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Motion to Reflect: 2012 Model UN Summer Institute Session 1 Recap

As temperatures rose in New England last week, 44 middle and high school students convened in the air conditioned classrooms of the Harvard Business School for a week of intensive global diplomacy training at the UNA-GB’s Model United Nations Summer Institute.  These budding global leaders chose to trade in traditional camp activities like archery, swimming and horse-back riding in order to debate, negotiate, and create resolutions to the world’s most pressing issues, honing the skills they will need as global citizens and leaders in the 21st century.

The students kicked off the week with ice breakers and activities geared towards understanding the UN and learning about the complexities of human rights law.  These activities taught the students effective debate skills, such as listening to each other and learning to respect and draw attention from the other delegates during the simulations. Throughout the week, students were introduced to international relations and critical 21st century skills like negotiation, public speaking and problem-solving through the lens of Model United Nations curriculum and simulations focused on terrorism and Human Rights. They had the unique opportunity to learn about the UN’s parliamentary procedure, formal debate vocabulary and how to complete high-level research through actual simulated debate and role play.

For the full simulation on Friday, the students teamed up in pairs to represent a UN member state in the General Assembly, allowing them the unique opportunity to step into the shoes of UN delegates and present their country’s position on conflict diamonds.  This involved significant group work and alliance building among countries in order to come up with possible solutions. These solutions were translated into UN resolutions that were then debated and voted on by all countries. 

In order to create a resolution, the students had to recognize and understand the complexity of each global issue and they had to take into account the various economic and political implications a resolution would have on different countries. They also had to reach a compromise amid widely conflicting country interests, from Zimbabwe to the UK to China.

The dedication, seriousness and excitement exhibited by the students throughout the week was impressive and inspiring to all staff and adults in attendance.  It was a real treat to see how realistic and impressive the debates were, and how the youth, no matter their age, were cooperative, motivated and committed to crafting feasible resolutions to modern day global challenges of terrorism and conflict diamonds.

We want to thank all of these future global leaders for giving up a week of their summer vacation to tackle the world’s pressing global challenges and to learn critical 21st century skills, all while having fun and building valuable friendships.  We hope to see some familiar faces next summer and at the Model UN programs during the year!

Stay tuned for student testimonies and additional feedback from the second session, to be held from July 9-July 13, serving 45 more young global advocates!

– Julia Kuperminc and Catherine Schrage

Resolution 2012!

Our work here at UNA-GB is rooted in the founding principles of the United Nations – universal peace, international security, and respect for human rights, to name a few, and as we enter 2012, we are filled with hope and anticipation in this season of new beginnings.  Last year, we kicked off 2011 by sharing the top UN Resolutions of the previous year as a connection to the new year and theme of resolution making, and we thought it was a tradition worth continuing!  This is our New Year’s Resolution, or Resolution 2012!

It is our sincere wish that this coming year be filled with stories of health, equality, and opportunities for positive development, and we will continue to do all that we can to inform, inspire and mobilize the greater Boston community around critical global issues. 

Check out our list of key 2011 UN resolutions below and post in the comments section what issues you hope to see the UN address in 2012!

Resolution 1999 (adopted July 13, 2011) welcomed the membership of the newly formed South Sudan.

On July 9, 2011, South Sudan declared its independence from Sudan and became its own country.  It was then admitted into the UN as the 193rd member state.  In support of South Sudan’s formation, the UN announced its new mission, the UNMISS UN Mission in Southern Sudan that will specifically focus on the development of the new country.  The Security Council voted unanimously to set up a new United Nations mission to help Africa’s newest nation consolidate peace and lay the foundation for longer-term state-building, conflict prevention and economic development.

Resolution 2009 (adopted Sept 16, 2011) created a United Nations Support Mission in Libya.

One of the more violent clashes and uprisings amid the Arab Spring this year was in Libya, and with an unanimous vote to adopt resolution 2009, the Security Council affirmed a leadership role for the United Nations in international efforts to support a nationally led process aimed at building a democratic, independent and united Libya.  The Council decided that the mandate of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) would be to assist Libyan national efforts to restore public security, promote the rule of law, foster inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation, and embark on constitution-making and electoral processes.  Learn more here.

UNESCO approved a Resolution allowing the member state bid from Palestine at the end of October, sparking a wide controversy that led to the removal of US support for UNESCO.

