Model United Nations Society is hugely popular amongst our Senior School students with students in Years 10-13 taking part in weekly training sessions and regularly attending external conferences as delegates and guest chairs. Following the success of our inaugural Senior School NLCSMUN conference last year, we wanted to introduce the activity to students further down the school.
Most schools only offer MUN club to older students as it is a challenging and complex simulation of United Nations Conferences, but we felt sure that NLCS Year 6s would throw themselves into a conference with great enthusiasm and take on the challenge with poise. We were proved right on Wednesday 23rd Feb when a buzzing group of junior delegates took over the Old House to approach some of the world’s greatest challenges.
The Mini NLCSMUN conference was a true reflection of the community spirit which is in the DNA of all North Londoners. Those involved were extremely proud of the senior students who ran the initial workshop and chaired the committees and the General Assembly. Alex, Aria, Emilia, Kate, Katie and Mia, who are very experienced in MUN waters, were very impressed with the quality of the speeches, the thorough knowledge of current affairs, the quick thinking and humorous approach of the junior delegates.
First, the MUN Society introduced the young delegates to the main aspects of MUN conferences and to the art of writing resolutions. Despite the challenges along the way, our engaged and committed delegates embraced the task and utilised their IT, research and writing skills to produce exciting, thought-provoking and insightful resolutions.
Then, in the second part, they gave speeches within each committee (Health, Environmental and DISEC). Their questions (The question of compulsory vaccinations, The question of plastic in the ocean and The question of the militarisation of outer space) were demanding but their resilience and their ability to think outside the box shone through. From the debating in each committee, the DISEC committee stood out in terms of the alliances made in such a short amount of time and for the amount of resolutions debated. Although the ideas were ambitious and some of them pursued peaceful agreements above all, the USA’s resolution was passed for General Assembly. In the Buss, where the Health committee met, students passionately analysed statistics and the impact that vaccinations have on people’s lives. Decisions were not easy to make! After many points of information, speeches for and against, China’s resolution was passed to General Assembly. In the Drummond, the Environment committee saw passionate and innovative ideas to tackle the amount of plastic in the planet. The savviest and most balanced resolution, which was intently discussed from many viewpoints, was Nigeria’s.
Finally, in the Main Hall, all delegations sat together. USA, China and Nigeria provided eloquent and well informed speeches which captured the audience. Nonetheless, the other delegations, in typical North London style, grilled them on their policies in terms of their effectiveness and suitability for the nations. As the General Assembly progressed, it was impossible not to miss how the young debaters got more and more accustomed to the language and protocol of MUN and how they did not shy away from making improvised speeches and asking probing points of information. The Secretary-Generals and their assistants were astonished with the amount of placards consistently raised as all resolutions were questioned in a fierce fashion. Suffice to say that “clapping was in order” on 2 occasions and when it was not in order, the delegates graciously respected the decision showing great signs of maturity, professionalism and fair play.
The Senior Staff and Students watching General Assembly were astonished at how confident, articulate and engaged these young pupils were. They approached the debates with mature sensitivity and got to the heart of highly nuanced and complex topics: we particularly enjoyed hearing the delegates’ thoughts on the tension between collective safety and individual freedom when discussing whether to make vaccines compulsory, and also how we can reconcile maintaining a peaceful world order with the inevitable existence of conflict over resources and now even space exploration and militarisation. Hearing such young students work together to devise ambitious solutions to the world’s greatest challenges with such compassion, idealism and imagination was a real privilege for senior students and staff alike and was especially heart-warming in such troubling times. We are delighted that they enjoyed the afternoon and hope that this is the first of many MUN events for younger NLCS students that bring the NLCS community together.
As for the young delegates, certificates and awards are coming soon, so watch this space!