In March 2012, a group of fifteen students of ETH Zurich attended the 21st session of the World Model United Nations in Vancouver, Canada. WorldMUN, as it is better known, is organized annually by students of the Harvard University and is the largest university-level Model United Nations (MUN) conference in the world. This year’s edition, hosted by the University of British Columbia (UBC), counted with the attendance of more than 2200 students from all around the world.
WorldMUN opened on March 11th with a ceremony at the Orpheum Theatre, one of Vancouver’s most distinctive venues. The cultural richness of the “WorldMUN experience” made itself evident from then on, as delegates were entertained by chants and dances from Canada’s aboriginal cultures, a local hip-hop dance crew and even a stand-up comedy act. The opening ceremony was followed by the Global Village, the World Expo-meets-party hybrid which is one of WorldMUN’s signature events. Switzerland was represented in a booth jointly organized by the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne. Thanks to the unique support by the Swiss Consulate General and our two sponsors the Crédit Suisse and the Boston Consulting Group, the booth was well equipped and proved to be very popular. In addition, our stand was boosted by the presence of typical Swiss items such as a Lindt chocolate Gold Bunny –which traveled from Zurich with the ETH delegation– and absinthe.
The conference started in full swing the following morning, as the delegates assembled in the stunning Vancouver Convention Centre for the first session. The delegates of ETH Zurich had the duty of representing either Germany or the United Kingdom in nine different committees, ranging from the mammoth-sized committees of the UN General Assembly –DISEC, SPECPOL and SOCHUM– to the small and exclusive Security Council. Likewise, ETH delegates were engaged in the discussion of a very wide variety of topics, from the issue of contraception in developing countries, addressed by the World Health Organization, to dealing with economic development in the European Union, which was selected for discussion in the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development.
Discussions and social Get-Togethers
In every committee the debate demanded the best of each delegate and the pace of discussion was at times relentless. However, WorldMUN’s social events provided plenty of opportunities to wind down after the sessions and make friends from all around the world. Each day concluded with a themed party; for instance, the Cabaret Night –the multicultural talent show which is another WorldMUN tradition– revolved around a Roaring Twenties theme and on Wednesday evening delegates enjoyed live rock music in a Woodstock-themed party. The UBC host team also made sure to include sightseeing in the schedule and organized walking trips through Vancouver as well as a visit to Whistler, a nearby ski resort which hosted several events during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
After four days of vigorous debate and very intense work, the WorldMUN closing ceremony took place on March 15th at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The presence of all attending delegates under the same roof created a melting pot of emotions: one could sense the satisfaction and relief after a work well done, the nostalgia about the days which had just passed and, naturally, the tension and expectation regarding the awards. Indeed, as each committee director took the podium and announced the awards, whole delegations erupted in joy upon hearing the name of one of their delegates. The ETH MUN delegation was proud to celebrate the Diplomacy Awards given to Edouard de Watteville in the Special Summit on Water, and Julian Diederichs and Nicolas Posé in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), for their outstanding work and contribution to their respective committees.
Following the closing ceremony, WorldMUN 2012 was officially brought to an end with the lighting of the 2010 Olympic Cauldron and a striking fireworks display by the Waterfront outside the Convention Centre. However, there was time for one more party which, despite ending somewhat prematurely due to an unexplained fire alarm, was great fun and a fitting end for the unforgettable experience that was WorldMUN 2012.
Sponsors and Supporters
To conclude, we would like to cordially thank our two sponsors, the Crédit Suisse and the Boston Consulting Group for their strong confidence in our delegation and for rendering our successful participation possible.
We are also thankful to the Swiss Canadian Chamber of Commerce for their truly helpful assistance and for enabling us to attend this years’ Globe Conference on green technology. We were able to benefit a lot from these unique experiences and appreciated very much the offered networking opportunities.
by Gaston Larrazabal