Should the Russian annexation of the Crimea be tolerated, and how much say does the United States really have in world affairs? Armidale secondary school students got a taste for diplomatic life on the world stage when members from UN Youth Australia conducted two regional competitions at The Armidale School on Wednesday.
In Evatt, students from TAS and Armidale High took on the role of United Nations Security Council members debated, amended and voted on resolutions involving the 2014 Russian annexation of the Crimea, the question of electoral interference, and the right of governments to censor media. from the perspective of their assigned nations.
“In being a delegate for ‘the United States’, I learnt that building relations with other countries is important when trying to put forward your opinion,” said TAS Year 9 student Hamish Whibley, from Moree.
“It is also an eye-opener when the power of a veto is used. In an instant, an entire resolution can be thrown away, if the United States or Russia says no. Even if every one else says yes, it is an automatic no if the US or Russia says no. I learned how hard a process of passing a resolution, and you could come to the conclusion that the UN is not as democratic as you’d expect.”
In the public speaking competition, called Voice, 11 students proposed models to find solutions to one of six problems, from how to reduce illicit drug use, increasing access to education for girls around the world and reforming the use of tests in the Australian education system.
The competitions were a great way of giving students a global perspective on the diplomatic process, said TAS Academic Support coordinator Ms Catherine Boydell.
“The mock security council meant students had to work with a partner as they researched a country to understand its place in the world, in doing so building skills in empathy, logic, humility, patience and public speaking,” she said.
“By taking part, students can now participate in a range of UN Youth opportunities which can really open up international pathways.”