MPPGA Students Win Best Position Paper Awards at Carleton Model NATO Conference

SPPGA MNATO Conference

In February, Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs hosted over 100 students from across Canada for the Model NATO Conference, an intensive four-day simulation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. UBC Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPPGA) students Nicole Ng and Mahnan Omar won two out of three Best Position Paper awards with their persuasive arguments for Slovenia and Iceland. Ng and Omar were a part of a delegation representing UBC, along with fellow MPPGA students Tanya Dawar, Daniel Beltranena and David Mayfield.

As a deeply immersive experience, this annual, Ottawa-based event provides an excellent challenge for students to engage in high-level decision-making and crisis management processes. It also offers a unique opportunity to network with Canadian policymakers, foreign and military policy officials, and diplomats and military officers representing NATO member countries. While taking on the roles of various NATO member state representatives, students must use creative and critical thinking to effectively navigate Alliance politics, addressing conflicting priorities and international security issues with diplomacy.

David Mayfield: The most significant personal growth I experienced through Model NATO was in networking and learning the NATO processes. I had the opportunity to connect with numerous like-minded individuals, all with a deep interest and knowledge in the security sector. Our debates and shared opinions enriched my understanding of the subject. The processes of the NATO committee were particularly enlightening, as they provided a clear insight into how NATO functions as a group. I came to appreciate the importance of consensus-building in NATO, given its consensus-based structure.

Tanya Dawar: Participating in the Model NATO (MNATO) conference was a transformative experience that provided me with invaluable insights into the inner workings of NATO and international peace and security dynamics. Immersing myself in these complexities firsthand deepened my understanding of the challenges and intricacies involved. Furthermore, my participation in MNATO has significantly contributed to my career goals in negotiations and diplomacy. The event offered unparalleled learning opportunities and facilitated invaluable networking connections essential for my growth in this field.

Nicole Ng: Knowing when to intervene and when not to, and being realistic about outcomes in resource, information, and sometimes power-deficient states is what I’d like to think shone through the paper. Technical skills wise— I have been privileged to have had opportunities learning from some of the brightest minds and astute negotiators in the multilateral trade capacity. I also have the MPPGA program to thank for teaching me how to put strategic thinking onto paper.

SPPGA MNATO Conference

Daniel Beltranena: I believe one of the most important takeaways from doing a simulation, such as this one, is that you a given an assigned role that you may not be very familiar with. It is your job to put aside personal ideology and bias as you take on the role of a NATO member nation. Ultimately, however, this experience is more about how you can agree on democratic values and find compromise among other likeminded minded allies, not unlike the real NATO North Atlantic Council and its many committees

Mahnan Omar: I have four key takeaways. The first is learning to think strategically on your feet under pressure and effectively communicating your stance. The second takeaway is that collaboration is extremely hard but very rewarding. There were 130 of us, so it was challenging, which gave us an appreciation of the process. The third is always having a problem-solving attitude – finding opportunities and constructing solutions, even if they’re a little unconventional. Lastly, as my mother always says, and now I have experienced it, the most powerful person is not the wealthiest person but the person with the strongest network – the same applies to countries. And the SPPGA program positions us well to build a strong and lasting network.