College London, this conference is pricey (both in terms of conference fees and its London location) but provides an experience that is difficult to match in the UK. Highlights included the diverse range of committees, excellent (if expensive) socials and a speedy closing ceremony. Issues included some logistical difficulties and a drawn out opening ceremony.

Academics

This year’s conference boasted a 35-committee smorgasbord of MUN. The staples were included, of course: UNSC, DISEC, UNHRC and all the rest. But it was committees including the International Olympic Committee, the Global Health Cluster and 5 separate foreign-language committees that distinguishes LIMUN for other conferences on the UK circuit.

A nice touch were the “summits”, in which select delegates from certain committees came together for a short midday session before reporting back to their original committees. The conference also featured a 4-cabinet crisis and a fantasy “United Nations Commission on Sokovia” from the Marvel universe.

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The delegates of African Union take a vote

Moreover, these committees were spread out across beginner, intermediate and advanced tiers, giving delegates of all abilities the opportunity to participate. Study guides were praised as being comprehensive, but crucially, delivered in plenty of time before the conference.

Socials

Friday’s social was held at the Pulse Vault nightclub, a large venue with multiple dance floors, bars and “chill out areas”. Drinks were reasonably priced for a London club night with £4 pints and £6 spirit mixers. While the event was a little under-attended, delegates lit up the main dancefloor, which was adorned with national flags. It was a little odd that the social began at 9:15pm, given that committee sessions only ended at 9pm and the venue was at least 30 minutes away from the conference!

Highlights from LIMUN 2017

Saturday saw delegate’s put on their finest attire for the “Royal” LIMUN Ball. The venue, the Grand Connaught Rooms, certainly lived up to its name: an elegant staircase invited delegates into a cavernous main room and dance floor. The Secretariat also laid on a photobooth and plenty of food for delegates. Unfortunately, the lavish venue had drinks prices to match (£4.60 for a bottle of beer) and the two bars struggled to cope with hordes of thirsty delegates. Fortunately, this didn’t kill the party vibe and the dancefloor was packed into the small hours of the morning.

Ceremonies

LIMUN’s opening ceremony was held at the iconic Central Hall Westminster, located beside the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. The venue was particularly apposite given that it hosted the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in 1946. Highlights of the opening ceremony included a parade of flags and a nicely-shot countdown video, which set it apart from standard MUN conferences. The opening also included three guest speakers, H.E. Mogens Lykketoft (former President of the UN General Assembly), H.E. Danilo Türk (former President of Slovenia and former Assistant Secretary-General of the UN) and H.E. Kate Gilmore (Deputy High Commissioner for Human Right of the UN). While all three are highly decorated international statespeople, their speeches were lengthy and delegates were visibly restless by the end.

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Deputy Sec-Gen Emanuel Spahrkas addressed delegates at the opening ceremony. Background: guest speakers, Secretariat and chairs

LIMUN’s closing ceremony was mercifully short. This was an exceptional feat given that the awards of 35 committees had to be announced, and was achieved by not inviting a guest speaker and making chairs keep their speeches concise. The ceremony was held at the Royal Geographical Society which was far too small for the assembled delegates. As a result, most delegates had to watch the closing ceremony from considerably more austere rooms throughout Imperial’s campus. As a result of this, the Secretariat made delegates sit with their committee, leading to some awkwardness as awards were announced.

Venues, logistics and communication

Imperial’s labyrinthine campus provided plenty of space for the conference but the quality of committee rooms varied greatly. Many delegates found themselves in pleasant and well-appointed surroundings, others in decrepit lecture theatres. There were also issues with WiFi which was limited to Eduroam (which at one point was temporarily overloaded) and The Cloud (extremely temperamental).

On the whole, the Secretariat were extremely responsive to requests from delegates and chairs throughout the weekend, making the conference experience smooth. The Secretariat was particularly praised for providing delegates with lunch on campus, included within the delegate fee.

The most significant logistical issue arose from the collection of social packs on Friday evening. Many delegates were not able to collect theirs at registration and as a result had to wait until after committee session to pick them up. However, the need to ID delegates made the process lengthy and poor communication resulted in a long, slow and disorderly queue.

