25/11/2014: Last week, 9 Milestone students attended the 23rd Berlin International Model United Nations (MUN) conference, under the motto “Beyond the 2015 Millennium Development Goals: Empowerment and Equity for the Collective Global Good”. MUN is a simulation of the real United Nations, where student delegates represent a specific country, debating actual issues according to formal rules of diplomatic debate.
An informal process called lobbying marks the start of debate, wherein delegates try to find allies and rally them around a common position; once a common text has been agreed and proposed to the committee, public discussion commences, which either leads to the passing or rejection of a resolution. In the Security Council, this is further complicated by the veto right of the 5 permanent members.
Representing Argentina, the 9 Milestone delegates debated a host of topics, including the Senkaku Islands dispute between Japan and China (in the Security Council); the Rwandan genocide (in the Historical Security Council); international labour standards and fair and equal access to markets (in the World Trade Organisation); creating secure conditions for Syrian refugees in their host communities (in the Human Rights Committee); fossil fuel reserves in the Arctic (in the Environment Committee); the protection of journalists (in the Political Committee); and finally, youth entrepreneurship and how to achieve transparency through digital connectivity (in the Special Conference).
As part of their preparation, the Milestone delegates took the initiative to contact the Argentine Embassy to discuss the country’s policy on these diverse issues. To their surprise, the Consul General himself received them and tried to answer their questions, as well as posing for a picture with them afterward (pictured with the Consul above are Milestone students Patrik Kuráth, Márk Matusz and Marcell Tóth).
The opening ceremony at the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (a political foundation close to the German Social Democratic Party, SPD), in addition to speeches and a keynote address, featured a 1-minute statement by the ambassador of each delegation represented. For Milestone, Senior year student Sonja Teszler took the spotlight to highlight the undemocratic nature of the UN Security Council (pictured left). The following day, the delegates met in their various committees, where they tried to reconcile their country’s real policies with a solution-focused, diplomatic approach, which—as in the real UN—sometimes proved elusive. Each committee also featured a guest speaker, usually an international expert on one of the topics of debate, to ground the discussions in real-world experience.
As a reward for their hard work, the Milestone students also had some time for sightseeing—and for sampling Berlin’s culinary offerings, not least the city’s signature dish, a very special variant of the Döner Kebap.