On Monday, October 31, the full United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) membership voted 107 to 14 with 52 abstentions to accept the Palestinian Authority as a full member of UNESCO.  Due to an existing U.S. law dating back to the 1990s, the U.S. is prohibited from funding any UN entity that gives full membership to Palestine. UNESCO’s vote led the U.S. to cut all funding to UNESCO, which amounts to approximately 22% of the total UNESCO budget.  Discussions are on-going as to how to navigate the impact of the US’ defunding, and sets the stage for continued debate, as Palestine promises to renew its bid for membership in the General Assembly and Security Council.

Resolution 66/137 (adopted December 19, 2011) affirmed the power and necessity of human rights education (something we at UNA-GB are DEEPLY committed to!).

On a busy day in the General Assembly, with over 60 resolutions being adopted, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training was passed. This declaration was originally adopted by the Human Rights Council by resolution 16/1 earlier this year in March.  Reaffirming the call of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, which was held in Vienna, for all States and institutions to include human rights, humanitarian law, democracy and rule of law in the curricula of all learning institutions, the Declaration says that everyone has the right to know, seek and receive information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Declaration specifies not simply what one should learn about human rights, but also how (“through human rights, which includes learning and teaching in a way that respects the rights of both educators and learners”) and also why (“for human rights, which includes empowering persons to enjoy and exercise their rights and to respect and uphold the rights of others”).

The adoption of this new Declaration also offers educators and policy makers an occasion to reassess national policies and priorities in the light of international standards.  It affirms the belief that human rights education is not only the entitlement of every human being, but also a necessity for responsible global citizenship.  Since building a strong network of global citizens is our mission at UNA-GB, we are very excited about this Resolution!  One of our flagship programs is our human rights education program for youth, our comprehensive Model UN program, serving more than 3,000 6th-12th graders in the Boston area each year.  We look forward to strengthening ties with other human rights educators as this resolution gains momentum.

Resolution 1987 (adopted June 17, 2011) recommended the appointment of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to his second term in office.

Adopted by acclamation at a closed meeting, the Council recommended to the General Assembly that Mr. Ban Ki-moon be appointed for a second term of office from January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2016.  Ban’s election was uncontested and nations had approved of his decision immediately.    His appointment was subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly.

Ki-moon is the world body’s eighth secretary-general and the first from Asia since U Thant, from what is now Myanmar, who served from 1961 to 1971.  Upon his election, Ban indicated that ending violence in the Sudanese region of Darfur and tackling climate change were among his top priorities. There has been progress on both fronts, including a recent vote to create an independent state in southern Sudan and evolving negotiated frameworks to address global warming, though significant challenges remain.

Ban has also found himself and the United Nations at the forefront of many crises that few anticipated in 2006. The past year, especially, has been tumultuous given the massive earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis in Japan; the wave of popular unrest in the Arab world; and the continued fallout from the ongoing global economic crisis.  As Ki-moon’s 2nd term begins today, one major agenda item is sustaining the effects of the Arab Spring.

And the National Action Plan (NAP) for Women, Peace and Security, complete with an accompanying fact sheet and Executive Order, was introduced by Secretary Hilary Clinton on December 15, 2011, in support of the landmark Resolution 1325.

The NAP is the outcome of a process that began over a decade ago with the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which encouraged the UN and its member states to integrate a gender perspective in all aspects of peace and security. In October 2004, a subsequent Security Council Presidential Statement called on the “development of national action plans” to further implement Resolution 1325. Before the US’s NAP, thirty-two other countries had already released their own NAPs.

The document makes the compelling case for why it is in U.S. national interest to integrate a gender-based perspective in foreign policy decisionmaking. In countries where women and girls have equal rights and opportunities, there is a strong correlation with economic prosperity and peace. The NAP also includes a workplan for all relevant U.S. government agencies, as well as the creation of an interagency review mechanism to track progress through 2015.  This development is particularly exciting, as we have a strong commitment to gender equity issues and have a robust Women’s Forum program throughout the year.  We hope to focus more on these issues in 2012, so stay tuned!

