MUN Diplomacy Week officially started on the 5th March this month. It formalised the already stimulating nature of HEC, Paris to address a very important democratic principle of MUN, diplomatic discourse and thought-provoking debate. It was personally challenging, yet extremely rewarding. In more ways than one, it proved to unite each and every participant through the inspirational discussions that occurred in and outside the classroom. We heard from representatives of the UN discussing the major problems of Middle Eastern politics and foreign policy. While, the negotiation and debating MUN Workshops cultivated the basic skills needed to thrive, during the competitive, political and dynamic tenure of Diplomacy Week. Despite my lack of experience doing MUN and debating, I was hopeful that I could at least do a good job. However, that hope was somewhat dented by the news that I would be representing the USA at the WTO (World Trade Organisation) amid the controversy and anger over recent Steel and Aluminium tariffs! I knew that all I could do was prepare, but would that even be enough?
With the MUN delegations beginning at the weekend, my teammate, Henry and I had ample time to strategize our plan of action for the next three days ahead. Our biggest question was, do we represent Trump and his trade agenda faithfully or do we act more diplomatic? It would certainly be easier to ignore Trump’s recent bashing of the WTO, and its members for unfair anti-reciprocal trade regimes. Nevertheless, we believed it would be more realistic and authentic to enact the true spirit of the Trump administration despite the backlash and criticism it could bring. We attended the debating workshops, wrote our position paper and prepared our opening speech for what would turn out to be a very eventful yet educational weekend ahead.
The diplomacy weekend kicked-off with an opening ceremony hosted by the M.U.N Committee who had organised a welcome speaker from the U.N. It was my first time in the great auditorium at HEC and the sense of excitement that filled the room stung you as you entered the large hall, with everyone keen to hear the key words of advice from the U.N diplomat. It was an excellent way of starting the weekend off on the right track as it allowed students to gain important insight into the reality of diplomacy at the highest-level in global institutions. It gave me the chance to see the true nature of diplomacy, the goodness that drives its virtue to change the world for the better that must always compete with the co-existing pitfalls of bureaucracy and corrupted power. It gave me food for thought on how to conduct our team’s tactics for the weekend’s events.
Our first morning started early, with a hum of chatter filling the room in anticipation of the day ahead. The proceedings were very formal and we started the first day off by immediately addressing the elephant in the room; the steel and aluminium tariffs we were threatening to impose on all WTO members. The convoluted topic pervading all procedures of the WTO for the coming 48hours until eventually a deal was made. Countries ignored us, trade unions were designed and created in spite of us and eventually we were left right at the beginning again, possibly even less popular than before! Therefore, we had to move, and fast. In the end, we arrived at a deal that included all members of the WTO, that promised to ensure fair and reciprocal trade practices.
Possibly considered by individuals such as Trump, as an outcome decided in a moment of softness.
However, to us, it was an outcome of success achieved through strength and a dedication to the WTO’s fair-trade principles that was reached through respectful and inspiring debate. Overall, the week of diplomacy not only taught me how to formally conduct myself as a diplomat; it also allowed me to flourish as a negotiator for some of the most important trade issues of our time. The experience was invaluable and has made me think twice about the true art of diplomacy.