Model UN is a student competition where young people assume roles as delegates of various countries in the UN and come together to discuss world issues. You’re either given a hypothetical situation (a crisis in a country, for instance) or a topic, and you have to come up with a resolution. Today we will be discussing extreme poverty, and I will be representing The Netherlands.
A large part of the game is to research the views of your represented country (in my case, The Netherlands) and present them to the best of your knowledge. This can be tricky if you don’t agree with your given country, but the point is to represent the country, not your opinion. You also need to know how the UN works, as well as meeting protocols (moderated/unmoderated caucus, point of inquiry, etc).
This Model UN Session will last for three days. Today, the first day, is about setting the agenda and having initial debate. Tomorrow will we write working papers, and on Wednesday we will make our resolution. We are also learning about poverty – 1/5th of the world’s population live in poverty. This isn’t just money, but also about food, education, health care, shelther, work, and economic shelter. Economic poverty is defined as living on less than US$1 a day. The UN has established the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17), the UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty 1997-2006, and the Summit of World Leaders for Action against Hunger and Poverty. Our options are to coordinate or continue policies of national/international action, research causes and consequences of poverty, check the participation of the poorest in decision-making, use international financial institutions, strengthening democratic institutions, education, and more. The country must also decide where they stand – generally the world isn’t against solving poverty, they just differ on how to solve the problem. Western states prefer investment and democratization while developing countries push for funding, investment, aid, and education while keeping their culture.
I notice that a delegate from China managed to get Malaysia as her Model UN country! Lucky!
Right now ideas and viewpoints are passing around – from partnerships, to anti-corruption policy, to education. Germany suggest building infrastructure, since poverty is tied to money. Guinea suggests that volunteering be deeply connected to development. Congo suggest exchange of technology, and Turkey agrees, also bringing up the link between terrorism and poverty. Mexico notes that poverty has been around a long time, and it’s all about allotment of resources. UAE notes that a lot of aid never reaches their targets. USA suggests scholarships, and Argentina agrees though she feel the money should go within the country (USA suggested study abroad). Israel brought up Bangladesh’s microfinancing and thinks it’s a good idea; Ireland agrees with Germany’s points. China notes that poverty has been reduced through foreign investment. France says that they have set up funds for developing countries, but feels that giving aid puts the issue at a standstill – education and import opportunities are much better. Australia wants to encourage children to go to school and get a meal a day for free – Gambia agrees. One other country (missed the name) supports free trade and private property, and opposes oppression. Corruption comes up again as a strong point. Latvia points out that when it comes to employment, situations are competitive, so vocational training is important. The last speaker comes from Gabon, whose strategy is to concentrate on global partnerships and technology.
Workshops start very soon, and this Model UN will continue tomorrow. Adjourned!