Carleton MNATO military committee posing with signs.

Dispatch from the Carleton Model NATO: Olubunmi Onilude’s blog from the field

Photo credit: Olubunmi Onilude

By Olubunmi Onilude, MIPP

I had the privilege of participating in the Model NATO 2024 conference hosted by Carleton University, which took place from the 22nd to 25th of February 2024. The experience was nothing short of transformative. As I reflect on the journey from Toronto to Ottawa and the whirlwind of activities that unfolded over the weekend, I am struck by the wealth of knowledge and invaluable insights I gained from the experience.

The MNATO began with opening addresses from Anne Mattson Gauss, NATO International Staff in Political Affairs, and Leona Alleslev, former Chair of Canada’s Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Both discussed NATO’s operations and Canada’s defense policies, setting a poignant tone for the conference. Following the speeches, delegates networking, allowing for invaluable exchanges with speakers and fellow participants representing the NATO Alliance countries and their home universities.

Day 2 began with diplomatic visits to the US and German embassies. Walking past the majestic, yet under-construction Parliament, we arrived first at the US embassy, where we met with the Ambassador to Canada. At the German embassy, we met with several officials, including a military attaché, who enriched our understanding of international relations and defense dynamics.

The crux of the conference unfolded in the committee sessions, where delegates debated and formulated communiqués on pressing issues facing the Alliance. Representing Romania in the Military Committee, I advocated for my country’s stance on key issues such as air policing strategies during the crisis simulation, and implementation planning, amongst others, navigating through rounds of deliberations and negotiations. These sessions underscored the importance of effective communication and negotiation skills, which are pivotal to garnering support for the formulated communiqués.

Day 3 consisted of fervent committee sessions culminating in the passage of crucial communiqués, notably addressing the imperative of interoperability amidst escalating tensions. The exciting part of Day 3 had to be the crisis intervention administered by the North Atlantic Committee which prompted immense cooperation within the committee. The plenary session with the North Atlantic Committee provided a platform for a comprehensive review and endorsement of communiqués from various committees, encapsulating the essence of collaborative diplomacy.

The conference closed with a thought-provoking address from the Deputy Director of NATO Policy of the Canadian Department of National Defense, Ashley McCauley. Her insights resonated deeply, emphasizing the significance of collective commitments in international organizations—a poignant reminder of the responsibilities incumbent upon member states.

While reflecting on the simulation, it became evident that despite the plethora of topics at hand, the focus on interoperability remained paramount . Interoperability – NATO’s goal is that all states collectively work together to ensure the achievement of the Alliance’s objectives. Against the backdrop of geopolitical uncertainties and Russia’s aggressive stance, the need for concerted action and defense preparedness became glaringly apparent. All members, including Canada, need to meet the 2% GDP investment in national defense not only to advance NATO’s collective security objectives but to bolster individual states’ resilience against potential threats.

Participating in Model NATO 2024 not only deepened my understanding of NATO’s operations but also honed my skills in effective communication and negotiation within a global context. As an aspiring policymaker, the experience emboldened me to challenge existing paradigms and advocate for initiatives aligned with global imperatives.

Model NATO 2024 served as a crucial forum for fostering diplomatic acumen and a deeper appreciation for the symbiotic relationship between global diplomacy and defense preparedness. It is incumbent upon us, as stewards of international peace and security, to heed the lessons gleaned and champion collaborative endeavors towards a safer and more secure world.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the BSIA, its students, faculty, staff, or Board of Directors.

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