Yale International Relations Association

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The Yale International Relations Association, Inc. (YIRA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit student organization at Yale University. Founded in 1969 by a group of individuals who wished to promote a better understanding of global affairs, YIRA's mission is to raise awareness of and foster debate about international relations and global affairs through a number of unique programs.[1] These include the Security Council Simulation at Yale (SCSY); the Yale Model United Nations Conference (YMUN); the Model United Nations Team at Yale (MUNTY); Hemispheres; the Yale Review of International Studies; a series of speaker events; international trips; and several independent initiatives, including conferences in cities across the world (such as Shanghai, Seoul, and Budapest); and the Yale Model United Nations Institute (YMUNI). YIRA also enjoys consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. With several hundred members hailing from 30 countries, YIRA is one of the largest and most diverse student organizations at Yale University.[2]

Programs and Initiatives

The Yale International Relations Association runs a number of programs and initiatives aimed at increasing knowledge of international affairs, organized entirely by undergraduate students.:[3]

  • Hemispheres is a program in which YIRA members teach afterschool classes on international relations and Model UN to students from New Haven public schools. Hemispheres was established in the early 1990s as the Yale International Education Program (YIEP), which taught geography and international affairs to middle school students and established a Model UN team at a local high school. Due to lack of interest on the part of local school administrators, YIEP was disbanded in 1997. The program has since been restarted and has achieved great success. Hemispheres classes typically take place on Friday afternoons, with Yale students encouraging participants to speak about current issues in foreign affairs, including human rights in Africa, unrest in the Middle East, and the non-proliferation treaty. Students are also taught the basics of Model UN and encouraged to attend YMUN. Thirty New Haven high school students competed at YMUN in 2011. Current schools participating in the Hemispheres program include Common Ground High School and Hill Regional Career High School.


  • The Yale Review of International Studies (YRIS)[4] is an undergraduate publication that publishes long-form scholarship on foreign policy and international affairs. Pieces are typically 600 to 2500 words in length and contributors are Yale faculty and students.
  • The International Relations Symposium at Yale (IRSY) is an annual conference for high school students that features prominent experts in international affairs, college admissions consultations, and an internship recruitment fair. Opportunities are offered free of charge to all attendees, which is possible due to the generous support of numerous Yale University departments and corporate sponsors. IRSY was founded by the YIRA 2010-2011 Executive Director and is administered by the YIRA Board of Strategy and Operations.
  • The YIRA Roundtable is an opportunity for a diverse group of interested YIRA members and Yale College students to meet with eminent guests in the intimate setting of one of the Yale College Fellows lounges. Founded in 2011, the program's weekly breakfasts, lunches and dinners foster an exchange of ideas, opinions, and dialogue. In collaboration with the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, students and guest attendees alike explore issues of national and international scope.
  • International trips are organized and led by YIRA members over fall, winter and spring breaks. Trips generally fall into one of four categories: election monitoring trips, political/investigative trips, community service trips, and Model UN conferences. The Vice-President of YIRA selects trip leaders from a pool of Yale students who have submitted proposals and participants receive substantial subsidies from YIRA. Trips usually involve ten to twelve members. Past trips have included election monitoring trips to Kenya and Mauritania, and a political investigative trip to six countries in the Balkans. YIRA members participated in an election-monitoring trip to Honduras during the Honduran general election, 2009, where they met with leading presidential candidate Bernard Martinez and members of the Tribunal Supremo Electoral.[5] In 2010, YIRA members went to Haiti for another election monitoring trip and met with the major presidential candidates, including Michel Martelly, Mirlande Manigat, and Wyclef Jean. They were often the only international press in the cities they visited, and upon returning to the United States, presented their findings in a widely reviewed gallery opening.[6] In the academic year 2011-2012, YIRA members traveled to Cuba for social and political observation, to Ecuador to film a documentary on tribal politics, to Russia and the United Kingdom to record an oral history of nuclear non-proliferation debates, to Egypt to explore the role of minorities in the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution, and to the Philippines to study how cultural history has shaped the current political situation.

Past Programs and Initiatives

  • The Yale International Speaker's Committee (YISC) was established in 1998 as a method of attracting students who were compelled by the idea of discussing international relations but not interested in Model UN. The committee met with and organized events with foreign dignitaries, who would often hold small dinner discussions after their speeches. YISC also worked closely with the YMUN and SCSY secretariats to find keynote speakers for the conferences. The committee was disbanded in 2009, and the former role of YISC was redistributed amongst the Board of Strategy and Operations.
  • In 2007, YIRA co-sponsored an International Week (iWeek) with the International Students' Organization (ISO). The week consisted of shows held by coalitions of cultural groups, speakers, tournaments, and talks by professors.
  • In 2002, YIRA held a United Nations week. Prominent visitors included Jung Sun-Yong, South Korea's ambassador to the United Nations, Canadian UN ambassador Paul Heinbecker, and British UN ambassador Stewart Eldon. The week was aided in part by support from the Academic Council of the United Nations System and the United Nations Association of Connecticut Home.

