SMU Model UN group returns from New York with two awards

They came home with a gold and a silver! If the National Model United Nations conference was a sporting event, that would be the equivalent.

The Saint Mary’s delegation left Halifax on March 23 and returned from New York earlier this week with two new awards for the university’s collection:

  • Overall, the group of 20 students won a Distinguished Delegation Award (silver) for its excellent week-long performance representing Kuwait across 10 Model UN committees; and

  • Students Yankun Li and Hannah Shuttleworth won an Outstanding Position Paper award for their pre-conference preparations for the UNFCCC COP (Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).

Dr. Marc Doucet, Chair of Political Science and professor of SMU’s Model United Nations course, said it was a terrific outcome, especially considering that many other delegations get to practice at other Model UN simulations prior to the international conference. The event typically attracts more than 5,500 students from some 200 universities around the world.

“In our case, we had four students who participated last year but for the majority of our students, this was all new to them. So the fact that they’re earning awards in their first go at this is quite impressive. They were very dedicated and worked really hard,” he said. 

Alyssa Frampton, president of SMU’s Model UN Society, had the opportunity to give a 30-second speech from the podium at the UN General Assembly. View the video online – Alyssa’s speech is at the 37:58-minute mark. Each delegation had selected one of its members to briefly address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Alyssa did phenomenally well, and the speeches are now in the UN’s official archives,” said Dr. Doucet.

Another highlight of the week was visiting the UN Permanent Mission for the State of Kuwait and meeting with diplomatic attaché Ali Abdullatif Ali Al-Yahya, who graciously answered all of the team’s questions. After the briefing, the young diplomat posted kudos on his Twitter feed: “It was an absolute pleasure hosting a group of bright and inspiring students from @smuhalifax, very impressed by the research they did on Kuwait. I hope I answered all your questions. Thanks for such a nice gift. All the best at your MUN conference! Do Kuwait proud!” 

The Saint Mary’s students represented Kuwait on 10 different model UN committees this year, including the Security Council. Our team itself was quite an international group this year, with students from the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Britain, Canada, China, India, Mauritius and Turkey.  

Yankun Li said that representing Kuwait was an opportunity and a challenge at the same time, and admits she didn’t know much about the country prior to this experience. 

“During the research and class discussion, I gradually got a clearer overall image about Kuwait,” she said. “Also, since my committee was about climate change, it was fascinating to see how Kuwait struggles between gaining profit from oil production and combating climate change and how they made their policies due to this struggle. Representing Kuwait in such a big MUN conference gave me the chance of closely studying a country that I almost knew nothing about. It provided me another perspective of viewing global issues.”

Submitted by Marla Cranston, Faculty of Arts.