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Simulating international relations:
Students gear up for Model UN conference

Trent student Ted Cragg exudes considerable enthusiasm when he talks about his participation in model United Nations conferences. It is evident he believes the experience is valuable and perhaps life-changing for students.

"I have been involved for five years," explains Ted. "I started at PCVS, and went to the model UN in The Hague in grade 11. It changed my life. I hadn’t thought much beyond the borders of Canada but, ever since, I’ve been interested in international affairs."

Ted was able to travel to The Hague again in grade 13, as an OAC volunteer with that year’s grade 11 group of delegates. Over that time, he also began to attend model UN conferences in Canada. In the fall of 1999 he attended a model UN conference at Trent and, as a result, decided to study at Trent upon graduation from secondary school.

"Before I even started classes here I was involved in Trent’s model UN conference," smiles Ted, who has served as event co-ordinator for two years.

The aim of model UN organizers is to allow high school students to develop skills related to international relations, diplomacy and high-level discussion and debate. Participants also have the opportunity to learn about global issues such as terrorism, environmental protection, peace, security and state sovereignty.

Students represent a county at the conference and participate in various councils. These are all modelled upon an existing United Nations structure and system of protocols. For instance, at the upcoming TIME 2002 model UN conference at Trent on October 24 – 27, sessions will include the Security Council, NATO, the League of Arab States, the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), Earth Summit 2002 and an international criminal tribunal of Slobodan Milosevic. Delegates study issues facing the global community in advance of the conference and prepare working papers and resolutions that state their chosen country’s foreign policy. At Trent they will speak, lobby and debate on behalf of their country. To be effective, each participant needs to be well versed in their nation’s policies and beliefs.

The conference will begin with opening ceremonies and a mock debate at Otonabee College at 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 24. On Friday and Saturday participants will be involved in sessions, culminating in an international dinner and social evening at Otonabee College on Saturday evening. Closing ceremonies will take place at Wenjack Theatre at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

"Being able to co-ordinate our conference has been rewarding," says Ted. "This year I expect between 80 and 100 delegates, and approximately 15 to 20 staff (Trent students)."

For more information about the TIME 2002 model UN conference please call Ted at 749-3700 or visit www.trentu.ca/modelun.

Photo: Ted Cragg warms up for the upcoming TIME 2002 model United Nations conference at Trent. Gavels are a common tool of debate and discussion by council chairs at the conference.

Posted October 21, 2002

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Last updated October 31, 2002