Rectory Student Participates in Model United Nations Conferences

Flag of the United Nations in New York, NY.

commons.wikimedia.org

Flag of the United Nations in New York, NY.

The Model United Nations (Model UN) is an organization for students to debate and propose solutions for real or fictional global problems. It is an annual four-day conference for high school students that promotes values of education, excellence, and teamwork. Yale University was responsible for the Yale Model United Nations (YMUN) in 2021, and they will also be organizing the YMUN in 2022. Monique Nikolov, Secretary-General of YMUN XLVIII (48) explained the challenges that the participating students will face. “Over the course of the four-day event, nearly 2,000 high school students discuss pressing global issues that presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers continue to grapple with today.” The most common topics to be debated will be poverty, the economy, climate change, and nuclear crises. 

Students at a recent Model UN Conference in Vienna, Austria. (flickr.com)

I have been participating in the Model UN for about 2 years, and this has been extremely beneficial since it has provided the opportunity for me to learn about a variety of global issues. Examples include global warming, littering, gender equality, and many others. Specific examples of the 2021 Model UN online topics that I had to prepare for were Animal Conservation and Foreign Direct Investment in Africa.

How do you prepare for a Model UN conference?

There are several elements to consider regarding the type of topic that students prepare to discuss. Model UN topics are usually related to politics and the economy, and some will also be about a specific event. Consequently, students will usually conduct research for days or even weeks ahead to learn more about the current event. This year, I spent a lot of time researching laws for animal conservation and the organizations responsible for shaping laws about this topic.

What’s the procedure that the student delegates follow at a Model UN event?

The rules that the student committees must adhere to are very strict, and there is a specific process for them to follow. Delegates will have an opening speech at the start of a Model UN, which allows them to state their opinions for future debating. This also enables them to present a primary draft of their solutions for the topic they will be addressing. What I personally talked about in my opening speech was Mauritius’s role in Africa as it relates to animal conservation. 

Then, some students propose sub-topics related to the main topic. There are two types of discussions: 1.) a moderated caucus in the form of the intended speaking time, the caucus time, and the number of delegates speaking, so students will have to_____  before they talk; and, 2.) an unmoderated caucus, where students will only have to clarify the time limit. These delegates will have an open debate in breakout rooms since there are too many people to debate altogether, which could cause chaos. 

Students holding up Model UN Project’s Conference placards. (commons.wikimedia.org)

Students are divided into breakout rooms according to their own choice, but they can switch rooms during the process. In unmoderated caucuses, delegates will need to cooperate and write a position paper, usually 4 to 8 pages long. However, for individual position papers, it should only be 1 to 2 pages long. My most recent paper was about the development of artificial intelligence in Canada. 

A group position paper presented by the group’s sponsors/leaders typically concludes a Model UN conference. The most recent group position paper that I listened to was about quality education, which also included the eradication of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and many other elements. 

Overall, I would strongly encourage students to attend at least one Model UN conference. The skills students gain from participating in these conferences, such as critical thinking, the ability to “think on your feet,” debating skills, etc., are valuable educational tools that students will carry with them throughout their educational journeys, their future careers, and their adult lives. The Model UN conferences are truly a gift to students who seek to continually challenge and improve themselves. If you are up for the challenge, you should definitely consider participating in the next Model UN conference. Good luck!