Leiden Model United Nations 2023 2024

During the first three days of December 2023, LEMUN was held, its theme being: “Let us sing songs of freedom”

Nine students of the LMRL, accompanied by two teachers, were split up in different committees, and participated in debates tackling global issues of every kind. It was not easy for any of us, seeing the unexpected nature of debates and the unfamiliar conference procedure, but we went through with it. We arrived on Thursday, the 30th November, after a 5-hour drive (A big thank you to Ms. Galli and Mr. Brücher for driving us), and after the hotel check-in, we completed our final preparations for the committee sessions of the following day. On the cold morning of Friday, we dressed up and headed out towards the Stedelijk Gymnasium Leiden, taking an unexpectedly expensive bus ride. At the school, we were surprised to see the number of delegates participating, more than 470 of them, plus the staff, crowding the main hall. The first day of LEMUN was interesting and a little confusing for all of us, because we found out that the conference would proceed differently than our previous MUNs have, meaning there would be a lot of time for lobbying and also the handling of more topics at the same time. However, after a long Friday and Saturday, there was also a party, offering every participant and organiser the opportunity to see others in a different light, to make new friends, to let loose and to collectively fill up our batteries for the final day of the conference. Whilst every one of us experienced LEMUN in a different way, we also shared some similarities. Hereby we present you our honest accounts, thoughts and opinions on this trip:

Filipe Cruz : The 5 hour ride was great, as everyone in the mini-bus got along very well and we all listened and sang to music together. The hotel we stayed in was nice. Though the rooms were a little cold, the beds and breakfast were amazing ! On the first morning I thought it wasn’t necessary to wear a jacket over my suit, but I ended up regretting it later on and I wore it for the rest of the week-end. Arriving at the school and seeing so many students that were all dressed up in suits stressed me out a little. However, on that day, we did some activities to get to know each other in the committee. These ice-breakers made me feel more comfortable and gave me the courage to hold speeches in front of all those (almost) strangers. Though I found the procedure a little confusing, since we didn’t do any opening speeches and went right to lobbying, I tried my best to contribute to the establishment of a resolution on the various topics we were supposed to treat. The debate was fun ! I am proud of myself for having held a few speeches in front of the others. I was in the WHA (World Health Assembly) and we debated on interesting topics. We started out with “The declining societal support for vaccinations”, but the resolution didn't pass. On the second day, we tackled “Intellectual property in pharmaceutical development”, which was the most complicated subject. Lastly, on Sunday we debated on “Combating the spread of the Ebola virus” and we came back to the first issue, in order to establish a new resolution that successfully passed. The MUN became more charming by the fact that, though the debates were taken seriously, there was some time for joking and debating about ironically sent in amendments. Also, the “gossip box” was a great concept to calm down and have a laugh at the end of an intense debating session. Furthermore, I believe the MUN improved my English skills. It made me realise how much I enjoy speaking English, too. Even when I knew the person I was talking to was French or German, I stubbornly spoke English to them and I found that pretty amusing because some of them knew very well that I could speak their language. Regarding languages, LeMUN showed me that living in Luxembourg is a big advantage, since you get to learn so many of them at school. People were stunned at how many languages I could speak fluently. The experience really increased my gratitude for the opportunity I have. Lastly, the party on Saturday night was great as well. We got to have fun together and I even met a friend I had made in my committee and danced with him for a while. It was great to realise that there were students just like me behind all of those skilled people I was debating with and to have fun with them. However, everything can’t always be perfect and I want to touch the few inconveniences too. One big downside was the excessive sitting. We spent many hours sitting on rather uncomfortable chairs every day. At the end of the day I often had lower back pain. Another downside was sleep deprivation. We often came home late and had to wake up early. Personally, I like going to bed early, but when you’re on such a journey with your friends, it is hard to stick to that habit. As a result, I was very tired and I think we all were. Even though I had had a great experience in Leiden, I was in a bad mood on Monday morning because I hadn’t slept enough for a few days. Nevertheless, LeMUN was a wonderful experience that made me grow and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I would encourage anyone who wants to have some fun and improve their english and social skills to try it out!

