After visiting the chimpanzee sanctuary, the professors have been relaxing, enjoying the great local cuisine, and exploring the nightlife in Freetown – between classes that is. They have been resting for the main event for the next two days and that is the Model UN simulation. After day 1 of the simulation, Joanne shared the experience:
Presenting the MUN resolution
Today was the first day of model United Nations. We broke the students into teams representing 14 state and non-state actors at an emergency session of the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the Honourable Yanoh Jalloh as chair. The year is 2020. A mysterious and highly contagious disease has broken out in central Africa. The disease has a high mortality rate (50% fatality) and immediate action in required from the UN to address the situation, contain the disease and alleviate the suffering of local populations.
None of the students had ever participated in a model United Nations simulations before, and I spent some time at the beginning explaining the rules and procedures. I was very impressed with how quickly the students took to their roles with standout performances as some truly began to embody their given actors — whether China, Russia, the US, the AU or ECOWAS. With some guidance, they quickly grew confident with model UN’s stylised procedural rules and formal vocabulary. I explained the goal of drafting a resolution, and within a couple of hours, a draft resolution was being circulated, spearheaded by the EU delegation. I used (and abused) my role as the media to write headlines on the whiteboard to provoke reactions and shape the debate. During my classes, I had emphasised the media’s agenda setting power and they are now witnessing this theoretical concept in full effect.
Tomorrow is the last day, and we will conclude model UN, followed by the closing ceremony. I think the students are having a great time flexing their debating skills as aspiring lawyers, and at the same time, consolidating and demonstrating some of what they’ve learned in the past two weeks.
This exercise has been important for the student to utilise the knowledge and skills from their coursework. The MUN simulation emphasizes team work, analytical and presentation skills, practices negotiations techniques and empowers students to make a difference in policy.
Students getting ready for the final task.