From April 12th to April 15th, 2019 students from Utah Valley University took part in the Sixty-Ninth Annual Session of the Model United Nations Conference of the Far West in San Francisco. This major Model UN conference is historic for taking place in the same city as the original UN headquarters. The theme for the sixty-ninth session was: A Common Humanity: Back to the Basics of the UN Charter. The conference was held at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport.
(L to R): William Gum-Casey, Anthony Franks, Brandon Pedler, Andrew Jensen, Raegan Mackay, Rebecca Bindrabin, Angela Landa, and Regan Warner with certificates Achievement in Diplomacy for both Austria and Costa Rica
Utah Valley sent eight students to the conference to represent the countries of Austria and Costa Rica on a myriad of committees. Costa Rica had been represented by Rebecca Bindraban (GA), Angela Landa (UNHCR), Regan Warner (UNEA), and Raegan Mackay (Third Committee. Austria was represented by Andrew Jensen (GA), William Gum (Third Committee), Anthony Franks (UNEA), and me (UNHCR). These included the General Assembly, Third Committee, UN Environment Assembly, and UN High Commissioner on Refugees. I personally represented Austria on the UNHCR. It was related to number of reasons: first, to my interest to German-speaking peoples in Europe having spent several years there as an LDS Missionary and continuing education with a German Minor, and second, to the opportunity which my peers and I were able to host the Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN, Ambassador Jan Kickert at UVU on 21 February, 2019. Ambassador Kickert provided us with some great insights about the foreign policy priorities of his nation in the areas of our interest during the MUN conference in SF. There were also three additional committees at the conference that could not be attended by our group. However, on all the committees that UVU could be present at, they worked hard and diligently to represent not only their countries, but the University well and accurately.
The first day consisted of arriving, checking in and the opening plenary session, followed by our first committee meetings until late in the evening. Most of this time was taken up by the setting of the agenda of three assigned topics per committee. After the setting of the agenda, most began with speaking on the first topic, with unmoderated caucuses of varying lengths through the evening to start working on resolutions. These key pieces of writing are the core of any Model UN experience, and are the culmination of hours of debating, compromising, writing and decision-making. They address issues of real-world importance, and most are submitted to the actual UN who sometimes finds solutions from the ideas of the students.
The second day was somewhat shorter. Committee sessions reconvened in the morning, with most working hard for the several hours that they had. Many of the committees passed their first resolutions on this second day, while others still labored on the first, with several not completing their topic even by the day’s end. The conference ended early on Saturday to allow student delegates the opportunity to relax and to explore San Francisco.
Sunday was the most grueling of all the days. Committee Sessions began at nine in the morning and continued on until eleven at night. This day was where most of the work began to pay off. All committees finished and passed their first resolutions and did much of the work on the second ones. Debates moved quickly and smoothly as many of the committees began to find the key voices and leaders within each group. Countries represented by UVU students were showing up as sponsors on several resolutions in several committees, which is something looked upon favorably by MUN scorers.
By the last day, most committees had passed their last resolution with very little time to spare, and many passed multiple resolutions on the same topic. Many of them had discussed, drafted, and passed a resolution all within seven hours with absolute frenetic activity. None of the topics for discussion was left behind at this conference, with some of the committees working quickly enough that they had to be assigned additional topics by the Secretariat.
At the awards banquet later that night, UVU won several awards including two awards for Achievement in Diplomacy for both Austria and Costa Rica. The conference overall was a great success and all the students involved have returned to Utah with a better understanding and appreciation of the work that occurs at the United Nations. It provided for me also much better knowledge and experience before my coming internship during the fall of this year at the political section of the Permanent Mission of the United States to the UN, with specific focus on the UN Security Council.
Brandon Pedler, President, German Club at UVU
STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS