Students in Reims redefine diplomacy

Students in Reims redefine diplomacy

2017 Reims International Model United Nations
  • Students in the historical committee ©Gaelle FournierStudents in the historical committee ©Gaelle Fournier

Each year the Reims International Model United Nations (RIMUN) welcomes over 300 delegates to the Sciences Po Campus in Reims for a two-day conference simulating debates at the United Nations.

Much more than a simulation

This year delegates joined 16 diverse committees at the Reims International Model United Nations (RIMUN) for some animated debate about the most pressing diplomatic issues of our age. The RIMUN is much more than a simulation; its goal is to stimulate debate around the questions at the core of world diplomacy, whether resolving conflict in the Kivu Islands or reshaping global sex education. What sets the conference apart is the spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation, and energy that drives participants to redefine diplomacy.

A conference featuring the McDonald’s Board of Directors, Oliver Cromwell and King Charles I

At the RIMUN’s first ever business simulation, delegates took on the role of McDonald’s board members in a scenario of falling profits. In a simulation of the English Civil War, delegates travelled back in time to incarnate Oliver Cromwell and King Charles I in a fight for Britain’s future. And in an action-packed secret committee, delegates underwent the ultimate diplomatic experience; an unprepared, anything-goes simulation that could be about absolutely anything.

The aim? Getting delegates to step outside of their comfort zone, often by putting them in uncomfortable shoes. Robert Fedler, a German delegate from Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, represented Italy on the League of Nations committee, where his chosen country was tasked with encroaching upon Abyssinian territory. “Being the German that I am, acting fascist is somewhat controversial,” he explains, “...actually, the most challenging part was sticking to my role.” Fedler asserts that diplomacy is sometimes a tough game. “In my opinion, the most feared guy at a MUN did something right” he says with a smile.

Set in an Art Deco capital

Beyond the battlefield in the committee room, RIMUN immerses delegates in the unique charm, flair, and atmosphere of the Reims campus. A partnership with Interagir - a voluntary organisation providing support for displaced refugees in Reims - gave delegates a chance to experience first-hand the rich extra-curricular culture of campus life. A gala event at the Salon Degermann heralded Reims’ history as an Art Deco capital, while the beauty of the campus’ Jesuit architecture served as both an aesthetic highpoint and a reminder that delegates might just be recreating history.

A highlight of the conference was the visit of the renowned American acapella group The Vanderbilt Melodores, who made RIMUN the first stop on their European tour. With hundreds of delegates seated before them, their voices resonated through the Old Refectory, American pop hits bouncing off frescoes in the location where Condorcet once studied and prayed. Charged with an energy both old and new, the spirit of the Reims Campus - a marriage of European elegance and American ambition - is clear. Diplomacy might be an old game, but there’s plenty of space for new rules, and RIMUN is where they’re being written.

Text by Zak Vescera, a student on the Sciences Po campus in Reims.

RIMUN Team: Cyril Demoures (President), Tamara Šolaja (Vice-President), Anselme Goutte-Broze (Treasurer), Zak Vescera (Secretary), Elza Bouhassira, Clara Marqués, Juliette Briey, Emma Caragozian, Reema Danaf, Valeria Filippova, Tristan Delacour, Alicja Polakiewicz, Roland Martial, Andreea Florea, James Quinn, Robin Leforestier, Pierre Wang, Elisa Eche, Claire Mouchotte, Timothée Guichoux, Zoé Barbé, Valentine Truchot, Allison McFall, Antoni Gruca, Priyanka Deodhar, Katharina Focke, Jeremy Rotman, Aristotle Vossos, Raphaella Heath, Natasha Maters. 

Photo: This year, the historical crisis committee transported delegates back to the days of the English Civil War, pitting them against one another in a battle of wits and wills. Some delegates even dressed up for the occasion.

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