Regent’s University London hosted its third annual Youth Model United Nations (Model UN) Conference for high school students. This event brought together more than 130 students (aged 12-18) from nine schools, to participate in a two-day conference where they worked together to develop solutions to global problems.
Students immersed themselves in another country’s political system and culture, discussed real world dilemmas with their peers and collectively developed realistic solutions. They gained valuable experience and skills in leadership, teamwork, interpersonal communication, diplomacy, public speaking, research, and negotiation.
This is a vital outreach project for Regent’s and brings in schools in our surrounding boroughs. This year, for the first time, we welcomed our first non-UK school – St George’s School from Cologne, Germany.
Students responded enthusiastically to the conference. One said: “The conference felt so international, and it was great meeting new people from around the world and discussing different issues, and working together with them,” while another said, “I’ve learnt that together we are better.”
The guest speaker was Regent’s visiting lecturer Alexander Knapp, who has been working in international development, post-conflict reconstruction and strategy for almost 20 years. He highlighted the need for global citizens who value internationalisation. After sharing stories from his experience working for the UN, he emphasised to the delegates that they are the future and praised them for participating in this internationally focused event.
Yossi Mekelberg, Head of Programme, International Relations and Kate Fanning, Lecturer in International Relations & Human Rights served as staff for the conference and were essential in the development of the entire project
The conference was coordinated by Regent’s visiting lecturer Sabrina White with Rebecca Cox and Marion Eastwood. Sabrina White said she was inspired by the students and speakers: “I saw an incredible level of passion, cooperation, enthusiasm and respect in the students this weekend. Each and every one of them should be so proud of what they achieved. They called for empowerment of young people, measures to combat radicalisation, offered solutions to peacebuilding, emphasised gender equality and called for greater support for those in need, especially refugees. They tackled the incredibly complex situation in Syria and found solutions to addressing ethnic violence in Burundi. They realised the importance of education, collaboration and resources in each and every single committee topic. These young people and the teachers and parents that support them, make the future look very bright.”
Yossi Mekelberg, Head of Programme, International Relations said: “At a time when our youth is accused of political and social apathy, 140 high school students from nine schools including one that flew specially from Cologne, Germany, proved the opposite is true. They debated ferociously – though diplomatically and respectfully – an array of international issues at the heart of our political lives. Issues they covered included the conflict in Syria and how to respond to a future genocide. Their preparation, their enthusiasm and their engagement with the topics and one another left us with the belief that the next generation of leaders were emerging in front of our eyes.”
The conference could not have happened without the help of Regent’s students and alumni volunteers, all of who are former Model UN students, who generously gave their time and skills:
The volunteers were impressed with the standard of the 2016 cohort. Ario Daniso commented: “The level of intellectual debate was staggering and inspiring”, and Julia Spaeth added: “It was inspiring and beautiful to see kids of different ages and backgrounds discuss international politics in a more sophisticated way than many current politicians”.
Speaking after the event, one of the students said, “This is the best Model UN conference I’ve ever been to. I love the format, and it is set up in a way that makes compromise and negotiation the main focus”.