Student Diplomats Simulate Real World At Vienna Model UN
Delegates Debate Issues Facing IAEA, Others
Vienna International Model UN participants met with Dr. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Permanent Representative of Iran to United Nations (Vienna) during the 2008 conference. (Photo: VIMUN)
Over 250 students from 40 countries participated in a United Nations Simulation Conference this week, living life as a diplomat while grappling with real-life global issues. Through the Vienna International Model United Nations (VIMUN), college-aged students engage in academic simulation that mimics the real-life workings of the UN and other multilateral bodies. The conference took place at the Vienna International Centre from 3-7 August.
"Through VIMUN, we invite young academics to participate in the simulation to see how diplomats work, and to get a better idea of how the UN functions," said Robert Albrecht, who organized the conference and acted as UN Secretary-General during the simulation.
During the conference, students assume the role of a diplomat, engaging in debate, tackling complex global issues, building consensus, and working through issues on behalf of their assigned country. The conference calls for students to represent the concerns of one UN Member State, but to enrich the experience, participants are tasked with representing a country other than their own.
The Vienna-based Model UN is one among 400 other analogous simulation exercises that take place annually around the world. The Vienna conference is distinctive in that it is the sole Model UN to take place within one of the four global UN headquarters. VIMUN participants pay a fee for taking part in the exercise, but the Austrian Foreign Ministry also provides some financial support to VIMUN.
In addition to the simulation, the Iranian Ambassador to the Vienna-based UN organizations also addressed students. Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Vienna-based UN organizations Ali Asghar Soltanieh spoke to VIMUN participants on a variety of topics and engaged in a question-and-answer session with students.
This year´s VIMUN exercise featured participation from UN bodies including the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN Security Council, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Human Rights Council, and the International Court of Justice.
VIMUN has been in existence since 1995, and participants from the age of 18 to 35 are welcome to attend. Organizers estimate that roughly 3500 students have taken part in VIMUN exercises since the conference´s inception.