Many of the best and brightest young academic talents from our region recently attended a local Model United Nations conference hosted by our sister branch of the United Nations Association in Rochester at Saint Johns Fisher College (pictured below). The 2018 edition of the UNAR conference was widely attended and enjoyed by local area delegates, many of whom have previously served as conference leaders for our own Upper Mohawk Valley Model United Nations conference. Additionally, nearly all of the members of the youth group, GenUN were in attendance. As is always the case, our delegates performed at a level far beyond the expected, and gained trust, recognition, and respect from fellow delegates.
Although awards are not a primary focus of a Model United Nations conference (the primary foci being the expansion of global citizenship, the creation of diplomatic skills and the advocation of United Nations goals), many conference leaders and GenUN members were recognized for their diligence with awards and honorable mentions. Connor Yingling, three time UMVMUN chair, was recognized with the Best Delegate Award in the Russian Side of the Crimean War Joint Crisis Simulation, a committee where Marisa Medici, former chair and Under-Secretary General of Administration and Conference Services and future Secretary-General of UMVMUN 2018, received an honorable mention. This committee was also home to one of last year’s UMVMUN Co-Secretaries General, Rachel Wittman.
On the Allied side of this committee, Mark Polk was a key leader and was passionate in his debate. He described this experience as “A lot of fun. We changed the historical rules a little bit, dealing with crises such as Ebola, a side conflict in the Papal States and uprisings in the fledgling nation of Djibouti. More seriously, the Allies focused on a wide range of issues during the Crimean War, including a lack of domestic support for war efforts. Unfortunately, the initial peace talks fell through when delegates on both sides were kidnapped. After a long series of strategic military actions and new partnerships with countries around the world, it appeared both sides would work relentlessly to succeed. Eventually, another round of peace talks ensued. Though in the end, the allies did not accept the treaty.” By reenacting the political situations around war, the delegates gained a greater understanding of the difficulties of maintaining peace, and how the horrors of wars can be justified in the time. This unique experience was helpful in learning how to avoid the mistakes of past generations.
UMVMUN ECOSOC Chair Drake Dowd tried his hand again at the important committee and wrote and passed resolutions pertaining to the Economic Exclusion of Young People in the Middle East, Affirmative Action in the Workforce, the East African Food Crisis, and Corruption Within Non-Profit Organizations on his way to garnering an honorable mention.
Another captivating committee that is unique to UNAR in this area of the International Criminal Court. This was attended by three UMVMUN conference leaders: Yesenia Burgos (NGO Forum 2017), Nick Briggs (DISEC 2015, Historical Crisis 2016, USG of Policy 2017), and myself, Stephen Ventura (SpecPol 2015, Secretary-General 2016-17). This unique committee put historical and contemporary figures on trial for three types of crime: genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. This year’s slate of defendants included contemporaries as Joseph Kony, George Bush and historical figures like Kim Il-Sung (defended by Yesenia), Efrain Rios Montt (Defended by Nick), Sir Humphrey Gilbert (defended by myself), and Ferdinand Marcos (defended jointly by both Nick and myself). This was an extremely captivating committee that showed a glimpse into international commutative justice, the intricacies of international law and the delicate process by which the accused must be defended. Personally this committee carried incredible meaning. It was an opportunity to return to one of my favorite Model United Nations committees, an incredible experience to collaborate yet again with one of my closest friends and ever present United Nations activity partner. It was a bittersweet ending to my Model United Nations career. I look back proudly of how it has shaped me as an individual, the successes I was able to be a part of, and the many joyous memories that I will always carry with me;however, saying goodbye to my favorite extracurricular activities was incredibly difficult.
Overall, I think this sentiment was shared by the many conference leaders and GenUN members who will be graduating in a few months. I would like to personally thank the seniors who I have “grown up with” through Model United Nations. Nick Briggs, Keegan Steele, Tom Colicci, and Connor Yingling are are brilliant school friends, while Grace Braedon Nanna, Erik Smith, Rachel Wittman, Emma Dudrick, and Angie Malhotra have been phenomenal colleagues throughout this entire process.
Furthermore,I think I speak for many when I say that the incredible transformative impact that Model UN has had on us would not have been the same without the dedication and hard work of our advisors: Mr. Smith, Mr. Robertello, and Ms. Seager, as well as the entire Board of Directors and membership of the UMVUNAUSA.