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Queen's students come top at UK-wide Model NATO

Students from the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics have come top in the annual UK-wide Model NATO competition held remotely this year.

Model NATO 2021

Model NATO 2021 was a simulated response to a natural disaster impacting NATO allies in the Mediterranean. Discussions were chaired by professional diplomats, with diplomats, armed forces personnel and academics advising teams throughout the simulation.

The competition was sponsored by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, NATO’s Public Diplomacy Section and the British International Studies Association. 

The Queen’s team was one of 14 other universities throughout the UK taking part including Birmingham, Cardiff, Coventry, Kent, Kings College London, Leeds, Newcastle, Plymouth, Sheffield, South Wales, Staffordshire, Stirling, Surrey, Westminster, in total representing 30 NATO allies.

The final year Queen's students represented Slovakia and the UK and were coached by Professor Alister Miskimmon, Head of the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics. The team included Sunniva Henden and Joe Reilly representing the UK, and Bebhinn Tankard and Matthew Dumigan representing Slovakia. 

The UK team received the Outstanding Delegation Award (first place). The event featured addresses from the UK Deputy Head of Mission at NATO, as well as from the NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy which gave the students further insight into the practice of diplomacy.

Reflecting on the experience Sunniva Henden said, "I have been interested in diplomacy for a long time, and participating in Model NATO has given me a clearer idea of what skills I need to further develop, and what Queen's resources I need to take advantage of while I’m still a student to potentially achieve a future career in diplomacy. Participating in Model NATO has taught me the complicated intricacies of diplomacy, and how difficult it can be to get your own aims and policies recognised and accepted within a multilateral setting. It also taught how to manoeuvre through the world of online diplomacy.”

Joe Reilly added: "Without a doubt, the thing I learned most taking part in the Model NATO is the importance of preparation. Whilst nothing could have ever quite captured the experience (29 other teams clamouring to get their policies implemented!), our earlier research made sure we weren’t overwhelmed and knew where to concentrate our efforts on the day. After completing my History degree at Queen’s, I’m hoping to do a Master’s that looks more at international politics. For me then, the BISA Model NATO 2021 was a real wake-up call: every delegate had their own agendas, priorities, and red lines, so it was incredibly complex act trying to get everyone to reach a consensus." 

Professor Alister Miskimmon commented: “I’m incredibly proud of what our Model NATO 2021 team achieved this year. Bebhinn, Joe, Matthew and Sunniva worked exceptionally well together in preparing for the event and demonstrated superb communication, team building and negotiation skills during the event. This was a fantastic event for our students to be involved in, gaining a real sense of the intricacies of how diplomats seek to forge responses to international crises."