On 1 March, around sixty students slipped into the role of national delegates for a round of simulated Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) negotiations hosted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL). The Model ASEM Switzerland Spin-Off 2017 was organised to mark Asia meets Europe/Europe meets Asia Day. The event was created by the FDFA in partnership with DiploFoundation, the EPFL College of Humanities, EPFL Model United Nations (MUN) and the Asia-Europe Foundation to give young people the opportunity to experience first-hand how multilateral discussions are carried out and to make practical recommendations to ASEM members.
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an intergovernmental forum that brings together countries from the two continents to discuss political, economic and socio-cultural issues of common interest and to strengthen relations between Asia and Europe. It was established in 1996 in view of the need for a meeting point between these two global regions. ASEM comprises 51 member states, the two EU institutions and the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretariat. It helps members create and develop ties among themselves and facilitates multilateral dialogue. ASEM member countries account for 60% of the world’s population today and almost 60% of global GDP.
Switzerland has been a member since 2012 and participates regularly at ASEM summits and conferences. ASEM meetings are an important opportunity to foster dialogue with different Asian countries and to gain an overview of Asia-Europe relations. Switzerland also takes part in ASEM initiatives and specific projects that fall within the scope of its foreign policy priorities.
Model ASEM is a simulation of the ASEM summit. Participants take on the role of different member countries, make statements, negotiate and agree on the final document, which is then presented to the ASEM member states. The recommendations made by the young participants are intended to provide food for thought on the future of Asia-Europe relations. The EPFL event on 1 March culminated in a panel discussion with official representatives from Indonesia, the European Union, the Asia-Europe Foundation and Switzerland.
The simulated negotiations help make ASEM better known and raise awareness of areas of interest between the two continents. They provide participants with an opportunity to dive into the world of international negotiations within multilateral forums.
For the participating students, Model ASEM tests their public speaking skills and requires them to both present and advocate for their ideas. They must also be able to work in teams, demonstrate leadership, be well-prepared for the challenging discussions and have a good knowledge of the positions of the countries they are representing on that day.
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