Northumbria students at BISA FCDO Model NATO 2024

BISA/FCDO Model NATO - A case study by Northumbria University

This article was written by Karyan Coates Nieto - History and Politics, Jacob Hosek - History and Politics, Dan Copson - International Relations and Politics Professor Helena-Farrand Carrapico - International Relations and Politics
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We are a group of three undergraduate students at Northumbria University who were chosen to participate in the BISA/FCDO Model NATO through our final-year module, 'War Games: Negotiating Security Through Simulations.' This module, led by Professor Helena Farrand Carrapico and Dr Kirsten Haack, assessed our capacity to simulate the renegotiation of a section of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Throughout the simulation, we assumed various roles within the negotiation delegations of both the UK and the EU.

The BISA/FCDO Model NATO introduced us to a hypothetical scenario involving an environmental disaster encompassing earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and flooding. This catastrophe resulted in thousands of deaths, casualties, and extensive infrastructure damage across the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkan regions. Throughout the simulation, new developments within the scenario arose, guiding our actions and influencing our decision-making process as the day progressed. Our objective was to collaborate with fellow delegates to formulate a cohesive NATO logistical and operational response to the crisis.

The Northumbria delegation was tasked with representing North Macedonia, one of the countries most affected by the crisis. With Karyan Coates Nieto as the political representative within the North Atlantic Council, and with Jacob Hosek and Dan Copson sitting in the Military Committee, the Northumbria delegation strove to generate support for draft language and amendments prioritising the distribution of aid to North Macedonia, as well as other affected countries. While Western representatives were prompt in providing assistance for relief efforts, we also faced the challenge of allocating resources for other NATO priorities and managing conflicting interests among certain allies. This included balancing the requirement to maintain troops and equipment in the Baltics to safeguard our border with Russia, fulfilling our commitment to supporting Ukraine, and reaching consensus on providing humanitarian aid for Cyprus and the Gaza Strip. Strategically, we collaborated with other delegations to establish a coalition primarily comprising smaller NATO states, facilitating the smoother passage of texts and amendments. Through this approach, we achieved favourable outcomes, including the deployment of NATO's Joint Force Air Component and Very High Readiness Joint Task Force to the affected regions. Additionally, we successfully advocated for the establishment of an aid hub in North Macedonia, which also addressed concerns raised by the French delegation regarding the utilization of the UK's RAF Akrotiri base in Cyprus.

From an educational standpoint, participating in the BISA/FCDO Model NATO not only allowed us to apply the negotiation skills honed in the War Games module but also provided invaluable insights into NATO's disaster response protocols. Throughout the simulation, we gained a deep understanding of NATO's inner workings, procedural mechanisms, the role and functions of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), and the organisational structure of NATO forces and command. The experience proved to be unlike any other we had encountered before; it was both challenging and immensely rewarding. Even during breaks and casual interactions, delegates remained engaged in strategising and negotiating. Once the simulation commenced, we seamlessly transitioned into the flow of discussions, drawing upon our academic knowledge and adapting our strategies based on peer feedback and guidance from the Chairs. One of the key skills we developed was the ability to adopt a holistic and comprehensive approach to problem-solving and negotiation. Many solutions required addressing seemingly unrelated issues, and decisions often intersected with political considerations and priorities unrelated to the immediate crisis. On a personal level, this exercise significantly bolstered our confidence in tackling similar challenges in the future.

Professionally, the event presented an incredible opportunity to network with fellow students from diverse backgrounds, each offering unique insights and perspectives that broadened our worldviews. Additionally, engaging with professionals from BISA, FCDO, and the Ministry of Defence proved invaluable, as they generously shared career advice and guidance. The experience served as a significant motivator for exploring career paths in the diplomatic and civil service sectors, as well as in lobbying. It underscored the importance of fostering connections within these fields and provided valuable insights into potential career trajectories.

To students considering participating in the Model NATO next year, we wholeheartedly encourage you to seize this opportunity. The benefits of engaging in this event are immense. We advise dedicating a significant amount of time to preparation, as while it is a collaborative exercise, active participation, involvement, and the ability to draft acceptable text are essential for success. Additionally, remember to enjoy the experience! The event is meticulously organised, providing a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the FCDO building. Moreover, it offers a valuable chance to connect with like-minded students and experts from academia and the civil service. Make the most of every aspect of the event and embrace the opportunity to learn, network, and grow.