Monmouth University’s Model United Nations team sent a delegation of 31 students to compete at the 66th session of the Harvard National Model United Nations held from Feb. 13 to 16. Th team took home three individual speaker/delegate awards—the first ever individual awards given to Monmouth since we have been participating in the competition.
Monmouth’s head delegates were Nick Boice, senior political science student, and Payton Collander, junior political science and criminal justice major.
The Harvard Model UN is the oldest and most competitive model UN contest in the world, attracting universities from 39 countries as well as more than 70 universities from across the U.S. Monmouth’s delegation represented the countries of Brazil, Australia, and Mexico.
Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology Ken Mitchell, Ph.D., said, “Our Model UN program this year has benefited from a nice mix of veterans and a very strong group of freshmen. Dr. [Kevin] Dooley ran a first-year seminar on Model UN, and now many of those students are quite good at it after a few contests. But critical is veteran leadership provided by our team captains, Nick Boice and Payton Collander. They set the tone. We are fortunate to have them at the helm.”
Nicholas Yalch, business major and first-year student in the Honors School, served on the World Trade Organization (WTO) for Brazil and took home the individual award for diplomatic commencement for writing two critical contributions to the committee’s final resolution—the first on trade rules pertaining to ethanol, and the second on trade rules around measuring carbon, specifically getting the WTO to recognize the carbon captured by rainforests.
“At first, I was in disbelief being it was only my first Model UN contest,” Yalch said. “It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment walking up with all the other delegates who I had been working with from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. I could not have made it through this contest without the support of my friends and fellow delegates Sabria Smith and Eleanor Prescott. This contest was an experience I will never forget and one where I had created life-long friendships.”
Yalch’s topic focused on what the WTO could do in the area of subsidies and feed-in tariffs to promote renewable energy while upholding its core value of free trade. “There is no real resolution addressing this issue,” he said, adding, “What made the topic even more interesting was the ability to work with students from other countries such as Indonesia and Peru where this issue impacts them differently.”
To prepare for the competition, Yalch spent many hours reading research papers and examining government websites. “Dr. Mitchell was very helpful and provided me many pointers and led me in the right direction. His office door was always open whether I had questions about conference procedure, policy, or other topics,” he said.
Collander added, “[Winning] was a great moment. Considering my partner Madison and I were first timers, we were honestly really shocked that we won anything. It was a great moment that capped off a spectacular weekend. Meeting so many people from around the world and being able to talk with them not only about the topic, but about their feelings on their own countries—and the foreign relations between the U.S. and their country—it was something that you’re not able to actually understand until you speak to someone with that perspective.”
Model UN contests mirror the actual United Nations system, and students compete on different committees such as the UN Economic and Financial Committee, UN Human Rights Council, UN Commission on the Status of Women, UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, and more. Committees tackle specific world policy challenges and students represent different countries while committees operate according to the rules of the UN system. The goal is to write policy resolutions that bring together different countries and balance national interests to the benefit of the world.