OU Students Recognized at Model UN Conference
In early November, OU's Model UN club traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas for the the Arkansas Collegiate Model UN (ACMUN) conference, where they earned recognition in several categories. The University of Oklahoma chapter of Model United Nations, led by current president Renner Howell, a senior political science major, and advised by CIS Director of Risk Management Jeremy Lambeth and IAS Assistant Professor John Emery, has been active since 1958, making it one of OU's longest-running student organizations. Participation in the ACMUN conference was made possible by the generous financial support of the College of International Studies and the University of Oklahoma Student Government Association.
Students who attended the conference are Ecclesiastes (Ellie) Shoulders, Kylie Slawson, Conner Copeland, Nicolas Bost, Lucas Seeley, Rosette Hobeich, Léna Ba Ndiaye and Renner Howell. Though the main event for MUN is the five-day Midwest Conference held in St. Louis in the spring, Howell explained that the group participated in this month's one-day conference in order to get in some valuable practice and meet students from other universities. "We had quite a bit of fun, especially enjoying the opportunity to spend some time with OSU's delegation," he said.
But the students weren't just in it for the fun, hoping to prove themselves as skilled diplomats – which they did. OU Model UN won Best Delegate, awarded to Conner Copeland (left) for his portrayal of Brazil on the Security Council, as well as Honorable Mentions for Copeland (Brazil, Overall Conference), Rosette Hobeich (Libya- Arab League; Libya- Plenary Session) and Lucas Seeley (Germany, ECOSOC). Overall, it was a successful showing and a great practice run for what the group hopes will be a strong performance at the spring conference.
What is Model UN?
Founded in 1945 after World War II, the UN has been the major international and intergovernmental organization responsible for the maintenance of peace, security, respect for human rights, and the promotion of development across all aspects of global society for the past 75+ years. Model United Nations organizations imitate the work of the UN in order to gain a deeper understanding of the work they do in the world. MUN does not claim the UN is perfect, but rather part of the organization's purpose is to analyze the work of the UN and try to simulate innovative ways it could become even more effective.
For a conference like the ACMUN, Howell explains, each student is assigned a specific country and committee, sometimes pairing up depending on how experienced the members are. "For this specific conference, for example, I was assigned Libya on the Human Rights Council," he says. "OU had two other couples representing different countries in the Human Rights Council, and representing Libya in other committees. We also got assigned a couple of topics that the committee might debate. This allowed us to do some research beforehand about what our country's views are on those topics." At a formal session, the students give speeches about their countries' views on the topics in question; an informal session follows, where students/countries intermingle and form alliances; and finally, the groups collaborate to write resolutions.
"While there's a lot of similar countries working together, we still try to mingle with everyone," Howell says. "The goal is broad consensus building, so I might leave my caucus while they're working on a draft and stop by another group to get some input, and to share my group's opinion about their paper with them. Finally, when we are all happy with our drafts, we debate, amend and pass them."
Aside from attending conferences, OU Model UN keeps busy with activities throughout the year, meeting once a week to have debates, discuss issues, play games and eat pizza. They are currently working on preparing for the St. Louis conference, looking into attending other smaller conferences, and planning a conference for high school students in Oklahoma. "I got involved in Model UN mostly because it's a fun time hanging out with great people and discussing global issues," says Howell. "My favorite part about the club is definitely participating in the conferences we do. It's a great opportunity getting to hang out with students from other universities who are passionate about trying to fix all the world's problems."
How to Join
Though this all may sound a bit intimidating, Howell emphasizes that Model UN is open to everyone, and that students of all majors and levels of experience are welcome to join any time. "There is no previous experience or qualifications required," he says. "It's our goal that even people with no Model UN experience, or even no knowledge of the United Nations at all, have the opportunity to do well and have fun at the conferences."
Interested students can learn more about the group and upcoming activities through OU Engage, on Instagram @oklahoma.mun, or by reaching out to Renner Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org.