Shrewsbury School

Delegate Awards at Paris MUN

Friday 7 December 2018

Shrewsbury's ten delegates were all in fine and persuasive form at PAMUN 18, one of the largest and most prestigous Model United Nations conferences in Europe. Thanks to Rhys Woodward (SH 5) and Tom Jackson (R L6) for their excellent report.

They represented the nations of Cameroon and Bolivia excellently and ensured that Shrewsbury were at the forefront of all debate. High spirits both in the conference, as well as on the painful and gruelling five-and-a-half-hour train journey from Shrewsbury to London, ensured a successful and enjoyable time.

Throughout all the committees, Shrewsbury delegates represented themselves very well, engaging with their topics and making some strong criticisms of other schools’ clauses. At the pinnacle of the UN is the Security Council, and here Charlotte Hancock (M L6) did very well. Across two days of debating the Security Council discussed the issue of the Rohingya people, offering Charlie a chance to fly the flag for Bolivia’s majority indigenous population and ensure that everyone’s human rights were upheld. The second topic presented a problem. The question of a UN Parliamentary Assembly caused upset around the negotiating table as the P-5 nations started to use their vetoes, creating deadlock and angering the smaller nations like Bolivia.

In the Environment committee, which had over 100 people, Rhys Woodward (SH 5) debated well. The committee saw a very high participation rate, with over 90% of the delegates contributing at least once. Rhys’ topics, sustainable use of marine resources and the issue of environmentally displaced people, were entirely based on PAMUN’s overall topic of Sustainability. Needless to say, the level of debate was extremely high, and it was very difficult to get recognised, but Rhys debated well and by all accounts was unfortunate to miss out on an award.

The Human Rights committee saw Sam Evans (R 5) return for his third consecutive PAMUN. Having won an award at his first, only to miss out on his second, Sam was determined to represent Bolivia to the best of his ability. The issues of “rights of indigenous people” and “strengthening coordination of humanitarian aid in response to emergencies” offered Sam to get stuck into the meat of the debate. He presented compelling arguments on the issue of the Rights of Indigenous People, an issue particularly relevant to Bolivia, and ensured that the parliamentary rules of procedure were upheld through numerous objections. Despite some excellent debating, Sam was unfortunate not to get an award, but no doubt he will return in 12 months to exact his vengeance.

In the Special Committee Tom Allen (Ch 5) graced the intense debate over the issue of ICJ Reform with his calming and measured approach. Tom offered successful solutions and attempted to rebuild not to destroy, a goal which proved difficult in a committee which at one point attempted to abolish the ICJ entirely. Despite conflicting interests between nations, Tom worked well to ensure that he was able to present his views. He thoroughly deserved his Honourable Mention and no doubt he will be back again next year in an attempt to go one better.

Andrew Higgins (Ch 5) found himself in a committee at the core of this year’s PAMUN. The issue of Sustainable Development was a central focus for PAMUN 18 and as a result Andrew found himself in a competitive committee in which he was able to influence the nations around him to produce a successful outcome. Though not quite achieving an award this year, Andrew managed to stand out among the Shrewsbury delegation, keeping morale high both in debates and in free time.

A committee that often offers a major challenge for even the most experienced delegate is the Political Committee. Here Johnny Snell (Ch L6) found himself in the midst of tough debate. With the rise of international terrorism and radicalisation, something which Paris has unfortunately experienced, came the opportunity to discuss measures to reduce this through “good governance” and “state-building”, in particular in Iraq. Though Bolivia had little interest in this issue, Jonny still made our voices heard, presenting strong arguments and amendments to aid his committee in finding a strong solution. The other issue did, however, offer more opportunities for South American nations to participate. The issue of corruption is one which has had a huge impact on both the progress of the Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030 and on the social conditions within many nations, notably a number of South American states. Again, Johnny used his persuasive skills to lobby his way to the floor and make numerous speeches and pose a number of tough questions. It was this alliance-building and persuasive skill that allowed Johnny to win a Best Delegate award in a tough committee.

ECOSOC (ECOnomic and SOCial committee) always offers an opportunity for in-depth debate about economics in order to address the root causes of numerous social issues and build strong foundations for other committees to build upon. Here Mia Kheliher (M U6) did very well and was able to utilise her knowledge from Economics lessons back in Shrewsbury to help find effective solutions. Mia offered a number of strong questions, and helped her committee find strong solutions to both the issue of how to finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how to create a framework for the effective sharing of responsibility for their implementation.

