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Saturday, 17 September 2016

SAIIA Johannesburg Model United Nations Conference 2016

 

As world leaders gathered in New York for the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, over 500 high-school learners from across South Africa participated in the annual SAIIA Johannesburg Model United Nations Conference, to discuss many of the same questions facing the General Assembly.

In what is the largest event of its kind in Southern Africa, outstanding bright young minds spent the day negotiating and debating key global issues. Learners were assigned countries from around the world to represent, and discussed topics such as:

  • The situation in Burundi
  • The international trade in endangered species
  • Generation 2030: the future of African development
  • Preparing for global health pandemics
  • Cities, towns and villages: the new urban agenda

Members of the public were invited to witness the passion and knowledge of these high-school learners who have been researching and preparing for many months.


Watch the Model United Nations video above to see the format of the programme, and hear first-hand about its life-changing impact.

Keynote Speakers:

Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga: Head of the United Nations Environment Programme Office in South Africa and Regional Programme Coordinator, Southern Africa

Kiara Worth: writer, photographer and consultant for sustainable development

Joining as adjudicators and special guests will be representatives of the UN, national government, the diplomatic community and civil society organisations.

Event details:

Date:        Saturday, 17 September 2016
Time:       09h00 – 16h30
Venue:     Wits University Science Stadium, West Campus, Wits University
               (enter through Empire Road, parking available)

Updates from the event are available on Twitter using #SJMUN.

Background

Model United Nations is an academic simulation of the United Nations or regional bodies such as the African Union. SAIIA’s programme develops not only knowledge of what is happening in Africa and the world, but also research, public speaking, negotiation, critical thinking, and leadership skills.

Committees

COMMITTEE 1: UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL (UNSC)
TOPIC: THE SITUATION IN BURUNDI
One of the more prominent issues on the Security Council agenda is the volatile situation in Burundi. In April 2015 President Pierre Nkurunziza refused to step down from power and announced he would be running for a third term. As a result of his actions numerous protests and demonstrations were sparked, leading to violent retaliation by Nkurunziza on innocent civilians and rebel coalitions. It is confirmed that in the past year of turmoil, over 400 people have been killed, and approximately 250 000 have been forced to flee.  These events have incited fear of a potential repeat of the civil war that ended in 2006. Delegates of this session will discuss the current deployment of UN police, the potential future need for UN peacekeepers, and the role of regional organisations in this unfolding situation.
 
COMMITTEE 2: CITES COP 17
TOPIC: INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES
From 24 September to 5 October 2016 Johannesburg will be host to the next global meeting on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The trade in wildlife is worth billions of dollars annually, and the stakes are high as we continue to see an increase in endangered species and threat of extinction of animal and plant species. A new agreement is necessary provide sustainable methods of trade and to protect dwindling resources for the future.
 
COMMITTEE 3: UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN'S FUND (UNICEF)
TOPIC: GEN2030- THE FUTURE OF AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT
In 1950, less than 1 in every 10 of the world’s children was African. By 2050, this proportion will rise to more than 1 in every 3, and on current projections, to almost 1 in 2 by the end of the 21st century. Both the face of children, and humanity, are set to become increasingly African. Currently Africa’s 561 million children make up 25% of the world’s population of children, and in the next 15 years the child population of Africa is set to increase to 735 million. In short, the demographics of Africa’s children are experiencing a shift on a scale unprecedented in human history. Demographics are, therefore, now fundamental to Africa’s development and growth agenda. What does this mean for the continent? Delegates of this session will discuss what planning, investment and policies need to be put in plance now to address the needs of this emerging population. In this session various countries, NGOs, and INGOs will be represented.
 
COMMITTEE 4: WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (WHO)
TOPIC: PREPARING FOR GLOBAL HEALTH PANDEMICS
The outbreak of the Zika virus in South America poses one of the greatest challenges faced by the region to date. Not only does the virus directly affect individuals but threatens serious postnatal complications and consequently places an economic burden on an already impoverished region. Controlling the pandemic, spread by mosquitoes, requires a multifaceted approach that considers the environmental, social, health and economic factors that make the disease so threatening to our world. Coupled with the political complexity of a cross-border pandemic, which interplays a variety of state and non-state participants, curbing the virus requires vigorous thought. The 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa highlighted the necessity for improved mechanisms in solving epidemics and the establishment of precautionary measures. This session will use the West African Ebola crisis as a case study for improving the immediate reaction to the Zika outbreak and consider the long-term efficiency of the global health care response network. Delegates will represent the UN entities, states, NGOs and INGOs.
 
COMMITTEE 5: UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HOUSING AND SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT  - HABITAT III
TOPIC: THE NEW URBAN AGENDA
Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, will take place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 – 20 October 2016. As the first global summit since the adoption of the new 2030 Agenda, a major focus will be on how cities, towns and villages can be implementers of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Delegates will discuss a New Urban Agenda, and will need to consider physical, legal and financial possibilities and limitations for urban development that takes into account the environmental, social and economic needs of its inhabitants. Delegates will represent the UN entities, the private sector, states, NGOs and INGOs.