By Nathan Julian Wijayaratne
“Hey, would you be interested in starting our conference this summer?”
“I dunno. Do we really have time to do this? Plus we’ve never organised a conference before.”
These were the texts that started The Global Issue Model United Nations (TGIMUN.) I was very sceptical about the prospect of investing my summer to do something I had never done before, however, with the realisation that many of the world’s most pressing issues persist because leaders are simply too afraid of taking risks, I realised I need to do this and became even more determined to follow through and contribute to shaping a generation that could provide a brighter future.
TGIMUN was designed by the youth to educate the youth on some of the biggest problems and inequalities that exist in the world today especially at the time of a global pandemic. The issues that were discussed in the conference included the questions of racially profiling minority groups such as the Uyghur, Rohingya and Papua, defunding and demilitarising the police force, measures to prevent the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 and to discuss climate in Yemen who are experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history.
Whilst planning for TGIMUN, we decided that we did not want participants to feel overwhelmed by some of complexities of usual MUN protocol as we understood many individuals were feeling stressed by current affairs of the global pandemic. Thus, the structure of research reports was changed to simpler presentations. The process of writing resolutions and lobbying was shortened and delegates were told to combine a number of smaller resolutions together to form a cohesive one to ensure that resolutions were of a high standard and that the solutions they proposed were well thought out. All these steps were taken to achieve TGIMUN’s main purpose: to allow passionate youth to collaborate with each other to draft solutions that have not been discussed at an international level, to problems that affect the most underprivileged people in our society.
Not all things go to plan though….
Not all things go to plan though. This was evident in TGIMUN as we ran into many speed bumps on the road. The first of many was not having enough delegates to run the conference. One week before our application deadline we only had around 30 delegates. We overcame this problem by investing all our time into promoting the conference. We set up multiple Instagram ads, we individually contacted experienced delegates and we even asked our chairs to promote it. Our collective efforts allowed us to overcome this initial problem and we learnt the importance of marketing.
HRC. This was by far the biggest hiccough TGIMUN faced. One day before the research reports were meant to be published, the head chair of HRC dropped out. This meant that our Deputy Secretary General had to write an entire research report mere days before the conference. Through this we learnt the importance of having back-up plans in place.
However, even with these snags there were many things to celebrate. Despite the limitations of holding a MUN conference online, delegates, chairs and executives were able to intermingle and committee rooms were buzzing with discussions. New delegates especially were coached into participating and so having that element of anonymity being online somewhat helped alleviate the social anxiety some participants were feeling allowing them to really benefit from the experience.
Through this experience of hosting an MUN conference, we saw just how much effort is required to run a successful conference. From the Executive Team, who ran the conference behind the scenes and set up the groundwork, to the Chairs who monitored their committees, and to the delegates themselves, whom without them, this conference would not exist. We are now more aware of the roles and responsibilities everyone has and how these roles come together effectively for projects to run successfully. We learnt the importance of communication, organisation, and the need to be prepared yet flexible. We learnt these are lifelong skills that we hope will help us in future endeavours.
“Will there be another TGIMUN conference?”. The question we loved hearing the most. Yes, we hope so. Our first TGIMUN conference though will always be an experience that we will cherish forever.