Brussels university students win prestigious diplomacy competition in New York
Two students of the Brussels Free University (VUB) have won several prizes in the National Model United Nations (NMUN), the world’s largest diplomatic competition, the university announced in a press release on Wednesday. “The topics of the UNEA were close to our hearts, and we were forced to be very creative with our diplomatic skills”, said one of the competitors.
Tristan Gondàr and Katarine Agius Jager are currently enrolled in the VUB’s master programme on European and International Governance and the bachelor of Social Science. Both are members of the Model United Nations team at VUB, VUBMUN. Together they travelled to New York in April, to take part in National Model United Nations (NMUN) on behalf of their university. For five days, they engaged in talks with fellow students in order to reach a diplomatic solution. “Their efforts paid off, because they won several prizes”, VUB announced today.
The NMUN competition simulates political meetings of the United Nations all over the world. Participants, referred to as “delegates”, are assigned a country in one of the United Nations departments for a period of five days. They must apply all their diplomatic knowledge and skills in order to reach a compromise while defending the strategic interests of their assigned country.
"As icing on the cake, Katarina and I were even asked to speak at the closing ceremony. It was a great honour, which opens a lot of doors for us”
VUB students Tristan Gondàr and Katarine Agius were assigned the role of diplomats from Saint Lucia, a small island in the Caribbean. During the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), they negotiated in the interests of that country. “The island had limited (financial) resources at its disposal and was one of the primary victims of climate change. Therefore, the topics of the UNEA were close to our hearts, and we were forced to be very creative with our diplomatic skills”, says Agius.
Their approach was ultimately rewarded, as the duo landed the first place for the Outstandig Delegates - Diplomacy Award. Their VUBMUN delegation, too, won a prize: the Outstanding Degelation Award. “We are very proud to have received these awards. As icing on the cake, Katarina and I were even asked to speak at the closing ceremony. It was a great honour, which opens a lot of doors for us”, Gondàr reacted.
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK