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UN and MUN in Switzerland: young students pave the way

“The Security Council is now in formal session, and the house will now come in order."

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“Are there any points of information or motions on the floor?” “The chair would look favourably upon a motion to move into a moderated caucus for the purpose of discussing alliances regarding denuclearisation.”

Modelled on the structure of formal UN debates, MUN events are usually thought to be accessible to senior students in international schools and for universities. However, our youngest Honourable Delegates from Key Stage 3 (year 7- year 9) proved this to be a misconception. On 8th and 9th February 2019, nearly a hundred students from ten NAE international schools gathered in La Côte International School, Aubonne, Switzerland to debate four major world issues:

  • Education, illness and disability,
  • Inequality and poverty in developed countries and waste and sustainably,
  • Disputes over the South China seas/territories and water disputes in Africa,
  • Denuclearisation (South and North Korea) and the arms market.

On Friday, students visited the UN headquarters in Geneva, where they also participated in a presentation and a debate about the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child, led by UN representatives. In the afternoon, after team-building activities and challenges, students met in their formal committees to draft the opening speeches. The next day opened with a presentation on the work of Medair, an NGO working to save the most vulnerable victims (children under 5) with multiple tips on successful debating and negotiating. The day of formal debates was crowned with a closing ceremony and a superb Gala Dinner. One of our students, Julianna, was also given an award for the most open-minded delegate in the Security Council.

The enthusiasm and international collaboration of the young students were incredible. We were proud to witness the teenagers learning, using and enjoying the high formal standards of debating and addressing some of the toughest issues the world faces today.

On Sunday we visited a few landmarks in Geneva, including the “Broken Chair” – one of the most famous monuments at the entrance to the UN which symbolises refusal of using mines and armed violence against civilians. Students decided to repair the chair by reaching up to its broken leg. Symbolically, the initiator of the idea and the boy on top of the “tower” are both children of former UN workers. Undoubtedly, initiatives like MUN do bring hope and help empower students to become the best leaders they can be.

“The debating was spectacular. The opportunity to meet a diverse group of new friends was enriching. I learnt how to communicate with others who I did not meet ever before in my life. I learned what debating looks like and it turned out to be very fun, engaging and exciting.”
Jan

 “I learned how to consider other peoples' points of view and that there is not always one solution.”
Julianna

“I really enjoyed debating about the problems around the world, the team-building activities, and the tour of the UN headquarters in Geneva. I became more confident when speaking in front of a group of people. The trip could last 2 days longer, and we could have had 2 more topics to debate about.”
Pascal

“I loved the formality and debating. I also liked the UN tour as it was interesting and filled with details. I learned how to be confident in speaking.”
Nathalie

“The event definitely gave me more confidence in presenting in front of a large audience. After the first debate I was no longer stressed and expressed my ideas more often.”
Kalina

 

Diana Szyperska
Humanities teacher, pre-IB form tutor
Careers and work experience co-ordinator

  • Chair
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  • MUN Geneva
  • UN Geneva Outside

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