Reaching Consensus in a Diverse World

By: Rachelle Adelante, UNA Secretary, Inland Empire Chapter

There’s a common saying that children are the future. This couldn’t have been truer with the implementation of the Model UN in support of the works and vision of the United Nations. In this difficult time that we’re living in, plagued with an ongoing pandemic and various social conflicts, it’s more encouraging than ever to see youth, the future generation, gather their minds and hearts together and reach a common ground towards common goals. This is what the Model UN is about…

The Model UN is an interactive educational experience for youth who are interested in international affairs,” said Bo Li, Public Information Officer at Education Outreach Section in Model UN. It is through programs like the Model UN where young people can develop their diplomacy skills as well as social skills. It’s a place where they get to learn about current affairs and the positions held by UN member states regarding variety of issues. It’s an opportunity for the youth to work with one another and identity solutions.

One of the most rewarding results, if not the most, that Model UN produces is bringing together different schools, campuses, and students from all over the world where young individuals work together despite their differences in cultures, backgrounds, and walks of life, Li shared. While not directly affiliated with the United Nations, the Model UN incorporates programs that strongly align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), in which students get to focus on one or more goals at a time and engage in the process of conducting research on specific SDGs and presenting their positions on key issues. At times, Model UN delegates also take a step further and get into solving real problems in their community, from beach clean-ups, food drives, recycling events, and social media campaigns on human rights and peace advocacy, Li said.  

Nevertheless, Model UN has its challenges. There are schools that do not have Model UN Club and some who wish to participate find it challenging to find the right Model UN in their respective schools and communities. Since Model UN are independent of the United Nations, each conference can vary in terms of style, structure, and scope.

 

Students are then highly encouraged to do plenty of research and follow actual rules and procedures used at the United Nations. It’s also valuable to recognize that Model UN is not about competition, but rather a place where it facilitates discussions and fosters unity, Li emphasized. They can always seek for guidance at  United Nations Information Centres in their regions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also dampened the in-person Model UN activities due to health and safety. Many in-person conferences were cancelled and discouraged. At the same time, COVID-19 has also become one of the main key topics in the discussions, such as how it has impacted the healthcare, education, economy, human rights, and mental health among many more. Such discussions promote solidarity among youth in hopes of recovery and better future. 

However, the Model UN’s online presence and activities have grown rapidly and has been the case these past couple of years. “As the UN’s Youth2030 Strategy points out, our world today is home to 1.8 billion young people. This is the largest youth generation in history, and the most connected generation with the advancement of technology and social media,” said Li. The online platform has enabled many students to participate in international Model UN sessions that would’ve been impossible due to travel expenses and time constraints. 

The increased advancement in technology and social media has interested many young individuals to learn and connect on a wider and more innovative level. The social media and internet have become the sources of wide variety of information from all around the globe, helping the youth to better prepare for their future career in international relations. Moreover, social media has been a great tool for the Model UN students in raising awareness and promoting campaigns on priority issues that are important to the United Nations, Li shared.

“However, misinformation and harmful content spreading on social media can affect young people negatively. We UN students to take a moment to verify the of the information before they post or share it through their social media accounts,” said Li.

As much as there is a great deal of work and challenges in implementing the Model UN, the results and the positive impact it leaves on young individuals cannot be ignored. In addition to improving social and diplomacy skills, knowledge on global affairs, recognizing cultural differences, and interpersonal connection among many more…one thing that Model UN hopes the students can take with them is the value of consensus

“Consensus is about taking into consideration every Member State’s viewpoint and engaging all in negotiations. If some delegations push through a resolution at the expense of others, it is not a victory, but a missed opportunity.”

“Consensus is about taking into consideration every Member State’s viewpoint and engaging all in negotiations. If some delegations push through a resolution at the expense of others, it is not a victory, but a missed opportunity,” Li explained. A vote by majority can easily conclude important discussions, but it is through consensus that young individuals can truly experience the heart of listening to each other and working together towards the common goals – a valuable skill that can go a long way and reach across the globe.  

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