In 2013, in a historic first, Harvard University collaborated with Monash University and RMIT University to bring the Harvard World Model United nations conference to Melbourne, successfully outbidding London, Madrid and Paris. WorldMUN was founded in 1991 by a group of Harvard University students, who wanted to create a different kind of Model UN experience. Since that time, it has grown to become the largest and most prestigious Model United Nations conference in the world. Every year, it is hosted by a different city around the world.

2, 100 delegates from over 80 different countries converged on the city from March 18-22. In another historic first, WorldMUN 2013 had a theme – the Millennium Development Goals. Conceived prior to the new millennium and implemented upon its arrival, the MDGs set targets to achieve by 2015 for global development, including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achievement of universal primary education and improvement of maternal health.

Given the scale of WorldMUN, the topics discussed during the course of the conference were almost as diverse as those in the actual UN. Delegates could find themselves discussing the exploitation of migrant workers in the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, or debating mental health in regions of conflict in the World Health Organisation. One could find themselves sitting on the National Transitional Council of Libya or the Chinese Politburo.

The Australian National University was fortunate enough to send a delegation of 25 students to this conference, from first to fifth year, hailing from disciplines as different as Law, Economics, Science and English Literature. The ANU also had another special connection to the conference, with the Patron of WorldMUN 2013 being none other than The Honourable Gareth Evans AC QC.

WorldMUN is considered the “Olympics of Model UN”, and so demands a level of skill that most ANU students had never experienced before. But, despite it being the first WorldMUN for ANU students, they rose admirably to the occasion. So much so that two ANU students secured Best Delegate awards for their committees: Ayeeda Akhand, representing Japan in the World Bank, and Akshath Kale, representing Mauritania in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Given the scale of WorldMUN, and competition from powerhouse nations like Venezuela, Belgium and the United States, who dominate WorldMUN every year, their achievements are all the more admirable.

WorldMUN is an experience like no other, and the chance to meet people from every corner of the world is not one we get everyday. WorldMUN celebrates the differences we have, but more than that, reminds us that trying to solve the world’s most pressing and complex problems is something we all have in common.

Andaleeb Akhand was a delegate at the Harvard World Model United Nations (WorldMUN) Conference this year.