Navigating the Hague
Touring the big institutions, occasional cannibalism and why your TEIMUN-conference will be amazing!
In the last few articles we have thoroughly instructed you on how to be an amazing MUN-star. Applying for that seat you desperately want, forging alliances with paranoid delegates, giving a thunderous opening speech, we’ve even given you a dictionary with every need-to-know MUN-term! But what is the world like outside our little political-debating-microclimate? And why do the Dutch keep semi-joking about eating prime-ministers they don’t like? And why did that one delegate buy me roses? All this, and more, right here.
So, the Hague. A big city in a small country, so no big deal right? Well, no, it actually is a big deal. The Hague is home to a number of great international institutions that you will become almost intimately familiar with during your time as a TEIMUN MUN’er. Did you ever hear of the International Court of Justice? They’re rather obscure, so perhaps you are more familiar with the International Criminal Court? Or are you more a ‘International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals’-fan? Maybe you’re a groupie for the Permanent Court of Arbitration? That’s right! Your favorite fighting-for-human-right-institutions are right here in the Hague with you! If you still don’t feel impressed, let it be known that the Hague houses more than 200 different international institutions, including Europol and Eurojust. Surely, there is no better city to host a MUN than the Hague!
That doesn’t mean that the Hague has always been a great place to be. Just a little less than 350 years ago, the Dutch Republic was involved in a serious global conflict that threatened their very existence. In the year 1672, now known as the ‘Disaster Year’, the Republic was surrounded by a mirage of enemies. The English king, ever ambitious, had grown annoyed by the Dutch influence on international commerce, and had declared war. The French king, who would not let a chance slip by to make trouble for the Republic, also declared war. Seeing a chance to expand their influence, the bishops of Cologne and Munster also declared war on the Republic, an act that resulted in most Dutch people saying ‘Seriously?’. It was truly a situation that the TEIMUN Historical Crisis Council would describe as an ‘average thursday’.
The leaders of the Republic at the time, the brothers De Witt, were surprised by these declarations of war and were not well prepared for a defense. Throughout the Republic, the people called for the resignation of the brothers and for the immediate appointment of the man they knew would save them: Prince Willem the Third. The brothers De Witt
, seeing they had no choice but to bow down to the demands of the people, gracefully abdicated their roles as leaders of the Republic and were dragged out of their homes by an angry Dutch mob and lynched in the town square of the Hague. Believing this not to be enough, the bodies of the brothers were then cut into pieces and mostly eaten on the spot, though some took ‘trophies’ home with them. If you are reading this article with a certain amount of skepticism, be sure to visit the Hague Historical Museum, where you can still see the tongue and finger of one of the brothers.
So, okay, maybe that was not the proudest moment in Dutch history, but we can be proud of our Hague today. There is no other city that we would want to organise our conference at after all. When you have printed, read, studied, analysed and examined all the other articles that the board members of the TEIMUN Foundation have put so much sweat, tears and blood into, do you really know what makes the TEIMUN-conference a genuine TEIMUN-conference? That’s right, it is the Hague. When you are done with a long day of heated debates, flirty looks with that certain delegate, and opening and closing speeches that drain you both mentally and emotionally, you will find yourself in a city that always seems to be alive.
The TEIMUN Foundation knows best how to make optimal use of this almost-magical ‘international city of peace and justice’: our socials and excursions are meant to not only introduce you to the best that the Hague has to offer, but also for you to learn new skills and gain information that you will use the next day to crush your political adversaries. A visit to the Japanese embassy or a tour at the International Court of Justice are normal occurrences at the TEIMUN conference, but sometimes it is also nice to calm down a bit and take it easy with your fellow delegates at a Pub-quiz or a barbeque on the beach. There is something uniquely soothing about the July sun descending while you talk and laugh with your fellow delegates, all the while hoping the evening isn’t going to end soon.
But perhaps you are incapable of taking it easy. Perhaps you are even more devious than some suspect? Are you looking for that one brilliant solution that will crush that annoying delegate with the cute eyes? The many parties that are organised throughout the week offer a perfect opportunity to get your rivals intoxicated on the dancefloor, permitting you a chance to glance at their Achilles’ heel. Learn their secrets and weaknesses, all the while plotting their downfall. Perhaps, when the evening is done and the sun has already started to rise, and you find yourself slow-dancing with that delegate that has been making eye-contact with you throughout the week, you might even find yourself having fun.
Whether you cycle back to your hotel while dodging oblivious tourists on the cycling path, take a walk along the beach of Scheveningen where you’ll lose your sunglasses, or you find yourself enjoying the sun in one of the many lush parks, you cannot shake the feeling that you are having the time of your life: and the Hague is to thank for it.
– Matthijs Hekert, Programme Coordinator, TEIMUN Board of Directors 2019 / 2020