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Initiative for International Model United Nations (IIMUN) in Sierra Leone

Fouad Kanneh, Executive Director of IIMUN

Model United Nations (MUN) is a simulation of the real life UN. You take the place of a Country or International Organisations. The aim of the Council is to find out solutions to the problems you have been given as a topic before your conference. Just like the UN, you will have a chance to draft resolutions and final update solutions to some important issues of today, such as disaster management, climate change, peace and security.

The Initiative for International Model United Nations (IIMUN) is an extension of MUN Organisations around the world. IIMUN simulate the UN systems by having youth delegates step into the shoes of international diplomats from UN member states and act on their behalf through a lens of a current event.

The establishment of IIMUN was enabled in 2017 after the present Executive Director Fouad Kanneh attended the Ghana International Model UN (GIMUN) conference in Accra Ghana. Upon completion of the GIMUN conference, he realized that there was no existing Model UN conference in his home country-Sierra Leone. He returned home and established IIMUN. The first IIMUN conference which was held in 2017 happened to be the first Model UN conference ever in the history of Sierra Leone. The second session of IIMUN conference which was held from October 1st to 4th 2018, at the British Council Auditorium and at the well of Sierra Leone parliament; happens to be largest youth-led diplomacy event in Sierra Leone and one of the most authentic UN Simulation in Africa.

In order to make IIMUN more relevant and meaningful, they added three extra activities to the IIMUN conference:

  1. Postal Presentation: this is a story-boarding exercise wherein delegates will identify a problem, devise a solution, and a sustainable plan to the solution; all in a form of drawings. The essence of this program is to improve their skills in time and resource management, hence fostering work collaboration among the delegates.

  2. IIMUN Institutional Visit: opportunities are always given to IIMUN conference delegates to visit and interact with UN officials. Last year, IIMUN delegates visited 7 UN agencies in Sierra Leone.

  3. IIMUN SDGs Community Engagement: this is a post-conference program wherein delegates will have to engage their countries, communities, universities and schools on any of the SDGs.

These are all part of the IIMUN conference completion requirements, and certificates are awarded to delegates after they are done with the IIMUN SDGs engagement program. They held about 100 SDGs community engagement sessions which directly benefited over 5000 people from around West Africa. The essence of this program is to create more awareness on the SDGs; enabling young people to take responsibilities in their respective communities.

Like most startups, Fouad initially experienced challenges in getting people on board; especially stakeholders and donors that were willing to invest time and resources to kick start his project. Managing and motivating IIUM personnel was a learning process, mainly because they had to be trained to understand UN systems, as it was a novel MUN experience.

He also encountered challenges when some delegates were nervous, as they were shy of being put on the spotlight, but eventually he gave them words of encouragement, and boosted their confidence; which reflected in their articulation of global issues; like climate change, peace and security, and their passing of resolutions.“Significant time, and effort is also spent in the preparation of the simulation; but it’s worth it knowing that you’re preparing young leaders to meet the increasing global challenges”, said Fouad. He explained that he is focusing on the opportunities created by challenges, as opposed to being stuck in thinking about the obstacles; which impedes growth and fogs the pathway to success.

Fouad is working on ensuring that more youth leaders take part in the simulation of the United Nations in the subsequent years; which will result in the development of younger leaders by 2022. He calls on all those who plan to Model the United Nations, to be sure that it is what they want, and be driven by their passion; as being purposeful and passionate are critical in every undertaking.

As for those who are still struggling with their startups, Fouad sums up three steps that’ll motivate you to act.

  • First and foremost, identify your value proposition, and design a driven strategy within the proposition.

  • Secondly, do not worry about finance. Your role is to invest your thinking into making your idea/initiative valuable. Once that is achieved, the finance will follow.

  • Thirdly, believe in your passion and run with your vision. Don't wait; there is never a better time to start than now.

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