Norwich School Blog

L6 Pupil Bibi Shares Her Experience of NORMAC

This weekend, Norwich School hosted the sixth ever Norwich Model Arctic Council (NORMAC). We welcomed delegates from Colegio Ayalde Bilbao, Spain, Gordon’s School, Woking, Langley School and Norwich High School For Girls. L6 pupil Bibi reports on the experience:

As young people passionate about Arctic dialogue and crucially diplomacy, we, the NORMAC 6 Secretariat felt, and continue to feel, it crucial to condemn the Russian invasion on Ukraine. Our conference unfolded against a backdrop of conflict and due to the nature of the consensus-based work of the Arctic Council, on 3rd of March (the day NORMAC 6 was opened), the Arctic Council was suspended. The tragic events that have occurred and continue to occur in the Ukraine made it even more important for us to demonstrate, through NORMAC, our commitment to peace and cooperation.

Over the course of the weekend, all students involved (delegates from Langley School, Norwich High for Girls, Gordon’s School and Colegio Ayalde; and the secretariat from Norwich School) have had an educational and entertaining experience. The delegates soon found their feet in their discussions, and have been able to utilise their formal and informal discussion time to collaborate with each other and build consensus on many of their clauses and their declaration. Octavia, our Deputy Secretary, said that ‘as someone who has done both OMAC 1 and 2 [Online Model Arctic Council], NORMAC has provided the in-person experience that OMAC couldn’t. It has been really nice to see delegates speak both diplomatically and in the social events. I’m really proud of their discussions.’

The delegates have also given their insight: Antonia from Norwich High said ‘It has been a really interesting experience and something I’ve never done before, it’s lovely to meet people in an environment that feels professional but also fun – because you can make friends whilst also getting stuff done, and getting in to the role.’ and William from Langley School said ‘it feels like you are in the real Arctic Council’.

My personal experience with Model Arctic Council began with Norwich School – after joining the Model United Nations society, I soon signed up for the OMAC Delegate Training in November 2021 and participated in OMAC 2 in December 2021, representing the Saami Council with Octavia. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to participate not only in OMAC 3, but also other in-person MACs in the future. I was very excited to get involved with NORMAC, and decided to be on the media team with Mary, our Head of Media, as it was something I’d never done before and I wanted to experience something new. I’ve found it really interesting, as it has allowed me to meet lots of people and gain a really valuable form of work experience. Together, Mary, Octavia and I have run the Instagram and the Twitter for @PolarMACs, posting photos, information and frequent updates from the conference.

Although many taking part in both delegations and secretariat have been involved in Model United Nations, Model Arctic Council has been a new experience for them; Thomas from Langley School commented on this aspect: ‘I find the different way of debating and discussion fascinating, as it is very different to Model UN’. This is because the Arctic Council (and therefore the Model Arctic Council) involves the full participation of Arctic Indigenous peoples alongside Arctic States, and requires consensus on decisions for them to pass. This means delegates must work collaboratively, whereas Model UN can often feel more aggressive because they are searching for the majority rather than the whole. May, our Chief Rapporteur, who has also been involved in OMAC 1 & 2 and is the president of the Arctic Club, gave her input on the subject: ‘working in a consensus building body is a very refreshing environment in modern day politics, where everybody has to collaborate and agree for the greater good of the Arctic, which is something I’m really passionate about.’

The sixth Norwich Model Arctic Council has been a joy to help orchestrate from the perspective of the secretariat, and we hope it has been a joy to take part in from the perspective of the delegates.