On 21st September 2017, Southend High School for Boys held its first Model United Nations (MUN).
Operating just like the real United Nations would, various schools (including SHSB) came together to represent 34 of the 193 states that make up the UN. The day opened with an introduction to the MUN, before the delegates of each country split into 3 different committees – Health and Human Rights; Ecology and Environment, and the Security Council. After a quick lunch, all the delegates then came together in the main hall to debate an LGBTQ+ resolution, which was the overall theme of the day, and as well as an emergency resolution surrounding the situation with North Korea. It was, without a doubt, a busy and exciting day!
Throughout the day, I represented the delegation of Nigeria, and in the morning, I was in the Health and Human Rights committee. Originally, I found it difficult to represent a country that I disagreed with on so many issues however, as the day progressed I was better able to represent these views as a delegate – despite my own personal opinion. The first debate in the morning was surrounding obesity, and the second on the Myanmar conflict. It was hard to represent Nigeria in the obesity debate as being a country with a highly malnourished population, they didn’t have much of a stance on tackling obesity, however it was still interesting to see other countries’ opinions on the matter.
In the afternoon, me and the rest of my delegation assembled in the hall to discuss the two larger resolutions of the day. The first resolution (and the most controversial) proposed increasing LGBTQ+ rights across the entire world, and it really opened my eyes to the amount of countries who still do not support LGBTQ+ rights; even in today’s society. As a result, the entire resolution changed from improving LGBTQ+ rights, to infringing upon them. The final debate of the day was an emergency resolution on North Korea. It was fascinating to see the delegations, ours included, making alliances with one another, and taking sides on the matter. It showed me just how quickly negotiations between countries have to be made to fight an urgent matter.
The debates were conducted in a formal manner by the chairs, in a similar way to which real-life UN debates are conducted. Each debate started with an opening speech by the country proposing the resolution, followed by more speeches from other delegations who were for and against the resolution. The most exciting part was definitely when other delegations were able to question the opinions of the ones making the speeches, which created tensions between opposing states. The speeches were then followed by suggestions for amendments to the resolution, in order to make it more appealing to other delegations. This created room for debate and controversy amongst the delegations. Finally, the resolution would be brought to an end with votes on all the amendments, as well as an overall vote on whether or not the resolution should be passed.
A messaging system was also used throughout the day, thanks to students from Year 8, which allowed the delegations to talk privately to each other during the debates to find out their views on the situation, and to form agreements with certain countries on which parts of the resolution to vote for. We also had time to talk to the other delegations in between the debates and find out their views on upcoming matters so as to help us to form a plan of what to do during the debates.
Overall, the day was a huge success, and was enjoyed by the students at SHSB and other schools, alike. From this invaluable opportunity, everyone was able to increase their understanding of international relations between countries which was perfect for anyone who was interested in pursuing politics or current affairs.
Special thanks goes out to James Hicks, Olivia Wass, William Webster and George Wright for organising and chairing the event, without whom it wouldn’t have run as smoothly – the work that they put in was most appreciated by all who took part.
Bring on the next MUN!