LAU graduate serves as secretary at Global Model UN conference in South Korea
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August 29, 2011—
Recent LAU graduate Michael Abi Semaan served as secretary at the third annual Global Model United Nations conference on sustainable development that was organized by the UN Department of Public Information from August 10-14 in Incheon, South Korea.
The conference, entitled “Sustainable Development: Advancing Human Progress in Harmony with Nature,” brought together around 600 of the best university students from MUN programs around the world. It was attended by prominent UN figures, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka.
The Secretariat at the Global MUN conference typically consists of 10 members, of which several secretaries. Each secretary represents a different region in the world; Abi Semaan was representing Lebanon and the Middle East.
Abi Semaan says the work conducted by the Global MUN is very close to the one that is carried out by the UN itself, thus giving the conference the feel of an actual UN summit. “All the work that is done in the General Assembly of the UN is replicated,” he adds.
Four committees were formed at the Global MUN conference, each having two sub-themes to discuss and relate to the main theme of the conference. Abi Semaan was in charge of the first committee, which consisted of 153 delegates and was concerned with disarmament and international security. The two sub-themes his committee focused on were “Nuclear safety and security for sustainable development” and “Armed conflict and sustainable development.”
As secretary, Abi Semaan was responsible for writing the secretary-general’s report (elaborating on the sub-themes to be discussed by the committee), ensuring the flow of debate, making sure that the rules of procedure were being followed, and writing the final report of the committee. He was also supervising the committee’s chair, vice-chair, and rapporteur.
Prior to the conference in South Korea, the participants had undergone a thorough one-week training at the UN Headquarters in New York in June.
Several diplomats and UN ambassadors were present throughout the training to share their experiences with the participants.
“We asked them questions about the difficulties they face and their personal life, especially in relation to their career,” says Abi Semaan. “I felt like the UN is not only an organization, but a living organism,” he adds.
A pre-conference workshop also took place in South Korea three days prior to the commencement of the conference. The delegates met with several speakers who taught them the technicalities and logistics they would have to deal with throughout the four-day convention.
Abi Semaan says the selection process involved, after being shortlisted, a 40-minute phone interview. He was subsequently informed that he was selected to be part of the Secretariat.
Although Abi Semaan applied for a Secretariat position individually, he says Dr. Marwan Rowayheb, assistant professor of political science/international affairs and coordinator of the LAU Byblos Political Science/International Affairs Program, provided him with great emotional and practical support.
By writing a compelling recommendation letter for Abi Semaan, Dr. Rowayheb helped him be shortlisted and then be granted one of the most high-end positions at the conference.
Abi Semaan, who recently graduated with a B.A. in political science/international affairs, was appointed earlier this year as head of the LAU delegation in the Harvard World MUN Conference in Singapore. Last year, he also participated as a delegate at the Harvard World MUN Conference in Taiwan.
During the Byblos-campus commencement ceremony on June 30, LAU granted Abi Semaan the Riyad Nassar Leadership Award for his extensive work with the MUN.
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