In our hearts, New York

A review of National Model United Nations 2020

By Maximilian Münch (BSc International Business) und Greta Pfiz (BSc International Business)

It didn’t turn out as planned and yet it was an unforgettable experience. Every year since 2009 Reutlingen University has been represented in New York by a delegation from Reutlingen University, coordinated by ESB Business School, at National Model United Nations (NMUN), the biggest model conference of the United Nations worldwide. Eleven student delegations have already been sent there to act in the role of diplomats and to represent a country and all its interests at the conference.

In view of the corona pandemic, this year’s model conference has been cancelled by the NMUN directorate. This is the second time since 1927 that the simulation conference of the United Nations hasn’t taken place. Despite initial regrets about the decision, the current delegation is happy that there may be a chance for them to take part in the project again next year, already drawing a positive conclusion about the experience.  

At this year’s NMUN conference, which had been scheduled for 5 to 9 April, the 22 students would have represented the East African country of Rwanda. For the head delegates, Julian Gold (BSc Production Management) and Elke Neumann (BSc International Management Double Degree) preparations began in summer 2019. In October the delegation met for the integration weekend at a youth hostel in Cannstatt, followed by weekly meetings at the university. The team focused on Rwanda’s multifaceted history as well as the country’s political, economic and social situation. Today Rwanda is regarded as the Singapore of Africa with a thriving economy – notwithstanding a history marked by colonial rule by Belgium and Germany, genocide and civil war.

Divided into eleven different committees, two delegates from each committee addressed various topics, for example the rights of indigenous population groups, peacekeeping through partnership, ensuring the sustainable use of resources or with sustainable production and development finance issues. 

Furthermore, NMUN naturally also considered the United Nations itself. Topics included the drafting of strong position papers, the structural set-up of the United Nations as well as its potential and its limitations.  NMUN’s goal is always clear: “We stand up for the basic values of respectful cooperation between people. To represent these values in our committees, position papers and speeches is the stated aim of our delegation.” 

Finally, the meeting of a committee was simulated during a seminar week in Berlin, dealing with matters ranging from the process of defining topics through to the final voting procedure on prepared drafts. In addition, the programme also included briefings at the German Foreign Office and with the Rwandan ambassador, who delighted the delegates with his hospitality, entertaining them for over two hours in the embassy where they gained insights into Rwanda’s political positions as well as hearing several anecdotes about Rwanda’s culture and way of life.

Although the corona pandemic prevented the delegation from participating in the conference and thus the highlight of NMUN, the participants can still look back on an eventful preparation phase, which was not only instructive but also a time many new friendships were made. The students from Reutlingen University dealt not only with topics and challenges of global politics, developing their skills in rhetoric and diplomacy, but they also had the opportunity to broaden their horizons during inspiring discussions and to grow on a personal level. As an international delegation from seven countries, they grew together to form a group and were able to learn, albeit in a small circle, about different cultures.    

“In my experience, NMUN has greatly enriched my life, both on a personal and on a social level. I had the feeling that by participating in this programme I was able to further my education and at the same time I really enjoyed taking part in this kind of project”, says Neele Trockels, BSc International Fashion Retail, United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA). Daniel Uphoff, BSc International Business, United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) adds: “NMUN was an amazing experience. We had a great time and learned a lot about how the UNO and international diplomacy work. Thanks to all who made this possible!”  

If you would like to follow the activities of the NMUN delegation in future and keep up to date, you can do so on NMUN’s social media channels at Facebook and Instagram.