By Denitsa Nikolova, Programme Coordinator 2020-2021
Dear students in every field,
You are passionate about your area of study. You follow the news. You understand how international decision-making impacts your field. Or maybe you are concerned about how international politics may influence you, your country and your family. You have a stand on various issues. You are ready to defend your positions. You have ideas! Yet you… unfortunately, are not sure how to make your voice be heard – both by those within your field and by the public. And that seems to be necessary in order to make your ideas a reality. Luckily, you have found a way. If you are reading this, you have found us.
Traditionally, TEIMUN has been a point of interest primarily for students of international relations, politics, and international or European law. This is due to the nature of a MUN, its community, and also the connection between the foundation and SIB (Dutch United Nations Student Association). This was a cause of concern especially amongst some of my business-studying friends, whom I was trying to persuade into joining me in my first-ever MUN. See, with such a community, one expects that advanced skills in negotiation and debating are expected, if not even required, in order to be able to participate.
So, the first thing that I now want to note when talking about MUNs is the extremely supportive nature of the community. While this has been said before, I was not completely convinced until I joined my first GrunnMUN. Upon my entrance to the council room, I was completely aware that my debating skills were not particularly strong, and I generally preferred writing speeches. I was completely prepared for the anticipated wave of disapproval once I join in, with possibly all the wrong arguments and approaches to presenting them. Nothing of such sort happened. Instead, I was presented with the fantastic opportunity to observe how more experienced delegates were structuring their speeches and arguments and absorb their techniques. It was truly an atmosphere of learning rather than competition.
The second thing that left a lasting impression on me – and also became the reason for this post, was that already on my first GrunnMUN I had the opportunity to observe the actions and arguments of a certain participant. Their identity will remain anonymous but in order to provide some context, I will say that I was in the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) council, and the other participant was just finishing their degree in a field very related to climate change and less to international relations and politics.
Nevertheless, he had a strong stand on the issue at hand – and considering his expertise, rightly so. Subsequently, his arguments on the topic at hand were derived from his scientific knowledge and were therefore making a lot more sense than our logic of alliances and pushing for our agendas. It was due to his strong set of negotiation and debating skills that he succeeded in convincing us in his point of view that, due to it being derived from strongly scientific theories, was perhaps hard to comprehend from a person outside of that field. Nevertheless, he managed to build strong alliances and at the end of the day, a great deal of his suggestions was translated into IR language and incorporated into the final resolution.
TEIMUN gives you an opportunity to learn how to voice your opinion in a way that is convincing not only for you but also for others. Unfortunately, in the real world of international relations, experts tend to be overlooked precisely because of their limited access to international meetings, policymaking discussions, and media coverage. When experts do not raise their voicesand are not involved in political discussion on the national and international level, the damage is done on a global level. Without an incentive to listen to the opinion of experts, leaders can easily take misguided decisions (and for example, withdraw from the Paris Agreement).
These two groups should be working together. Experts should be involved in international decision-making. The flow of information should be going intensely from policy-makers to actors of the relevant field, and vice-versa. Both groups, and subsequently the world, will benefit from such a partnership. The doors of international discussions should be open more for people who stand outside of the field of international relations. Experts with developing and innovative ideas should be able to work alongside the experts in expressing and promoting those ideas.
At the end of my first GrunnMUN and my first council discussion, the student of agriculture had the best idea of what the final resolution should focus on. However, having the idea was not enough. It was due to the time, place, and his ability to negotiate that made his suggestions a reality. Therefore, whether you are a student in the area of IR, STEM, law, or the social sciences, the nature of the field does not matter – but your opinions and how you voice them do. So come and learn with us!
Looking forward to you accompanying us on this journey,
Your Programme Coordinator