First-year undergraduate Ruben Ramos portrays an account of his experiences as a participant of Sciences Po Model United Nations, 2021.
Last weekend, a group of nine participants and I traveled to Reims from Le Havre
in order to attend SPMUN, an event organized by the students of Sciences Po. Campus de Reims. SPMUN, as its name indicates (SciencesPoMUN), is a MUN aiming to reunite students from the seven regional campuses of the Collège Universitaire. But what is a MUN? Model United Nations is a kind of role-playing game in which the goal is to simulate a conference from the United Nations in which a delegate must emulate being the diplomat of an assigned country, the government’s interests of which they must defend during negotiation processes. The conference can also simulate other international bodies, replay historical conferences or even fictional ones. The concept is quite developed in Sciences Po, which is why members from the club in Le Havre decided to participate there. Some undertook a six hour bus ride while others traveled independently.
We arrived in Reims on Friday afternoon, witnessing a city
much colder and windier than Le Havre. But regardless it was quite nice, even though there wasn’t much time to spare for exploring the place with the
long days of debate we had ahead of us.
Soon after, we were headed towards the university campus. Upon arrival, bracelets and badges marked out formal integration with the rest of the participants. Our first impression of the whole event was marked by the grandeur of the venue itself – a campus much bigger than Le Havre’s, it’s architecture is that of an ancient
Jesuit college made of great galleries with paintings, stained glass,
marble stairs and a library designed with wood.
After a quick
visit, we headed to the large amphitheater for the opening ceremony. The
presidents of the Reims and Menton MUNs, organizers of the conferences
alongside Sciences Po Environment (a student association at Reims), inaugurated the
event with speeches and guest speakers. The main theme of SPMUN was environment, therefore all
committees were related to this subject. Experts in the field were invited as guests: Paloma Moritz, a journalist specialized in ecology; Dr. Guy Richard who
works at the INRAE on the links between environment and agronomy; and Dr.
Pierre Noel who worked in the energy sector in Asia and, witnessing climate
change, decided to focus on environmental energy policies.
The next day, we dressed up elegantly, ready to represent the
designated country, and met at the campus for the beginning of
the conference. There were 9 committees in all:
-The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), addressing the impact of
ocean acidification and fertilization on marine biodiversity (Beginner level),
which is the committee I was part of alongside other students from Le Havre
and which was chaired by Trisha Gopal from our campus;
-The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), focusing on
circular economy and green growth (Intermediate level);
-The Security Council, answering a hypothetical crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa in
2050 (Advanced level), whose one of the chairs was Philip Tham from Le Havre;
-The CONAMA, an environmental Brazilian council, here tackling the Amazon
crisis. In this crisis committee, whose rules are special, Bolsonaro was played by
the delegates as well as indigenous tribes and environmental activists. Inwoo
Kim from Le Havre was the chair;
-Another crisis committee focusing on the American meat industry;
-The OPEC addressing the transition to clean energies (Beginner level, in
-An historical reproduction of the Kyoto Protocol from 1997, supposed to repair
the flaws of the real one (Intermediate, in French);
-The ICC, considering the legal status of the ecocide (Advanced, in French);
-A French crisis committee focusing on illegal fishery in South China Sea, and
whose one of the chairs was Toan Oswald from Le Havre.
The negotiations lasted until 7PM with a lunch break in the middle. But some of
you may wonder how the conferences concretely worked. Each student is
acting as a delegate of a country. I, for example, was Vietnam and thus had to
make researches not only on the topic but also on the position of my country in
it, in order to best represent its interests.
The number of delegates varies
according the committee, for example in the UNEP we were almost thirty but in
others they were only 15 or even less. There are also two chairs who act as
judges regulating and directing the debate. A committee generally starts with a
“roll-call” to see which countries are present and then a speaker’s list in which
all those wishing to can take the floor. Then follow two types of debate: the
moderated caucus and the unmoderated caucus. The moderated caucus is a
debate on a precise subject, during which the delegates can argue and defend
their position. The unmoderated caucus is a time where the delegates can
move freely, make alliances, discuss on the resolutions they want to write… To
introduce a caucus, a delegate must propose a motion, and if several motions
are presented, a vote determines which one will be maintained. To foster
dialogue between the delegates, we were also able to write messages to others
on a paper, and someone was charged of delivering them. By the end of the
day, we started during an unmoderated caucus to write a resolution with our
allies. Before ending the debate for the first day, time was taken for
entertainment. Indeed, during the day, a “gossip box” was put in the middle of
the room and we could all write anonymous funny papers that would be put
inside. Regularly, the chairs made a pause and read them; some of the papers
inducing dares for some people… It added some fun to the conference, and
people didn’t hesitate to talk freely about who they found beautiful in the
The day ended with a tasting session of champagne, Reims’ speciality,
organized by the champagne-tasting club of the campus (yes, this club exists).
The Sunday morning was dedicated to the end of the debates. In my
committee, two blocks had been formed and had written their resolutions. The
two were presented and we then had to vote possible amendments to the text.
When finally amended, the resolutions were voted and in our case both
passed, but it would have been possible to have only one remaining or even
none. The chairs then elected a “best delegate” for the committee and also
gave honourable mentions to the sassiest one, the best dressed one… This
marked the end of the committee. Of course, I only explained here how things
happened in mine; the others probably had some differences, especially the
crisis ones in which the chairs build a scenario with events to which the
delegates must react quickly. After the lunch provided by the organizers, I had
to leave with the others students who came by bus so we missed the ending
ceremony. Those who could stay explained that the organizers made speeches
and gave rewards to the “best delegates”. A new guest was also there: Vanna
Lavery, a US diplomat working at the Paris embassy.
I really enjoyed these days in Reims. SPMUN was my first MUN and a really
great experience. It allowed me to understand better the rules of a MUN, to
develop my oral skills but also more generally to see how an international
committee works and learn more about current issues and diplomacy. It was
also an opportunity to meet students from the other campuses (other
delegates but also my hosts) and talk with them about what we had in common
but also to witness how much our organizations could differ in some points. In
the end, it seems that we are all really satisfied by the event, even if we missed
Diwali and that experienced students could point out some things that could
have been improved. A good way for Le Havre’s MUN club to learn lessons
from it and prepare the LHIMUN that will take place in our campus in April.