The delegation of students of Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) and National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA) received three awards at the prestigious competition National Model United Nations – NMUN. It was held in New York City from 24 to 28 March. This is now the seventh time a team from Ukraine has taken part in the international Model UN. The resolutions that the students developed will be considered by real UN committees.

Through its participation in the international competition, Ukraine demonstrates its inclusion in discussions of global questions. And for Ukrainian Catholic University, this is also a way to build a wide circle of global partnerships and a global UCU.

The Ukrainian team at the Model UN in New York

The Ukrainian team at the Model UN in New York

Experience and accomplishments of the Ukrainian delegation

The National Model United Nations is a prestigious, international, educational role-playing game, whose participants imitate sessions of various structures of the UN. For universities, it’s an opportunity to show their global involvement and demonstrate academic skills, expertise, and the quality of their service learning.

This year’s Model UN had some 2700 participants, students from throughout the world; 500 more people than last year. Among them were seven students of Ukrainian Catholic University and National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy: Olha Dronyak, Liza Tkach, Viktoriya Deshchakivska, Anna Ustenko, Tetyana Kucher, Solomiya Ohinok, and Khrystyna Dmytryshyn. Their coach was Halyna Protsyk, Assistant Vice-Rector for the Internationalization of UCU and UCU professor. This was the seventh time a united and, for now, single Ukrainian team took part in the NMUN conference.

With a random selection method, this year the Ukrainian team had the honor of representing Albania at five committees of the National Model United Nations. The delegates from Ukraine did their basic preparations and studied all the details of the world and regional positioning of Albania regarding their committee’s agenda, preparing position documents with proposals for resolving problems, and conducting multi-sided discussions to finalize the positions.

Before the start of committee sessions, the Ukrainian team had the honor of presenting its work at a meeting with the new Permanent Representative of Albania to the United Nations, Suela Janina.

The Ukrainian delegation with Suela Janina, Permanent Representative of Albania to the United Nations

The Ukrainian delegation with Suela Janina, Permanent Representative of Albania to the United Nations (4th from left)

“This was a unique opportunity to become immersed in very delicate and important details of the political and diplomatic process, which helped [the students] in the best way possible carry out their roles as Albanian delegates in five committees. Our students impressed the Albanian mission by the level of their preparation and the precision of their questions. There were two all-pervasive priority goals which the Albanian diplomats impressed on the Ukrainian team: a full synchronization of the Albanian position with the position of the countries of the European Union and unquestionable support of Ukraine in its fight with the Russian aggressor,” explained Halyna Procyk, Assistant Vice-Rector for the Internationalization of UCU and coach of the UCU team. The delegation from Ukraine received three awards at the NMUN competition: two for best position documents in the UNEA and IAEA committees and one for the work of the whole delegation in five committees as a Distinguished Delegation. Of the 2700 students, approximately 20% received honors, and this year the Ukrainian team won for a second time (the first time was in 2021).

Halyna Protsyk, coach of the UCU team with Assistant Vice-Rector for the Internationalization of UCU, and UCU professor

Halyna Protsyk, coach of the UCU team, Assistant Vice-Rector for the Internationalization of UCU, and UCU professor (at right)

Khrystyna Dmytryshyn, a student of the Ethics-Politics-Economics program of the UCU Social Sciences Faculty, fulfilled the function of Head Delegate. She shared her impressions of participating in the conference: “The story of my participation in the Model UN started in 2022, and I thank Halyna Protsyk, who this year entrusted me with the role of Head Delegate. I’m glad that I was able to share my experience and advice in the process of preparing our team for the conference. The team of students of UCU and NaUKMA worked well together.”

Khrystyna emphasized that only seven participants from Ukraine took part in the competition, and three students fulfilled the role of single delegates in their committees. To compare, usually delegates of other universities had 15 to 20 per team and had two representatives in their committees.

