This past Sunday, thousands poured into the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome with the intention of participating in the WFUNA International Model United Nations Conference 2014(WIMUN). For five days, students donned the role of UN delegates as they debated various issues and collaborated on solutions during this edition of Model United Nations (MUN), an activity meant to simulate the decision-making process of the UN.
Though there exists a plethora of MUN conferences worldwide, this particular conference contained a number of distinguishing features. Firstly, this was the first ever international MUN conference sponsored by the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA). Previously, WFUNA had sponsored MUN conferences within regions, working in tangent with local United Nation Associations (UNAs), but this marked the first conference that includes global participation; delegates from all 193 members of the UN were invited. Ultimately, delegates from 150 countries attended, with Italy, Ghana, India and China sending the most participants. In addition to the variety of cultures represented, WIMUN drew an extraordinary range of ages, with the oldest participant aged 35, and the youngest only 14. Many of these participants came from places where gaining VISA access often proves to be a tedious, time-consuming task. Delegates were also responsible for financing travel expenses.
The apparent appeal of taking part in WIMUN in spite of tiresome procedures, exuberant prices and the possibility of engaging in a multitude of other summer activities marked a victory for the UN’s attempt to organize aninternational Model UN conference. As collaborators with WFUNA, the success of WIMUN also marks an exciting week for SIOI, the Italian Society for International Organization. SIOI is a non-profit organization with the goal of promoting a more harmonious international community. It is the Italian Association for the United Nations (UNA Italy), which is one of the 22 founding members of WFUNA. With its dedication to adding to the research concerning diplomacy, international relations and international cooperation as well as its policy of promoting a more unified Europe and heightened protection of human rights worldwide through both in-class learning and real-world experience, SIOI has produced the highest number of receivers of diplomatic seats (determined through completion of an intense, extensive, multi-day exam).
The widespread participation and interest in WIMUN and the overall success of the first annual international conference signified a noteworthy moment for both WFUNA and SIOI. Now, equipped with the knowledge of WIMUN’s popularity and success, these two institutions dedicated to bettering the international community are surely looking forward to many more international conferences in the future.