This list is only a sampling of the hundreds of resolutions adopted in 2011.  See the full list of Resolutions from the 65th and 66th General Assembly sessions and the Security Council.  As both the President of the GA and SG Ban Ki-moon have expressed, 2011 was a year of remarkable advances and improvements, and emphasizes the importance of a global governing body like the UN, which is able to respond to natural disasters, support democracy, and uphold the universal principles of human rights and peace-building.

What Resolution would YOU write in 2012 if you had the chance??

Thank you for all you’ve done to support our work this year and we look forward to all that 2012 has in store!  We’ll do our best to keep you informed and engaged as the UN’s 2012 agenda unfolds.

Happy New Year from the UNA-GB team –Lena, Kaitlin, Jennifer, Rebecca, Ann and our awesome interns!

Ambassadors for a Week: Not Your Average Summer Camp

This past week, UNA-GB broke new ground by hosting our first ever Model UN Summer Institute!  We had nearly 40 youth forgo traditional camp activities like archery, swimming and horse-back riding to participate in a brand new week long camp, working towards becoming the next generation of global advocates, while also experiencing life on a prestigious graduate school campus.

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From July 11-15, 39 rising 8th-12th graders immersed themselves in the world of Model UN and worked towards solving the world’s most pressing global challenges at Harvard Business School.  From 9am to 4pm each day of the five-day institute, students were introduced to international relations and critical 21st century skills like negotiation, public speaking and problem-solving through the lens of Model United Nations curriculum, with a culminating simulation of the UN General Assembly Disarmament and International Security Committee focused on international peacekeeping operations. Some of these lessons and activities the students participated included:

By the end of the week, students were well versed in the workings of the United Nations and formal debate, confident in their public speaking, and had made strong bonds with other students sharing their passion for international relations and world issues.  Friday’s simulation came with much anticipation as students arrived to the conference room in business casual attire, eager to attack the day’s proceedings (though bittersweet as well, since it signaled the pending end of camp).  Heavy debate, draft resolutions, and a motion to close debate and end the simulation mixed in with a few laughs and photos characterized the finalization of the MUN Summer Camp and a week the students, and the UNA-GB staff and interns, will not forget.

Don’t just take our word for it!  Check out photos, videoslive tweets and learn more about the week!  And stay tuned for some additional videos coming out featuring more highlights and interviews with the students, as well as a guest blog post from one of the campers.

A special thank you goes to National Grid, one of our fabulous corporate sponsors who offered 10 scholarships for students to attend this year’s camp!

We also hope we can offer additional sessions of camp next year, so more of our future leaders have a chance to step into the shoes of ambassadors!

-Amanda

Resolution 2011!

Our work here at UNA-GB is rooted in the founding principles of the United Nations – universal peace, international security, and respect for human rights, to name a few, and as we enter 2011, we are filled with hope and anticipation in this season of new beginnings.

It is our sincere wish that this coming year be filled with stories of healing, dignity, and international cooperation, and we will continue to do all that we can to inform, inspire and mobilize the greater Boston community around critical global issues.  You could call it our New Year’s Resolution, or Resolution 2011!

Since Resolutions are a big part of the work at the United Nations, we thought it quite fitting to highlight a few that were adopted in 2010.  Check out our list below and let us know what issues you hope to see the UN address in 2011!

Resolution 64/289 (adopted July 2, 2010) formally established the new agency UN Women.
In an historic move, the United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously to create a new entity to accelerate progress in meeting the needs of women and girls worldwide.  The establishment of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women — to be known as UN Women — is a result of years of negotiations between UN Member States and advocacy by the global women’s movement. It is part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact.

Resolution 1960 (adopted Dec 16, 2010) focused on sexual violence in conflict.
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that will allow UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to list parties who have committed acts of sexual violence in reports to the 15-member body. The resolution cited “deep concern” that despite the Council’s “repeated condemnation of violence against women and children in situations of armed conflict,” such acts continue to occur and “in some situations have become systematic and widespread, reaching appalling levels of brutality.”  Read more here.

Resolution 1929 (adopted June 9, 2010) focused on non-proliferation with a particular emphasis on Iran.
This Security Council resolution is aimed at addressing the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program.  The resolution offers the toughest sanctions to date for Iran, and included the creation of a supervision body to prevent delivery of nuclear material to Iran.  The resolution also encourages continued and renewed negotiations with Iran.

