Preparation for the future of diplomatic endeavours, a simulation to test young minds – Hungary’s biggest university-level Model United Nations.
Education and Entertainment of Young Professionals
The Munapest of 2019 had a blend of education and entertainment for young professionals to help them get a glimpse of the world of diplomacy and negotiations. With real life cases, conjoined by various agendas, the boundaries of Munapest were set to exercise young participants’ ability to make comprehensive debates. With six chambers delving deep into different cases, the delegates were faced with multiple obstacles to represent their countries with some of the most notorious challenges in the 21st century.
A key focus that can be highlighted was the intensive focus on realism and the engagement of enjoyable topics. The purpose of these were to bring sufficient educational outcome and prompt reactions towards cases. But most importantly to offer the participants an opportunity to resolve some of the most challenging issues of the 21st Century. After all, the delegates had the power to influence certain actions or veto other’s decisions.
Set within the heart of Budapest, from the 23rd of April, 180 young delegates had applied for the 5th official Munapest conference. From day one, delegates from 20 different countries, gathered within the grand hall of the Budapest Metropolitan Government Office for registration and the opening ceremony. Truth be told, it was not an every day sight. The opening ceremony had an impressive intro that escalated beyond many anticipations due to its exposé. The aura of the grand hall revealed the likeness of a true diplomatic gathering. High-panelled wainscoting of olive-stained oak seats, brown coloured friezes and ceiling of raised plaster work decorated the place. Two gorgeous chandeliers, shone brightly on golden walls, glimmering brightly, adorned with classical paintings.
Recognising the boundaries of MUN
The organisers of Munapest purposefully prepared since August of 2018, to offer their participants a great educational value this year. Simulation realism, creative arguments and the encouragement for engagements for all participants was by far the main focus. The concept of Diverging Reality as a new sub-reform within the Crisis System was implemented into the programs to connect the dots between the chambers.
“Without the concept of diverging reality, many chambers might not be able to contribute to the most exciting topics or some states might feel neglected to a level of boredom.”
The organizers in the field of international law sought to create a connection for these occasions and artificially create situations in the MUN simulation with valid and believable scenarios. Delegates in chambers had to discuss their own individual topics at hand, while the defined ‘crisis’ was there to cause a twist. But to adapt to this setting, the highlighted term for this year’s MUN was Interconnectivity.
Due to the magnitude of certain issues, the term was meant to indicate a division of contributions or decisions made within each chamber taken by a participant, a committee or a council. The participants were faced with a single case present within a certain part of the world or on an international scale. The outcome of every decision they made, had an effect on any represented state, any other chamber or on the main narrative of the conference itself. This connectivity led to unforeseeable consequences for other chamber delegates if acting out of self-interest or greed. This was of course difficult to follow, therefore the Press Corps was introduced again this year. Having a representative body to share the latest updates helped the delegates in different chambers understand and follow up on the decisions and concluding remarks made in other chambers. The Press Corps included six different news agencies that had a sole purpose: gather and distribute information throughout the whole conference. There was also the implementation of the Economic System as a crucial segment of diplomacy and the Diplomatic Corps as a means of coordinating the effort of a state’s delegation.
The idea of interconnectivity was taken into six different settings as shown below. It was meant to create a certain thrill and connectedness, while giving the participants enough space to exercise their freedom and take command of a situation or manipulate it.
The debates were just a starting point. The importance of interactions and speculations with other delegates defined how representatives of a country created support or hostility with other member states. On the surface it was occasionally a deceptive bona fide. But in the end, everyone wanted the best for their country, based on their given policy. Everyone had his/her own agenda to achieve a final resolution (usually played out by those who had no interest or saw no advantage in the agenda.)
Of course, based on these observations, this does not mean that delegates were at each other’s throats. Upon closer look, most chamber sessions seemed divided by diverging opinions into two parties, while a lot of hesitation was upheld to make the right choices. However the best delegates were regarded as those who made their country’s views, the views of the committee. This was no easy job, of course and the delegates required lengthy hours to stick with their countries’ policies and achieve a desired result for their countries. After all, convincing an entire board about one’s own agenda has never been an easy task. But at Munapest, it was placed to the test.
Preparation of Participants through Workshops and MUN
Preparatory documents for sharing information regarding how to be a good delegate, chair or director, were given out prior to the conference itself. However there was still a tangible sense of ambiguity and uncertainty for those who were new or unfamiliar with the procedures and practices of a MUN event (me included.) But the workshop from the first day provided a good intro for everyone’s objectives, explaining the structure of the conference, with the reforms and how they were set up. And whatever questions jumbled in my head, there was always an organiser to clear out any confusion. However it is true, one should arrive prepared to Munapest, having read all their instructions.
Admittedly, the organisers have also delved deep into the topics of supporting delegates understanding and to break down the entire conference and sessions into more coherent parts.
Participation and Spectacles
Apart from all the workshops and chamber session, the programs offered several participant-friendly events to cool off all the heated debates and immerse all participants into the high-class eloquence that Budapest has to offer. Truth be told: there were no lacking in spectacles. Foreigners to Budapest had the chance to circle the city and enjoy its major locations accompanied by fellow delegates. But apart from the tours, there were two events I feel compelled to highlight due to their extravagance.
For a taste of Hungarian opulence and a chance for professional mingling between the delegates, there was a Committee Dinner inside the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, with a view of the Buda Castle overlooking the River Danube. As the first grand event of the night, the preparation and exquisiteness took many people by surprise. The academy itself is a host to many great events, yet dining there was a whole new level of experience. Its Renaissance revival architecture had its own magical immersion, the staff prompt on providing their services and the ambience was, all in all, classy. This was probably the first and best opportunity to enjoy an amazing evening with people from across the world.
The second most memorable event was the Diplomat’s Soiree, accompanied by current and former representatives and diplomats from different parts of the world. The occasion had a formal and opulent exposition. Champagnes, bowties, well-tailored suits and Neo-Baroque surroundings added to the experience and pleasure of a remarkable night. The event was held in the Danube Palace, in the inner parts of the city. Once again, I cannot disregard the fact that the visuals were there to captivate the guests who were there the first time. Apart from the immersive interior, the importance of that night felt like building up towards making connections and mingling with each other in order to build towards lifelong companionship. And there was no lacking in interacting while enjoying an endless number of champagnes, while having a chance to shake hands with acclaimed diplomats.
There were other events worthy of recognition like an international feast on day one, a multicultural night where different traditions of delegates played a big role and an unforgettable farewell party on the final day.
The Organizers – IDSA
Young enthusiasts who believe in making a difference
For the fifth time Munapest is organised by young university students in Budapest. Without the members of the International Diplomatic Student Association (IDSA) and their collaborative effort, the entire Munapest wouldn’t be possible. Some of the organizers themselves were once delegates gathering knowledge and participating in various MUN societies. It was their common aspiration to combine their experiences and create Munapest. The outcome of these experiences made way for a challenging experience for all participants and an opportunity to broaden many young delegate’s understanding of other cultures, perspectives, opinions and politics.
As a concluding remark, Munapest is worthy of its title: Hungary’s biggest university-level Model of the United Nations. It has a lot of potential for university students who wish to exercise their skills in diplomacy and foreign relations. The events have come a long way throughout the years and are truly unforgettable with some minor ups-and-downs for those who are unfamiliar with the procedures. But it provides an excellent learning opportunity in a simulation that imitates realism to the fullest. The experience was truly, unforgettable.