Behold, the Cameroon International Model United Nations (#Camerimun19) Conference finally enshrined an indelible mark in the annals of history, as close to a hundred youths across Africa converged on the International Relations Institution of Cameroon (IRIC), Yaoundé.
For about two decades, there’s been an upsurge in global conflict. In African in particular, many countries are either witnessing or recovering from unprecedented consequences of conflict. Sub-Saharan Africa alone registered 12 disputes in 2018 (www.statista.com), resulting in untold humanitarian crises. Women, girls, and children often bearing the brunt, not as prime movers of such struggles, but mostly due to their primary role of family care.
In its Global Humanitarian Overview of 2018, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) disclosed that conflict remains the main driver of humanitarian needs — with circa 134 million people needing humanitarian assistance and protection universally.
Consequently, the focus of Camerimun this year on ‘building sustainable peace in Africa for future generations’, couldn’t have been timelier and welcomed. Especially through its in-depth emphasis on mainstreaming of women in such process (in the UN Women Committee), and in seeking concrete pathways to protecting the rights of African refugees (in the UNHCR Committee).
Present at the official opening ceremony were diplomats representing corresponding Diplomatic Missions in Cameroon, including Mr. Koji MIZUMOTO (from Japan), Mr. Dan Sayon Toby (from Liberia), Mr. Simon SEROUSSI (from Israel), Mme. Paulette BEAT SONGUE (from UN Women), Mme. Peggy PENTSHI-a-MANENG (from UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)), etc. They took turns each to justify the indispensable essence for all — especially the youths — to engage in building sustainable peace and bequeathing same to upcoming generations.
Some dignitaries at the official opening of Thursday 18th April
In his welcome remarks, the director of IRIC, Mr. Salomon EHETH, who solemnly declared the conference open, appreciated the gesture, and further accentuated that to build sustainable peace, one had to consider that peace wasn’t just the absence of conflict…and couldn’t be built through warfare either. Peace was an activity and not a passivity, cultivated from inside-out.
Cross section of delegates and guests at the official opening event
This year’s Model United Nations (MUN) conference in Cameroon ran from 18th to 20th April 2019. The various conferees were of Somalian, Malian, Ivorian, Gambian, Nigerian, and Cameroonian origin.
Two main committees were under review — the UN Women Committee, and the UNHCR Committee. Delegates for the 2 committees represented the following countries: Algeria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Switzerland, UK, Yemen, etc.
UN Women Committee in a moderated caucus session
During the moderated and unmoderated caucuses that characterized the committee sessions, respective country delegates or delegations raised thought-provoking motions of global interest, as they debated on different thematic related to building sustainable peace in Africa and defended the interest(s) of the countries they represented.
Moderated caucus, UNHCR Committee
Prior to adjourning the meeting last Saturday 20th, the final suggestions and action plans from different country delegations per committee, were submitted through working papers, which were later amended and condensed into draft resolutions — and finally voted as resolutions.
Unmoderated caucuses: through which working papers, and eventually draft resolutions were churned-out.
Camerimun also featured visits to the Embassies of Japan and Liberia, and the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC). A farewell dinner later separated the delegates….
Visits to different diplomatic missions
The President of the closing plenary session, Mohammed Al Mokhtar, a seasoned ‘MUNer’, sounded upbeat about the strides made, and milestones attained. He was hopeful that the conference had placed the delegates on a pedestal that would boost the attainment of their career goals, given that — inter alia — the diplomatic, public speaking, negotiation, networking skills acquired, were a common denominator, irrespective of anyone’s field of study.
The occasion ended with awards of certificates of participation, recognition, and distinction to either delegates, volunteers, and or organizers. The categories per committee were — best position paper, honourable mention, most outstanding, verbal mention, and overall best delegate.
#Camerimun19: 3days of panache, diplomacy, camaraderie, and cultural razzmatazz
In her concluding word, Sophie N. Monono, Camerimun Team President (and the brain behind Camerimun) couldn’t help her inconsolable satisfaction. She broke into sobs in the process. She acknowledged that it was the team spirit of the organizers, volunteers, delegates, and other stakeholders, that made the event a resounding success — despite the nerve-wracking challenges that marked the preparatory and executory phases.