Francesco Sofia: This was my second Mun, and there were many differences compared to the former one. The trip was much longer but just as fun. Of course, the people made all the difference, and luckily, we all got along great, making our time in Leiden even more enjoyable. LeMun was something new, more delegates, a new city, new people and of course a new opportunity to learn as much as possible about not only the place but also the people, who were very friendly. During our trip, we took a short break to get something to eat, and fortunately enough we landed at McDonalds. We immediately noticed how they charged extra for every little additional feature. However, the next day during our breakfast, we noticed other young students wearing costumes and ties. This just shows how big the conference was that the entire city was showing signs of this Mun. The other two days went pretty similar only that, on saturday night, we had a big party. And when I say big I mean it. The room was so big everyone got inside and there was even some space left on the corners where we were having the times of our life. Only problem was that we were in a rush to eat and get ready before the party because there wasn't much time in between the party and the committees. So a friend of mine and I had to run 20 min, but it was worth it. The worst part is of course the last day when we had to say goodbye to all the new acquaintances we made during the conference. Nonetheless it is always a fun experience where one can learn a lot, academically and socially.

Victor Fola: First of all, I want to thank our teachers and everyone who made this trip possible, for LEMUN2023 was an experience I will look back to and not forget. During the three days of LEMUN2023, I represented Italy in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and debated on the topics of: “Improving the ease of international recognition of diplomas and qualifications” & “The regulation of social media and Internet search engine algorithms”, as well as the topic of “The impact of economic sanctions on Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs).” Debating on these topics required thorough preparation and strategies, because countries like China and India had divergent approaches and strong arguments on these issues, making it difficult for me to jump into the debate and represent Italy. Therefore, as the committee session went by and the pressure accumulated, it got harder and harder for me to contribute. At one point, I was on the brink of giving up. It was not easy for me, for a person who often overthinks and doubts themselves. Even with LEMUN being my third MUN, it didn’t get easier, it only increased my expectations of myself. Luckily, I got to know some of my fellow delegates, making the committee sessions a whole lot better and less nerve-wracking. During every MUN, I realise how truly important it is to believe in yourself, to have courage, and to apply your knowledge in spite of the possible mistakes and probable cracks of your argument. I realise not that, one brings their argument forth BECAUSE it may lack perspective, BECAUSE it may be contradictory, and BECAUSE it may be simply wrong. This is the point of a MUN: offering up your country’s view through your eyes and discussing it over with the other delegates, so that it may as a result become good. Before debating, your argument might not be good; after debating, it will be better, but without even bringing it up, it will surely never be anything but a figment of imagination. Even though the committee sessions were personally really challenging, I enjoyed the trip very much. The seemingly-daunting long car ride turned out to be amazingly fun, due to the lovely connection between us, the students. We put on our favourite songs, laughed, sang and even danced in the mini bus! I look back at it with a big smile and with gratitude towards my friends. On Saturday night, we walked for forty minutes through the city to arrive at the party, which gave me the chance to notice the Dutch charm of the beautiful city of Leiden. At the party, I got to shake off all the stress of the previous days and spend quality time with my friends and, another advantage of MUNs, to spend time with the friends I met during another MUN in Poland. Re-invigorated, I participated more during the final day of the conference and finished with my head higher than the days before. My report might seem a little negative, but I nevertheless loved this experience. Of course, I wish the committee sessions had been better, but now it is clearer than ever to me that I will never underestimate good research again and that comparing myself with better delegates and feeling sorry for myself, or just engaging in negative self-talk, substantially chips away at my confidence and my true debate ability. This is exactly why, I am now determined to take advantage of the lessons that I learned the hard way during LEMUN to be a better person for myself, for the people around me and eventually, for society.

Alexis Neu Arend: I, Alexis, am so happy to have had the experience to participate at an MUN conference. As LeMUN was my first conference, I was nervous at first. However, I noticed quickly that there was no need at all for that. I had no problem following the debates and I managed to even hold some speeches myself.I got to represent Italy in the G20 committee. Even though Italy did not reach all its goals, I was satisfied with the final resolutions. For a country with such controversial views, Italy could be satisfied with its results in the G20 committee. I met so many new nice people I got along well with and had overall so much fun. Everyone was in such a good mood and open to discussions about political subjects which helped me educate myself further about current political events. Meeting people from other countries allowed me to get new perspectives on political subjects. We as Luxembourgish citizens often do not even notice how privileged we are and meeting people from different countries with different cultures and values helped me to recognize this issue.

