MORE than 170 students from six nations converged on Bratislava late October to discuss international politics, defend their assigned country's policies and participate in voting delegations in a realistic simulation of United Nations procedures for "BratMUN", the fourth annual Model United Nations Conference.
Organised by students and alumni from the Gymnázium Jura Hronca high school, the Novohradská foundation, and the Slovak Debate Association, with support from the United Nations Development Program and the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the event drew participants from the Czech Republic, Great Britain, Jordan, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Sweden. This year's BratMUN took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Issues on the agenda were problems in Africa, especially in the Darfur region of Sudan, and women's rights. Both topics inspired a vivacious exchange of opinions.
"This was my first model UN. I've enjoyed it very much and I'm looking forward to coming next year," said Annie, a "delegate of Canada" from Sweden.
BratMUN is not just a friendly way to get students acquainted with the work of the United Nations and contemporary world issues. It is also a valuable lesson on reaching consensus among nations with widely differing and sometimes opposing interests. At the conference, students got the chance to practise their skills in debate, public speaking, personal expression and diplomacy.
In past years, participants received help and support from seasoned professionals, including Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, Ronald Weiser, US Ambassador to Slovakia, Roderick Todd, former Ambassador of Great Britain to Slovakia, Eduard Kukan, Slovak Foreign Afffairs Minister and František Šebej, Slovak former MP.
This year, regional United Nations Development Programme Office Director Ben Slay, Norbert Brada from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Pavol Šmýkala from the Slovak Armed Forces shared their knowledge, experience, and views on the model UN conference.
"Great job, delegates. We are impressed!" is what many participants at BratMUN heard. Certain delegations were recognised for exceptional jobs in passing relevant resolutions that addressed complex global problems. These included "delegates of the Netherlands" from Great Britain; "delegates of Turkey" from Romania; and "delegates of Jordan, the USA, and Lebanon" from the Slovak Republic.
"I am very satisfied with the overall outcome of this year's BratMUN," the model UN's secretary-general, Veronika Vlčková told The Slovak Spectator.
At the end of the conference, audience members gave a standing ovation, in part because of the dramatic staging of a fake crisis situation that included special effects.
1. Nov 2004 at 0:00 | Matej Varga