Model UN Affiliation

YIRA is responsible for a number of Model United Nations programs, including the Model United Nations Team at Yale and national and international Model UN conferences.

  • The Model United Nations Team at Yale (MUNTY) is an award-winning, traveling collegiate Model UN team that represents Yale and YIRA at national and international conferences. While originally operating as a relatively unknown team, MUNTY improved radically after the implementation of extensive tryouts and thorough training programs in 1997. MUNTY is currently ranked the 10th best team in the nation, according to BestDelegate.com, and has consistently won top delegation awards, including at the World Model United Nations Conference,[7] the University of Pennsylvania Model United Nations Conference, and the Harvard National Model United Nations Conference. In 2010 - 2011, MUNTY won Outstanding Large Delegation at the University of Pennsylvania Model United Nations Conference, Best Large Delegation at the Harvard National Model United Nations Conference, and Best Small Delegation at the World Model United Nations Conference, and Best Small Delegation at World MUN in Singapore.[8] In the 2012-2013 season, the team did not win delegation awards at the three conferences in which it competed. The team is composed of roughly 25 - 35 students who are selected at tryouts held at the beginning of each semester.[9] In the 2010 - 2011 season, MUNTY accepted 11 new members from 133 who tried out, garnering an acceptance rate of 8.2% for the year.[10]
  • The Security Council Simulation at Yale (SCSY) is a collegiate Model UN conference specializing in small, crisis-based committees.[11] The first SCSY took place in 1977 and consisted of only two committees. SCSY takes place early October on Yale's campus and now attracts roughly 400 to 500 delegates annually. The conference is known for its creative and unique committees, which have included The Salem Witch Trials:1692, Paradise Lost: Angels versus Demons, and the Elizabethan Privy Council, alongside more traditional committees such as the Security Council, the Arab League, and the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Past keynote speakers have included Gillian Sorensen, a Senior Advisor to the United Nations Foundation. SCSY XL will take place from October 12–15, 2017.[11]
  • The Yale Model United Nations Conference (YMUN) is a highly regarded conference for high school students that takes place on the Yale campus and in the Omni New Haven Hotel.[12] The first YMUN was held in 1974 and consisted of only an International Court of Justice and a Security Council. Held every January, the conference attracts around 1,500 delegates from all over the world, and offers committees of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and specialized committees, which mostly constitute non-UN organizations, like the United States House of Representatives or fictionalized historical committees, like the Roman Senate. Friday of the conference has traditionally been Yale Day, during which delegates are allowed to attend classes, take organized tours of Yale, and try out new activities, with committee session not starting until late in the afternoon. The YMUN Secretariat also holds a "Yale Showcase" on Friday night, with performances in the arts from some of Yale's clubs and organizations. Saturday is marked by rigorous committee sessions, and delegates spend eight and a half hours in committee and finish resolving the majority of their topics, with the day culminating in the Delegate Dance in the Omni Hotel. Opening ceremonies, held on Thursday before the first committee session, feature a keynote speaker. Past keynote speakers have included John Negroponte, then-United States Ambassador to the United Nations,[13] then-UN General Assembly President Julian Hunte, and Thomas Fingar, then-Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. YMUN is essentially completely run by YIRA members who are Yale students, with includes chairs and members of the Secretariat.[14]
    File:YIRA GA.JPG
    Delegates raise their placards for a vote at the Yale Model United Nations Conference XXXV
  • The Yale Model United Nations Korea Conference (YMUN Korea) is an academically rigorous Model UN conference in Seoul. The conference is unique in that while the core Secretariat consists of Yale students, Korean high school students join Yale students in serving as Under Secretaries-General in a Korean Secretariat team. The inaugural conference took place from March 8 – 11, 2012 and was held in partnership with Seoul National University. Ten of the most successful committees at YMUN were selected for use at YMUN Korea, and the conference also included panels on university life led by Yale students and information sessions with admissions officers from Yale and SNU. The second session parted ways with SNU and welcomed 350 delegates in its inaugural independent year. As of the third session, YMUN Korea's committees are selected and researched separately from those of YMUN. Press Corps has been added this year, and the Vice Chair applicant pool welcomed any international high school and university student. YMUN Korea 2014 will take place from May 16–18, 2014 at the COEX Convention & Exhibition Center in Seoul.[15]
  • The Yale Model United Nations China Conference (YMUN China) is a Model UN conference hosted each year in China. It has been hosted in Beijing, Guangzhou, and, most recently, in Shanghai. All committee directors and Under Secretaries-General at YMUN China are members of YIRA,[16] and all Assistant Directors are high school students or recent graduates with substantial Model U.N. experience.[17] Guest speakers at YMUN China have included the Philippines Ambassador to China,[18] the U.S. Consul General in Guangzhou,[19] and the U.S. Vice-Consul in Shanghai. YMUN China was most recently hosted at Shanghai High School International Division.[20] Since the 2015 conference, YIRA has partnered with Sunrise International Education, with Sunrise serving as the local co-organizer of YMUN China.[21][22] YMUN China has been traditionally hosted on the third week or weekend of August each year. The conference attracts students from international schools from around China and nearby countries, local public schools in China, as well as many students of Chinese or Korean ancestry attending schools in the United States, Canada, and Australia.
  • The United Nations Crisis Simulation at Yale (UNCSY) is a one-day intramural conference organized solely for Yale students with committees selected from the upcoming SCSY conference. UNCSY is meant to provide an introduction to Model UN at Yale.[23] The conference is normally followed by a well-attended evening social. Past committees from UNCSY have included PepsiCo Executive Board, Spanish Reconquista, Ad Hoc Committee on the Financial Crisis, and War of the Roses. The Secretary-General of UNCSY is traditionally the Executive Director of the YIRA Board of Directors, who is assisted by the Chief Operations Officer and Chief Communications Officer of the Board of Strategy and Operations. Registration for UNCSY normally opens in September, about a month before the conference occurs.
  • The Yale Model Government Europe Conference is a model government conference with a unique integrated crisis component, hosted by the Yale Undergraduate Model Government Association, Inc. (YUMGA), a registered student organization at Yale University that was founded in 2010 under the auspices of the YIRA Independent Initiatives Program. The conference is for high school students in Europe and around the world, and the inaugural conference, Yale Model Government Europe (YMGE) 2011, took place in November 2011. Staffed by Yale undergraduate students, the conference took place in Prague, Czech Republic and was attended by approximately 300 students from over 25 different countries.
  • The Yale Model United Nations Institute (YMUNI) is a week-long application-based residential camp at Yale University with the objective of fostering leadership abilities, oratory skills, debate faculties, and a penchant for diplomacy in high school students, with a particular focus on the teaching and practice of Model United Nations. The first ever student-run summer camp in university history, YMUNI's inaugural session in June 2012 will include private sessions from some of Yale University's top diplomats-in-residence, professors, and fellows, exclusive trips to United Nations sessions in New York under YIRA's consultative status, social activities, and training and teaching sessions led by MUNTY delegates and the founders of BestDelegate.com.

