Students enjoy Model United Nations trip to The Netherlands

Sixteen L6th members of the Sevenoaks School Model United Nations delegation returned home from the Netherlands last week after an excellent performance at the annual THIMUN conference in The Hague. Every year, 3500 young people from around the world (this year there were delegates of 110 different nationalities) gather at the World Forum conference centre, a venue often used for international summit meetings. Students represent delegations of different nations and discuss ways to tackle pressing world issues, presenting self-written UN-style resolutions for debate. This year was the 50th anniversary of the THIMUN organisation, and to mark the occasion, the King of The Netherlands (himself an ex-MUN delegate) opened the conference.

The Sevenoaks MUN ethos has always been a clear one – we prefer to step back a little from the role-playing aspects of a conference and focus more on finding genuinely viable international solutions to problems. This year we represented the nation of Serbia, and the UNDEF, an NGO which funds democratic initiatives around the world. Of the sixteen students in our delegation, eight were chosen to be main submitters of their resolutions and five of these resolutions passed, one of the best performances by any school at the conference. However, even these excellent statistics do not describe the extent of the commitment and skill with which our delegates lobbied, negotiated and debated throughout the week.

As well as performing so successfully in their various committees (Environment, Human Rights, Economic & Social and so on), the students were also able to see a little of The Hague, an important world city in the sphere of international diplomacy and justice. We watched a presentation from a charity who had recently begun to supply cheap prosthetic limbs to people in Bangladesh, and we spent an afternoon at the International Criminal Court, learning about its procedures and watching part of an ongoing trial against those accused of war crimes in Uganda.

Overall, it was a fantastic trip; the students involved learned a huge amount about a wide range of global issues and even more about how to negotiate with people from all around the world in a variety of ways, a skill which they will no doubt be using a great deal in their future lives.

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