munnam 1The Model United Nations Namibia (MUNNAM) programme has been in operation since 2012, with United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek spearheading the programme and hosting an annual conference. In light of not hosting the 2015 Conference, UNIC hosted an intensive two day training workshop for high school youth in the Khomas region at Safari Court Hotel & Conference Centre.

The training was aimed at streamlining the Model United Nations programme and ensuring that it is on par with the revised guidelines received from New York. The training was held 15 -16 September with approximately fifty three high school learners in attendance. The learners in attendance ranged from grade 8 to 11 and represented twelve different high schools in Windhoek. The training provided a practical learning experience in preparation for the 2016 MUNNAM Conference. It enabled the learners to gain realistic insights into the rules and procedures of the UN General Assembly and the practical skills diplomats implement during such a session.

munnam33On the first day, the learners were familiarised with the rules of procedure of a General Assembly, how to write and execute opening speeches, the differences between a formal and informal session, and drafting a resolution, among a host of others. They were guided through the process and mechanisms of decision and resolution-making work in the diplomatic world.

The training session was very practical, and followed a practice session after each theoretical module to allow the delegates to implement and put their new found skills to work. Practicing their opening speeches at the podium was a new experience to all the delegates and the UNIC team provided hints on speaking with confidence. It was impressive to see the learners confidently address their fellow delegates, barely a few hours into the training session.

munnam 2On day two, a mini simulation was held to look at various solutions to address the current Syrian refugee crisis, a relevant topic which is making headlines worldwide. The example of the Syrian refugee crisis allowed the learners to experience first-hand the challenge to reach consensus regarding the different views and interests of countries in this respect. The learners were challenged to set aside their personal beliefs and fully articulate the policies and views of their designated countries; defending their national views and to navigate and refine their art of listening, negotiating and lobbying.

The mini simulation on the Syrian refugee crisis sparked an insightful debate. The delegates were paired up and a total of 26 countries were represented during the practice session. The enthusiasm of the delegates during discussions, especially in the informal sessions was rewarding.

By the end of the training workshop, the delegates presented three draft resolutions, which embody their country’s stance on the issue. A resolution about ‘effective measures to mitigate the Syrian Refugee Crisis’ was passed. It included, among others, the following operative clauses: ‘Recognizes the need for fair distribution of responsibility’, ‘Approves of the creation of safe transport routes’ and ‘Encourages the donation of financial and medical aid to refugee camps and host countries’.

MUNNAM 2015 Training was a great success, with learner feedback ranging from “this was a huge platform and opportunity to express myself” to “I am very impressed with the programme”, and “this was a big event and it has changed my life.”

*Special thanks to MTN Business Namibia for providing MTN Branded water as well as some bags as gifts during the sessions.