Roshan Melwani (Hong Kong, UWC Maastricht 2011-2013)
The Hague, or rather Den Haag in Dutch, home to the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, is not only the judicial capital of the world but also one of the major UN hosting cities. With that in mind, The Hague rightfully and fittingly hosted the largest model United Nations conference in the world: THIMUN. Standing for “The Hague International Model United Nations”, THIMUN is a five-day conference situated in the World Forum, in which 4,000 student delegates from around the globe arrive and unite as one for a week. Luckily enough, two delegations from UWC Maastricht as well as one from UWC South East Asia had the opportunity to attend this simulation, where we represented Kenya, the DSCC and Pakistan respectively. And boy, to say we had an awesome time is a huge understatement.
Prior to the actual conference, our delegation of 12 (Kenya) and 6 (DSCC) were frantically organizing ourselves to ensure that our resolutions were done and dusted and that we knew what Kenya’s viewpoint on each topic was within our separate committees. This meant that for me, as well as many others, staying up till 2:30 in the morning the night before to ensure that we had the proper paperwork to head off for the trip. Yet although low on energy reserves, we were brimming with excitement and enthusiasm knowing that the following few days will leave a very memorable footprint in our mind.
Arriving at the World Forum in The Hague on Sunday was the first time I was properly struck by the sheer scale and significance of the conference itself. The day was solely for registration purposes, but it allowed us to meet new people and get a sense of the forum. Personally, to be standing on the patch of ground in which real delegates of the UN walk on, left me in awe. It might sound a bit inflated, but to be in the World Forum truly gave an aura of importance and wonder. At the same time, every few minutes one after another delegation from different schools around the world would arrive, marking the beginning of friendships that would be made throughout the week. It was prevalent that there were all sorts of cultures present, and people had to have flown thousands of miles to finally be together in on destination, just like UWC. Yet that day was only a glimpse of what THIMUN had to offer.
After a lovely dinner at a pancake restaurant the previous night, UWCM set out to what was going to be a very mentally strenuous but ultimately terrific week. Monday morning, 9AM, THIMUN went straight into the lobbying process that would last the entire day. I was in the General Assembly 6th Committee on Legal, in which we would debate matters encompassing from ‘Durable Peace in Africa’ to ‘Trans boundary Aquifers’. For my part, this was my first ever MUN conference and to see the lobbying process in full swing was not only highly active but an eye-opening experience. After hours of engaging debate, merging clauses and persuading delegating for their co-submission signatures, the day of lobbying came to a close. For the next few days, resolution after resolution was supported, refuted or just generally made a joke out of to lighten the long hours of debate. For many others and myself in UWCM, it was steep learning curve to participate, as it was our first time we were exposed to the formal setting and jargon that was used during THIMUN sessions.
However, it was a trend amongst us that as each day passes, we progressively became more confident and played a larger part in standing up front and discussing the resolution to a few hundred people. We worked hard in the debate process to advocate our country’s viewpoints, and regardless of whether they passed, we expanded our horizons on global issues and how the real world strives to solve them. Yet although my committee was a rather serious one, I still remember some of the unforgettable quotes from the debates. For example, the delegate of Bhutan trashed one resolution by stating that it was pointless to place sanctions on states that partake in slavery, because as a Buddhist country, they believed in “karma” and hence any wrongdoings will ultimately return back to themselves. To top it off, with a praying gesture at the end, it certainly drew lots of laughs amongst the committee. Or rather analogies about resolutions, such as: “This resolution is like a mini-skirt; it looks nice, but doesn’t cover anything.”
Whilst THIMUN is a very educative and insightful experience, only half of it lies within the World Forum; the other 50 percent consists of the social aspect that occurs throughout the week. Whether it is going out for a nice dinner in the city centre or dancing your pants off at the annual THIMUN Party, everything was truly a blast. Each day we had a different schedule in which we would travel around The Hague, eat dinner of different cuisines each night, or visit prestigious buildings of judicial and political importance. There was just so much to do, so much to see, in turned out that many events that we originally planned just couldn’t work out given the time constraints; one week simply came and went in a split second.
Finally, if there were one word to describe THIMUN, it would be ‘unanticipated’. I left with high expectations don’t get me wrong, but the final result simply left me in awe. On a personal level, I felt that I had gained self-confidence and the ability to step out of my comfort zone, By the end of the week, I could state my points with assurance and clarity, without fearing what the audience had to say; something I wish to emulate for my future. Nonetheless, regardless of whether it is THIMUN or any other MUN, it is an experience more worth your while than anything you can imagine. On behalf of UWCM, we highly recommend all UWCs to take part in the future, because it is simply one of those things in life that you look back and say, just like Fallout Boy, “Thanks for the memories”.