WorldMUN 2018 Panama City: Bridge of the World, Heart of the Universe

March 22, 2018

"Bridge of the World, Heart of the Universe"

From March 11th to March 19th, fourteen hopeful #TeamLSE delegates and two chairs gallivanted across the Atlantic to attend the 27th annual Harvard World Model United Nations (WorldMUN) conference, held in Panama City, Panamá. This year, WorldMUN was co-hosted by the Harvard University International Relations Council, known for coining the WorldMUN spirit and the Resolution Project, and the Universidad Católica Santa María La Antigua, known for its magnificent rector Juan Planells Fernández. No less than 1200 delegates from 86 countries participated in the conference, hailing from Venezuela, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, the Philippines and even Kings College London. #TeamLSE’s trip to Panama was generously supported by the LSESU Travel Fund.

Unlike an Australian delegation that mistakenly travelled to Panama City, FL, #TeamLSE instantaneously fell in love with the corregimentos of Panamá’s metropolitan capital, from the city’s infamous Miraflores canal lock and Antillean townhouses to its dense skyline and tropical rainforest. A certain delegate member drew an embellished homage between Panama and the fictional city Los Santos in San Andreas, whilst others were captivated by the city’s “urban development”.

The conference was hosted at the Atlapa Convention Centre, internationally recognised for hosting the first handshake between Barack Obama and Raul Castro, Ricky Martin concerts, and a Trump owned Miss Universe beauty pageant.

 

At WorldMUN, #TeamLSE represented Germany in 8 committees, discussing the future of the European Union, the commercial sex industry, the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, and many more pressing contemporary issues. Throughout 5 days, delegates accurately represented the Federal Republic by drafting and lobbying studiously, setting strict guidelines on punctuality, growing to love order, and quoting Thomas Mann or the Fliegerlied.

Outside committee, our delegates will either fondly recollect or experience amnesia when reflecting on social events. After daily sessions had concluded, our delegation met for joint dinners and debates at the rooftop pool and bar, prior to exploring the city at night. The conference hosted no less than six socials, such as a Global Village festival, a pub crawl through Panama’s historic UNESCO heritage city centre, and a formal social at the ruins of Panama Viejo. In addition, #TeamLSE attempted to leave a permanent mark after performing “Don’t Stop Believing” “YMCA”, “Wonderwall” or “Time To Say Goodbye” at a local karaoke bar in a post-conference social.

 

After the conference had concluded, delegates travelled to the San Blas archipelago, or visited the infamous Canal and Casco Viejo city centre.

I like plain bread” - Jan-Paul Sandmann

 

Our unique journey was only made possible by the diligent planning, preparation, and efforts of our supreme leader and persistently late Head Delegate, Melvin Kan. For the past 7 months, Melvin arduously organised our journey, booking an overnight trip at a private island or teaching delegates essential Spanish phrases, such as “Yo no soy Japones” or “Estás preciosa”.

 

Inside the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, our outgoing MUN Director demonstrated his exceptional skill and ability when debating the economic and social integration of refugee populations, winning a Diplomacy Award in his last conference as delegate. Outside committee, despite being frequently ignored by restaurants when submitting booking requests, Melvin consistently ensured that every single member was taken care of and included in delegation activities.

We won our second Diplomacy Award in the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM). Nicole Trofimov, #TeamLSE’s official cinematographer, tirelessly lobbied as the “Outside delegate” and performed admirably in Panel of Author sessions. Nicole further demonstrated her negotiating power outside committee, when strong-arming the Iberia front desk to issue her a boarding pass for an overbooked flight from Panama to Madrid.

 

Her co-delegate, Simon Pastor, truly embodied the “Social” in SOCHUM during the entire week. Always cheerful and energetic, never tired nor dull, Simon enjoyed the conference to the highest degree: Working hard in committee, partying even harder outside. Complementing the fruitful working relationship with his Italian co-delegate, Simon followed up by nurturing a private relationship with another Italian delegate.

