Model United Nations (MUN) is an experiential, simulation-based learning model designed to get younger generations involved in solving the most pressing challenges and educate school learners of all ages on the intricacies of diplomacy and international relations. IE University encourages students to participate in MUNs around the world.

Every year, thousands of students travel to various locations worldwide to engage each other on topics of global importance. The Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) conference is recognized as the community’s premier gathering—the highest level of competitive debate, negotiation and collaboration in the circuit. It was held earlier this year and, at 4,000 delegates, attracted its biggest number of participants yet.

IE University at HNMUN 2024

At IE University, we give interested students a chance to take part in various MUN simulations around the world. Through IE Debate Club, you can become a delegate representing the university at conferences like the HNMUN, as well as at our very own edition—IE University Model United Nations (IEMUN).

Attending the HNMUN is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For many students, it’s the culmination of their long-term dream to reach the top. Arianna Carolina Lopez González, for example, has been a member of the MUN system since high school. “I wondered if I could find a similarly stimulating environment at IE University,” admits the third-year Dual Degree in Business Administration + International Relations student, adding, “Indeed, I found what I was looking for.”

Prepping for the Harvard National MUN

Most of this year’s delegates joined IE Debate Club right from the start. The years since have provided plenty of debate experience and opportunities to practice their new skills. Margarita Peces Collar, for instance, has represented IE University in Boston and Geneva, while others like Antoine Brimbal are veterans of the HNMUN process.  

Antoine was the perfect choice to head this year’s delegate team, alongside fellow student Cassidy Lapp. In this position, he worked with two dedicated faculty advisors, Kevin Febres and Montse Cuetos, to get the team ready for Boston. “This is my third time returning to Harvard for this conference, so I used all my experience and debate expertise to organize workshops and exercises for our delegates,” Antoine explains.

But getting on the team is a competitive challenge all its own. As delegate Shimwa Nyanchera Omanwa explains, “The HNMUN is the highest level of competition that we attend. To be considered for any delegation, you have to complete general training and attend the HNMUN Speech Contest that we organize in the second week of September.” After completing the speech contest, you must also participate in the IEMUN and several other MiniMUNs throughout the six-month training period. 

Support you can count on

“Frankly, the preparation process was rough, especially given that it was my first time debating at the HNMUN, as well as my first time being in the US,” says delegate Maria-Cătălina Văduva. “However, if there’s one thing I value most, it’s that the process we went through culminated in a MiniMUN in partnership with EUROPEA, the Global College and University Carlos III of Madrid.”

Other delegates express similar sentiments, highlighting the unique challenges of the HNMUN preparation process. But from lengthy documents to complex geopolitical issues and everything in between, students were able to overcome these difficulties through resilience, hard work and a healthy dose of collaboration.

However, they said the biggest difference came from the support they received from the university itself. They had the flexibility to skip classes and exams that clashed with conference schedules and were granted access to spaces in both Madrid and Segovia to hold training and practice sessions. And through the sponsorship of IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs, IE Foundation and Campus Life, every delegate was able to make the trip to the HNMUN. “If it were not for IE University’s financial help, I would not have been able to attend this year’s conference, represent the university at an international scale and, most importantly, do one of the things I love the most,” delegate Dario Esteban confesses.

Finally putting it all in action

At the HNMUN, delegates are organized into a series of committees, mimicking the UN’s general organizational structure. Each committee is responsible for tackling a specific global challenge with delegates passionately defending their positions through a process of debate, negotiation and collaboration.

  • Margarita in the World Health Organization committee 
  • Arianna and Dario in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) committee
  • Maria-Cătălina in the Commission on Science and Technology for Development
  • Antoine in the Disarmament and International Security (DISEC) committee

In addition to those previously mentioned, several more students from IE University seized the opportunity to participate in the prestigious Harvard MUN Simulation. Among them were Amy Chemutai Wambui Ngeno, Anna Shatalova, Martina Al Rifai Hajjo, Maria de la Paz Gonzalez Ross, Paul Prinz, Ian Charles Shepherd, Leonardo Sobrecueva di Gesualdo, and Paula Isabella Jamillo.

Going into the conference, the general feeling among our delegates was one of anticipation and excitement. According to Shimwa, “After training for six months straight before the conference—including weekends, holidays and endless late nights—I was eager to finally put into practice what we had been learning and preparing for.” 

Being among such accomplished peers was quite intimidating at first, but our delegates quickly got their footing. They debated wide-ranging topics—from AI and technology, privacy and cybersecurity to public health, development, conflict, international cooperation and so much more. Our students excelled in their categories to various levels and even scooped up a raft of accolades for themselves and IE University too:

  • Lucas Iturmendi received the Outstanding Delegate Award
  • Maria Victoria Felipe received the Outstanding Delegate Award;
  • Leonardo Sobrecueva won the Outstanding Delegate Award; and 
  • Maria-Cătălina Văduva received the Diplomatic Commendation.

A complementary experience

While balancing the HNMUN and their studies was no easy task, our delegates report that it was a worthwhile endeavor. Apart from enriching their resumes, participating in the conference has further proven that their work can have an impact not just for corporations, but for society as a whole. They encourage other students at the university to join IE Debate Club and see what their passions can help them achieve. As Dario puts it: “You have a face, be seen. You have a voice, be heard. You have ideas, make them count.”