From 2nd March to 4th March 2007, six Students from grade 12 of the German School of Toulouse participated in a Model United Nations Conference in Bath, UK.
Frederike Jakob, Max Bergel, Lara-Maria Mohr, Axel Schmidt, Alexander Abar and Theo Cadet represented the Republic of Yemen in their chosen committees.
What is Model United Nations?
People might say MUN is just another debating activity, but there is something special about this one. The Model United Nations (that is what MUN stands for) follows the strict protocol of the United Nations. Students act as delegates of UN member states on various committees, debating relevant and up-to-date topics from their countries viewpoint.
BISMUN stands for Bath International Schools’ Model United Nations which takes place in Kingswood School, Bath. This sounds very important and big and in fact that’s exactly what it was like: 134 delegations from schools mainly from the UK but also from countries as far as France, Russia, Belarus, Germany and Ireland were present. All in all we were about 800 Students participating in this event.
The following topics were discussed in the different committees at BISMUN this year:
The Political Committee (Frederike Jakob)There are strict regulations as to which delegation may be part of which committee. Yemen was therefore not allowed to be a part of the Middle East Committee or the Security Council.
The Situation in North Korea
The Situation in the Horn of Africa
Combating International Terrorism
The Economic Committee (Max Bergel)
The Health Committee (Lara-Maria Mohr)
The Provision of Clean Water
The Global Pharmaceutical Trade
The Environment Committee
Marine and Coastal Biodiversity
Protecting the Amazon
The Disarmament Committee (Axel Schmidt)
Non-Proliferation of WMD
UNCHR One (Theo Cadet)
The Rights of Asylum Seekers
The Death Penalty
The Rights of Terrorist Suspects held by the United States
Human Rights in Zimbabwe
UNCHR Two (Alexander Abar)
The Rights of People in Same Sex Relationships
The Rights of Women
Middle East Committee
The Situation in Iraq
Iran and the Nuclear Power
The Situation in Lebanon
The Question of Palestine
Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
The Security Council
The Situation in Iraq
The Situation in North Korea
Iran and Nuclear Power
The Situation in the Sudan
The Question of Palestine
Current Threats to International Security
During preparation time, before even getting to Bath, delegates had to get well informed about their topic and were required to write resolutions to at least one of the topics discussed in their committee.
BISMUN started in the afternoon of Friday 2nd March 2007. We were all very excited about what was going to happen. At first, we had to go to the Theatre Foyer at Kingswood School to get registered. Then we entered the Sports Hall for the Opening Ceremony and were very surprised. This was even bigger than we had imagined. There were flags of the UN member states hanging from the walls and a big screen in front of us to ensure that even the people from the back rows could see everything clearly. In the front, a big podium had been constructed and on this podium stood a massive table with the UN-Flag spread widely over it. There was music of the kind that makes you think that you are doing something very important, and the fantastic speeches made by Mr Gary Best, Headmaster of Kingswood School, Mr David Dowling, Secretary General of BISMUN 2007 and Mr Jonathon Porritt CBE, Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission convinced us that this was indeed not only a game but that this experience would probably change a great deal in our way of thinking and acting.
After the Opening Ceremony had ended, the delegates left the Hall to go into their committees for lobbying. This is a period of the conference where delegates can informally swap their resolutions and try to get the minimum number of signatures to be allowed to submit them. A submitted resolution is not automatically going to be debated though. Only two resolutions per topic can be debated while the committees are in session. Although the first day consisted of a lobbying-period only, our delegation had the first success during those hours. One resolution (Topic: Horn of Africa) had been submitted to the chair of the political committee.
A day of serious debates, funny incidents and meeting people
At 9.45 a.m. the next day, the committees started debating the first resolutions, followed by lobbying about other topics. Yemen submitted another Resolution (Topic: Combating International Terrorism) in the Political Committee and the Resolution concerning the situation in the Horn of Africa was going to be debated in the afternoon.
Although we had not been prepared for the MUN-topics in class, we had informed ourselves well enough in our free time to be able to stand up and speak in front of our committees. Making a free speech in front of 70 or 80 people and then being complimented about your achievements and ideas, even if the resolution fails in the end, is an experience that will stay in the memories of the concerned people for a long time.
Debating a Resolution
At the start of a debate the delegate who submitted the resolution is invited by the chair to read the Operative Clauses of his/her resolution and to speak in favour of the resolution. After that the delegate must either yield the floor to the chair or another delegate, or answer to points of information.
There will be ten minutes of time for the resolution, in which delegates are allowed to speak in favour of the resolution, followed by ten minutes against. If a delegate wishes to speak (be that a point of information or in order to request the floor) he must raise his placard and wait to be recognized by the chair.
After time for and time against, there is also the possibility to make amendments to the resolution, which will be debated in a time for and a time against which both last 5 minutes and then be voted for. A debate is closed by the voting procedure.
The General Assembly
On the third and last day we finally had a General Assembly. In the morning we had been given sheets of paper on which an invented crisis was explained, and a short draft resolution printed. The delegates were now asked to make amendments to the resolution.
Two committees that had been joined were now discussing two topics in that fashion. The first topic was debated in the joint committees, the second one was discussed in the General Assembly by the Committees (exceptions: UNCHR, Security Council, Middle East). Unfortunately, Yemen was situated in the back rows and was not recognized by the chair, so we were not involved into the debate.
In the UK, students start at the age of 12 to go to MUN- Conferences. They can do that every couple of weeks. In consequence, those people are a lot more experienced than we are. We were quite scared when we heard the first delegates speak, but we also listened to Secretary General Downing who had asked us in the Opening Ceremony to swallow the fear and just get to the floor and speak. We were supported and helped by very nice fellow delegates of whom some afterwards earned the awards. There was no reason to be afraid of saying anything wrong and it was such a friendly atmosphere that we were sad when the Closing Ceremony ended. We learned a lot in those three days. We learned about British Culture and intercultural exchange, we also learned a great deal about our topics and improved our English. This was definitely more than we would ever have learned in the day we missed at school to be able to go to Bath. We will never forget this experience and hope for another possibility to participate in a MUN Conference. The delegation is also looking forward to organizing a miniature-MUN for some of the students of the German School, as it has been a tradition for some years now.
Frederike Jakob, Klasse 12