A Model United Nations was held in Audentese erakool for its IB program and IB students from Miina Härma Gymnasium
Model United Nations (MUN) is a competitive academic simulation of the United Nations. These simulation games are proposed to create a better understanding of the organization, its history, functions, influence and the role it plays on the international arena. In addition they involve a number of educational techniques and interesting activities.
Between January 28 th–29th 2015, a MUN was held in Audentese erakool for its IB program and IB students from Miina Härma Gymnasium. It was the first common event of this kind, specially scheduled during the Global Awareness Week that Audentes organizes annually. The goals of this event coincide with the goals of MUN i.e. to motivate young people to learn about international politics, civics, foreign policy, global issues, multilateral diplomacy, effective communication, public relations, debate skills and teamwork.
The Mini MUN simulated Security Council sessions on two international crisis of interest: the MONUSCO mandate in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Antarctica. The students had to learn the role of this council, its composition and mandate regarding the preservation and restoration of peace and security of the world and obtain information about the countries involved. For the simulation two members were added to the 15 member states of the Council: the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Germany in consideration to the importance of its economy and relevance and impact of German policies in the global sphere.
As the concept of a Model UN was new for the students, it was important to introduce the process gradually. Students were introduced to important concepts the rules of procedure which later on were rehearsed. The groups were also filled in on background information on the UN and the Security Council. Everyone was given materials to work independently on preparing the positions of the countries they had to represent. The preparatory lectures were filmed and sent to students from Miina Härma as well as the information packs that everyone received one week before the sessions. These students did a remarkable work at preparing for this simulation, as their contributions demonstrated.
Although during the first day of the game students were nervous and confused about the rules of procedure in particular, repetition and moderation by the chair during the sessions maintained the order and controlled the flow of information. Every delegation had to have a say and interact upon request. It takes some time to understand the possibilities of action, the importance of the format, and the need to perform courteously while adhering to the rules. During a successful simulation, creating alliances with other delegates and writing draft resolutions is the usual outcome.
The participants could have taken into account the actual relationships between the countries more carefully instead of remaining focused on reaching an agreement at any price. They unanimously voted in favour for a draft resolution, which was against the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There was no discussion about the points in the draft resolution during the simulation game among the students. Also many important escalations were ignored, which caused the situation to worsen and could lead to bigger problems in the future not only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but in the whole African continent.
As said, the main purpose for this simulation is to motivate students to get informed on the issue as profoundly as possible. During the simulation the students experienced how to defend their position while adhering to the rules and at the same time being effective in presenting their arguments. To bring forward your points is always important but above all is to be knowledgeable about the positions of others; Mini MUN is a good tool to show the need for being aware of other standpoints and to look at the problem from many different viewpoints. This requires experience, increases cultural awareness and promotes knowledge.
A second crisis concerning the territorial disputes in the Antarctica was given to them for the next day. The students were more confident, comfortable with the rules of procedure and how to organise and handle the debate. Also during this crisis the students were able to unanimously vote in favour of a draft resolution, but unfortunately this one again was lacking depth of discussion that could realistically resemble the policy of the countries present. They also concentrated on factors that were not relevant to the crisis and ignored those that were more important to the UN Security Council.
Some of the students proved to be more diplomatic than some university level students that the organizer has met during other MUN events.
Besides the short- term benefits of these educational activities, many long-term benefits can be felt as well. It is important to note that since the simulation was held in cooperation with another IB school it gives students an opportunity to create something together which makes the learning process less school centred and more connected to the real work. While meeting people is an everyday situation, schools tend to create a very familiar environment which makes it difficult to break the barriers of communication in the future. It is also important to note that MUN is a movement all over the world and by participating or organising it we all become closer to events which are happening around us, rather than just observing them through the prism of news. Most importantly, MUN makes you more connected to the world and learn about it through your own experiences which makes it more memorable and worthwhile. We expect to organize similar simulations and hope to count with enthusiastic participants in upcoming events!
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