The choice of Taipei, capital of Taiwan, as the location for the 2010 Harvard World Model United Nations conference was the basis for numerous exciting discussions: the island of Taiwan (officially known as the Republic of China) is a grey zone of international law. While it is seen as a renegade province by China the UN General Assembly decided in 1971 to only accept Taiwan as the representative of mainland China. Until today, Taiwan is recognized as a sovereign state by only 22 nations; the PRC threatens military action should Taiwan formally declare independency.
The special political significance of holding a United Nations event – be it only a student simulation – in Taiwan became obvious when the 2000 students from around the world were greeted by Ma Ying-jeou, the president of the Republic of China, himself during the Opening Ceremony. This topic shouldn’t be the only to be one to be intensely debated during the coming days.
Among other things, resolutions covering the issues of drug smuggling, nuclear non-proliferation treaties, cyberterrorism as well as (simulated) acute war situations were proposed, amended and eventually voted upon. Our delegation had been allocated the representation of Iran, which was a special challenge in several of the committees. To enable us to actively represent Iran’s (i.e. ‘our’) standpoints we had to thoroughly prepare, delving into background research and past resolutions pertaining to our topics. The result was active participation in the ensuing debates, the intensity of which only grew as the conference neared its end.
During the day we were therefore occupied in heated discussions with other students – these arguments were however quickly forgotten during the nightly Social Events. During a traditional Chinese Year celebration, a Cabaret Night or a Kung Fu Show we not only got to know students from all around the world, but also learnt a lot about the culture and tradition of Taiwan. Only some of us could join the Post-Conference Trip organized by local students, which took us across the (relatively small) country. While some of us enjoyed the fascinating island some more, those unlucky enough to have pressing matters back home returned with fresh impressions, international friendships and successful resolutions.