Campus - 11.05.2017 - 00:00 

UN Simulation Conference: Trial Course in Diplomacy

As part of an elective course, 24 students from the University of St.Gallen had the opportunity to participate in a UN simulation conference in New York for one week. A report by student reporter Tabea Stöckel.

12 May 2017. The National Model United Nations (NMUN) is a simulated UN conference that has been held in New York since 1927. Before that, it was held as the Model League of Nations. It is one of the oldest so-called Model United Nations (MUN) and unites students from various nations twice a year in exciting discussions on current issues in international politics. Under the leadership of Professor Thomas Burri and his two course assistants, Meike Pauletzki and Aline Wani, the University of St.Gallen represented the country Italy this year. Regardless of the country of origin of the students, delegations can apply to represent different countries and represent the interests of the country they are assigned for a week in groups of two in different committees. They must obtain knowledge prior to the conference to credibly put forward the interests of their country. During this course, two preparatory assignments must be submitted. The second of these, the position paper, must constitute the content-related foundation for work in the committee.

Insights into the work of the UN

Preparations for the conference began back in May 2016. Those responsible for the course organized the first informational event in the spring semester of 2016 and selected the students after an application process. In the autumn semester of 2016, the students acquired a basic understanding of the UN and gained insight into the work of international organizations. All participants in the course learned how to compose resolutions correctly and how to negotiate diplomatically during the formal and informal parts of the conference. An important component of the preparation was a trial simulation in the cantonal council hall in St.Gallen in concert with the association St.Gallen MUN, which is where the formal procedure was imparted. Additionally, in December last year the course visited Italian Ambassador Marco del Panta and Roberto Balzaretti, chairman of the Directorate for Public International Law of the FDFA.

Negotiating and passing resolutions

The conference was opened in the Hilton Midtown in New York on 9 April 2017. On the same day, the delegates and their committees arrived and deliberated on their choice of topic. Several intensive days ensued, during which the students led negotiations, held emotional speeches and drafted resolutions in their work groups. Six students representing the General Assembly were able to sit in Italy’s seat and pass the drafted resolutions in the final vote in the General Assembly Hall in the main building of the United Nations. Afterwards, the event ended with a closing ceremony where the remainder of the students arrived and were seen off with a speech by Deputy UN Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed.

Award for HSG students

The University of St.Gallen can look back on a successful week in New York, one made all the more so by the "Honorable Mention Delegation" award, presented by the conference leaders. Additionally, Lara Engbert and Stefan Jungo received an award for their preparatory position paper in the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), as did Alexandra Furio and Manuel Weibel in the Commission for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Students who are interested in foreign affairs can expand their horizons in this course, which is very practice-oriented, and gain insights into the proceedings of the UN over the course of a year.

The course will be held again in the coming academic year, and interested students can apply for it at The next informational event shall be held on 17 May 2017 at 5.00 p.m. in the University of St.Gallen in Room 01-110.

Tabea Stöckel studies International Affairs and is currently in her fourth semester.

Discover our special topics