Mira Zwank: My first MUN experience was not nearly as nerve-wracking as participating in LeMUN 2023. As the delegate of the UAE in the Security Council (SC), I had been expected to be thoroughly prepared for the different topics that were up for debate and to act in a more professional manner in contrast to other delegates in other committees. As this was my first experience participating in the Security Council, the pressure took quite a toll on me. Nevertheless, the excitement I felt only grew more and more on the 5 hour long bus ride from Luxembourg to Leiden. The good mood of the other delegates as well as the amazing music made the journey more than bearable. Having arrived at the hotel, we quickly settled in and anxiously awaited the next morning. The first official day turned out to be as mind boggling as I had predicted. The seat of my delegation had been put between the seats of the delegates of the United States and the United Kingdom, two of the P5 member states, that possess the veto right and which are part of the group of delegates I was going to go against for the major part of the debates. The first topic to be addressed was the situation in Sudan, which I was looking forward to the most as the UAE is greatly involved in this matter, though not in the way one might hope for and might I mention that this was one of the major reasons I took on the role of the delegate of the UAE: to create chaos, conflict and controversy. At the end of the day, we eventually became much closer and more comfortable with each other and they even gave me a nickname: “The Vampire of the Security Council.” The second day proved to be even more serious. Throughout the session, I felt quite intimidated by everyone's outstanding debating skills and use of English. At first, I did not have the courage to submit new amendments to our resolution as I could not stop checking my proposals for any kind of silly mistake that could've been made, over and over again. Eventually, I was able to get over my anxiety and finally presented my first amendment. Though it did not get the approval of all P5 member states, I immediately understood how important it is to not give up at any given time, no matter what happens. Which is why I started to actively participate in the discussion. After getting the hang of it initiate chaos which had been my goal since the very beginning. At the end of the debate of the second topic (“Cyberattacks on key infrastructure”), Russia and the UAE ended up entering a war with Switzerland and the United States. I had refused to deliver a formal apology to Switzerland after having made some rude comments in regard to their economic strategies. But the day had not yet completely ended. The much awaited party launched in the late evening and I must say, I was more than impressed by the organisers, because they actually managed to rent a whole club, which is something I haven‘t experienced before. The atmosphere was amazing and being able to see my co-delegates and chairs in a completely different light made the next day during the debating session even more enjoyable. But unfortunately, all good eventually comes to an end. At the end of debate number 3 („food security in regions hit by armed conflict), we all shed some tears and reluctantly said goodbye to each other. Sadly, we were not able to experience the closing ceremony as we would have arrived a lot later than we intended to. To conclude, I first of all want to thank Mme Galli and Mr Brücher for making this whole trip possible. Additionally, I want to thank my Luxembourgish comrades for making this journey one of the most memorable in my life. Sadly, LEMUN 2023 is my last international MUN as I will (hopefully) be graduating next year. This gives me mixed feelings, because MUNs in general are one of the most brilliant educational events mankind has ever introduced. So I recommend everyone that has the opportunity to please take part while you still can!

Tara Mac Neill: I participated in this year’s model UN conference in Leiden and as I have previously taken part in the MUN in Torun I wasn’t new to the process of it all. However the LeMUN was a lot bigger with about 480 Delegates. Furthermore the proceedings of the actual debate were quite different to what we were used to but I’d say while sometimes confused we managed to get the hang of it quite quickly. I had the honour of representing Kuwait in the Arab League Committee, where I was able to meet some wonderful people from all around the world and debate relevant topics like the normalisation of the relations with Israel, diversifying energy sources away from fossil fuels and the Yemen situation. While there may have been some questionable solutions to these issues which resulted in inspirational and funny speeches, they were interesting topics to discuss. My Co-Delegates were all of different backgrounds and it was inspiring to hear how their lives were in their respective countries. Leiden itself is a very pretty city accessible by foot and with a lot of bikes, as is known for the cities in the Netherlands. Everywhere you can find lovely restaurants to grab some dinner and enjoy your evening. In general, the LeMUN was a highly educational and multicultural experience that opened up the possibility to meet new people and further our debating skills.

