Introduction (Huei-Chean Ong, Grade 11)
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, Venerable Master, Dharma Masters, and all good knowing advisors: Good evening. This is our Model United Nations (MUN) club from the Girls School and we are here today to give a presentation. Model United Nations is a simulation of the United Nations (UN). Basically we train our members to participate in conferences as if we were in the UN. Today we would like to inform you about the UN, the Berkeley Model United Nations and its mock session and the hopes of our MUN club. Hopefully, by the end of this presentation you will all have a better understanding about our club and why we participate each year without fail.
The History of United Nations (Lacy Lackey, Grade 10):
Good evening. My name is Lacy Lackey and I will be speaking about the history and organization of the United Nations.
The first concept of an international peacekeeping organization was called the League of Nations, established by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in the 1920’s. In 1939, the League of Nations crumbled along with its hopes for peace, as World War II commenced.
The United Nations (UN) was a second attempt at the League of Nations, established on October 24, 1945 by 51 participating countries. It now includes over 180 member nations.
All member nations of the UN must agree to the UN Charter. The UN Charter is an international peace treaty designed to set down the basic principles of the UN. It is composed of 4 major points that illustrate the purpose of UN. They are:
1. To maintain peace and security between nations;
2. To develop friendly relations among nations;
3. To cooperate in solving international problems and promoting respect for human rights, and
4. To be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations.
The UN is composed of six major bodies. They are the General Assembly (GA), the Security Council (SC), the Economic and Social Council (ESC), the Trusteeship Council (TC), the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the Secretariat. Because of its more international status, the ICJ is located in the Netherlands, for many languages converge there. All other councils are located at the UN headquarters in NYC.
The General Assembly is the “parliament” of the UN. It is composed of all member nations, each with one vote. Important issues (such as peace and security, the UN budget, admitting new members, etc.) are decided within the GA, and require two-thirds majority to make the decision. Other matters require a simple majority. Although the GA can’t force action to be taken by any nation, it represents world opinion and the moral authority of the community of nations.
The Security Council holds the most power and responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. It has the authority to “demand” that concerned nations follow their resolutions, and all Member States are obliged to carry out the Council’s decisions.There are, at all times, 15 council members. Five of these have a permanent seat on the Council. These countries are: China, France, the Russian Federation, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The GA elects the other countries every two years.
The Economic and Social Council coordinates the UN’s economic and social work, and consults with non-governmental organizations, thereby creating a vital link between the UN and civil society. It is composed of 54 members, elected by the GA for 3-year terms. Different subsidiary bodies of the ESC focus on such issues as: human rights, social development, narcotic drugs, environmental protection, etc.
The Trusteeship Council ensures that any colony or territory in need is prepared for independence when it achieves it. There hasn’t been the want or the need for this since 1994, so the TC now consists of the 5 permanent members of the SC, and is prepared to convene whenever needed.
The International Court of Justice consists of 15 judges elected by both the GA and the SC. The ICJ (or World Court) decides disputes between countries and deals with legal cases on an international level. It has absolute authority over any countries that agree to appear before the court. The Secretariat carries out the substantive and administrative work for the UN. It is headed by the Secretary-General, who provides overall administrative guidance.
The United Nations is a representative body of moralism from our entire globe. It has the last say in world-altering decisions, all of which strive to make this world, our world, a better, safer place for all of us to live.
Berkeley Model United Nations (Lola Migas, Grade 9)
BMUN, or Berkeley Model United Nations, was created 51 years ago, one year after the UN formed. BMUN is the oldest UN simulation in the US. It was created to educate students about the workings of the UN. Students from schools across the country come to participate in the annual sessions, which are held on the first or second weekend in March. Each group of students represents a country and tries to solve global issues. Our resolutions are actually sent to the UN.
There are other MUN simulations held in the US, including those held at Stanford, Harvard, and various University of California campuses. One held in New York is the largest simulation. Several committee sessions are held in the actual UN building. There are also international simulations, including Southeast Asia. MUN is becoming increasingly popular. More and more clubs have started participating in the US and also internationally. Not only do high school students participate in model sessions but university students and adults, too. Colleges really acknowledge participation in MUN. MUN has grown enormously since 1951. Originally there was a simulation of the League of Nations, but that has now been replaced by MUN.
