IBW Model UN Thrives at State Conference


Photo Credit: Lisa Walker

Model UN is one of the most inspiring and motivating clubs at Ida B. Wells High School. This simulation of the United Nations gives students a rare opportunity to immerse themselves in being a representative for a country and working internationally. Students research and explore global issues related to human rights, security, economics and the environment in preparation for a three-day conference at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

This year is the first in-person MUN conference since 2019. Around seven to ten schools participated and over 700 students were there. Each school participating in the conference is assigned a country. IBW represented the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

Students begin preparing for the conference at the beginning of the school year. They are each assigned their committees and must write position and resolution papers based on the country’s position on a topic. The resolution papers, one of the biggest parts of the conference, are the possible solutions for the problem given. Sophomore Minka Whittaker was one student who represented the U.S.A. for the Human Rights Committee. “With the papers, you take them to the conference a couple months later and sit in a committee with a bunch of other countries,” she said. “We all sit there and compare and contrast our resolutions until we draft one altogether.”

Issues such as transnational organized crime and synthetic drug trafficking are all topics covered during the sessions. All of these topics are related to real-world issues. For example, in 2020, topics revolved around Covid-19 and masking mandates.

Photo Credit: Lisa Walker

The conference began on Thursday, April 11. Students would go to their designated committee rooms to debate and “argue” on the four topics that they had all researched. Committee sessions can be a couple of hours long, the longest one being four hours long.

All the students had different roles. Junior Hana Karaselimouc was chosen to be a committee chair during the sessions. “I like being able to lead the conversation,” she said. “I think it’s cool to be a listener and observe what is happening.”

 IBW senior Lucy Carver was on the International Court of Justice, a special committee that receives court cases. During the conference, delegates of ICJ must eventually come to a ruling or a verdict instead of a resolution.

The ICJ must also have a unanimous vote. This shifts things as the results end up not being very effective. “You have countries like the U.S.A. and China that need to agree on similar things,” said Carver. “It can get really interesting.” Due to the ICJ being smaller in number, they often go through topics faster.

For committee sessions that had to end with a resolution, coming up with a compromise could take a long time. Most of the committees only go through two topics per session. Up to 30 students can be in a committee, which makes it hard to get through everyone’s positions and arguments. 

Everyone in the room is talking about the same topics. Something a committee could talk about is the environment, if they were on the environmental justice committee. The committee members would be given an issue related to it, like oil spills, and they would come up with ideas to make compromises based on the point of view of the countries being represented. “Rivalries would start to happen with certain countries in the committees,” said Whittaker. “It was really interesting because we are all the same age and have the same amount of power but were still trying to ‘win’.”

Once the committees are done with their resolution, they go down to the General Assembly and have their resolutions voted on. One student reads the resolution out loud, then two students give the pro and con argument on the resolution. Lots of questions and feedback are given and most resolutions do not get passed, due to the strictness of the General Assembly.

Through all the seriousness of the committee sessions, all the students still managed to have lots of fun. From talent shows to silent discos to just roaming the university’s campus, the time in between meetings was a great way to connect with everyone. “We were fresh out of post-Covid when I came in, so it was really nice to be a part of something,” said Karaselimouc. “I’ve built a lot of connections and relationships with other people in the group just from being in person.”

The success of the Model UN conference is the result of all the hard work students have poured into their research and ideas for the whole year. Students develop skills in leadership, public speaking and teamwork, all of which are crucial during the MUN conference. This year, IBW’s MUN had several achievements including best consensus and best country representative, and, next year, they will be representing one of the big five, the United Kingdom. The club also celebrated the performance of several students who won awards in their last meeting which took place on Wednesday, April 26.

Carver and another member, Sabine Veillette, both won speaker awards for their performance at the conference. One of the biggest accomplishments was the leadership of the three members on the secretariat: Hannah Lo acting as Secretary General and Deewa Rahim and Katrina Phillips as Undersecretaries. Tupelo Wright-Dykhouse was granted a leadership position as Undersecretary for next year’s secretariat. The club also celebrated this year’s club leaders, Lucy Carver, Jacob Glass and Rachel Delance, for their hard work.

Photo Credit: Lisa Walker

The new club leaders were also elected for next year. Three students were voted on, Elektra Wood, Hana Karaselimouc and Ava Strecker.

Finally, the club celebrated its longtime advisor, Lisa Walker. Walker has announced her retirement next year and is now coming to the end of her time as an advisor for the club. During the conference, Walker received the Chris Allen Advisor Award for her 17 years of dedication to the club. “It’s something the students nominated me for,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed Model UN. When I go into a committee room and I see my students speaking, that makes me really glad.”