Anyway, the satisfaction was not a reserve of Sophie alone. It was a mutually-shared concern. At the end, the testimonies expressed by delegates further endorsed the beautiful smiles they wore on their faces.
‘As I was learning diplomatic tips and how resolutions are adopted by the UN General Assembly, I got to know how and why some resolutions couldn’t be adopted (in time) or [why they] failed to pass’, stated the Malian-born Mariko Sidy (Iran’s delegate for UN Women Committee). He is currently a PhD candidate in governance & regional integration, at the Pan African University.
‘Camerimun is a necessity if a student wants to…be a global citizen. It created in me the desire and necessity not to only focus on issues that concern my country, but to understand and [consider] issues that concern other countries…[and] to be a great world peace-builder. Through Camerimun, I acquired confidence, leadership, and diplomatic skills’, Kemei Anabel Meng (a Cameroonian PhD student in bioethics and feminist philosophy, University of Yaoundé I, and co-founder of Making HERstory Foundation, which aims at restoring and maintaining a sense of autonomy in young women). She represented India and won the overall best delegate award for the UN Women Committee.
Muhammed Tambedou, delegate from The Gambia who represented Ethiopia in the UNHCR Committee, stated that the experience…from Camerimun 2019 was…wonderful and…educative.
‘I…learned a lot from the interaction with other delegates…. Our interactions were really diplomatic. I…practiced what I only learned in theory and it was an amazing experience’, he confessed. Tambedou won the prize for the outstanding delegate, UNHCR Committee. He holds 2 HNDs, one in diplomacy, and another in computer science, electric engineering and marketing; and a BSc. in business management. He is currently pursuing LLB in law. And is equally a writer, slam poet, speech writer, and marketing officer at #Batimat!
In the words of Bekoy Danielle Francine Marica, ‘while I was coming to the MUN, I was afraid firstly because I [had] never attended it [before]. So, it was like an uncharted territory, and secondly because of the obligation to speak in English [as someone whose first official language was French]. But, I [was] encouraged to know that the work I did [was] perfectly recognized and honoured’, Danielle revealed.
‘I met many delegates who were enthusiastic and did their best to defend their country of representation. Many of them helped me as well to understand…. All the [organizers] were friendly and open to any preoccupation I had’, Danielle emphasized.
Danielle came from Cameroon to represent the Federal Republic of Somalia, and her position paper emerged best amongst equals in the UNHCR Committee.
‘Honestly, Camerimun was a dream come true to me’, Awantu Christian, a delegate from Cameroon who represented Algeria in UNHCR.
‘…The peak of it was when I really read much information concerning my country of representation in order to better defend it. What crowned it was when I saw myself actually-defending the country so well alongside the other delegates. The UNHCR Committee was known by all as ipso facto debaters because we were so engaged in the debates on the [various] topics’, Awantu mentioned.
‘In fact…, I am Model UN thirsty because exchanging with people from other parts of the world to get the way forward, couldn’t be more empowering, enlightening and reflective. l laud the organisers for this [MUN conference]!!!’, he asserted. Awantu has MSc. in biotechnology and animal production (University of Dschang). He is very passionate about youth empowerment and civic education, environmental protection, entrepreneurship and above all, he believes in making Africa…a better place to be.
‘Cameroon International Model United Nations Conference was my first MUN experience…. I…really enjoyed and learnt about the world and how it works. I learnt how to fight diplomatically over foreign policies of [one’s] country of representation [on] International arenas. One thing I will always remember is meeting with some smart diplomatic people’, Mohamed Dugoow (of Somalian origin), who represented South Sudan in the UNHCR Committee. He is a youth activist and advocate, and diplomat by profession, with master’s in international relations and diplomacy.
Keira from Cameroon (middle), flanked by delegates from other African countries, few minutes to the latter’s departure through Nsimalen Airport, Yaoundé.
The Model United Nations (MUN) Conference was in its 2nd edition in Cameroon, after the first edition, captioned Sub-Saharan International Model United Nations (SAIMUN) took place in Yaoundé from 30th October to 1st November 2017, under the theme, ‘from crisis to crisis, terrorism and refugee crisis in Europe and Africa.’
#Camerimun19 had as co-institutional collaborators: GISMA, Open World Platform, Foundation for Peace and Solidarity, YAWIDIAN, and Synergie Jeunesse et développement.
Photo credit: #Camerimun19