Model United Nations (Model U.N.) strives to educate high school students about global affairs, and give them a deeper understanding of international politics.
The school’s Model U.N. club typically participates in three conferences a year. This year, they have attended the “Inter-Generational” Model U.N. conference at San Francisco State, the Santa Clara Model U.N. conference and a conference held at UC Berkeley.
Before each conference, the school gets assigned a country, or multiple countries, that they will be responsible for representing at that conference. Members can request certain countries, but are ultimately assigned randomly.
“When you register [for a conference] you get country assignments, and sometimes if you’re in a specialized committee [instead of a country, you represent] a person or an organization of some sort,” Model U.N. President senior Konrad Niemiec said. “You come in knowing the topic you [are going to] talk about, and they give you usually two topics per conference, [that relate to world issues].”
The majority of the time, the school gets assigned one country and the members in each school will participate in different committees.
“[For example, if you were] representing Somalia…most people from your school would also be Somalia, and [everyone would be in different committees] solving different problems,” Konrad said.
The committees within a conference can range from basic committees, like the General Assembly, to more obscure, specialized committees.
“There are usually 10-15 countries that represent the different kinds of committees in the U.N.,” Konrad said. “The general assembly is usually the biggest one, then there’s [also the] economic and social committee and all these other different [committees] that happen in real life. [There’s] also these specialized committees which each individual conference makes up that solve specific problems or [include] something cool like being the cabinet of a president.”
Students prepare for conferences by writing position papers. These papers allow students to familiarize themselves with their country’s viewpoint on specific issues before actually attending the conference and participating in the mock assemblies.
“The [student] chairs, the people [selected to] run each committee individually, they write you a chair letter which gives you background on your topic so you…know what’s going on,” Konrad said. “[Then]…you write a position paper [that includes background]…summarizes what they told you, adds in new information about the topic and [includes] what the U.N. has done in the past about this topic.”
The position papers also require members to include their countries position on the topic designated. However, discovering certain countries’ opinions on specific issues can often be challenging.
“I was Mozambique for one conference and who knows what Mozambique thinks about renewable energy?” Konrad said. “So you kind of infer what your country’s position would be based on the information you find, and then you offer some solutions and thats all written in your position paper which you submit to your chair.”
Once the position papers are submitted, research awards are given out to individuals who have particularly in-depth or interesting research.
Once at the conference, students work together to pass resolutions, which is the primary mode the U.N. uses to solve world problems.
“You want to try to stay on your country’s policy, so [for example] the U.S. isn’t going to work that closely with North Korea or something,” Konrad said. “And you want to have some fun so you get in little arguments with people, you work together with people, at the end you go into what it is called frivolous debate [where you] just have some fun.”
Awards are given out at conferences to delegates that do the best job speaking at influencing people and trying to get people to agree with them. The awards that are given out range from a verbal commendation to an honorable mention, all the way to an honorable or best delegate award. The best delegate award is the most prestigious award offered at conferences, and is often referred to as “gavelling.”
“[This year], a lot of us have personally aimed for research or best delegate awards at the conferences we attend,” junior Samantha Dadok said. “Overall, just seeing everyone work so hard in committee and having it pay off either through improvement of their public speaking skills or through receiving an award is the best part of conferences.”
In addition to doing well at conferences, one of the biggest goals for the club this year was to try and expand and include more people.
“I think we accomplished that, at the beginning of the year we had almost 30 people coming to meetings, now its dwindled to almost 20 or 15 [but we’ve still] kind of made a name for ourselves,” Konrad said. “This is the first year we’ve ever won major awards at LAHS so that’s pretty cool.”
Seeing Model U.N. expand so much from last year was one of the highlights of the season thus far for the club.
“I didn’t know that we could pick up the club like that and really expand [it] to kind of become a force,” Konrad said.
Ultimately, the club hopes to continue recruiting members and making a name for themselves on campus.
“Model U.N. is a blast,” Konrad said. “It seems really weird to kind of talk and explain your ideas but when you’re actually in committee you’re having so much fun and it’s really an experience that I think you need to have in high school. Just being in a room with people and trying to work together on a common goal, I think that’s really powerful.”