Model U.N. Team Excels at the Art of Diplomacy
Students Win Outstanding Delegation and 2 Committee Honors at DC Event
Nov. 10, 2009
If a Model U.N. competition is any indication, a nation could do much worse than to dispatch UT Dallas students to confront the world’s most intractable problems.
Envoys who competed in mock deliberations at the National Model United Nations, a student version of the world body, returned to campus last week having won one of three outstanding delegation awards as well as two best committee delegation awards.
The Russian Federation, led by senior literary studies major Ryan Henry, was voted best in the session after the hard work of the nine UT Dallas students who represented that delegation.
In addition, two UT Dallas students were recognized for their work in the Disarmament and International Security Committee. Two others earned awards for their work before the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
Henry, a who has his eyes set on law school, says Model U.N. has helped him gain a better understanding of how the law affects others. “I get to see how the law works on an international stage,” he said. “Also, Model U.N. teaches its participants how to negotiate and compromise in a group environment, a crucial skill to any aspiring lawyer.”
Participants tackled such critical international issues as nuclear proliferation and the war in Afghanistan. The 33 students from UT Dallas represented delegations from five different countries: Chad, Cuba, Egypt, the Russian Federation and Serbia. They researched their assigned countries ahead of time with the aim of representing them as realistically as possible.
Lindsay Bernsen, a sophomore majoring in international political economy, was one of the winners of the committee work. She said several attributes are necessary to be successful in Model U.N. “A delegate must understand rules and decorum, must be assertive, must be charismatic, must understand the role of his or her country in the international arena, and must be willing to write resolutions which, while grounded firmly in precedent, are inventive and original.”
“Model U.N. gives students an opportunity to hone diplomatic, cooperative skills,” said faculty sponsor Dr. Marie Isabelle Chevrier, a professor in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences and director of the Masters Program in Public Policy. “It is an intense experience that requires familiarity with one’s assigned country, the international system and the substantive topics raised in committee.”
The student delegates were judged by how convincingly they pressed their cases before the Model U.N. General Assembly and in other committees. That meant remaining in character by consistently advocating the interests and representing the policies of the country assigned. It also meant following diplomatic protocol and negotiating with respect and restraint. Delegates were expected to know and follow the rules of U.N. procedure.
If the rules were realistic, so was the work. Topics read like a rundown of top stories covered in The New York Times international section:
- The Role of Private Military and Security Companies in Conflict.
- Strengthening of Security and Cooperation in Afghanistan.
- The Role of Nuclear Technology in a Peaceful World.
- Framework for Preventing a Future Financial Crisis.
- Achieving Energy Security & Environmentally Sound Development.
- The Post-Nargis Response and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP): Moving the Rebuilding Framework Forward.
“Undoubtedly, the skills I learned during my Model U.N. experience would be essential for any career,” said Bernsen. “Representing the Russian Federation in the Economic and Social Committee on Asia and the Pacific provided me with invaluable insight into international power dichotomies.”
Delegation leader Ryan Henry (right) accepts the award for outstanding Model U.N. delegation.
Virginia Keller (left) and Lindsay Bernsen won an award for best delegation to the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
Prashant Raghavendran (left) and Shubham Manchanda were honored as the best group presenting before the General Assembly First Committee.