  Third, the experience of our delegates in the European Union committee are best recollected in a single operative clause (apologies about the faulty numbering, Wix does not allow MUN formatting)

  1. Congratulates Jan-Paul Sandmann and Bowen Zhang and for adroitly representing Germany in the European (Council? Commission?? CoE???) by embodying Berlin’s diplomacy on a community level, by means such as, but not limited to:

    1. Winning copious awards, inter alia:

      1. Most likely to work for the European Union,

      2. Most diplomatic delegate,

      3. Future dictator,

      4. Most likely to start WWIII,

      5. Cold blooded reptile,

      6. Verbal Commendation,

    2. Abandoning alliances with the following former partners:

      1. Janet Wong,

      2. Greece after refusing to finance a third economic adjustment programme (bailout),

      3. Netherlands after striking out their clauses,

      4. A Franco-German alliance after forming a Berlin-London Axis

    3. Entertaining #TeamLSE and all other delegates inside and outside committee, by:

      1. Quoting LSE professors on the acquis communautaire,

      2. Performing Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye” at a karaoke bar,

      3. Advising Uber employees to adhere to their “duty”,

      4. Having their passport confiscated and placed under United Nations jurisdiction (A/71/100) upon entering Panama;

Meanwhile, His Royal Highness Prince Chaat XII of Hammersmith & Shrewsbury imprudently ignored the imperial advice of a local food taster and thus barely survived a Polonium 210 attack after consuming a Venezuelan fish. Fortuitously, Hamlet kills Polonius in Act V, and Prince Chaat triumphed over Polonium on Day 5 of the conference after a short intermezzo at the local healthcare centre. When not attending social events in his tuxedo, His Highness ostentatiously showcased his American Express Platinum card to eloquently dine in airport lounges, frequently issued royal decrees to the hotel front desk demanding a fresh set of towels and consistently entertained delegates in UNESCO with entertaining and witty speeches.

 

Richard’s co-delegate, Chris Matthews, understood MUN jargon a tad too literally: On the first day, Chris ordered a spaghetti beverage. Halfway into the conference, he interpreted a “Cabaret performance” as a short, stage fright induced dance and slip on stage. At the farewell social, Chris introduced a romantic amendment to the buzzwords “Cross-Strand relations” and “KCLSE”. Embodying the WorldMUN spirit, Chris also submitted a philanthropic application to the Resolution Project after unintentionally donating 500 pounds to a multinational communications company.

Bruce Wu and Keith Tay, our double-delegation in the Human Rights Council, debated the rights of the Rohingya in South Asia. A truly harmonious and synchronised couple, “Kuce” and “Breith” seamlessly complement each other in any and all aspects of life: One has a passion for cars, the other for ships; One loves photography, the other rejoices in Instagram and Snapchat stories; Both serve as vice-presidents for LSESU Student Societies. Although Bruce and Keith have been omitted at award ceremonies at consecutive conferences, our delegates and many other delegations in their committee recognised and applauded their incredible efforts. Award selections are subjective and should not be representative of the proficiency of any delegate –their formal recognition will arrive very soon at future conferences, I’m certain of it.

When debating the role of Sex Workers and the Commercial Sex Industry in the UN Conference of Women, Natalie Chung and Ebla Bøhmer vigorously advocated in favour of contraceptive measures in several humorous speeches. Despite being kicked off the Panel of Authors by their neither competent nor compliant fellow bloc members Spain, Netherlands, Austria, Kenya, Estonia and Switzerland (S.N.A.K.E.S.) and unsuccessfully requesting feedback from their chair, both fundamentally shaped the progress of their committee throughout every session. The enthralling speeches by our incoming MUN Director and USG Chairing for the non-colonial LIMUN: Tokyo would have made one Ralph Chow proud and envious, whilst the lobbying and resolution-writing of our incoming Vice-President primarily shaped the final draft resolution that would succeed in passing.