On top of the standard committees, PAMUN 18 offered two specialised conferences. Seasoned debaters and MUN-ers Nick Yale (S L6) and Alex Sparkes (I L6) found themselves in UNODC (United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime). Here they were engaged in debates dominated by a small number of powerful nations, but, not wanting to be excluded, both Nick and Alex posed numerous questions and threatened the integrity of the speaker’s arguments. It was unfortunate that neither the issue of “Measures to stem trafficking of cultural property” or the “Question of corruption in sporting events” really offered Nick and Alex opportunity to flex their debating skills, but they represented both themselves and the School very well.

The other new addition to PAMUN 18 was UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade And Development). This offered Thomas Jackson (R L6) a chance to engage in the topics and present some strong arguments. The issues of “Intellectual property and biodiversity” and “Measures to promote the diversification of economies in CDDCs (Commodity Dependent Developing Countries)”, meant that Bolivia was at the forefront of both issues, being both a CDDC and one of 17 megadiverse nations. Tom made multiple amendments across the two days of debate and this saw him gain an Honourable Mention for his efforts.

The final day of PAMUN sees the gathering together of a significant quantity of delegates in order to find a collective solution to a major issue through the General Assembly Debate. This year, delegates had a chance to attempt to solve the issue of migration. Following the publication of the Global Compact on Migration in July, a number of nations had withdrawn from it, and with just a couple of weeks before the treaty was to be ratified, it fell to PAMUN to address the concerns of nations.

Shrewsbury has had a part in presenting its resolution at almost every conference we have attended, and this year was no different. The combined efforts of the entire team, with notable contributions from Sam Evans, Alex Sparkes and Tom Jackson, meant that Bolivia narrowly missed out on being the main submitter, but careful lobbying by Tom ensured that the team got their chance to speak on the Sunday. Tom opened proceedings with a strong speech and responded well to some challenging questions. As the Assembly proceeded, issues emerged and were amended, and the Bolivian delegation worked together in attempt to fortify the resolution. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. The combined efforts of Shrewsbury students ensured a tight vote, but just missed out on the resolution passing.

Whilst debate is hard, PAMUN offers an opportunity to go beyond the conference and enjoy the sights and sounds of Paris, as Rhys Woodward writes:

“The nights out in Paris were my personal highlight of the trip. Despite being a lover of fiery debate, I found myself entranced over Paris’ great wonders accompanied by the two best guides that I could have asked for: Monsieur Portier and Mademoiselle Fournis. With the two having an in-depth knowledge of Paris, we were whisked away to various sights of interest, such as the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre. On the first night, we sampled a traditional French meal in a small café tucked away in one of Paris’ legendarily vibrant side streets. We were entertained throughout the meal by an acoustic guitar and its owner giving his audience wonderful renditions of French classics. After a short while, a tray of ‘escargots’ arrived and many of us tried them for the first time. Afterwards, we wondered back down to the magnificent Parisian Basilica. Unfortunately, fatigue kicked in after a long day of travelling and we returned home, ready for a day of fruitful debate.

On the second night, we dined in one of Paris’ most famous restaurants ‘Le Bouillon Chartier’. Everything about the experience was magnificent and it provided a perfect end to the day. With morale running high after a delicious French meal, we all decided to go the infamous ‘Champs Elysees’ and witness one of Paris’ most awe-inspiring spectacles.

On the third and final night, we were slightly restricted in our choice of entertainment because of the sans-gilets riots that were happening in Paris that day. However, with Mr Portier there is always a plan. It was decided that we should visit the Louvre as this was a sufficient distance away from the rioters. Afterwards we enjoyed crêpes outside one of Paris’ most famous modern art museums, which was a personal favourite for Mademoiselle Fournis. Under the stars we were given time to reflect on our little jaunt to Paris which confirmed my feeling that the trip was extremely well-run and enjoyed universally. The Paris MUN trip was a fantastic success for all involved.”

The conference proved a huge success, and the three awards brought home by Shrewsbury students were testimony to the hard work and research which they put in behind the scenes. The theme for PAMUN 18 was “sharing responsibility to implement sustainability” and through co-operation both in debate and in their own time, Shrewsbury students ensured that they upheld this theme.

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