“We are glad that we received a ‘silver’ award, the Distinguished Delegation Award at NMUN NY 2024, and also two honors for best position documents. By the way, the representatives of the permanent representation of Albania at the UN, whom we had the opportunity to meet in New York, acknowledged our team’s good knowledge of the politics and position of Albania regarding the themes of the conference,” explained Khrystyna Dmytryshyn. “This experience definitely helped me and all the other participants acquire skills which we will use to bring Ukraine’s victory closer in various fields of activity.”

Khrystyna Dmytryshyn posing in the model UN room

Khrystyna Dmytryshyn, a student of the Ethics-Politics-Economics program of the UCU Social Sciences Faculty, fulfilled the function of Head Delegate.

The award for best position document at the committee of the United Nations Environmental Assembly was received by Liza Tkach and Anna Ustenko, and Tetyana Kucher was awarded for the committee of the International Atomic Energy Agency. We note that the participants prepared the position documents a month before the conference. In these texts, the delegation explains its position, policy, and previous developments in the designated country, according to the agenda.

“The NMUN is an opportunity to demonstrate to the whole world the quality of Ukrainian education, and also to acquire unique experience of international and intercultural cooperation. The almost non-stop work during the session days helped us improve skills, including a systematic approach to working with ideas, solving complicated problems, and also the ability to adapt quickly to changing conditions and to demonstrate constructive leadership. I am grateful for this opportunity and expect to use our achievements for better preparation of the Ukrainian team next year,” explained Liza Tkach, a student of the Ethics-Politics-Economics program.

UCU students with their hands on top of each other's in the middle of a semi-circle

Liza Tkach, a student of the Ethics-Politics-Economics program (third from the left). Together with a student of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Liza received an award for the best position document at the committee of the United Nations Environmental Assembly.

Olha Dronyak, another student of the Ethics-Politics-Economics program, represented Albania at the UN General Assembly in the Committee on Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Questions. She worked on the theme of defending the rights of children who are in military conflict zones.

“In the work group, we focused on questions of the accessibility of humanitarian aid and the reintegration of refugee children into a new social environment. This theme is relevant for Albania, since every year it accepts onto its territory thousands of refugee children and their families from various countries, and it also demonstrates its unquestionable support of Ukraine in the war with the Russian aggressor,” explained Olha Dronyak.

Olha also explained that, thanks to her participation in the Model UN, she improved her skills of cooperation, conducting negotiations, public speaking, and policy formation: “Ukraine is actively preparing for membership in the EU and NATO and working to create a tribunal for Russian war criminals, so, I think, the demand for those with international qualifications will be high.”

The student is grateful to UCU for the opportunity to take part in the Model UN. It was this experience that encouraged her to choose international relations as a major for future study at the master’s level.

Olha Dronyak posing in front of the American flag, Ukrainian flag, and UN flag

Olha Dronyak, a student of the Ethics-Politics-Economics program of the UCU Social Sciences Faculty, worked on the theme of defending the rights of children.

Halyna Protsyk, the team’s coach, emphasized that it is not easy to receive awards: “In order to understand the efforts made by our team, think what you need to do to be noticed and awarded from among 2700 people in four days of active work and debates. Our team used a lot of energy for communication and networking. The young ladies were fully immersed in the conference, also informal sessions and interaction, in order to be remembered. They showed that their basic academic preparation, dedication, and desire to serve and be ‘the best versions of themselves’ where they are at the moment will always bring results. I am proud of our team. I am grateful for their phenomenal efforts and that Ukraine is finally showing its concern, active work, and involvement. This is how to build solidarity, partnership, and mutual understanding among countries.”

The students’ resolutions will be considered at actual UN committee meetings.

The resolutions developed by teams during the NMUN will be sent to actual UN committees, where they will be considered at appropriate sessions.

“The Model UN is not a simple competition where you receive ‘a medal.’ This is a special kind of diplomatic activity where they acknowledge you as an effective, mature person who knows not only how to conduct negotiations and observe rules, etiquette, and procedures, but also to build a consensus and in a correct manner work to solve global problems. And it is of the utmost importance that UN committees will consider the work of these young people. This is very motivating and inspiring for their work,” added the UCU coach.

