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Leicester student selected for model United Nations

A postgraduate student at the University of Leicester was selected as one of  27 Chevening Scholars to represent the UK at the 2002 National Model United Nations (NMUN) in New York City.

Pragya Joshi who is studying for a Master’s degree in International Relations and World Order in the Department of Politics at Leicester, travelled to New York for the NMUN Conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel between 26-30 March 2002.

The annual Conference simulates UN sessions, in which world issues are debated and resolutions passed in exactly the same way as in the UN itself.   

As a member of the UK delegation, Pragya represented the UK position on the United Nations Development Program on global issues to delegates from all over the world, in sessions which frequently continued well into the night over the five days of the Conference.

The NMUN Conference originated in 1923 under the auspices of the League of Nations, and offers students an unequalled opportunity to understand the inner workings of the United Nations, while developing personal skills in diplomacy and compromise.

The numbers of students who take advantage of this chance to learn the dynamics of multilateral diplomacy and international relations each year is considerable.   In 2001 the New York Conference welcomed nearly 2,600 college students and faculty members.

Central to the Conference are the Mission Briefings, which offer delegations a chance to be briefed by a representative from the permanent mission to the UN from the country to which they have been assigned, before they present their position papers to the Conference.

Right from the selection process to the conference itself, the degree of commitment involved means that NMUN is not for the faint-hearted. Pragya Joshi explained : “The selected 27 candidates were out of  the 120 applicant. We voted for the six committee members, including a President and Vice-President.In addition to the meetings, we have had training sessions on Saturdays at the Goodenough College, London and the LSE.”

In spite of picking up a job to supplement her total travel cost, she has no regrets and feels the experience will reinforce her postgraduate studies as well as prove invaluable to her future career, and her enthusiasm is undimmed, even when she talks of the hard work she had to put in.

“You have constantly amend your resolutions and negotiate with other delegations representing the member states. It is an exciting programme. On the opening day, we were addressed by the UN officials at the United Nations General Assembly, and the last day finished with an evening ball. There was a lot of fine detail you had to pay attention to. On stage we each had 20 seconds to make our point and could be challenged by other countries, in a style of debate that is particular to the UN.”

United Nations Development Program

The UK was represented on the Department of Specialised Agencies, in the UNDP Committee by Pragya Joshi (Republic of India, University of Leicester) and Hind El-Tarhouni (Libya, South Bank University). Some 30 delegates, representing Universities in the US, Germany, Italy and Canada, represented other UNDP member States as well as a host of International Non- Governmental Organisations, like Rotary International and Oxfam.

There were three topics on the committee’s agenda: I. Energy As A Means to Achieving Sustainable Development; II. Decreasing the Disparity Between Developed and Developing Countries and Their Ability to Access Information and Communication Technology; and III. Financing for Development and its impact on the Developing States of the World. The committee agreed to consider the topics in the sequential order of III, II and I.

UNDP as a body consisting of both the developed and the developing states sharing many common interests and values and concerns, the UNDP committee was characterised by constructive, vigorous and at times, complex debate.  Member states felt comfortable exchanging views on sensitive topics, even when disagreements over the financing for the developing nations by developed nations or differences over the focal issue at hand, emerged.

The committee agreed that UNDP has the potential to enhance prosperity and development throughout the globe. Two resolutions were passed on this topic. With United Kingdom, being an important player in international developmental efforts, its opinion was sought after by member nations, both in the manner of being a signatory as well as a sponsor. Financing for Development was a hotly debated issue, which took most of the first two days of the committee, and UK maintained its position with the rest of the EU block, in synchrony with its foreign policy. This was also keeping in mind that most of the developing nations had formed a separate block. The Resolutions sponsored by UK were regarding micro financing, accountability of the recipient nations’ governments in the dispersion of the financial aid and maintaining that development should be in keeping with the fundamental Human Rights as stated in the `Agenda for Development’.  

The second motion to be discussed was Energy as a Means for Sustainable Development, and UK displayed its concerns and played a proactive part by asserting its belief that a holistic energy system is mandatory for resource efficiency and ensured its support for usage of renewable resources of energy, which minimizes the burning of fossil fuels. With the resolution put to voting, this motion was after wrapped up to make way for the information and Communications technology issue. However, due to, a shortage of time and extended discussions devoted to the first two issues, the third topic was not opened for discussion.

The committee had less time to consider Information and Communications Technology, but however, an array of views and opinions was expressed.  The U.K. successfully sought to stand by its foreign policy and work hand in hand with the other developed nations, the USA and the countries of European Union. Although there was not time for a resolution to be voted upon, the committee informally agreed that the UK in conjunction with the EU nations would support the developing countries with technology transfers and exchange of scientific know-how.

The committee chair rated the entire session as “the best that had seen so far, especially with the outstanding kind of caucusing between member states” and a prepared order of the report was to be read in the General Assembly Plenary, by the delegate from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

September 2002

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Last updated: 6 September 2002 10:55
Created by: Rachel Tunstall

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