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UN club to bring Model United Nations conference to Copenhagen

Students from CBS attended the Harvard National Model United Nations in February. Next year they plan to organise a Model UN conference in Copenhagen.

Denmark has no Model UN conference. But the students in CBS United Nations are planning to change that. Next year, they want to bring the conference, where students from around the world simulate the workings of the UN, to Copenhagen.

News |   03. Apr 2023

Caroline Hammargren

Journalist

Gabriel Højskov, a bachelor’s student in International Business and Politics and a member of CBS United Nations, says the organisation is aiming for around 100 to 150 delegates.

“We’re not limiting ourselves to anything and not going to be disappointed if there are less people. The main point of the conference is to structure the organisation in a way that will be sustainable in the long run,” he says.

To host the conference, CBS United Nations (CBS UN) is creating a sub-organisation, CBS MUN, for which they are now recruiting members.

CBS delegates at the Harvard National Model United Nations 2023. Attending a Model UN is hard work. The first day the delegates, jet-lagged, had a schedule from seven in the morning until 10.30 pm the day after they arrived. Photo: CBS United Nations

At the moment, CBS UN is the only Model UN (MUN) student organisation at university level in Denmark. But Gabriel Højskov and Duarte Carrasco, a bachelor’s student in International Business who sits on the board of CBS UN and is head of their subsection Model UN, hope that other Danish universities will support the event. Perhaps some Model UN clubs that have closed will even be reignited.

They see an unfulfilled demand for MUNs in Denmark.

“It’s a common activity in high school,” Gabriel Højskov says, listing a couple of schools he knows. “There are more. And a lot of people want to continue in university but aren’t able to.”

“If they just want to participate in a local one without having to travel, then there’s no option,” says Duarte Carrasco.

The students see Copenhagen as an obvious MUN host since it is home to UN City. The UN offices in Nordhavn, with over 2,000 employees, are one of the biggest UN locations in Europe, and include the regional headquarters of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the international headquarters of the organisation UNOPS.

“It’s a big attraction for Copenhagen and I think that’s something a lot of European universities will consider,” says Gabriel Højskov.

Because beyond all the practical details of organising, they also need to convince students to attend – there are many MUNs to choose from – at university level there are over 170 conferences worldwide.

Inspired by Harvard

The idea of organising a model UN conference in Copenhagen has existed in CBS United Nations for years. But a recent trip to the Harvard National Model UN finally got the students going.

Usually, CBS UN sends delegates to the Model UN conference in New York, the biggest one – and will again this April. But this year, they also organised an “alumni trip”, where eight delegates who had already attended MUN conferences travelled together to a conference at Harvard.

Gabriel Højskov, head delegate for CBS UN on the trip, says the eight students came home inspired to be in charge themselves.

Duarte Carrasco participated on the Futuristic General Assembly committee. Photo: CBS United Nations.

“There are always small things in the rules and procedures, where you think: Why did they do it like this? Wouldn’t it be smarter to do like this? – we get to control that now if we make our own,” Gabriel Højskov says.

At Harvard, the CBS delegates were representing Morocco. The delegates sit on committees where they argue for their country’s stance on certain issues. Viewpoints are not pulled out of thin air or based on the students’ own opinions, but rather require that they research to understand the country’s perspective and formulate a realistic position – which can be a challenging task.

“The ideas you bring to the table are what you are trying to negotiate with the other countries,” explains Gabriel Højskov.

Seeing the power play is interesting. People really get into the role.

Gabriel Højskov, head delegate for CBS

After some days of negotiations, delegates form groups to make working papers which, through discussion, are eventually merged into a resolution where the committee agrees on how to address a problem.

“Can we all, as different countries, come together and make a resolution on that? Seeing the power play is interesting. People really get into the role.”

However, not all the delegates at Harvard impressed the CBS students. In some countries, especially the USA, students can often get credits or grades for participating, which leads to some people trying to talk without making a point or trying to hijack the meeting to present themselves in the best light.

“You sometimes feel they’re trying to put their hands up because they are going for grades.”

Next year though, Harvard will not be on CBS UN’s schedule as the organisation aims to host an event itself in March 2024. Ensuring that the conference embodies the UN spirit of dialogue will be a key goal.

“We want to make a good simulation of the UN where we are as diplomatic as possible and we are really trying to promote the goals of the UN,” says Gabriel Højskov.

Passion for global affairs

Gabriel Højskov says the idea of “a big conference where you talk about global issues with a hundred other university students from around the world” is what first attracted him to MUN. And the organisation is a great way to meet others who share the same interest.

He says his bachelor’s programme, in International Business and Politics, is split between “those who are into business and those who are into politics”. And not everyone is interested in international relations. At CBS UN, he has found friends with a common interest.

Photo: CBS United Nations

Duarte Carrasco joined CBS UN three years ago after having tried a few different student organisations.

“I’ve always been interested in how the UN deals with problems and finds solutions to conflicts. When I saw that there was a CBS UN, I thought, that’s going to be the one. After three years, I’m still here and not going to leave,” he says.

Gabriel Højskov hopes for a career in the UN and says the Model UN is the perfect starting point.

“There are a lot of debates about whether there are things the UN can do better. That’s always an interesting debate, but I think without the UN, the world would be a very different place and the goals of the UN are vital in a global perspective. I think it would be interesting to pursue a career path in the UN and I think the MUN gives a really good taste of that. That’s why I’m a member and I’m really excited to be working towards a CBS Model UN.”

During the trip to Harvard, the students also had time to visit the university. Photo: CBS United Nations.

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