Sessions marked by serious debate of tough issues.
Some 1000 high school students from 27 schools attended the three-day 10th annual conference of the UCLA Model UN on the UCLA campus November 8-10. Students came primarily from California, but there were delegates from as far away as Arizona and Tennessee. Emulating the original in New York, the delegates spent their 3 days packed with diplomatic debate and negotiation, policy speeches, comments, caucuses, resolution writing, and voting. Committees were set up for novice diplomats, as well as for more experienced student politicians. Committee chairs and members of the Model UN Security Council and Secretariat were made up of UCLA students. Many of the high schoolers came from far enough away to need to stay at local hotels, an exciting outing.
The conferences was opened Friday afternoon, November 8, by its Secretary General, Shivani Chopra, a 4th year Psychobiology major. She welcomed the delegates and introduced the Security Council and heads of Model UN agencies such as the World Health Organization.
The keynote address was given by Canadian Consul General for California, Colin Robertson, a career diplomat with a long experience at the real United Nations. "A recent survey," he told the crowd, "says that 1 in 4 Americans does not believe that the U.S. should cooperate with the United Nations. This needs to be corrected. You’re the ones to do it." Robertson said that there was substantial agreement between the UN Charter and the ideals of the United States. These points of agreement include: "Faith in fundamental human rights; faith in the dignity and worth of people; faith in the equal rights of men and women; and faith in the promotion of social progress and better standards of life." Robertson called on the audience to act as "ambassadors" for the UN: "I encourage you to talk about the United Nations. Start with your grandparents, they’re unusually receptive. Then try friends, your parents and your brothers and sisters. Tell them about UN and what you did this weekend." The full text of Consul General Robertson's remarks is available from:
The business of the conference was broken into a number of committees and simulations of major UN agencies. Topics this year included:
Participating high schools were required to register for the conference 5 months in advance. The same detailed organization marked the conference debates. Generally, two delegates represented each country. Resolutions were drafted on the spot to reflect debate in the various committees and pre-written resolutions were prohibited. Delegates gave policy speeches advocating their respective nations' point of view on international issues. They then discussed possible solutions for the problems they were discussing. Delegates were scored for their innovativeness in the debate and the level of detail of their knowledge of the country they represented. Committees voted on resolutions that were then brought to the body as a whole for debate and vote.
"This is the first time we had out of state students attend our conference," Secretary General Shivani Chopra told me. "During our fall quarter, this conference is our main project. We then plan to focus on outreaching to inner-city schools during the winter quarter in hopes of developing or starting Model United Nations programs. Finally, during the spring quarter, we are going to focus on competing in collegiate-level conferences."
Published: Friday, November 15, 2002
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