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Model United Nations Day a First at Glendon


On October 22nd, historic Glendon Hall was the site of the first Model United Nations (DayMUN) simulation on the Glendon campus. It was an all-day conference entirely planned, organized and executed by students of the Glendon Model United Nations Club. Model U.N. is an authentic simulation of the United Nations bodies and subsidiary committees, observing U.N. rules and regulations, including the use of formal debate procedure and a western business attire dress code, with each ‘delegate’ representing a pre-assigned country, chosen from the members of the United Nations.

Under the leadership of the club’s President, 3rd-year Glendon International Studies/Political Science student Abbey Sinclair, and club Vice-President and acting Secretary-General Sarah Walker (2nd year, International Studies/ Political Science), the Secretariat consisted of directors Siobhan de Graaf, June Findlay and Lia Magi, as well as public relations coordinators Karolina Stelmach-Kseniak and Emily Gould. They had been hard at work all through the summer and the fall, preparing the conference, selecting debate topics and inviting special guests.

Left: The Model UN Day Secretariat

“DayMUN introduces student participants into the world of diplomacy and negotiation, by inviting them to step into the shoes of ambassadors of U.N. member states, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, to debate current issues on the organization's vast agenda”, said Sinclair. “Before playing out their ambassadorial roles in Model U.N., students research the particular global problems to be addressed.

The ‘delegates’ prepare position papers and draft resolutions, plot strategies, negotiate with supporters and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the U.N.'s rules of procedures, in the interest of developing ‘international cooperation’ to resolve problems that affect almost every country in the world today”, added Sinclair. In existence since 1983, the Glendon United Nations Club has consistently strived for “no less than diplomatic excellence” in the study of international relations, politics, economics and other issues relevant to United Nations activities, attending conferences throughout North America.

"The 'delegates' prepare position papers and draft resolutions, plot strategies, negotiate with supporters and adversaries, resolve conflicts and navigate the UN's rules of procedures, in the interest of developing 'international cooperation' to resolve problems that affect almost every country in the world today," added Sinclair.

Twenty ‘countries’ were represented in the two simulated committees. The participants included fourteen high school students from Humberside Collegiate, who came to test their debating skills alongside university students, in preparation for upcoming conferences at the high school level. The Humberside students were an asset to the conference, proving themselves to be highly prepared and motivated students, both challenging the other delegates and fostering lively debate. In addition, these high school students were able to gain first-hand experience and knowledge about Glendon, and as a result some of the students expressed interest in Glendon as an attractive post-secondary option. Sarah Walker, Secretary-General for the day said, “ I am delighted that what started as an effort to explore better ways to prepare club members for away-conferences, has turned into an opportunity to extend the model U.N. experience, not only to other Glendon students but prospective students as well. In future years we are hoping to offer invitations to more schools.”

Right: High-school students from Humberside Collegiate participated in the Model UN Day held at Glendon

During the two sessions, the ‘Commission on Human Rights’ discussed the “Effects of the ‘war on terrorism’ on universal human rights”, while the ‘Economic and Social Committee’ (ECOSOC) explored the “Economic and social effects of oil on the world economy”, two topics of great currency and import on world affairs.

In her welcoming address, Principal Françoise Boudreau pointed to Glendon’s proud tradition in international studies and public affairs. “The College’s founding Principal, Escott Reid was a distinguished diplomat and scholar. Another renowned diplomat, and one of our eminent professors of the past, John W. Holmes participated in the founding of the United Nations and attended the first General Assembly in 1945”, said Boudreau. “Offering a first class, bilingually integrated education with an emphasis on public affairs, we are proud to support student initiatives that are representative of our mandate”, Boudreau added.

Three invited speakers provided a wealth of information and insights into the day’s topics. Professor Benjamin Richardson of Osgoode Hall Law School explored the question of “How to make the oil-producing countries more responsible for environmental concerns”. Richardson was a founding member of the New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law and a policy advisor for the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service in Australia.

Left: Glendon Acting Principal Françoise Boudreau gave the welcoming address

Adjunct professor Shadi Mokhtari (Osgoode Hall Law School and Columbia University) spoke of “Barriers to implementation of human rights in the Muslim world”. As an Iranian-American, she had special insights and observations about some of the costs of the current global war against terrorism.

The third speaker, professor Sharon Williams, also of Osgoode Hall Law School, a participant in the International Court of Justice established in 1998 in Rome, and the Criminal Tribunal for Human Rights Violations in the former Yugoslavia, talked about “Immunity versus accountability at the international level”.

The day was conducted with great professionalism, serious participation and cooperation, an excellent model for the countries and representatives of the real world. Secretary-General Sarah Walker congratulated delegates at the closing ceremony for their model diplomatic conduct throughout the day, giving awards to individuals who had proved themselves to be outstanding delegates in their respective committees. In addition, the entire Secretariat expressed its great satisfaction with the conference, as well as the hope that this will become an annual event at Glendon, further enriching the learning opportunities of its numerous students preparing for a career in public office.

This article was submitted to YFile by Marika Kemeny, Communications Officer for Glendon College.

Published on November 5, 2004