Mock Sessions (Xiao Hui Lau, Grade 10 & Nancy Chu, Grade 9)
Mock sessions are United Nations imitated sessions, used by the Model United Nations. High school delegates come from all over California to represent their assigned country, voice their countries’ views on global issues. BMUN mock sessions are for us to learn how the UN sessions and discussions actually function.
In mock sessions, delegates discuss and try to solve the various problems and issues the UN faces today. Representatives of countries assemble in Berkeley in many committees and councils to solve different problems set before them, such as health issues, terrorism, environmental problems, security, and social, judicial, economic, and drug problems.
The conferences are headed by the chairs, who are university students with many years of experience in BMUN. They open issues for discussion to the General Assembly. The General Assembly then selects a topic to begin with, and the conference starts. Delegates are judged during the three day conference in diplomacy, public speaking, position papers (which are their research on one topic), resolutions, and general participation during the conference.
Probably the most important part of the conference is caucusing. Caucuses are breaks in between official debates and delegate speakers. During caucuses, delegates have a chance to socialize, speak out, and gather sponsors and signatories for their resolutions, which are written proposals to solve issues that the committee deals with.
I’ve only joined BMUN this year, so I haven’t had much experience. I have only been to a workshop that introduces us to MUN, but what I saw blew me away. I was amazed by how serious and earnest they were about their work. Of course, the mock sessions held at the workshop weren’t exactly like the UN sessions, but it was roughly the same. The other people there made me feel extremely insignificant and unprepared. Many of the participants had thoroughly researched their countries, were far more experienced, and everybody just seemed so self-confident.
Xiao Hui Lau:
Even though it is only my second year in BMUN, it has given me a great experience, and I learned a lot last year. BMUN has a formal, intimidating and sophisticated atmosphere, and gives you a good idea of what the UN is like. It also informs you about world problems you were not aware of.
Hopes of Our MUN Club (Huei-Chean Ong)
The MUN club in our school is now in its 4th consecutive year. So far we have represented 6 different nations and participated in various committees both big and small. This year we hope to represent Japan, UK or South Africa. We also hope to participate in the Security Council, the International Court of Justice or the cabinet simulations for Russia, China or the US.
Each year that we go to the conference in UC Berkeley, we come back with a lot of new experience and tales. Meeting other high school students in a formal, diplomatic environment has a totally different feel. Most of the participants are creative, outspoken and possibly future diplomats. We hope to get a better, deeper understanding on how the UN and international diplomacy work so as to understand how to keep world peace.
Our MUN club is fairly new and we hope to become outstanding delegates in the near future. Within the BMUN, we delegates are able to come together with compromises and mutual cooperation. World peace is maintained in our little simulated world. Through these experiences we will hopefully be able to maintain this peace and cooperation whether or not we join the actual United Nations when we grow up.
This year our club strives to increase diplomatic skills, be even better public speakers and be smarter, bolder and better diplomats. This is my 3rd year in MUN and every year our club has shown a lot of improvements moving from large committees into smaller, more advanced committees. We also have represented various nations from around the world; from Fiji and Mongolia to Iceland and Finland to Malaysia and Persia (or present-day Iran).
As an additional note, the UN Headquarters in New York is on neutral ground. The UN Security Council is a very powerful group because if the Council is discussing an issue, no other committee may discuss it. If the Council suddenly decides to address an issue and another committee happens to be discussing it, then they must stop discussing to give way to the Council.
Last year, a fellow delegate and I participated in the Historical League of Nations (a reenactment). As you all know, the League of Nations was the first downfall of the UN that led to the Second World War and the eventual forming of today’s UN. We discussed the Japanese invasion in Manchuria and German rearmament, thus reenacting history. We were able to come up with a compromise and avoid war. This shows that there are other ways to compromise besides war. As the war on Iraq is the big issue this year, we hope to represent the UK in order to maintain peace in the world and show that war is not the only option.
We hope that by the end of this presentation, you will all know what the UN is, what the BMUN and its mock sessions are, and what our hopes are. Thank you. Amitofo.