Wars to Win: Specialized Agencies ready for battle

In 1815, a final treaty was signed in Paris drawing the era of the Napoleonic Wars to a close. In its bicentennial year, North American Model United Nations (NAMUN) delegates will debate the same war -- but the outcome 2,000 years later remains to be seen.

"The delegates will take control of a European nation just as Napoleon crowns himself emperor in 1804," said Christian Paas-Lang, NAMUN 2015's director of Specialized Agencies (SA). "France is on the ascendency."

The Napoleonic Wars is just one of four SA committees that Paas-Lang calls "ridiculously awesome."

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is designed to "test the delegate's knowledge of economic policy and its impact on global affairs." Delegates jump into committee sessions at the height of the Eurozone crisis and in the middle of the first protests of the 2011 Arab Spring.

"The committee will have to juggle the demands of the of the failing European economies and the explosive economic consequences of revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East," Paas-Lang said. One of the things he said he finds most "intriguing" about the committee is that it will emulate exactly the voting structure of the IMF.

"With some adaptations, delegates will be given voting power based on the actual quotas for contributions used by the IMF," he said.

The third committee is the Mongolian Invasions, the second of SA's two "battle committees" (Napoleonic Wars being the first).

"These committees place greater importance on directives, but also leave room for intrigue and diplomacy, with unique resolution styles," Paas-Lang said. Delegates will play historical characters from the period, facing the imminent issues of the unification of Mongol tribes.

Finally, SA hosts the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

"It is the bread and butter of SA, and this year we are taking on a couple of great topics," Paas-Lang said. This year's delegates will take on ebola and its impact on West Africa, as well as the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict -- two of the "most potent, controversial, and dangerous issues of our time."

Paas-Lang said he's happy with the "mix of time periods, topics, and committee mechanics" -- not to mention an organized team of more than 25 staff.

"We've made great steps in figuring out the nitty gritty logistics and mechanics for each committee," he said. "Now training moves on to real simulations of the conference so we can make sure everything works well."

Paas-Lang touts his staff's teamwork, admitting that when he proposed this year's SA topics, he only had a "rough idea" of what they might look like.

"Together, we've had to build the structure of most of these committees -- its rules, its actors, its time period and scope -- from the ground up," he said.

If you're looking for the SA staff between now and February 19, they'll be "testing, tweaking, and reworking" to be sure the experience is "intense, rewarding, and fun for every delegate."