NMUN represents UK at annual conference



FMU’s NMUN poses during conference and holds up a sign for their designated island country, the United Kingdom.

The FMU National Model United Nations (NMUN) team represented the United Kingdom (U.K) at the 2022 NMUN conference in New York City from April 3 to April 8.   

The delegation of six students brought home an Honorable Mention Delegation Award.   

Consisting of Alexis Albright, sophomore political science major; Devan Campbell, freshman history major; Alexis Carter, senior biology major; Mina Perez Chilton, senior political science major; Allison Collins, senior political science major; James Hanna, junior political science major; and advisors Jennifer Titanski-Hooper, assistant professor of geography and Dillon Tatum, assistant professor of political science, the delegation had a large workload set out for them.    

The team started the year planning to represent the tiny Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu; however, they later received a chance to represent the United Kingdom – a much larger nation.    

“Typically, delegations like the United Kingdom go to large schools,” Titanski-Hooper said. “Those schools can bring 30 people with them to the conference, but Francis Marion can’t do that. So, we get assigned these smaller countries, but some campuses still had travel bans as a result of Covid, so the conference put out a call to see if anyone was willing to take on these larger delegations.”   

Shifting gears in a month after having prepared for and written on Tuvalu since December, the group was on high alert to catch up as the stakes of their spot at NMUN were raised.    

“One of the big things about the Model United Nations is that it’s a simulation,” Carter said. “When you talk with other delegations, you speak as if you are the United Kingdom. It’s all about diplomacy but also negotiating. So, if you’re working on a paper and you want other countries to sign onto it and support it, you’re going to want to ask bigger countries that have more power behind them.”   

Unlike the reality of their former country, Tuvalu, FMU’s U.K. delegation was a pillar of potential support for the other delegations at the conference.   

“For a lot of us, people were coming up to us wanting that support,” Carter said. “A lot of the time, when it came to editing these papers, big countries like the U.K., France, Germany and the U.S. had the final say, so it definitely changed the dynamic for our side.”   

In addition to adjusting to the size of the new delegation, the team experienced a mental transition as well.    

“Going from Tuvalu and focusing on biodiversity to this was emotional,” Campbell said. “Considering Tuvalu is going to be underwater in 50 to 100 years, taking the position of the United Kingdom – the country blamed for the most biodiversity issues causing this, was definitely a hard transition.”    

Despite the differing ideals between the countries, the students used their learned perspective from Tuvalu and worked to incorporate it into policy and discussion.    

“Having the name there and getting to talk to all these people and work on these papers, we could be this symbol of change rather than continuity,” Campbell said. “To me, it was a challenge, but it was a great challenge that we all needed.”   

Representing such a large country may have come with its benefits, such as the previously stated perks of better opportunities in negotiations; however, there were a handful of downsides. One of such cons is the blame cast on larger figures for many of the problems with which smaller countries have issues.    

Despite this, the delegation managed to adapt and perform to their best abilities and successfully represent both the U.K. and FMU on a global scale.   

“It made it harder in some ways and easier in others,” Hanna said. “Easier in that people would come out to find us rather us having to go find them as Tuvalu. Having people come to us made things proceed a bit smoother on our end, but having that final say on clauses in the working paper can make or break it.”   

According to Hanna, portraying a large country came with a great amount of responsibility and even greater consequences.     

“If there is an ending clause your country does not support, you can disagree, but that lack of support will throw the whole paper out of whack because if you pull out of a paper, everything you contributed will be pulled out,” Hanna said. “It will screw up the whole organization of the working paper.”    

As stated in the rules of NMUN, the delegation had to represent the ideas and positions of the U.K. rather than what they personally thought.    

So long as they never stepped outside of what the U.K. would reasonably argue, they would be following the rules of the conference by respectfully addressing both a plausible solution and the reality of what the U.K. thinks.    

Because of this, students had to word their papers in a certain way or perspective in order to avoid coming across as the “bad guy” at the conference. The team ultimately needed to balance both the needs and interests of the nation as well as the globe.    

Despite balance being a prominent issue for powerful countries, the problem was not exclusive to the larger nations.   

“Sometimes you represent a small country that doesn’t have a great human rights record,” Titansky-Hooper said. “As a person, you disagree, but as the delegation, you have to play that role. Because we are a smaller school and we take a smaller delegation, we’ve always been smaller countries.”   

Previously, FMU has represented Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Central African Republic and the small island of Kiribati. Though they have had a diverse collection of countries in the past, the size of the U.K. was a unique occurrence.    

The NMUN is a simulation of the United Nations (U.N.), and schools from around the world participate as delegations representing a nation currently in the U.N. During the conference, delegates must write position papers and give proposals to the greater assembly as they seek the approval of other countries on their planned actions for specific events.    

The U.N. is comprised of different working assemblies, one of which is the General Assembly, a large room where the various delegations meet. However, they broke it up into sub-committees.    

FMU’s delegation was only a part of five committees, though there were many more.    

In the sub-committees, the groups were given two pre-selected topics, and they had to argue for the order of the topics. The order dictated the timeline for working on the selected topics.   

“Your ultimate goal is to get countries to almost unilaterally pass a position, but with different countries and different acting interests, that’s not going to happen,” Hanna said. “I think my committee had six different working papers.”   

The sub-committees were tasked with constant debates against other committees and delegations to sway opinions and policy. The groups acted as real political entities, with the last day revealing friendly and unfriendly amendments to policies that mimicked true U.N. negotiations.   

“The whole time, you were just debating and arguing over what you wanted to put in the paper,” Carter said. “You get to the very end, and you officially have resolutions. Then all of the delegates read everyone’s papers on the last day and determine whether you agree with it or not, and you can amend it.”   

While the experience gave these students a week in New York City and an opportunity to learn first-hand international delegation skills, most agreed that their greatest takeaway was the experience they gained and the people they met.    

While the schools involved were primarily from the U.S., there were various other schools from around the globe, including Iran and Ukraine, involved in this year’s NMUN conference.   

“What a lot of us gained out of this was there were a lot of people there from different countries,” Collins said. “We all gained friendships with people from countries in Europe and South America. It was interesting to see how they saw things differently.”   

In their free time, the FMU students took some time to get to know other students from international delegations.   

“During the breaks, some of us went out to lunch or dinner with them, and it was interesting how they wanted to go to all these chain restaurants,” Collins said. “It’s interesting to see their opinion and how they live versus how we live and just gaining a broader view of how everyone of different cultures lives.”   

According to Campbell, some of the cultural experience was shocking to native South Carolinians, but it was enlightening.    

“Being a kid in Florence, South Carolina, and getting to hear and see these different people from all over the world was very eye-opening,” Campbell said. “It’s something that we should all be aware of and take into consideration. There are kids over there in Ukraine, for example, who are dying and want the same kind of education that we want, and they want the same liberties that we have.”   

The students expressed their gratitude for the opportunity while reminiscing on the experience.   

“It’s awesome that we got to experience all this,” Campbell said. “The simulation was cool, but the coolest part was getting to hear these stories and experiences of people all across the world. Having the privilege to do that, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m grateful for it.”