Belgian students once again champions in diplomacy

29 March 2024 |

In March, students from all over the world gathered in Taiwan to spend a week debating current issues at the so called world diplomacy championship. No fewer than eight Ghent University students are members of the Belgian team that came home with the world title.

Every year, Harvard WorldMUN (Model United Nations) brings together young people from diverse nationalities and backgrounds to discuss important issues that are also on the United Nations agenda, such as the refugee crisis or the introduction of a global retirement age. The students of MUN Society Belgium also participated again this year


Debating the Syrian refugee crisis

At WorldMUN there is a separate committee for each topic in which different countries participate. During the five-day conference, each participant represents a country other than their own.

August Vermeire (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences) represented Pakistan in the committee on the Syrian refugee crisis: “Due to the sensitivity of this topic, it was not always easy to reach compromises with countries pursuing opposing policies. Nevertheless, after five days of intensive debate and negotiations, we reached a common solution. That's what makes this experience so unique!”

The secret of the Belgian team

The United Nations simulation will also include a competition. Diplomacy, leadership and a thorough knowledge of technical topics are essential to excel in a committee consisting of more than a hundred delegations.

August: “With this victory we have once again put the spotlight on how Belgium is known for its diplomatic qualities."

The Belgian MUN Society Belgium won the title of World Diplomacy Champion for the eleventh time. The secret? The team is a diverse mix of motivated and ambitious students from different disciplines and all parts of the country.

In addition to August, these UGent students were also in the winning team of MUN Society Belgium: Wout Vander Gracht (faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences), Simon Bruneel and Alexander Canetta (faculty of Law and Criminology), Staf Bridelance (faculty of Economics and Business), Judith Van Looveren (faculty of Political and Social Sciences), Ruben Defoort and Wout Serras (faculty of Engineering and Architecture).

Wout Serras is very enthusiastic about the experience: "MUN Society Belgium offers excellent professional opportunities, but even more important is the close group of friends that is created. Going to Taiwan together was a really great experience."

The perfect diplomat

Johan Verbeke, honorary ambassador and UGent professor of Diplomacy, explains the skills of the perfect diplomat. "A good diplomat has a whole set of skills. Negotiation is very important, but many sub-competencies are also part of it."

  • Negotiation: This is a special talent. Compare it with chess. You try to anticipate the opponent's moves and neutralize them preventively. That is absolutely not simple.
  • Speaking: You should intervene with short interventions that work towards a clear point.
  • Writing: When you write a resolution, do it with the right nuance and correct words.
  • Dealing with tact: You should never play on the person. You cannot attack your opponent personally. That must remain at the argumentative, substantive level.

There's more to being a student than just studying. Take the test on and find out which association you will feel at home in.

Read also

Why do student club members wear ribbons?

Each student association has a different ribbon, with different colors and shields, a kind of embroidered 'logo'. But what is the meaning of such a ribbon?


Musical student association: "Every academic year we work very hard towards our concerts"

The Ghent University Symphonic Orchestra (GUSO) is a vibrant symphonic orchestra, entirely for and by students. During the academic year, the musicians enjoy playing and work diligently towards a sparkling double concert. We asked Liesel what makes GUSO so special.


"Student life is not just about drinking and partying"

Ut vivat, crescat et floreat: the student association SK Ghendt is 90 years old. The SK brings together 30 regional clubs, college clubs and pub clubs from Ghent and organises weekly activities for their members. The annual highlight? The commemoration of the occupation of the Gravensteen castle.

SK Ghendt

"We want to trigger students and make them form their own opinions"

There are more student associations in Ghent than might you think. Heard of Engage already? With their activities, they want to make you think critically about different social issues. Board members Hayat, Kezban and Yousra talk passionately about their mission.