Developing Student Voice through Model United Nations

Model Nr.: 
05
Developed by: 
North Berwick High School, Education Scotland, Scotland
Sources: 

Model United Nations

Purpose of the material: 

This model exemplifies how a secondary school in East Lothian Council, Scotland (North Berwick High School) engaged with the Model United Nations programme to support the development of confident and articulate student voices. It explores both the process and the impact and can be replicated in other school contexts.

 

These model aims to:

 

Deepen understanding of how pupil voice can be implemented in high schools

Provide specific examples of pupil leadership

Highlight how teaching staff and pupils can work together to promote and facilitate pupil voice in schools

Material: 

Model United Nations (MUN)

MUN Health Committee Briefing Paper written by senior S5/6 pupils:

ABORTION - A WOMAN’S CHOICE?

Hello delegates, I will be chairing the Human Rights committee. I have participated in a number of MUN conferences throughout my time at high school and I have experiencing chairing committee debates.  I appreciate that the formal format of the committee debates can be intimidating, particularly if you are a first time delegate.  However, I am looking forward to hearing everyone’s opinions and I would encourage all of you to contribute to the debate as I believe we have picked some very interesting topics.

I would strongly suggest that in preparation for the debate you write a position paper on your country’s viewpoint on the issue. This should only be around 50-75 words as it is just a summary. If you are aiming to win an award it is vital that you send your position paper. As well as writing a position paper, I highly recommend that you write a resolution paper on the topics which reflect your country’s views; expressing what action your country would want the UN to take. Writing a resolution will help you to be more involved in the debate and helps you learn the format of Model United Nations if you haven’t participated before. If you have any inquiries about writing a resolution or the format of the debate please email me with any questions (the help guide on our MUN website gives you a step by step guide as well)! 

There are currently no international laws on the issue of abortion. Most countries have their own laws and regulations surrounding the circumstances under which abortion is legal, for example how far into the pregnancy it can be carried out. There are a number of countries where is it still illegal and many more have tight restrictions around it.

Abortion is a divisive issue as pro-life campaigners believe that it is wrong to destroy an embryo as it has the potential to become a person. There is also controversy over the procedure; when the embryo develops nerves it is suspected that the procedure will inflict pain on the foetus. It could be argued that the embryo is the most innocent of us as it has not been given the opportunity to live or make mistakes. It has also proven to be dangerous for the women undergoing the abortion. Though complications are not common some procedures result in damage or infection to the womb, sometimes the abortion is unsuccessful and, rarely, the operation is fatal. Religion can also be taken into account as many religions prohibit abortion deeming it immoral.

However, those who support pro-choice believe that women should choose what happens to their body. Pregnancy is a major journey for any woman and whether she decides to carry to term or not should be her choice. Women spend 9 months carrying the baby throughout which she may experience nausea, fatigue, and irritation in different parts of the body, strange cravings, weight gain and hormonal imbalances. On top of the 9 months it often takes women several more months for their bodies to recover from childbirth. Many women have also noted that laws on abortion are made regularly by men; those women believe that it is the women concerned who should have control of their own bodies and that men should not dictate whether or not they continue with an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy.

Another issue, particularly in developing countries, is illegal abortions. Women in developing countries, where rape is used as a weapon of war, are forced to get an abortion illegally which can be very unsafe without proper equipment and medically trained professionals.

Points to consider:

-             In which cases is abortion legal/illegal in your country?

-             Is rape a major problem in your country?

-             Are teen pregnancy rates high in your country?

-             Has your country made any recent laws/restrictions on abortion?

-            

Useful links:

Former S6 Pupil discussing why he chose to study Law at the University of Cambridge and advice on how to apply:

“I would recommend doing things like Model United Nations that was quite helpful…you have to have time management abilities for MUN, you have to prepare and write material… these experiences will help you in preparation for interviews at Cambridge.” (former North Berwick High School pupils who is currently in his second year of studying Law at Cambridge) https://youtu.be/OEwAeXv92iU

Process: 

Model United Naitons

 

Model United Nations (MUN) has been runing as an extra-curricular activity at North Berwick High School since 2014.

 

MUN is largely the work of pupils at North Berwick High School with teachers facilitating meetings and conferences.

 

The concept of MUN closely follows the UN model and is an opporutnity for you people to develop and enhance a wide range of skills and develop deeper knowledge and understanding on a wide range of challenging topic areas.

 

Aims of Model UN:

•            teamwork and group cooperation

•            conflict resolution

•            negotiation

•            consensus-building

•            critical thinking

•            public speaking

•            listening

 

MUN requires a pupil to take on the point of view of a UN member state. This means that pupils involved must thoroughly research specific areas, for exmaple female reproductive rights in Argentina. Consequently, they are to present not simply their own view on a issue but argue and discuss from a country specific viewpoint. Further, this provides young people with an excellent opportinity to develop inter-personal and research skills.

 

North Berwick High School have organsied 3 nationwide MUN conference. Each conference  has attracted over 200 young people from across Scotland (both from state and independent schools). The pupils run the committee debates, chair the opening and closing assembly alongisde the emergency debate. This is a fantastic exmaple of pupil leadership and voice.

 

As educators, MUN is a great opportunity to enhance knowledge and develop independent thinking. The impact has been clear in classes across school with engagement around debates, the creation of the Fairtrade and Eco Committees.

How you can use this material in your practice: 

MUN

 

  • Promote MUN
  • Debating
  • Critical thinking
  • Conference provides pupils opportuity for ownership

 

This material reflects only the author’s view; the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.