Tom Dieschbourg: Before going to LeMUN 2023, I felt extremely intimidated by the sheer amount of delegates that were going to be in attendance, 450 delegates, more than double that of the previous Model United Nations conference that I attended. However, when we arrived in Stedelijk Gymnasium, where LeMUN is held, it fortunately wasn’t as crowded as I had expected it to be, and I didn’t feel as overwhelmed as I was expecting going into a MUN of 450 people. I was also really glad to find quite a few people I knew from my previous MUNs were also in attendance. There were a few moments where I was a bit confused as there were differences in application of the rules of procedure in comparison with my previous two MUN experiences, but I still find that my committee ended up producing three resolutions of extraordinary quality, especially considering that there was a very large majority of first-timers in the committee. I’m happy I chose the committee I did, the Special Conference on Telecommunications, because its topics, net neutrality, media companies’ responsibility for content on their platforms and improving internet access in less economically developed countries are all things I am personally invested in, net neutrality in particular being crucial to free discourse on and usage of the internet. LeMUN by itself was also a sight to behold, the amount of planning and people taken up by this one event was extremely impressive to see in person and it was quite interesting how they divided up different tasks in order to make everything run as smoothly as it did. It was also a really good experience to see Leiden during the time we had outside the conference, a city with a design philosophy that couldn’t be more different from Luxembourg, red brick as far as the eyes can see in a lot of places, instead of the hypermodern minimalist architecture I’m used to at home.

Tommy Jack I wanted to share my recent experience at the LeMUN conference in the Netherlands, where I, as one of the diplomats representing Italy, participated in the Crisis Committee. While I've taken on various roles in past conferences, this one stood out for its unique and intense nature. Being a diplomat in the crisis committee was unlike any other role I've experienced. The level of difficulty surpassed my previous engagements, and the rules and procedures were markedly different, adding a new layer of complexity. The main concept was to understand Italy's values, government stance, and future aspirations, allowing me to navigate through unexpected, realistic crises. This unconventional approach required quick thinking, improvisation, and the ability to defend Italy's position on various issues. It was challenging, but I found it incredibly rewarding. The experience pushed me to work on my debating and negotiation skills, enhancing my ability to interact with others and find compromises. One of the highlights was the chance to meet people from different countries on a personal level. Beyond the committee sessions, our evenings were filled with shared meals, drinks, and even a memorable party. These moments provided a welcome distraction from the intensity of the committee work and allowed for genuine connections. Representing Italy as one of the diplomats added a layer of responsibility and pride to the experience. It deepened my understanding of the country and its diplomatic roles, making the entire conference more meaningful. In conclusion, the LeMUN conference was an intense and challenging experience that not only pushed me to develop my skills but also allowed me to form connections with people from around the world. I'm grateful for the opportunity and eager to continue taking part in such conferences in the future.

Amélie Sitz This was my first MUN and I was very nervous at the beginning. I had difficulties researching my topic and didn't fully understand the whole process. However, with the help of my classmates and teacher, I became more confident and dared to take part. I was also still unsure about English because a much higher level of vocabulary was needed here.In addition, LeMUN was a huge conference with around 400 people, which is also very big for a first MUN and then the expectations are also higher. The journey there was great fun as we all got on well, but I was very tired from the exams we had that week. In the evening itself, we all worked a bit more on our topics. I had bought myself a suite and a dress set with a jacket. On the first day and the third day I put on my suit, which was very warm for the temperature, but with the dress I got really cold outside and sometimes inside too. However, I was very happy and excited to put them on. On the first day, I was still very unsure and felt a bit uncomfortable, lost and overwhelmed. Almost everyone around me spoke German, which made it easier to socialise at first. I got on very well with all the girls. Our committee was actually only made up of girls. There were only 3 of us boys. We started writing the solution on the morning of the first day. We started debating the first topic at lunchtime.By the end of the first day, we had agreed on a solution from the first topic. On the second day, we then discussed the other two topics. However, it was difficult to have a big discussion as many countries in my committee (UNICEF) were of the same opinion. Except for Russia, which made the second topic a bit more exciting, as it was about the Ukrainian war. Ukraine was also represented.On the third day, the last topic was finished and we drove back towards lunchtime. By the end of the weekend I had made lots of new friends and acquaintances. I dared to go beyond my own limits and learnt to speak in front of strangers. It was a great experience that I would definitely recommend.