Monomoy Model UN: A discourse in debate and diplomacy

Photo+from+Diana+Evans%2C+from+a+February+2020+conference

Photo from Diana Evans, from a February 2020 conference

Ms. Lexi Goyette, Newspaper Advisor

During this hectic year of online classes, quarantines and social distancing, it might feel more difficult than ever to stay connected with the Monomoy community. However, our before- and after-school clubs have proven to us that staying involved in the Monomoy community unites us. I will be spotlighting Monomoy clubs to show exactly what a typical meeting looks like and to demonstrate how they’ve adapted to a hybrid (or fully remote) model.

Model UN is a popular activity for high schools and colleges across the country. In a nutshell, Model UN gives students the opportunity to learn about international diplomacy and world issues by simulating United Nations meetings with their peers.

The students of Monomoy Model UN were kind enough to allow me to attend a meeting to get a better idea of how the club is operating in a virtual setting.

Before each meeting, group members do preliminary research, finding out what they can about the real-world issues that are up for debate. During Model UN simulations, students take on the role of UN delegates that were involved in the meeting, with each group member acting as a different country. They will then take their country’s side, debating the topic at question with arguments that their country takes.

In the particular meeting that I attended, the simulation covered the Security Council of 2013, which focused on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Model UN president Andrew Davock began the simulation by providing a topic briefing of the situation in Syria leading up the Security Council of 2013. Immediately following, club leaders Julia Calisto and Luke Sanders took on the roles as committee chairs, who oversaw the simulation and conducted votes.

One of the first orders of business involved group members choosing the countries they would like to act as delegates for. In this simulation, the group represented Australia, France, Japan, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the United States. Each country’s delegate then replied to a role call, responding either “present” or “present and voting.”

As the simulation took place, delegates could call for a moderated caucus – a discussion that allows each delegate to speak on a specific topic with a time restriction that is moderated by the chairs – or an unmoderated caucus – essentially an open forum in which delegates can speak freely with one another to negotiate and lobby for their cause.

At the end of the simulation I attended, two countries led separate voting blocs, taking two separate sides on the issue. However, because Model UN is – aptly named – a model of real-life United Nations conferences, the group knows how this Security Council will end, with the passing of resolution 2118, which called for the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons program.

Having never attended a Model UN meeting before, I didn’t know quite what to expect. Naturally, I understood the process and – as someone who tries to stay in the loop of world news – could follow the simulation. What I was not expecting was just how nicely this club format worked in a remote setting. When someone wanted to speak, they would simply put up the “hand raise” feature on Google Meet. Votes were conducted via the “hand raise” feature as well. This made for a seamless, orderly system; I imagine that if the real United Nations were to meet over Google Meet, they would do the same!

One of the major excitements for Model UN groups is the opportunity to attend conferences, in which they can show off their skills alongside Model UN students from other schools. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, opportunities for conferences have been solely online. However, this didn’t hold the group back, and four Monomoy students attended a virtual conference. This resulted in Bela McMahon earning an honorable mention – a first for Monomoy Model UN!

Club president Andrew Davock shared some of his advice for students who are interested in joining. “I would say to have a good understanding of how the U.S. and the rest of the world interact concurrently. Also, be prepared to speak in front of others, be prepared to overcome challenges, think critically, how to perform research properly, and so much more. Also, if someone were to join, be ready to better your written and verbal communication skills.”

If you are interested in joining, reach out to Ms. Evans for more information. Monomoy Model UN group meets on Thursdays from 6:00 to 7:00 PM.