Rider’s Model United Nations team wins awards at conference

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Jessiman/ The Rider News
The Rider Model United Nations team received the awards, General Assembly 2 and High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, for their papers representing Nepal. 

By Lauren Minore

Despite not being able to attend this year’s 2020 National Model United Nations New York conference in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Rider’s team was awarded recognition for two position papers representing Nepal on April 9. 

The committees representing Rider’s team at this year’s conference that received awards were General Assembly 2 (GA2) and High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). 

Senior criminal justice major Toni Davis-Wilson and senior philosophy major Lena VanDam were the delegates of GA2. Junior political science major Ryan Leighton and junior criminal justice Angel Upchurch were the delegates of HLPF. 

GA2 and HLPF received awards for their position papers, which are a critical part of delegate preparation, according to the National Model United Nations website. 

Writing position papers require delegates “to illustrate their knowledge of the agenda topics at hand, affirm the positions their country takes on these topics and recommend courses of action to effectively address contemporary global problems,” according to the website. 

The three topics Davis-Wilson and her partner VanDam were responsible for in their committee were financing for development, information and communications technology for sustainable development and disaster risk reduction. 

“Our paper highlighted the various ways Nepal has contributed to fulfilling the United Nations’ goals and encourages other countries to do the same,” Davis-Wilson said. “We emphasized Nepal’s partnerships with [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation], [World Health Organization] and other international organizations who have helped Nepal to develop the Disaster Risk Reduction National Plan of Action.”

Building partnerships to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children were the topics Leighton and Upchurch were responsible for as delegates of HLPF. 

Leighton said, “Our paper was centered around the various partner building strategies Nepal was implementing to act in accordance with the SDGs and also highlighted Nepal’s constitutional protections for children, and the work it has done with various [non-governmental organizations] to forward the effort in ending violence against children.” 

Barbara Franz, co-chair of the political science department and faculty advisor for the Model United Nations team, acknowledged the hard work of her students in these committees although they were not able to physically compete in this year’s conference. 

Photo courtesy of Ryan Leighton
Model United Nations members discussed details about their winning papers and what the organization means to them.

“The team had the opportunity to meet with the entire staff of the Nepalese Mission in February and learned in detail about Nepal’s precarious but aspirational geopolitical status,” she said. “In spite of the looming threat of cancellation the team members did their best to get ready for the debates and speeches for the national competition in New York City.”

Franz said the awards her delegates received acknowledge the hard work undertaken in preparation for the conference, as determined by the committee staff.

Davis-Wilson, who has represented the team for two years at last year’s conference as Viêt Nam and this year as Nepal, said although she was ecstatic with their success as a team, she felt even more grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.

“The team has helped me to tackle my insecurities regarding public speaking and help me to develop my performance in a business professional setting,” she said. “I am proud to be a member of Rider’s Model United Nations.”

VanDam said, “Even though the conference in New York got canceled because of the COVID-19 situation, our hard work and preparation did pay off and resulted in GA2 receiving a position paper award. Winning an award in Rider’s name is an honor and reflects the brilliant help and guidance of our mostly student-run team leadership, pushing for excellence.” 

According to Franz, this was only the second time in the history of the National Model United Nations’ founding in 1927 that the competition had to be canceled, following a travel ban that canceled the competition in 1945.

“As the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues we hope all nations remember that, like in our conference simulations, the fundamental basis of the United Nations is collaboration and cooperation,” Franz said.

Lauren Minore was a delegate of Rider’s Model United Nations team in 2018 but has not been affiliated with the team since that time.

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