Collette Cummings, associate dean of students and director of Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs…
Leiden students work to solve international ‘crisis’ at model UN
LEIDEN, Netherlands – The Webster University Leiden delegation returned from Munapest — Model United Nations (UN) of Budapest — short on sleep from almost a week of diplomatic “crisis.”
The annual event, which was held in Budapest, Hungary from April 11-15, brings students and younger professionals together to solve a life-like conflict in some part of the world. It was organized by the International Diplomatic Students Association.
Participants join the delegation of a “country” as ambassadors and other diplomats. The Webster Leiden students represented Germany and Chile.
Two students from the International Relations program, Vesna Ratkovic and Oliviana Bailey, were awarded for their work on the Ambassador’s Council (Ratkovic) and the Sanctions Committee (Bailey).
“I was surprised,” Ratkovic said. “As Germany, I had to be slightly less aggressive; I had to use ‘soft’ power.”
This year marked the second Munapest for Ratkovic and her third model UN event, the first being in 2015, organized by the Webster University-Vienna Model United Nations Association (WebMUN).
But there were even more firsts, or seconds, for Ratkovic in Budapest. Her honorable mention from Munapest will go along with her “best delegate” award from the 2015 WebMUN.
“I was not expecting it back then,” Ratkovic said. “But it got me excited for future conferences.”
Ratkovic held a seat on the Ambassador’s Council, a group deemed expert-level by the organizers of Munapest. But the council was not a “normal” committee in the capacity of drafting resolutions focused on specific topics.
“Our jobs as ambassadors was to guide our delegates in other committees to insure all were acting in accordance with our country’s national policies and values,” Ratkovic said.
Slack for the win
Aside from performance during the Model UN, the decision-makers granting the awards also looked at the Slack, an web-based instant messaging platform, feeds of each of the 10 committees at Munapest. Slack was used to get a measure of how well delegates communicated with their respective groups.
“They said I was very active in insuring all of my delegates were well-informed of the other positions coming from different committees,” Ratkovic said.
Bailey was in an intermediate/expert-level group with the Sanctions Committee.
On her second day in the room, Ratkovic said Bailey initiated a treaty designed to distribute seeds for alternative crop-harvesting in regions of Latin America plagued with contraband crops.
“It was introduced as part of a greater resolution,” Ratkovic said. “But the ambassador from Italy had great difficulty with one of the clauses and in order to reach consensus, we had to take out the treaty.”
Bailey completed a Bachelor of Arts in business with a double-minor in accounting and philosophy from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. After taking a semester off to seek internships at the U.S. Department of State, she finished undergraduate by going abroad twice; at the University of Limerick in Ireland (2014) and at the Ipag Business School in Nice, France (2016).
In addition to the thwarted treaty, Bailey also worked to develop a law-enforcement structure in Latin America which included INTERPOL. Pushing a clause to bring a more worldwide-approach to police cooperation in Latin America went over well in the group.
“The countries within the Sanctions Committee were on-board in terms of having an investigative-team approach to deal with corruption,” Bailey said. “And truthfully, I thought this clause was more controversial than the other that didn’t make it through.”
From Budapest to Kiev
The awards were given at the end of the General Assembly on the final day of the conference.
“I was, actually, really shocked,” Bailey said. “I thought, ‘Maybe me?’ but at the same I didn’t think I would get there because of the computer problems I was having. The chairs were thinking, ‘She wasn’t quick enough.’”
While at Munapest, Bailey took time to talk with the Webster-Vienna delegation about their upcoming model UN, WebMUN, in October at the Vienna campus.
“They were on board about doing a trip together to go to Kiev,” Bailey said.
The Ukraine trip would coincide with WebMUN and will focus on environmental politics and energy security. A side-trip to Chernobyl is also being planned for the week.
For more information, follow the Webster-Leiden MUN Association and The Webster-Leiden International Relations club on Facebook.