William B. Vogele, PhD, Professor of Political Science (Model UN Club, Faculty Advisor)
After months of planning and preparation, the PMC team representing Cape Verde finally arrived at the National Model UN conference in New York on Sunday 29 March. They joined 3,000 other college and university students from around the world – China, Korea, Ecuador, Peru, Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, Great Britain, Denmark (to name a few) as well as the US. Their first “political experience” was bargaining and voting about the agenda – which topic would be the focus of their work for the next three days.
Between Monday and Tuesday night (as in 11 pm Tuesday) they began to work with delegates representing other member states of the United Nations. Their goals were to construct a resolution on the agenda topic that advanced the interests of Cape Verde, as well as expressed the support of a majority of the countries present. They drafted sections of resolutions, negotiated with other countries, made careful and important decisions about who to work with and what to press for.
Tuesday was a pivotal day at the conference. By the end of the evening (after about a 14 hour day) each committee was very close to having a number of draft resolutions. In each of the committees the PMC delegation succeeded in helping to create at least one draft resolution that contained the ideas and actions that were most important to Cape Verde. In all committees the delegates played important roles so that they were “sponsors” of these draft resolutions.
On Wednesday the team wrapped up the substantive work in each committee. By the end of the day each committee considered and voted upon the draft resolutions. In each case, the resolution – that was the result of our delegates’ collaborative work – was approved by the committee.
What did we accomplish? The concrete actions that PMC delegates supported were important both for Cape Verde and for the global community. These included:
- Proposing a stronger framework for collaboration to reduce the spread of biological weapons, especially to non-state (terrorist) groups.
- Creating programs directed at the advancement of women’s rights to economic participation.
- Strengthening programs for the cross-national exchange and education of young people to erode the power of racism.
- Creating new regional mechanisms in Africa to direct investment into local levels and entrepreneurs that will empower people outside of big bureaucracies and corporations.
At the closing ceremonies the students were addressed by Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General, the second highest officer of the UN (second only to the Secretary General, Ban Kyi Moon). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Eliasson.
These were actions could have a powerful impact on human development and security. Along the way, the PMC delegation proved their capacity for critical and creative thinking as well as collaboration. They learned many new things – about politics, about global issues, about how to apply what they have learned in the classroom to entirely new situations, and ultimately about themselves and their own abilities as leaders.