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The Asia-Pacific Model United Nations Conference (AMUNC) is one of the largest and most prestigious tertiary Model United Nations conferences in the world. This year it was held from 7-12 July in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand and what Lonely Planet has dubbed the “Coolest Little Capital in the World.” 370 students from universities across the region, including Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Samoa converged on the city to continue the original mandate of the conference, which is meaningful engagement with important global issues in the spirit of collaboration promoted by the United Nations. This year’s theme of “Breaking Barriers” signaled the intent of AMUNC 2013 to play a positive role in addressing the problems which plague our world at a time of constant change and flux.

The ANU sent a delegation of 25 students to the conference, who were represented in a diverse range of committees, including the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Over the course of five days, students worked to pass a resolution on their prescribed topics, whether it was the operation of private military companies, developing a post-Kyoto Protocol framework for addressing climate change, or effective aid management.

Concluding the week of committee debate, all delegates came together in Wellington’s magnificent Town Hall, where they debated and eventually voted on the question of the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic. The crisis in Syria proved to be just as divisive among AMUNC delegates as it is in real life, made particularly clear by the response to the action of the delegate representing the United States to unilaterally send troops into Syria.

Other highlights of the conference included the social events, such as a “Global Village”-style event at New Zealand’s National Museum and culminating in the Finale Ball themed “New York, New York”, celebrating the home of the United Nations.

Delegates also had the opportunity to attend a speaker event, on topics ranging from democratisation in the Asia-Pacific to constitutional representation and protection of indigenous peoples in the region. During the speaker event, delegates were able to listen to the expert insights of aid workers, diplomats and academics, insights that cannot be gained just from reading newspaper headlines.

The ANU performed outstandingly in their respective committees, which led to several students being recognised at the Closing Ceremony, receiving two Best Delegate awards, three Diplomacy awards and three Honourable Mentions. The ANU delegation’s achievements and conduct during AMUNC 2013 led to it being recognised as the “Best Large Delegation” at the Finale Ball. This was a source of immeasurable pride for the ANU students present, and is a testament to their calibre of delegates and hard work in the lead-up to and during the conference.

AMUNC 2014 will be held in Brisbane.

Andaleeb Akhand attended AMUNC 2013 and is a member of the ANU UN Society.