Diplomats of the future impress at model United Nations

Published Tuesday, 1st April 2014
United Nations flag
United Nations flag

Students from six Rotherham schools came together for a Model United Nations conference run by Schools Linking Network, a national charity focused on building community cohesion.

The topic under discussion was ‘The Future of Afghanistan’, with year nine students from Brinsworth, Clifton, Newman, St Pius X, Wingfield and Winterhill schools working together to debate the issues.

Working with young people from other schools in groups of two or three, the students were each assigned a country and took on the role of delegates to the United Nations.

As well as having to work as a team with other students they didn’t know before the start of the SLN-MUN programme, the delegates needed to fully research the country they were representing, often having to argue views that were not necessarily their own. The level of debate shown on the day was highly impressive.

Young people taking part in the programme met face-to-face for training events before the final conference, as well as working together remotely through an online virtual learning environment (VLE).

Here they could share and develop their ideas in dialogue with others from their delegation, with the help and encouragement of teachers acting as faculty advisors. Before the conference, students were required to write a full country profile and position paper with their fellow country delegates.

On the day of the conference, the delegates were required to remain in role throughout the event and follow formal UN procedure implicitly.

Topics discussed included Afghan independence, terrorism, the Taliban, human rights, free and fair elections, the refugee crisis, future provision of NATO troops, the narcotics trade, and whether Afghanistan’s government should agree to sign a bilateral security agreement.

Three draft resolutions were presented to the council by the delegations from the USA, Qatar and Afghanistan. However, the council failed to reach a consensus and no resolution was ultimately passed.

The SLN-MUN programme has run in a number of local authorities throughout the country, and this is the second time it has run in Rotherham.

It is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain skills in collaboration, debate and dialogue while also achieving a greater insight into the major issues that affect the world they live in.

Watching the students mature and develop in confidence, in their relationships with one another and in their understanding of their role as global citizens is always an overwhelming experience. The transformation is often incredible.

The feedback from students, teachers and parents following the SLN-MUN Rotherham 2014 conference has been hugely positive.

"My family are involved with the military," one student told fellow participants after the event. "This MUN event deepened my understanding of all the different perspectives about Afghanistan."