Alumni Issy Williams wins Best Delegate in committee at South-West MUN
Former Head Girl and Secretary General of RHS, Issy Williams recently attended an MUN conference hosted by the University of Bristol with guests Bath and Exeter universities in attendance.
Issy admitted that she missed writing MUN reports for assemblies so we were delighted when she sent us this account that includes advice for new and progressing MUN delegates:
"There were 4 committees:
1. European Council (Topic A: From Defence to Finance, the Way Forward for Integration of the EU; Topic B: The Thirteenth Star: A Space Strategy for Europe)
2. Disarmament and International Security Committee (Topic A: Regulating Drone Warfare; Topic B: Solutions to the Global Landmine Crisis)
3. Security Council (Topic A: The Question of Myanmar and the Treatment of the Rohingya People; Topic B: The Question of the Civil War and its Consequences in the Central African Republic)
4. Crisis - slightly different, as we got Golding Games in to come and arrange it for us, on the topic of the 1960 US Election Special - Nixon vs Kennedy, with delegates representing members of the democratic and republican parties in question rather than member states of the UN. Each of the other committees went to watch some of the crisis speeches, which were really interesting being a history student myself, and we also all got to vote for our preferred new president, which was Nixon in the end!
I was in the Disarmament and International Committee (DISEC) representing the Russian Federation. Procedure is slightly different at university, where delegates submit Position Papers in advance, rather than resolutions, and to be considered for an award, delegates must submit one. Also, instead of yielding to other delegates in debate or opening oneself up for questions, university conference procedure dictates the use of a moderated caucus in which speakers will be invited to debate a specific dimension of the overall topic in question. You also bang the table during debate to show your approval of what another delegate has said!
Two resolutions were passed in my committee, one for each topic, and I was a co-writer of each, collaborating with Turkey, Columbia, and surprisingly the USA themselves. Debate was really lovely and all delegates spoke really well."
Keeping the RHS MUN legacy alive, we were thrilled to learn that Issy went on to win best delegate in her committee, adding to the many awards that she achieved while she was at RHS, several of which were also for representing the Russian Federation.
MUN Director, Mrs Routledge said, "Issy was an excellent, dedicated MUN delegate while she was at RHS and was such a great role-model for younger pupils. I am so pleased that she has continued to take part in MUN at university and that she has not let her skills get rusty! Maybe one day we will see Issy giving the keynote speech at a ROYMUN conference..."
Issy shared the following advice for budding MUN delegates:
1. When you first start out, do a little bit of research, but don't get bogged down in the details. MUN is as much about the skill of debating as it is knowing the real details of the topic. The beauty of it is that whilst your overall for/against position should reflect the genuine view of the nation you represent, the facts you bring in and the way you collaborate with or challenge other delegates need not rely solely on rattling off fact after fact. It's more about using diplomatic language to stand up to opposition and persuade fellow delegates to adopt your stance.
2. Get to know other delegates' positions. Without necessarily researching other nations' positions, paying attention to what speakers say during debate will give you an idea of who shares your opinions and who doesn't. Then, when it comes to opening yourself up to questions or yielding to other delegates, you can have a good idea of who you might want to work more closely with, or who you need to be more careful to defend your position against!
3. Set yourself a target of speaking at least once, even if you're a beginner. If you're unsure of your country's position, a simple expression of agreement or disagreement following a speech is enough to get you involved, and to let other delegates know your position on the topic. When I first joined, I was petrified and remained silent for my first few debates, and found that I didn't enjoy them as much when I wasn't actively participating in the debates and decisions being taken. Once you get more involved, you'll definitely enjoy it more and people will be more willing to collaborate with you and comment on your position.
4. Speak to more experienced MUNers. This is the quickest way to get some practical advice on the best ways to go about approaching a debate or conference. They can point you in the right direction when it comes to research, and if they're in the debate as well, you know you have a point of call if you're unsure about something.
5. Finally, look at the debate as a means to an end - you're there to debate a topic with the intention of achieving a solution favoured by the majority of member states. It's good to frame your research not just about your country's view but actually what you'd ideally like to happen about it! At the same time, delegates will often bring diplomatic political humour into their speeches as a way of convincing the floor to adopt their opinions, so be prepared that it may not be a quick and easy decision when it comes to achieving a solution. It's a challenge, but that's why you're there - to fight your corner!