Students from UCU and NaUKMA sitting at Model UN in New York

During a session of the Model UN

The delegation from Benedictine University represented Ukraine.

A team from Benedictine University, in the Chicago area, represented Ukraine at the National Model United Nations in New York. The team received the Honorable Mention Award (similar to a bronze medal) for its work. Professor Joel Ostrow, who for 25 years in a row now has headed the team from the USA at the Model UN, shared his impressions of the work of the Ukrainian delegation and the team from Benedictine University.

“It was a great honor and responsibility for us to represent at the Model UN Ukraine, which suffers daily from illegal Russian occupation and aggression,” said the professor. “Our students took an uncompromising position towards their colleagues who represented Russia and its allies. Sometime co-workers at the conference considered our students ‘undiplomatic,’ though they worked like professional diplomats. And the American students still did everything possible to become Ukrainians for a week, to see the world through the eyes of a Ukrainian, and, in my opinion, they managed to do this.”

The professor also gave special attention to the Ukrainian delegation: “The Ukrainian delegation received the deserved support of organizers and participants. In my 25 years of work at the Model UN, I don’t recall that one of the delegations received such a favorable attitude from all. The Ukrainian students deserved this honor. They demonstrated faithfulness to their position.” So emphasized Prof. Joel Ostrow, and he concluded with “Slava Ukraini!” [Glory to Ukraine!]

The UN is the most important forum for Ukraine right now.

The Ukrainian delegation and the team from Benedictine University also had an opportunity to meet with Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN. In particular, he shared his thoughts on the skepticism of Ukrainians regarding the work of the UN. Because of this skepticism, in the diplomat’s opinion, Ukrainians do not notice how important it is to be present at such a global forum.

Summarizing the meeting with Sergiy Kyslytsya, Halyna Protsyk shared her reflections: “If Ukrainians do not trust and even reject an important forum like the UN, then their positions will not be heard there, discussions will not be held, and total isolation will await Ukraine. We should not have high expectations regarding work in the UN in the area of peace-building. Instead, we have to understand that this organization has its levers to keep the aggressors in the field of view and at a certain, appropriate moment to bring them to accountability. So Sergiy Kyslytsya advises Ukrainians not to be untrusting but to make efforts to convince, to be persistent, and also to educate active youth who can professionally lobby for Ukraine’s interests in the world. The winner will be the one who at the right moment with the right information goes out to convince people. Russia, unfortunately, is now doing that very well, and so we need to stop acting like ‘offended children’ and, instead, actively work,” said Halyna Protsyk.

The Ukrainian delegation posing with Sergiy Kyslytsya

The Ukrainian delegation and the team from Benedictine University after a meeting with Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya (in the middle of the second row) and Prof. Joel Ostrow (in the first row)

The Model UN as a subject at universities

Halyna Protsyk, coach of the UCU team and Assistant Vice-Rector for the Internationalization of UCU, emphasized the extremely important role of Ukrainian universities in the battle with Russian aggression by advocating for Ukraine at international forums.

“UCU and Kyiv-Mohyla Academy are for now the only representatives from Ukraine at the Model UN. We encourage other universities to take part, in order to reach a critical mass of young people who have the appropriate knowledge and experience and will move Ukraine forward, in particular at the diplomatic level,” said Halyna Protsyk.

According to her, the countries with the largest number of universities represented at the Model UN are the USA and Germany (which is in second place for financing the UN budget). Almost every German university has study for the Model UN as part of its academic exercises and subjects.

Halyna Protsyk also added that the participation of Ukrainian Catholic University at the conference for universities is a way to build a wider circle for a global UCU, to create a community of partnerships which foresee international involvement and real influence: “I am glad that our university is a pioneer in this context and already has a good reputation in the international academic community and among organizers of the UN conference.”

We congratulate our students for their significant achievements and wish them success in their diplomatic work, which will bring Ukraine’s victory closer!