St. Mary’s Model United Nations once again returned to mainland China to attend the 10th Harvard Conference (HMUN) held annually in Beijing. In total, ten delegates went: Codey Silong, Nishant Naricitty, Leo Yamaguchi, Surya Sriram, Khizar Bilal, Felipe Chertouh, Hwi Hwang, Shin Ikeda, Xing Ye Cao, and Chris Kirch. All members, except for Felipe, were assigned to represent Jamaica, a very minor country on the world stage. These members endured a rigorous selection process involving active participation in debate, academic excellence in school, and attendance in inter-school conferences around Kanto. The hope put in these choices was not misguided, as of these ten delegates, eight were able to successfully take home an award, proving once again St. Mary’s students’ superiority as public speakers and debaters.
HMUN hosted over a dozen different committees, each representing a different branch of the UN and covering a significant issue affecting the world. The conference took place over three days with three sessions each day. Each session lasted three hours, resulting in all delegates being drained every day. While tiring, every delegate did the best they could and enjoyed themselves at the same time. Nishant and Chris were assigned the Environmental Programme (UNEP) and discussed the illegal trafficking of maritime creatures for use in traditional medicines. Nishant, using his charisma and charm worked as the pair’s face and organized a bloc (a group with similar interests) of nations into a strong front to push forward the agenda of minor nations. Chris, usually a very reserved individual, also stepped up to the plate during the unmoderated caucuses. There, he managed to turn complete strangers into good friends with strong and meaningful connections. Leo was assigned the Decolonization Committee (SPECPOL). As one of the few St. Mary’s students who had to work solo, he did brilliantly. Leo’s preparation in the days leading up to HMUN and unusually outgoing demeanor set himself up as a natural leader. His proactiveness with going out to lunch and dinner with other delegates in his committee between sessions to plan strategies brought many to his side, even when his critics called him a radical for proposing level-headed solutions. Khizar and Hwi dealt with the Venezuelan Crisis as members of the Organization of American States (OAS) and worked to establish themselves as the center of a large bloc. Shin drew the short straw and was placed into the largest committee housing over a 100 people, the Disarmament and Security Council (DISEC), which discussed the production of autonomous weapon systems. Added to this disadvantage was the fact that Nikita Romanov was one of the chairs of the organization. While a St. Mary’s student, he would show no mercy to an underclassmen and would in fact, be even harsher on them in order to make sure they did not mess around. Nevertheless, Shin did well and embodied the spirit of the UN as a whole. He split a massive bloc of nations down the middle and took leadership of opposition nations with foreign delegates when they were snubbed by the Chinese-speaking majority, as many of the committee members spoke very little English and lacked the ability to translate. As a result, he was able to prevent the passing of a resolution that would harm the minor nations of the world and produce one that would benefit all nations. Xing Ye, like Shin, was placed into a committee with over 100 people, the Legal committee. Facing the same issues as Shin, he took a different approach and, as a Chinese speaker, tried to bridge the gap between the Chinese speakers and non-Chinese speakers. While unsuccessful at first, as his committee chair barely allowed him to speak during moderated caucuses, he eventually succeeded in working out a compromise between the two groups.
While the standard members of the St. Mary’s MUN team were in standard committees that emphasized collaboration, assertiveness and proactiveness, the club leaders had applied for specialized committees that required politicking, subterfuge and tactfulness. These special committees implemented a system known as Crisis that allowed delegates to influence events in committee via notes to the chair that called for specific actions using a nation’s resources/alliances in committee. Codey and Surya joined the Historical Security Council (HSC), where they simulated the UN Security Council of 1979. The pair addressed the question of sovereignty and how to best implement and remove external influences in the Guatemalan Civil War, Iranian Revolution/Oil Crisis, and the Soviet-Afghan War. These committees seemed special at first, as they required a separate sign up procedure during registration, however they were still plagued with problems such as a lack of English ability and research that prevented delegates from doing what benefited their countries. For instance, the USSR of the HSC didn’t think supporting a communist government in the Americas was a good idea and didn’t condemn US meddling in Guatemala. Because of this lack of awareness, the HSC entered periods of gridlock and non-compromise that prevented any diplomatic action from being taken. As a result, Surya and Codey decided to take matters into their own hands and used the crisis notes to their full potential. As a result, Guatemala became a part of the Greater Jamaican empire, thanks to the support of comrade Castro in Cuba. The rest of the committee session ended with the pair being demonized by all members of the committee, except from the USSR, Bolivia, and Czechoslovakian delegates. Sanctions were soon implemented by the delegation of France and the USA to soothe their damaged egos after being played by a small island nation in the Caribbean. A brief lapse in judgement on the part of the USSR caused the sanctions to pass, leading to the collapse of the empire. Because of this predicament, the pair did everything they could to make the HSC as interesting as possible. They started a civil war/Iraqi invasion of Iran after the HSC let American hostages die and helped Bolivia take the US president hostage and obtain the nuclear football by disguising themselves as Mujaheddin during the Soviet-Afghan War. While incredibly fun, the pair failed to obtain an award as every single one of their actions were undiplomatic and undermined the UN. Felipe on the other hand met with much greater success. He had joined the Three Kingdoms special committee as a general of the Wei and worked to have himself crowned emperor of China. Using strategy sessions with the other St. Mary’s delegates, he built a government that covered every aspect of life, making him popular among the other delegates in his committee. From there, he used the Crisis system to start planning a coup against the current emperor, where he was betrayed by fellow conspirators in the committee. He however managed to escape death (which entailed a character switch and a loss of all his planning) and came close to pulling off his coup. Before he could successfully implement his plan, his entire committee got killed due to a dual invasion by the rival kingdoms, the Shu and the Wu, as the spymaster of the committee had had her cover blown while investigating the two kingdoms. Nevertheless, Felipe got the best delegate award (first place) which earned him a gavel, the highest award of any St. Mary’s delegate.
While the three days of committee in China were packed with events such as the ones described previously, HMUN also offered a variety of other activities. For example, the conference offered special panels that addressed technology usage by the UN or the role of women in MUN. These were relatively informative and left a lot of room for consideration. Other events included a Festival of Nations that encouraged delegates to show off aspects of their home culture, which many turned into a mini-talent show involving K-Pop dances and beat boxing.
The experience was warmly received by all members. Hwi jokingly said the experience was “better than REDACTED” and Surya was “ecstatic” to see the growth of all delegates who participated in the HMUN trip. These events and the time between each committee session were a great bonding experience for all members of the St. Mary’s MUN team and everyone left mostly satisfied with the experience.
Article by Codey Silong