Nearly 600 pupils from seven countries as diverse as Holland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the USA will be debating issues on "sustainable environments and communities" during the Haileybury Model United Nations 2011 conference this weekend. The 113 delegations will use the time to debate issues of global importance and table motions, some of which will reach the United Nations General Assembly itself.
The purpose and nature of Model United Nations conferences such as the one held at Haileybury are to replicate the real United Nations. Delegates are assigned a country and a committee, and are required to play the roles of diplomats. They have to research the issues from the perspective of both the UN and the country they represent, and then have to prepare a stance on these issues which accurately and realistically reflect their country’s views.
"Teaching pupils debating skills will enable them to better understand what is going on in their countries and to have intelligent views on the various issues that affect us all," says Michael Perrins, HMUN organiser and Head of Politics at Haileybury.
HMUN11 has the following committees this year: Disarmament, Ecology and Environment, Economic and Social, Human Rights and Political in addition to the Security Council.
At the HMUN11 Conference, which is run by 150 pupils and staff at Haileybury, delegates have to lobby for support with the delegates of other countries and then debate the issues according to their country’s standpoint. Debates are conducted according to rules of parliamentary procedure, and are controlled by pupil officers.
Delegates have to operate on a range of levels. They have to research, they have to develop the social skills of the effective lobbyist, and they present their ideas in a demanding debating forum.
"The MUN programme gives pupil delegates confidence and develops abilities which they had never dreamt they possessed. They also enjoy the opportunity to meet other young people from across the globe," explains Mr Perrins.
The event begins on Friday afternoon, 25 March with a magnificent opening ceremony from 5.45pm – 7pm and culminates in the closing ceremony at 4.45pm on Sunday, 27 March. The Guest Keynote Speaker at the opening ceremony will be Mr Hugh Bayley – a former pupil of Haileybury and the long-serving Labour MP for York.