The Cornell Model United Nations kicked off a weekend-long conference last night with an opening ceremony in the Alice Statler Auditorium. Over the course of the next three days, 150 high-schoolers representing over two dozen countries will gather in Ithaca to take part in the Cornell-sponsored debates.
“This conference is really a great thing for high-schoolers, Cornell and Cornell students,” said Sai Pidatala ’04, model UN security council chairperson. “The kids look up to us for leadership and … we try to give them a small glimpse into international issues. What could be more fun?”
Yesterday’s ceremony featured a speech by Michael L. Bronstein ’04, chairperson of the CMUN board of directors, in which he addressed the role of the U.N. in global peacekeeping.
The CMUN will host high school teams from across the nation, each representing a different member country. Teams will divide into committees responsible for debating different areas of U.N. policy, from border disputes to the African AIDS crisis.
“Each [committee] deals with different issues affecting the world,” said CMUN secretary general Ravi Shastri ’04, who has been involved in Model U.N. since he was a high school sophomore. “One deals with disarmament … another with social and cultural issues. There is a simulation of the World Health Organization, a simulation of the U.N. Human Rights Committee and a simulation of the executive committee from the National Security Council during the time of the cuban missile crisis.”
Students arrive at the conference well-prepared to debate world issues intelligently, according to Shastri, who said that most teams spend months researching the pre-determined topics.
“It is important that we educate high-schoolers to think about issues that affect the world as their own,” Bronstein said. “As they grow we hope that the experience they have had with us will make them want to reach out to others.”
Just as in the actual UN, students will need to work to find a compromise between their various positions and ultimately issue a mock resolution on their debate topic.
Ithaca High School sent two teams to the Cornell conference, representing Japan and Finland.
CMUN members hope that participating students will walk away from the conference with a better appreciation for the differing opinions that make up global debate.
“[The event] helps students understand the viewpoints of other nations and allows them an opportunity to explore these viewpoints in a debate and see what sort of policy angles there are,” Shastri said. “It helps them get a better understanding of how the world works and how the UN works.”
The conference was organized by the CMUN, which engages in similar debates on a college level. While no Cornellians will be participating in this weekend’s event, 56 members will be responsible for making sure that the conference runs smoothly. Organizers worked closely with the university administration and the SAFC during the planning stages.
Simulations of the Security Council and UN General Assembly will be held today and tomorrow. The conference will draw to a close on Sunday with a closing ceremony in Uris Hall.
Archived article by Jeff Sickelco