27th January 2019
Writing: George Corby (Year 13)
Editing: Cameron Robey (Year 13)
After a year of preparation, last Sunday Challoner’s held its second annual Model United Nations (MUN) conference. With over 130 delegates from around a dozen schools, it was the biggest conference we’ve held yet.
For readers that don’t know what MUN is, it’s effectively an activity where students are assigned a country, whose views they then have to represent in a series of UN-style debates throughout the day. For us, this meant we had to prepare a full-day conference, with separate committees (of smaller debates), as well as organising catering, and even conducting risk assessments and fire plans to operate safely. It was a great way for us all to see first hand the many factors that go into planning an event - we were particularly surprised by the technicalities encountered when writing out invoices and VAT reclaim forms - it turns out you can’t just get people to bring £20 on the day!
The day started with an opening ceremony - where we were given excellent talks by the school’s Deputy Chair of Governors, Dr Pegg, who spoke about his work at an international business school, as well as Mr Atkinson, who introduced the day and its broader context in the world. After a safety briefing from myself and an inspiring speech from Chris Berry (my fellow conference manager), we were ready to start the day.
I chaired the Political Committee, where we discussed the extremely controversial topic of gay ‘conversion therapy’. We debated an excellent resolution (a document which sets out a series of actions all countries must take) by Finn Henry, who represented Spain. The debate ultimately revolved around an argument between Arab states that their sovereignty and religious views (which they claimed meant that homosexuality was immoral under all circumstances) must be protected, and the counterargument from European states that protections must be in place to protect the rights of LGBT people, as much of conversion therapy can be equated to torture (since it often includes beating, electrocution and even lobotomy). In particular, the delegate of the UK gave an outstanding speech arguing that the rights of children must always be protected, and no parent should be able to force a child into conversion therapy.
Other committees discussed a wide range of issues, from Brexit (in the European Council) to ‘bridging the gap between the rich and the poor’ in ECOSOC.
After a short lunch break, everyone then moved into the main hall, where they sat in their countries (delegations) to have one large debate. Here, we debated the resolution my committee passed earlier (on conversion therapy) as well as a crisis resolution - on the topic of school shootings, where we debated whether teachers should be armed in order to keep schools safe. Needless to say this didn’t pass!
Over the past year, the Challoner’s MUN team have had a series of successes - travelling to (and winning at!) the St Petersburg MUN conference, as well as winning numerous awards at the university-level London International MUN. It will be exciting to see what happens over the next year, as a new generation of MUN students take over from the current exec team.
Thanks must go to Miss West for her incredible long term commitment to our club over the past two years. We simply could not have done any of this without her.