Right of reply

The Secretariat chose not to exercise its right of reply.

Decorum Reviews … LeedsMUN 2017

Decorum Reviews … LeedsMUN 2017

Location: Leeds, UK

Dates: 17th-19th February

# of delegates: ~60

# of committees: 4

Cost: delegate fee £12 (early bird)/£15 (standard), social pack £30

LeedsMUN, now in its fourth iteration, is a staple conference in the North of England. This year saw delegates participate in committees such as the Security Council, DISEC, HRC and a two-cabinet Crisis, set during Caesar’s Civil War. Delegates were happy with the socials, though felt that some aspects of committee and logistical organisation could be improved upon for next year.

Academics

The choice of committees in this year’s LeedsMUN were fairly standard and well-rounded, with the inclusion of beginner-friendly committees like DISEC and HRC, but also catering for more experienced delegates with the Security Council and a Crisis simulation. Most delegates were happy with the standard of debate, but a delegate in DISEC said that the exclusion of key countries such as China was unexpected and reduced the scope for debate.

Feedback on the crisis simulation was mixed, mainly concerning the shortage of backroom staff recruited by the Secretariat slowing directive responses. But overall, delegates were pleased by the experience in the frontroom.

Ceremonies

The opening ceremony saw the guest speaker, Dr. Nir Anielli, give a speech about the Middle East. The address itself gave a very brief overview of the region’s history and some of its legacies in the form of current issues. Unfortunately, the speech lacked a particular focus and some delegates found it difficult to follow. The Secretary General’s opening was much appreciated for her liveliness and brevity.
LeedsMUN’s closing ceremony saw the venue changed to a fourth-floor room in the Student’s Union due to a last minute change of room bookings. The tone was noticeably more enthusiastic, with chairs’ speeches bringing much laughter and cheering. Most speeches were concise, keep the ceremony short and to the point.

Socials

Friday’s club night was held at Revolution in central Leeds. Despite some confusion about the location of the social itself (downstairs, away from the main bar), all delegates arrived in good order. Delegates appreciated the private area, meaning that it was intimate yet not crowded. Nick Meadowcroft-Lunn, a chair in crisis, said that the night was “excellent […] even if the alcohol was expensive”.

For the formal dinner on Saturday night, delegates were informed that food would be served at 19:30, though service did not actually begin until 20:00. However, the quality of the food was generally commended, as well as the presence of a private DJ. Each table was provided with two bottles of wine, but a private hotel bar was also available for particularly thirsty delegates.

Venues, Logistics and Communications

The first session of the weekend, on Friday, was set in a maze-like series of rooms in a building many delegates, even from Leeds, found rather hard to navigate. The crisis rooms lacked more than one table, and delegates found the experience disorientating. On Saturday and Sunday, however, sessions were located in the much more straightforward Parkinson’s Building, which had ample facilities and was generally accessible for all delegates. The Secretariat also received much praise for their provision of tea, coffee and biscuits during breaks, which undoubtedly helped delegates power through the final hours of committee. This was especially useful, since there weren’t many cafes open in the area during the weekend.
Communication between delegates, chairs and the Secretariat were generally described as efficient and pleasant. The LeedsMUN website and Facebook page provided regular updates, as did the ‘Decorum’ communication platform (essentially a chatroom) which was praised by delegates as a useful tool, though not all delegates were using it. No major communication hiccups were reported.

Right of Reply

“We are very pleased that the reviewer as well as the participants thought this was a good conference. We aim to provide an accessible and beginner-friendly conference both financially and in spirit while at the same time maintaining the standards of the debate. We are also glad that some of the unique touches of our conference such as the free tea and coffee and the Decorum messaging system were appreciated. The issues with the Friday rooms in a far-from-ideal location as well as the last-minute change of the venue for the Closing Ceremony were found to be unfortunate by the Secretariat itself as these issues were caused within the room booking system out of our control. We are already working closely with the student union to make sure this will not be a repeated issue next year. We look forward to seeing you again at LeedsMUN 2018!”

– Cecily Holt, Secretary-General, LeedsMUN 2017