In the United Nations Development Programme, Daga Gątkiewicz and Malwina Kopytek discussed the topic of gender discrimination in developing and developed countries. Amply representing the LSE Master cohort, Daga was both first to arrive in and depart from Panama. Furthermore, Daga showed no hesitation when raising points of order and questioning the logistical schedules proposed by our MUN directors. Her co-delegate, Malwina Kopytek thoroughly enjoyed Panama – but not enough to stay an additional night despite being offered 600 Euros in compensation. In her second University-level MUN conference, Malwina consistently delivered compelling arguments and fact-based speeches.

Last, but certainly not least, we need to thank and recognise our “gavel banging chairs” for their work, support and dedication throughout the entire conference. After receiving a Diplomacy Award as a delegate in Montreal, Janet Wong returned to the WorldMUN stage to chair the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Crisis Committee. In doing so, she became the inaugural recipient of the “ChowLau Born to Chair Accreditation” award after chairing ManMUN, CUIMUN, ReadiMUN, LSEMUN, LIMUN, WorldMUN and Cologne MUN all within a few months. When studying tirelessly during an 11-hour transatlantic flight or waking up first after being inebriated at an evening social, Janet ensured to uphold her professionalism at all times (bar striking a questionable pose with Mr Wu).

 

Zachary Wong chaired the Executive Committee of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in his first University level MUN conference. Zachary reliably demonstrated his experience, impartiality and competence whilst carefully grading position papers or providing feedback to individual delegates. Outside committee, Zachary repeatedly schooled delegation members when playing Psych! or graciously financed Uber rides for delegates from other universities.

Everything that ever happened, we knew about in Panama” – Ruben Blades

WorldMUN appeared and departed in a flash. The past week was challenging, tiring, but above all, highly enjoyable and memorable for the entire delegation. Every year, WorldMUN is a unique and special experience; This year was no different. All our delegates arrived with an open mind and returned with a plethora of unique stories to tell. Above all, it was most gratifying to see how #TeamLSE grew together as one: Having returned to London, we find ourselves perpetually spamming our conference group chat and demanding to reunite for a post-conference dinner.

 

On a personal note, after 2 years, 12 conferences and countless memories, I could not be more grateful to step away from #TeamLSE after sharing my last conference with such a fantastic group of people. I particularly want to thank Kristina Lau for being the best co-delegate I could ever ask for, Ralph Chow and Jonathan Lin for taking a chance on me, Andreas Sorger, Yi Jun Mock, Giulia Lima Bianchi and Janet Wong for being fantastic fellow co-officers, and Melvin Kan and Jan-Paul Sandmann for taking #TeamLSE to new heights.

With the final conference of the academic year in the books, #TeamLSE can look back on a wide range of incredible achievements: We travelled to 8 conferences, won 49 awards, held 39 chairing positions, hosted four conferences, held (bi)weekly trainings, and launched collaborations with LSE100 and other UNA-UK student societies. On behalf of all #TeamLSE delegates, I wish to thank our two outstanding MUN Directors Jan-Paul Sandmann and Melvin Kan. Due to the foundation they provided, all our delegates were able to reach the apex of their abilities at all conferences.

 

As one journey ends, another begins - #TeamLSE is incredibly fortunate to be stewarded by the marvellous Natalie Chung and Matheus Santos – we look forward to seeing all new and returning members for the upcoming year #nextyearwillbeouryear

We are pleased to announce our WorldMUN 2018 award winners:

  1. Stefan Bogensberger – Diplomacy Award, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

  2. Melvin Kan – Diplomacy Award, Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

  3. Simon Pastor and Nicole Trofimov – Diplomacy Award, Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Committee (SOCHUM)

  4. Jan-Paul Sandmann and Bowen Zhang – Verbal Commendation, European Union (EU)

We would also like to thank our our delegates for their incredible work:

  1. Bruce Wu and Keith Tay – Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

  2. Ebla Bøhmer and Natalie Chung – World Conference on Women

  3. Richard Sathirathaya and Chris Matthews – Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

  4. Daga Gatkiewicz and Malwina Kopytek – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Third, we wish to recognise our chairs:

  1. Janet Wong, Assistant Chair, Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Crisis Committee

  2. Zachary Wong, Assistant Chair, Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

     

Over and out.

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