At 11 AM on Saturday, February 25, the Model UN General Assembly debate on honor killings was abruptly interrupted by breaking news from the President of the United States. In the student-led, simulated version of the United Nations, President Trump announced that Iran had given nuclear weapons to North Korea and now Trump was ready to declare war. The General Assembly delegates had 20 minutes to come up with resolutions to present to the President on how to respond to the threat.
Such occurrences were the norm during the high intensity, 14th annual LEBMUN three-day conference hosted by ACS on the campus of American University of Beirut. 150 students from schools across Lebanon came together for this year’s conference under the theme of “International Crisis Management” to debate pressing issues such as nuclear proliferation, the Zika crisis, the Greek economy, the Syrian Civil War, and the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.
Prior to the February 24-26 conference, students were assigned as delegates to one of 193 UN countries. Delegates were then appointed to sit on one of the following five UN forums: General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, International Criminal Court, Security Council, and new for this year, the Middle Eastern Council. Each delegate was expected to prepare a resolution ahead of the conference that reflected the actual position of his or her country on topics to be debated in their respective forums.
The opening “Lobbying and Merging” session allowed delegates to meet with their ally countries and formulate a unified solution to the issues at hand. Each group of allies negotiated until they reached a solution that satisfied all—or at least most—of their countries’ policies.
By the end of the 72-hour conference, delegates had passed 13 resolutions, solved three emergency crises, and even had a surprise visit from students dressed as President Trump and his wife Melania.
“This year’s Model UN delegates were 100% engaged. They were enthusiastic, organized and accepted each other’s perspectives,” said ACS MUN Faculty Leader Rima Zein. ACS MUN is a student led co-curricular, and the role of HS Faculty advisors Rima Zein, James Kessler and Akram Abdallah as well as the MS Faculty advisors Claire Chalhoub and Eric Triche is to guide the students from behind the scenes.
“As a student led activity, students train students. We don’t train them as teachers. Each student group trains the incoming group. This includes the parliamentary structures of the UN, how to debate, how to find current case studies that can be debatable. MUN is a package—a full package,” continued Ms. Zein.
Along these lines, ACS MUN students must take care of all logistics for the LEBMUN conference—from designing and printing the nametags, certificates and placards to the catering.
“This teaches students how to handle any situation related to organizing an event,” remarked Ms. Zein. “And, for those who are good at designing, it’s a very good opportunity for them to design the placards, certificates and nametags. You see the strengths in our students and help develop them more.”
With students finishing all the necessary logistics three weeks ahead of time, their dedication to MUN and passion for current affairs was palpable the day of the main event. After fourteen consecutive years, ACS’s MUN club is the oldest MUN club in all of Lebanon, and its popularity continues to grow each year on campus.
50 students from grades 6-12 are presently enrolled in the club for the 2016-17 school year. Seven out of eight ACS MUN delegates were recently recognized for their outstanding contribution at the March 10-12 Venice MUN conference at the Liceo Classico Foscarini.