It was still dark when we set off to our first official Model UN conference: SecMUN at the University of the German Bundeswehr. Most of us spent the 2-hour drive either working on speeches, reading through the Position Papers one last time or talking about our expectations. We were all familiar with the procedures of a MUN conference and had delivered many speeches during our MiniMUN, but no one knew how experienced the other students were and whether we were prepared enough. After the passport control, we entered the Bundeswehr compound and were just on time for the keynote address by Dr. Gesa von Geyr, the Head of the Political Division at the Ministry of Defense. He talked briefly about challenges of German security and foreign policy and then focused on the role of European cooperation to meet these challenges. The keynote was followed by the opening ceremony and the moment we were all waiting for: The Security Council (SC), the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and the Human Rights Council (HRC) were in session!
During the first formal session, everyone had to deliver at least one speech, presenting their favored topic order which we then voted on. With the agenda set, our next speeches focused on promoting our plans to possible allies and setting the foundation for future coalitions. It was quite obvious that most of us were still very cautious in order to not alienate other delegations or make ourselves vulnerable. However, this caution turned out to be only the calm before the storm. The day concluded with a get-together at the bar of the university after our obligatory FAUMUN debriefing, where we reflected on our performance and received feedback.
(Hardly) well-rested, we started our session on the second and longest day of the conference. The Security Council debated about measures to combat terrorism in Africa. Everything went smoothly and everyone worked towards consensus until the discussion turned towards sexual violence linked to peacekeeping troops. This incident led to a diplomatic crisis between delegations which started to attack each other in speeches and did not find common ground again until the end of the conference. The session of the Human Rights Council followed a similar course. Discussing the human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, one working group formed around Bangladesh with predominantly Western countries and the other group represented the Global South. At first, both groups worked on different ideas but not necessarily different positions. Only concerning the funding the groups were not able to find consensus. The working paper writing turned into a competition and by the end of the day it was hard to tell whether the groups would be able to work together again or would try to sabotage each others papers. The Peacebuilding Commission chose a different approach. They seemed to have missed that a committee usually discusses only one topic during a MUN conference in detail. By the time lunch was over, they had already voted on their first draft resolutions on increasing international collaboration to combat international organized crime and moved on to the next topic about reconciliation in post-conflict countries. The proceedings were only disrupted by minor conflicts, mostly between Pakistan and the rest. After an exhausting day, the committees headed to the city center of Munich for dinner and more. After a long day, it was the perfect occasion to set the committee matters aside and to get to know the other students even better.
(Definitely not) well-rested, all committees returned for the final day. Both the Security Council and the Human Rights Council prepared for and held their first voting procedure. Whereas in the SC the outcome was heavily influenced by amendments and the veto rights of the Big Five, the smaller group in the HRC had to merge with the group that had the majority to avert defeat. The PBC managed to finish their working papers on time and voted for a second time which is unprecedented at SecMUN. The conference was a wonderful experience that ended with the closing ceremony where some of us received awards for their hard work.
These three days were an incredibly demanding and at the same time rewarding challenge. We delivered many speeches, some of them completely unprepared, we learned a lot from the Bundeswehr students who turned out to be excellent speakers and we grew even closer together as a delegation. Although the conference was very exhausting, we were still extremely motivated and already looking forward to our next conference, BayernMUN, on our way home.
by Elias Ruf