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October 24, 2002 Model UN Club hones debating skills



by Bana Qabbani

It took more than mid-term exams and a sniper on the loose to prevent eight Concordia University students from participating in the thirtieth annual National Collegiate Security Conference (NCSC XXX), hosted by Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

“This was a great experience, and I would not have missed it,” said Samer Jarjouri, a second-year political science student at Concordia. “I made new friends from all over North America, took part in high-quality debate and improved my public speaking skills.”

The conference, which was held at a Washington hotel from October 17-20, attracted delegates from 36 schools across the United States and Canada. The participants were all members of model United Nations clubs.

Concordia’s Model United Nations Club, CONMUN, took part in six committees: General Assembly, Chinese Politburo, Hungarian Cabinet, Joint Crisis Soviet Presidium 1962, Mexican Cabinet and UN Security Council.

Over four days, the delegates discussed such issues as how to counter the threat of terrorism and increase international security. The General Assembly simulation dealt with a variety of issues, but at the top of the agenda was averting a war against Iraq.

“The BBC was interested in finding out what we were discussing and came to film our committee meeting,” said Jason Hatrick, VP finance of CONMUN. Hatrick explained that they finally reached a consensus and passed a resolution that gave power to the UN Security Council.

Model UN conferences give students first-hand experience of what the UN’s procedures and strict policies require. Students adhere to guidelines that are intended to prepare them for careers in international affairs. In preparation for the NCSC, students wrote short position papers and researched their countries’ foreign policies.

Over the past three years, CONMUN members have won 38 awards for the club and acted as ambassadors to Concordia at competitions across North America and the world. This year, CONMUN plans to compete at conferences held in Montreal, Ottawa, Virginia and Germany.
Chris da Rocha, Concordia head delegate at NCSC and VP administration of CONMUN said, “It was challenging to organize for the conference. Deadlines had to be met, appropriate travel and lodging arrangements made, and sufficient money raised.”

Da Rocha explained that conferences are financially taxing. The club is currently organizing fundraising activities, and will hold a party in the next few weeks.

Despite the busy NCSC schedule, the students found time to tour Washington. “It’s a combination of learning diplomatic skills and having fun,” Da Rocha said.

There are 20 active members in CONMUN this year, but the club is looking to increase its membership. Anyone keen on joining can attend a meeting held at Room H-820 every Monday evening at 8:30 pm. For further details please visit: http://www.conmun.org/.

Bana Qabbani is VP Internal of CONMUN this year. She is studyng journalism and political science.