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Within the definition of ‘importance’, the phrase ‘of great value’ is used. Value, this word suggests meaning, significance and worth. To me, Model United Nations represents all three ; huge meaning, great significance and incredible worth.
The United Nations was founded in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. Split up into bodies and branches including the Security Council, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, the UN is not an organisation limited to those wishing to work in diplomacy or politics. It is an organisation for scientists, historians, mathematicians, geographers, doctors, architects and so much more.
Model United Nations is integral to the diplomatic and indeed, global community because it helps to train the next generation.
Whatever students choose to do in the future, they will find that the necessity to interact and effectively communicate with those around them becomes unavoidable. However, it is the level of this ability which will determine success. Model United Nations allows students to stand out as a competitor in a highly competitive world. Combining not only public speaking but reasoning, logic, communication and negotiation, Model United Nations is not limited to those already confident. It is a brilliant way to observe those already confident, to learn from others who have already learnt.
With this in mind, Model United Nations has always been an activity I personally take pride participating in. MUN is basically exactly what it sounds like – a model for the real United Nations. Delegates, each representing a nation, meet at conferences to debate key issues that are present in our world today with an aim to try to resolve them in the most diplomatic way. At a conference you are allocated a country and a committee – for example you could represent France in the Human Rights committee. You will then join other students (who represent different countries) in that committee to debate Human Rights issues such as The Issue of Chemical Warfare, with the aim of finding solutions that the majority agree with. Issues are normally posted prior to the conference so that delegates can research their country’s views on such issues. Many delegates will also write resolutions to bring to the conference with the aim of gaining support on their views. After debate in committee, resolutions are voted on determine whether they should be passed.
On moving to a new school which did not partake in Model United Nations, it became apparent that the students would hugely benefit from being involved in it. I began to advocate the activity within my school and with fantastic support from six students in my year; I was able to establish MUN. These six students became integral to the activity and attended our first conference in London. Whilst their enthusiasm and dedication was crucial at this first conference, it became even more so when we began to plan attending our second conference.
We decided to apply to take part in a conference held in Manchester. For this conference, it was determined that we would expand MUN into the lower school, to give those in younger years an opportunity to participate. We were allocated four delegations of eight people; Afghanistan, Cuba, Qatar and Uganda. The broad variety of countries allowed our delegates to explore contrasting views, such as Qatar’s stance on capital punishment and the lasting environmental impacts of war on Afghanistan’s landscapes. By appointing the initial six students as head of separate delegations, it allowed me to delegate work to them to ensure our first conference as a school was a success.
The fantastic opening ceremony at this conference created a microcosm within a school hall. It was as if the United Nations of the Hudson had become the United Nations in Manchester. The display of flags, delegates and the anticipation of competition resulted in delegates leaving the room inspired to debate. When the conference convened again at the end of the day, a prize giving ceremony ensued. Our delegates won multiple awards, outstanding delegate, highly commended and commended as well as joint committee commended awards. Watching other people achieve as a result of joining MUN makes all the hard work, perseverance and preparation worth it. These students had never competed in this type of event before, yet some had been voted the best in their committees. The feeling of pride was unbelievable.
Often, when promoting MUN at school, I came across students who did not believe in the organisation. They had heard of mistakes which had been made in the past which had has repercussions. As a human organisation, run by humans, there is guaranteed human error. Misjudgement, greed, dishonesty and distrust are words which have sadly, but truthfully become to be closely associated with the United Nations. However, it is not these times which should define the United Nations either.
The United Nations presents itself as one of the best hopes humanity has for reducing climate change, reducing poverty, promoting human rights and promoting equality.
As a result of the failures, the scrutiny and the lack of trust in the United Nations, to many, blue is no longer the colour of hope. Why does the United Nations still appeal so strongly to so many people? The United Nations represents the ability of collective humanity empathy, compassion, selflessness and kindness to extend hands to those unable to stand by themselves.
This is why MUN is so crucial to the future. The United Nations will need the support of those educated to understand the true beliefs, values and principles of this organisation.
In a world where disaster is common, peace is unreliable and war seems unavoidable, the generation who grew up participating in MUN will be needed.
“The United Nations is our one great hope for a peaceful and free world” – Ralph J. Bunche.