Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Students of Al Quds Bard College organise a United Nations simulation


By Elizabeth Jenkins - March 11, 2018
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Section: [Main News]
Tags: [UN] [Abu Dis] [students]

To participate in a Model United Nations (MUN) event is to engage in a simulation of the 'real’ United Nations. On March 8, students from Al Quds Bard college and Al Quds University organised and carried out such an event, the first of many they hope to initiate in all Palestinian universities. 

Although less students turned out than expected, 65 eager and willing participants dressed in formal clothing for the occasion and worked hard in a reigning atmosphere of excited enthusiasm.
 
20-year-old Karam Khaldi, the Secretary General of PALiMUN (Palestine MUN) told Palestine Monitor one of the principal objectives is to enhance understanding of current global political affairs.
 
As such, the four simulated bodies of United Nations debated topics of current global concern, such as migration in the ECOSOC committee and the crisis in relations between Qatar and the other Gulf countries in the Arab League.
 
“We need [students] to know more about what’s going on in the world, we need them to know more about politics,” Khaldi stressed.
 
MUN events attempt to replicate as closely as possible the formalities and procedures of the United Nations, but also its realities.
 
Each delegate represents a member state and defends the position and proposals of that country, leading to predictable clashes.
 
Emulating the United Nations thus allows students to grasp the logics of the system. “It’s a political game (…). At the end of the day, countries look after their interests,” Khaldi said.
 
The separation wall is a couple of metres from the Abu Dis campus, serving as a visual reminder of the constantly lurking presence of the Israeli occupation.
 
Holding a PALiMUN event in such a location is significant, an organiser who wished to remain anonymous told Palestine Monitor.
 
“In order to fight the stigma of Abu Dis being an unsafe place, we opted to have it here on campus,” she explained.
 
Many resolutions condemning the occupation and its practices have been passed at the United Nations. However, these have not translated into an end of the occupation.
 
Raed Ibrahim, a student representing United States in the ECOSOC committee, was under no illusions, pointing to the weight of the close relation between the United States and Israel.
 
“Israel breaks way too many rules to count and the UN just stands there without actually doing anything,” Ibrahim said.
 
Khaldi, when asked by Palestine Monitor whether he thought the UN could help bring about positive change in Palestine, was more optimistic.
 
“Politics change,” he noted. “We’ve seen many countries that were allies at some point become enemies.”
 
Differing opinions on the role of the UN regarding the situation in Israel/Palestine notwithstanding, the participants and organisers spoken to by Palestine Monitor all agreed on the importance of such events as learning experiences.
 
Participants develop skills in areas such as event-organisation and communication.
 
“This is a really crucial and instrumental way for them to learn how to have conversations about topics that might be divisive and controversial,” one of the organisers said.
 
Raghad Adwan, another student who was part of the organisational team, commented that learning about systems of power – in this case the United Nations – was important, whichever stance one then chose to adopt in relation to them.
 
A team of students from all Palestinian universities, including Gaza, will be set up over the coming months to organise the international conference the students hope to hold in Al Quds University, in August 2018.
 

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