AAMBY VALLEY CITY, India—More than 2,000 students from around the world have crowded to this year’s Indian International Model United Nations to discuss such topics as reforms to the UN Charter, UN Security Council reforms, and international terrorism from 20-23 August.
With 30 chapters across India, the Indian International Model UN, founded and directed by 22-year-old social entrepreneur Rishabh Shah, is considered Asia’s Largest Youth Conference. India’s Model UN is an academic simulation of the way the UN works and operates in real life. In this scenario, students take on the role of diplomats and practice debating and solving global issues. The exercise not only gives young people a platform to express their ideas about pressing global issues, but is also managed and run by students under the age of 24.
What sets the conference apart from others is that the young participants from delegations from as far as Cameroon, Brazil and the Czech Republic do not just sit in the side-lines. At the end of the conference, organizers will forward any emerging draft resolutions to the UN.
“The good news is that in recent years a lot of processes are embracing and recognizing youth voices and youth participation which were not even recognized in the past,” said Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, Director of UNESCO MGIEP addressing the young delegates on 21 August. “But still there is a lot to do. We need to bring in the youth voices from the peripherals and bring them into the actual agenda setting process—not just in side events.”
The yearly Model UN conference is one such way to collect youth voices and ensure young people’s participation in global processes. After the talk, the young delegates discussed their views on the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals, inequality, unequal power within the Security Council and climate change agreements. Over the next few days, participants will continue to discuss the issue that matter to them the most.
“You are the fortunate ones who should cherish the responsibility your peers have bestowed upon you to represent them at this meeting,” Duraiappah said. “So a heavy burden lies on your shoulders to ensure the full representation of all their voices in this forum.”