By Alexandru Ilie, a student of MA program in Diplomacy Studies, 2016-2017 Cohort.
Last month I had the opportunity to represent the University of Haifa in International Model United Nations conference in Nice – France. It was a great experience and I thought I’d share a bit of it with everyone.
The delegation representing the University of Haifa was composed of five people from different study programs who were taking the Model UN class. From Speech Therapy to International
Law and Diplomacy, the team was quite mixed and interesting bunch with different backgrounds, making the trip even more fun. The members in the delegation were – Coral Heig, Adi Mechany, Rawan Sheikh Ahmad, Barak Ben Ami and Alexandru Ilie.
Coral and Rawan were assigned to the ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council), having to represent Turkey and Nigeria. Adi and Barak were sent to UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council), representing Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. I was assigned as Press Team, basically having one of the most fun assignments and it gave me the chance to mingle in all the committees and listen to the debates. Of course, after one day of conference things changed and Barak moved to the Security Council as Kazakhstan and I went to UNHRC as Qatar for an impromptu crisis roleplay.
The topics covered at the Nice Model UN conference were a mixed bag, starting with the situation in Syria, to discussing how to stop terrorist groups, tacking female genital mutilation, patent law, the situation in the Golan Heights and a crisis in the future were China and Japan are fighting against each other and an United Korea is stuck in the middle.
The conference was held at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, one of the best research universities in the world, located in a very beautiful part of Nice, close to the Old City and beach. If there was something bad to say about the university, it would be that they don’t have any air conditioning in the classes (you really feel it at 30+ °C) and that in some classrooms you can hear and see the airplanes flying off from the airport. But hey, call it a more hipster experience and everything is great!
The opening ceremony was in the Museum of Beaux Arts, a building that was built as a private mansion for a Ukrainian Princess that now houses art pieces of Picasso, Rodin and many other famous artists. So you can imagine, it was great to have the opportunity and see a bit of the place while attending the conference.
The people organizing the conference tried to incorporate seeing a bit of what Nice as to offer as part of the experience and they did it quite well, offering interesting social events with parties and even one gala at a 5 star hotel.
It was very nice to meet people from other countries and make new friends. Most of the international people were people who study in England, but they were from all over the world. India, Philippines, Turkey, China, Russia, United States and many more. A funny thing was that students from two rival universities in England participated (York and Lancaster) and sometimes they make sure people know that’s a thing for them.
Having the opportunity to walk around and listen to most of the committees and the level of debate, I can honestly say that the Model United Nations of Haifa team was very well prepared and much more competitive than the rest of the universities. It was such a big different when I saw the competitiveness of the Haifa delegation compared to people who study in France or England.
I lived and studied in Europe most of my life and going to this international conference it reminded of the more casual and laidback lifestyle of Europeans, but I surprised myself when it felt easy to win against people who study in Europe when coming with the competitive mind-set from Israel.
After the conference ended, we had one free day to sightsee. First thing we did was to the Marc Chagall museum in Nice to enjoy some beautiful art. Then we rented a car and went all around the region, starting with Monaco – where we saw a lot of fancy cars, big yachts, high-end shops and beautiful buildings. Our next stop was Saint Paul de Vence, one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera, known for its modern and contemporary art museums and galleries. We went from there to Grasse, a small town known as the world’s capital of perfumes where we visited the Museum of Perfumes. Our last stop was Cannes, a beautiful place known for its international film festival and beautiful beaches.
Overall, our delegation did great! Managing to win two awards – Coral for best position paper and Rawan for outstanding delegate, proving that the University of Haifa Model UN students are top notch.