Resolution 65/4 (adopted October 18, 2010) reaffirmed Sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace.
The General Assembly adopted a consensus resolution recognizing the potential of sport to help attain the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and foster an atmosphere of tolerance. The Assembly also acknowledged the need to strengthen efforts, including multi-stakeholder partnerships, at all levels, to maximize sport’s potential to contribute to the achievement of internationally agreed development goals and national peacebuilding priorities.  UNA-GB also focused on this issue at our 2010 Human Rights Day Luncheon.

Resolution 65/208 (adopted December 21, 2010) focused on condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions – had a special focus on LGBT rights.
The Assembly strongly condemned once again all extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and demanded that all States ensure the practice is brought to an end. Prior to action, an amendment offered by the United States, which added the words “or because of their sexual orientation” to an operative paragraph, was adopted, after this language was removed during an earlier floor debate in November, causing a fair amount of controversy.

See the full list of Resolutions from the 65th and 64th General Assembly sessions and the Security Council.

You can also check out one of the best Resolutions written by some of the delegates at our Middle School Model UN Conference (further proof that 12 and 13 year olds really can make a difference in the peace-building process!) focused on rebuilding efforts in Haiti.

What Resolution would YOU write if you had the chance??

Thank you for all you’ve done to support our work this year and we look forward to all that 2011 has in store!

Happy New Year from the UNA-GB team –Lena, Kaitlin, Jennifer, Rebecca and our awesome interns!

How Middle Schoolers Can (and are!) Changing the World!

On November 20th we hosted our annual Middle School Model United Nations conference at Northeastern University. This event was exciting for all of us because we had been preparing for months and finally our hard work paid off.  We had 250 bright-eyed and energetic middle school students from across the greater Boston area show up early Saturday morning, in order to represent over 50 different nations and debating topics such as the Illicit Drug Trade, Fishing, the Crisis in Haiti, Migrant Workers and Environmentally Displaced People.  Students represented their countries in 5 different committees: the Economic and Social Council, Food and Agriculture Organization, Security Council, Human Rights Council and General Assembly.

The opening ceremony featured a speech from the president of Northeastern’s Engineers without Borders chapter, Matt Walsh. His speech was utterly funny and enjoyable, particularly for the students. He spoke about his travels in South Africa and East Asia and he also gave light to Adam Sandler’s charitable side with a story about how Sandler bought four $200,000 cars for some of his costars in a recent film. The latter, Walsh stated, fazed him because he said with $200,000 Engineers without Borders could have dug 20 wells and provided clean water for over 8,000 people.

After the opening ceremony the students were promptly directed towards their respective committees, where they began an arduous debate session until lunch time. At 11:30, the Security Council got a very suitable guest speaker, Mr. Elie Lafortune who is currently a graduate student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Lafortune spoke to the delegates of the Security Council about the current crisis in Haiti and gave them a brief history lesson about Haiti’s unstable past. Soon after, the committees adjourned and the students headed off to a lunch of salad and pizza.

As soon as lunch ended, the committees went back in for a second session that consisted mostly of unmoderated caucuses in order to get a head start on their resolutions. The committees felt the pressure to get voting on resolutions done, but rose gallantly to the challenge.  The ECOSOC approved a resolution which called for enhanced surveillance on illicit drug traders as well as for more rehabilitation centers, while in the Security Council delegations came to agreement regarding the need for more financial aid to be distributed in order to provide water, medication, security and many other basic needs that the Haitian people need.

During the closing ceremonies, awards were given out for best delegations and best position papers in each committee.  Honorable mentions were given out for public speaking and negotiation. Though really, we wished we could have given awards to ALL of the students for their astute arguments and keen participation.  It was so rewarding to see how creative the students got in pursuing their assigned country’s best interests and in working towards a better world.

I know we were thoroughly impressed – 11 and 12 year olds expertly debating drugs, migrants and natural disaster relief is quite stunning!  This experience was thrilling for many of us interns because some of us had never staffed a Model UN Conference for this young of students before.  There is nothing quite like experiential based education, especially when it comes to complex global affairs.

If these students are coming up with viable solutions to the world’s most pressing issues now, imagine what is possible once they enter the global stage as politicians, community activists and diplomats!

-Guillermina

PS.  Don’t just take my word for it.  Check out the photos below!

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