February 20, 2014

Model UN Takes Home Awards from Harvard Conference

L-R: Rioux '14, Benevides '15 and Larkin '16

During the weekend of February 13-16, Emmanuel's Model UN participated in the 60th session of the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. The College's delegates took home three awards, the most successful team effort at the conference in the club's history. HNMUN was founded in 1955, just a decade after the creation of the United Nations. The conference is entirely staffed by Harvard undergraduates and annually draws more than 3,000 participants from around the world to simulate the activities of the UN.

The Model UN circuit presents four levels of awards: 4) Verbal Commendation, 3) Honorable Mention, 2) Outstanding Delegate and 1) Best Delegate. Emmanuel College Model UN President Nathan Benevides '15 received a Verbal Commendation for his performance in the Second United Front-1936, the alliance between the Chinese Nationalist Party and the Communist Party of China to resist Japanese invasion during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Emily Larkin '16 took home Outstanding Delegate for her representation of Kuwait in the League of Arab States. Elizabeth Rioux '14 was awarded an Honorable Mention for her representation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SND) as a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Along with other members of the Emmanuel team, Rioux began preparing for HNMUN in October 2013, focusing her research for two committees of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC): the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on Sustainable Development. As director of community service and SND partnerships for Emmanuel's 1804 Society, Rioux already had a strong foundation in the mission of the SNDs when beginning her research.

"I was lucky to have that background," Rioux said of the College's founding order, which has been an accredited NGO at the UN since 2001. "Unlike many other delegates representing NGOs, I didn't have to Google the organization and basically start from scratch."

To prepare, Rioux studied the work of the late Sr. Dorothy Stang, SND, who fought for the preservation of the Amazon Rainforest, and of Sr. Lorraine Connell, SND, who, in 2003, conceived the African Photovoltaic Project, which harnesses the power of solar energy to improve health care, water quality and communications in several African countries. She also looked to past SND policy papers from the UN.

To convince members of a committee to have an NGO's policies included in its resolutions, delegates have to start networking early in the conference, Rioux said.

"You really have to hit the ground running on Thursday night," she said. "If you wait to approach other delegates, alliances will have already formed and it won't matter how much preparation you've done. You might as well just sit back and have fun for the sake of the 'game.'"

While limited resources keep Emmanuel's Model UN Club from participating at the level of some larger colleges, their strong showings at such major conferences as HNMUN help to boost their reputation in the MUN world. In the past several years, delegates from Emmanuel's small and relatively young team have been able to represent major countries, increasing their chances at success at conferences.

"I thought winning an award at HNMUN would be almost impossible," Rioux said. "When you're competing against that degree of talent, coming away with an award is both surprising and rewarding."

Emmanuel's Model UN will soon begin preparing for their final conference of the year, Chicago Model United Nations XVI in April 2014.