Secretariat Structure

Each Model UN conference at Yale is run by a Secretariat, which is responsible for coordinating logistical and substantive aspects of the conference. Each Secretariat consists of a Secretary-General, one or two Directors-General, Under-Secretaries General (tasked with handling one aspect of the conference), and Assistant-Secretaries General, junior members of the Secretariat who assist a specific Under-Secretary General. Committees are run by dais teams, which typically include Directors, Moderators, Crisis Directors, and staffers. In sum, some 150 undergraduates work on each of YIRA's primary conferences, SCSY and YMUN.

Social Activities and Traditions

YIRA members form a close-knit community, and many social activities and events are held throughout the year. A formal banquet is held each spring and all members in good standing are invited to attend. At the spring banquet, graduating seniors are toasted and give sloppy, drunk farewell speeches. Each month, YIRA also hosts happy hours, which are often themed and serve to facilitate inter-organization bonding. During SCSY and YMUN, YIRA members are invited to a Staff Dinner, which brings together all who have worked on or staffed the conferences. Secretariats also plan bonding activities in the months before each conference, often providing food and drink. Each Secretariat and constituent program also hosts its own social activities; for instance, MUNTY hosts an annual "Seniors' Roast" to roast graduating seniors. Secretariats as well as MUNTY hold initiations and retreats, as well as weekly meetings.

