They may be at the twelfth year of their school education and it may be a mock United Nations but the importance of their draft resolutions and standard of debating reflect the real deal.
When 70 students from around Australia gather at Old Parliament House later in August for the Model United Nations Assembly, they will be debating issues from preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Korean peninsular to tackling piracy in the Horn of Africa.
Addressing climate change, eliminating violence against women and girls and protecting human rights while countering terrorism will also be tossed back and forth for the event from August 18 to 20.
Held by the Rotary Club of Canberra Sunrise (District 9710) since 1996, the Model United Nations Assembly is something keenly embraced by the students, many of whom wear the national costume of the country they represent.
Long-time organiser and Rotary Club member, Garth Britton, said the students took the debating very seriously.
“They can get quite theatrical, particularly those who choose to represent Cuba and North Korea,” he said.
Over the last 21 years, about 1,600 secondary school students have participated in the national debate to increase international understanding and goodwill.
The students will be representing 26 nations.
“They are representing that country and its attitude and not their own views so it’s important they do some research and find out what those views are,” Britton said.
The Rotary Club of Canberra Sunrise organises the event on behalf of the Rotary District 9710 which covers 47 clubs across the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) and south-eastern NSW (New South Wales).
“It’s also to show that Rotary is not just about sausage sizzles and fundraising,”Britton said.
Club member Bruce Harvey, who has been there since the first MUNA in 1996, said some of the students went on to study international relations and seek careers in diplomacy.
“The kids are just amazing,” he said.
“Every year we are impressed by the standard of public speaking and the way they are across the issues. It’s pretty remarkable.”
The event will be presented on Facebook, including the streaming of much of the debate.
The public is also encouraged to come along and hear the debate in the historic House of Representatives chamber at Old Parliament House from Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 20.
The students will also visit the Australian National University, a major sponsor of the event, and meet diplomats from some the countries they represent at a dinner on the Saturday night at Burgmann College.
Source: The Canberra Times