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Combating the rise of nationalism at Cambridge Model United Nations 2019

Published on 15/03/19

The Stephen Perse Foundation hosted the second edition of the Cambridge Model United Nations, in which 200 delegates took part.

The weekend of the 8 - 10 March saw the Stephen Perse Foundation play host to the second edition of Cambridge Model United Nations (CamMUN). This is a student organised conference, run largely by five students from Year 13 who were selected last year to form the Secretariat. They took on the roles with great enthusiasm and dedication, making this year’s conference a fantastic experience for all involved.

The delegates arrived for the conference on the Friday, some having travelled very long distances, including from Russia, Turkey and the Netherlands. Approximately 200 delegates attended the conference, ranging from experienced MUN goers to first time attendees. They were welcomed to the conference during the Opening Ceremony, in which speeches were given by Justin, Secretary General of CamMUN, Tricia Kelleher, Principal of the Stephen Perse Foundation, and Léonie de Jonge, keynote speaker and PhD student at the University of Cambridge. Each of the speeches emphasised the importance of the global nature of CamMUN and discussed many of the issues around the rise of populism and nationalism all over the world.

The conference’s theme was ‘Combating the Rise of Nationalism in an Increasingly Hostile World’, a very pertinent and contemporary topic in today’s world. Within each committee numerous issues were discussed and debated, ranging from denuclearisation to promoting women’s rights in the developing world to reducing the use of single-use plastics. All of these topics challenged the students to consider real-world issues and to try and come up with new and innovative solutions to some of the biggest crises the world is facing today.

Whilst the debates were serious in nature, this did not meant that there was no time for fun during the conference. The social event was held at the Stephen Perse 6th Form College on the Saturday evening, and proved hugely popular with the delegates. The temporary dance floor installed in the 6th Form College was a hit, with many of the delegates dancing the night away. It also provided an opportunity for the students to socialise with their fellow delegates, breaking down any cultural barriers and finding out what we have in common as opposed to what makes us different.

Overall, the conference was a great success with all the delegates going away having learnt so much. Friendships were made and ideas were formed, and most importantly, each student's understanding of what it means to be a global citizen was greatly enhanced. In a global climate in which hostility to others is so prevalent, it was inspiring to see all of the students embrace the opportunity to engage with each other despite differences in language, culture and ideas. It was wonderful to see so many exchanging contact details at the end of the conference in order to continue the friendships they had formed over the weekend. We hope that every delegate now feels confident in their ability to speak up and realises their potential to truly help make the world we live in a better place. 

Join Stephen Perse Foundation Principal Tricia Kelleher as she chats to 6th Form student Justin about the recent Cambridge Model United Nations Conference and the importance of collaborations between young people across the world. 

Photographs and further information can be found here. 

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