Posted by Dennis G. Lucan on July 15, 2019
The 6th Regent’s Model United Nations commenced with a breakfast meeting where delegates consulted with their fellow country members and met other country delegates and reacquainting with friends made at the 5th MUN. The two-day conference saw student/delegates negotiate with more than 100 students from the UK, Germany, Georgia and Israel to find solutions to real world problems.
Dr Kate Fanning opened the conference, focusing on human rights issues in honour of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Dr Fanning went on to explain that 2019 ‘YMUN conference would address some of the most challenging and critical issues which humanity currently faces. Over the past year, famines, conflicts, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and extreme weather events, not to mention threats posed by new technologies, have wreaked havoc in the lives of many millions of people across the world, negatively impacting the very foundations of human rights, including: the right to life and living with dignity, health and security. In a fast changing world, your students will be tasked this year with exploring human-rights based solutions to a multitude of challenges that are threatening the very core of humanity’.
Professor Mekelberg, began the formal address with 2 minutes silence for the 40 migrants, killed by air strike at the Tajoura Detention Centre, just outside Tripoli in Libya. Tajoura houses approximately 600 migrants, including women and children.
International Relations & Social Sciences Programme Director at the Faculty of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences at Regent’s University.
Our delegates, coordinated by Dr. Jane Evans, were assigned a UN Member state with each of them assuming the role of a diplomat from that country, representing the views and interests of that country. Sir Simon Milton students represented, Sweden, Somalia, Switzerland, Ukraine and Argentina in the General Assembly and Human Rights Council.
Returning delegates: KF [Ukraine: General Assembly], MK [Sweden: General Assembly & Human Rights Council], SM [Somalia: Human Rights Council], RT [Sweden: General Assembly], MT [Somalia: Human Rights Council], RT [Ukraine: General Assembly].
First time delegates: BF [Somalia, General Assembly], SI, AP & PN [Sweden/Ukraine: Human Rights Council], NT [Somalia: Human Rights Council], AD and SM [Switzerland: Human Rights Council].
The students immersed themselves in another country, its political system and culture, in order to constructively discuss real world dilemmas with their peers and collectively develop realistic solutions. In doing so they gained valuable experience and skills in leadership, teamwork, interpersonal communication, diplomacy, public speaking, research, and negotiation.
The issues debated relate to the STEM curriculum and Citizenship from Artificial Intelligence and Cyber Security [Engineering, Math sand IT], to Climate Refugees and Food Security/Sustainable Agriculture provision for a growing world population under changing climatic conditions [Geography]; these issues inextricably linked with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Our students divided into the following committees.
KF, RT & RT, provided leadership for the delegates in the General Assembly, with RT opening the second day deliberations with a speech giving Sweden’s country position on Artificial Intelligence. RT made an excellent speech to follow, with BF concluding for Sir Simon Milton Westminster UTC with her ‘Maiden Speech’ at a Model United Nations.
Moving over to the Human Rights Council, MT lead the Sir Simon Milton team and keen to press for food security under for Somalia, he ensured Somalia was on the Speaker’s list on Day 1. Shockingly, just as MT was about to take the podium a motion was put for an informal caucus [negotiating time] and break for lunch. Undeterred, MT presented to the HRC and gained support for his proposals from many other delegates. On day two, SM, as an experienced MUN delegate lead the team. The strong stance for Somalia developed by MT was reinforced by a heartfelt plea made by SM, calling for countries to support Low Income Countries [LICs] like Somalia, especially in issues of Cyber Security where the country may lack infrastructure to protect its citizens from powerful hackers. His speech impacted on the mindset of other delegates, a number of whom aligned with Somalia as a result and changed their policies Alongside MT and SM was SI who, over the two days adapted her debating skills towards negotiating and forming allegiances during informal caucus. Worthy of note were the discussions in informal caucus by first time MUN delegates, AD and SM who had only just finished their Year 12 exams. Finally, note goes to NT, AP and PN who all attended their first MUN and began to develop their teamwork, research and interpersonal communication skills.
The Model United Nation Conference keynote speakers included ‘Human Rights Watch’ UK Director Benjamin Ward who has worked for the United Nations in Somalia, New York and Bosnia, who gave a heart wrenching summary about the plight of peoples denied their human rights.
This complemented the 2018 keynote by former Member of Parliament & Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, Bob Blizzard whose speech focused on the need for international co-operation and importance of youth engagement to solve the pressing global concerns of climate change, global pollution, plastic pollution and species extinction.
“The Great Question: Where after all do universal human rights begin?”
Eleanor Roosevelt 1958