Cambridge University Student Model United Nations (CUSMUN) Conference

Students from EF Academy Oxford recently attended the Cambridge University Student Model United Nations (CUSMUN) Conference this past weekend on September 15-17th. For all of them, it was their first big conference and a chance to pit their wits against more experienced student delegates who numbered 300.
Below are the committees in which students participated:


Juhyun Kim
Disarmament and Security
The legality of drone strikes

Phillip AlexanderBror Nissen
The scope and application of the principle of Universal Jurisdiction

Khansaa HoulbiMarie Rimolsronning
Combating Radicalization in Western Societies

Sara Zonza
World Health Organisation
Breaking Down Barriers to Accessing Mental Health Services for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers

Rebekka Kvalum
Historical General Assembly
The Falklands/Malvinas Crisis

Johanna Rosenberger
UN Women
Protecting the Rights of Women in Factory Settings

Luisa KlothNadya Tan
Economic and Social Committee
Economic and Social Development in Rural Areas

For those of you who don’t know, Model United Nations is a student simulation of the United Nations. Students debate topics from the perspective of a country which is not their own, so personal opinions on any topic are not relevant. Evidence-based analysis and emotional detachment are key skills necessary for participating in MUN. Our students represented either Nigeria or Lebanon.
All of the above students have been involved in Oxford’s MUN group since September 2016 when they joined the school. They participated in an inter-school MUN conference in January 2017 that was organized with another international school in Oxford. However, dealing with 30-40 other delegates just in your own committee is clearly a very different context and challenge.
Preparation started before the summer break when committees and topics were announced. Our students then independently completed research from the perspective of country and committee during the holidays when others were on the beach! They had to submit a detailed “position paper” stating their country’s strategies for resolving the issue at hand. This meant a forensic study of past UN resolutions and statements by governments within the given topic areas. If you consider the academic complexity of the issues debated then you can appreciate the nature of the academic challenge that our students successfully undertook.
Within the committees, communication is key. Students are required to set out their country’s position in the initial debating sessions and then were required to develop working papers with countries who were allies, to set out key policies that would then become a stepping stone to proposing a resolution.
Many of our students were key contributors to both working papers and resolutions. This then required our students to present their resolution and respond to questions and criticisms from other delegates. MUN is a fluid debate and our students were required to think analytically on the spot on complex questions and strategies to defend their position, attributes that are tested in Oxford and Cambridge undergraduate interviews. Part of the students’ training has come in class as MUN is clearly the application of fundamental academic skills. The students’ refined their skills, demonstrating a growing academic maturity and confidence, within the debates themselves over a very intensive three days starting at 9 am and finishing at 6 pm.
But that’s enough from me, I should let the students tell you what they thought about the experience:
“You have to leave out your personal position on an issue and ensure that you fight for the strategy of your assigned government so that you argue in a more objective manner.”
“Confidence with formal written and spoken English under pressure. This will be really useful in a management or political environment in the future.”
“Understanding the perspectives of others and finding common ground to reach a shared resolution.”
“Thinking on the spot and ensuring that your arguments are always relevant to the discussion.”
“Defending a point of view in a confident manner. This will be really useful in a medicine interview.”
“However introverted or anxious you are, the essence of MUN will help you overcome these concerns.”
“Developing new skills in a healthy and supportive environment. Interacting with other people who you have never met before without feeling nervous or intimidated.”
“A better understanding of how countries interact on a global level.”
“Feeling comfortable speaking in a second language regardless of the fluency of those around you.”

Originally published September 20, 2017.