On Behalf of the Sultan
Letter from California! In Berkeley, Louis Potthoff slips into the role of a delegate from Brunei.
Jan 19, 2016
In mid-December, I took part in an MUN meeting here in Berkeley. “MUN” is short for “Model United Nations” but this has nothing do with modeling. Instead, Model UN is an educational simulation of UN work sessions by high school and college students. As part of this simulation, participants are assigned to a country and a committee, for example, the Security and Human Rights Council. Their task is to discuss a previously determined topic with other participants of the same committee from the viewpoint of the country they’re representing.
At the end of the one-day simulation, the organizers and committee chairpersons decide who delivered the best arguments and designate this participant as the Best Delegate. MUN is especially popular here in North America. Indeed, most of the larger universities have an own MUN team to which students can apply. The teams take part in competitions nationwide. In the Internet you can even find rankings of the various MUN teams (actually, you can find rankings on just about anything in the US!).
The West Coast’s Largest Conference…
Berkeley also organizes MUN conferences – one small conference per semester at which primarily students of Berkeley take part. But Berkeley also schedules a major conference in San Francisco during the spring semester, and this is currently the West Coast’s largest MUN Conference.
...and a Delegate Who Is Very Much in Demand
I took part in the smaller conference and was assigned to represent the Southeast Asian country of Brunei, a small nation on the island of Borneo in the South China Sea. Normally Brunei doesn’t carry much weight in international negotiations. In this committee, however, we dealt with a raft of new legislation – strongly aligned with Islamic Sharia law – which the Sultan of Brunei wants to get passed in the near future. The delegate from Brunei, yours truly, was thus very much in demand.
...with Lots of Freedoms
In the end, the delegates agreed on a resolution put forth by the representative of Saudi Arabia. This may have been owing to the circumstance that the delegates from England and France were eager to wrap up the conference. But also because the representative of the United States happens to be the best friend of the Iranian delegate in real life and was thus easily persuaded. In a nutshell, the 3-page long resolution can be summarized as follows: Brunei is free to do as it pleases. Definitely an unmitigated success from the viewpoint of the delegate of Brunei!