In the early 2000s, YIRA would hold Wednesday night movie, TV, or toasting sessions to foster bonding between members.[24]

Board of Directors and Members

YIRA is the largest and one of the most diverse student organizations at Yale University, with an email list including over 1,000 members (nearly a quarter of all undergraduate students), and approximately 300 active members. Membership is obtained through staffing either SCSY or YMUN, through involvement in YIRA's constituent programs, or through sufficient involvement with its additional initiatives. Membership benefits include access to trip subsidies, as well as entrance to YIRA Happy Hours and banquets.

YIRA is run by a Board of Directors currently composed of 15 members: President, Vice-President, Executive Director, Treasurer, Secretary, and the Directors of each of the organization's constituent programs. The President, Vice-President, Executive Director, Treasurer, and Secretary positions are selected through an election process in the spring. The heads of constituent programs are selected through internal application processes. Incoming board members officially assume their positions on May 1 of every year. The 2017 - 2018 Board of Directors consists of:

  • President: Rebecca M. Persson
  • Vice-President: Isa Magraner
  • Executive Director: Monica Traniello
  • Treasurer: Aman Kabeer
  • Secretary: Michael Borger
  • YMUN Secretary-General: Oleksa Alex Martiniouk
  • YMGE President: Amanda Taheri
  • YMUN Korea Secretary-General: Yoojin Han
  • YMUN China Secretary-General: Jonathan Simonds
  • YMUN Taiwan Secretary-General: Staphany Hou
  • SCSY Secretary-General: David H. Jiang
  • Director of Hemispheres: Susannah Beyl
  • MUNTY Head Delegate: Andrea Fleming
  • YRIS Representative: Stephen Mettler
  • YMUNI Director: Aman Kabeer

The President of the Yale International Relations Association serves as the face and voice of YIRA and manages the Board of Directors. The Vice-President and Executive Director share oversight of on-campus events, with the Vice President planning and executing recruitment, social events, banquets, and alumni relations (in addition to overseeing international trips) and the Executive Director focusing on guest speakers, IRSY, and the annual UN trip. The Treasurer is the architect of the organization's financial operations, managing investments and budgets pertaining to all YIRA-affiliated activities. The Secretary is responsible for keeping comprehensive minutes, producing newsletters for the organization's membership, and updating online material.



  1. Website of the Yale International Relations Association. http://www.yira.org
  2. The Yale Politic.http://thepolitic.org/resolved-the-yale-political-union-is-doomed/
  3. About the Yale International Relations Association. http://www.yira.org/yira_overview/
  4. Website of the Yale Review of International Studies. http://yris.yira.org
  5. Honduras Elections Blog. http://honduraselections.wordpress.com/
  6. Yale Daily News. http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2010/dec/02/yira-observes-haiti-elections/?print
  7. Website of BestDelegate.com.http://bestdelegate.com/model-un-rankings/
  8. Yale Daily News. http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2011/feb/22/model-un-heads-to-singapore/?print
  9. Website of the Yale International Relations Association. http://www.yira.org/munty/
  10. YIRA Fall 2010 Executive Report https://docs.google.com/a/yira.org/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0BywQYQV5Ubv6MzZmZmNlZjItNThjMC00MmVhLThlMWUtMmExMzdkZjQ4ZmU5&hl=en
  11. 11.0 11.1 Website of the Security Council Simulation at Yale. http://scsy.yira.org/
  12. Website of the United Nations Cyberschoolbus. http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/modelun/links_6.asp
  13. Yale University Office of Public Affairs. http://www.yale.edu/opa/arc-ybc/v32.n17/story2.html
  14. Yale Model United Nations ›› January 23-26, 2014
  15. Yale Model United Nations Korea ›› May 16-18, 2014
  16. "YMUN China". http://www.yira.org/ymun-china/. 
  17. "YMUN China A.D.". http://ymunchina.yira.org/ymun-china-a-d/. 
  18. "PHL Embassy Welcomes Yale Model UN China Conference Delegates". https://dfa.gov.ph/index.php/newsroom/phl-embassies-and-consulates-news/7239-phl-embassy-welcomes-yale-model-ud-china-conference-delegates. 
  19. "Remarks by the Consul General | Guangzhou, China - Embassy of the United States". http://guangzhou.usembassy-china.org.cn/yale-model-united-nations-ymun-china-conference-in-guangzhou.html. 
  20. "Shanghai High School". http://www.shs.sh.cn/shsEN.action?method=list&ccid=51918. 
  21. "Partnerships". http://www.yira.org/partnerships. 
  22. "Our Partners". http://syieducation.com/partners/. 
  23. Website of the United Nations Crisis Simulation at Yale. http://uncsy.yira.org
  24. Yale Daily News. http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2001/jun/10/debating-for-fun-and-future-success/

External links