Photographer:Fotograaf: archive EuroMUN
MAASTRICHT. It is Friday morning 28 April in Maastricht, and the infamous MECC is buzzing with life. 512 student delegates, sitting in 13 regional, UN, and European simulation bodies are in session at the convention centre for EuroMUN, the annual Model United Nations. This year’s theme: Global Challenges – Pursuing Integration. This year’s crises: finding the lunch delivery and extra extension cords.
“EuroMUN serves not only as a platform for political and social engagement, but also proves that the challenges we face are more easily overcome when working with others,” says Secretary General Nicole Pop, after reassuring a staff member that lunch had indeed arrived. This idea of collaborative efficiency was therefore explicitly integrated into the theme of the tenth edition of the conference, defining ‘integration’ as social integration; a requirement for effective problem solving. The theme also had a personal touch for Pop and her team; “Sure, we decided on it last June, in the wake of the Brexit referendum, but we also all just have such diverse [cultural and ethnic] backgrounds, that we were required to integrate as a team.”
Pop feels the sheer variety of topics discussed in the committees goes hand-in-hand with the concept of ‘integration’. They range from innovative measures towards cutting CO2 levels to how to support Yemen in its ‘responsibility to protect’, a commitment by all UN member states to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in a conflict.
One particular body stands out though, and not in a positive way. In the face of a fertility crisis decades in the future, the group managed to divide Europe, see Ireland invaded and disrupt trade in Europe. Like all EuroMUN committees, the Joint Cabinet Crisis Committee (short: Crisis) operates in a fictional sphere, but the tension between the delegates of the United Kingdom and Ireland is very real as they step out of their respective conference rooms and have private meetings. Meanwhile, an officer from the back office runs up to the press team. “Okay, new press release; the Italian Minister of Health has just been beheaded.”
Delegates agree that Crisis does not deliver the most accurate reflection of the overarching goal of the conference. “Actually, Crisis is the worst place to test out a theory without being disappointed,” says the representative for Germany, Baran Pourtahmaseb-Sasi, himself a student at Schiller International University. “The message that EuroMUN delivers is great, but imagination will always get the better of people in this committee.” Max Jochem, who represents Denmark in the same body, agrees with a grin; “Yes, Crisis is different.” Both, however, agree that they could practise their interpersonal skills, thus not entirely defeating the aim of the conference.
By the last day of EuroMUN 2017, nuclear war is waged in Crisis. The press team’s last statement? “That's it Lads, everyone has been nuked. The world is destroyed. Its over. Thank you for your time.” [sic]