UCL News


UCL undergraduate chairs UN Security Council

23 February 2007

Not the real one, of course, but Anthony Moore (Mathematics 3) hopes that his participation in the Model United Nations held in London at the weekend will be a taste of things to come.

Anthony was among 25 delegates from the UCL Model UN Society to take part in the event held at Imperial College from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 February. About 650 delegates took part in all, mostly from across the UK, but with some from further afield, including Pakistan and Russia.

At a Model UN event, delegates participate in the kinds of activities that the real UN undertakes, setting up committees to discuss events, form resolutions and plan actions. Anthony, as chair of the Security Council, prepared a fictional Middle Eastern crisis - the takeover of the Lebanese government by Hezbullah - which the committee explored and discussed over the weekend.

While the Security Council ended its session with a resolution condemning the coup, other committees went further in their discussions. The Legal Council, for example, discussed the status of so-called 'enemy combatants' who have not been given the same rights that conventional prisoners of war are due under the terms of the Geneva Convention. Its proceedings resulted in an entirely new legal definition of such persons. Other topical issues under discussion included human rights in Zimbabwe.

At the Model United Nations, delegates are assigned in advance a country to represent at the conference, and need to research the country's situation and positions on issues in order to take part fully in the discussions. Key positions, such as secretaries to councils, are allocated among the event organisers. Planning for the Security Council discussions, for example, was a major undertaking, as the scenario had to be realistic and complex enough to fully engage the 20 participants. Anthony prepared 30 fictional newspaper articles to detail the events of the Lebanese crisis and form a basis for discussion among the committee.

The Model UN originated in the USA and has spread to Europe and the rest of the world in the last few years. About 25 events are held in Europe each year, and there is an annual conference in London. Within UCL, the Model United Nations Society was formed in 2005 and now has 75 members from a range of academic backgrounds. Anthony got involved through a friend a year ago, attending out of curiosity and a broad interest in international relations. Having attended six events, he now has hopes of going on to work for an international diplomatic organisation - as many members of the society do.

The next Model UN for Anthony will be in April in Bremen, Germany, but the next item in the UCL Model UN Society's calendar is the annual World Model UN, which takes place this year in Geneva during the last week of March. UCL will be represented by six students at the event, which is run by Harvard University.

To find out more, follow the links at the bottom of this article.

Image: Student delegates at the Model United Nations get to grips with international issues.

By Dan Watson, UCL Communications