On Wednesday 9th ITU opened its doors to some 350 students from across Europe as host of the Model UN programme run by the Lycée International of Ferney-Voltaire #FerMUN13.
From 8:30am, the entrance lobbies and reception areas were abuzz with young voices as 200+ students from the Ferney Lycée and another 150 students from the Germany, the UK, the British School of Geneva, and different cities and towns across France including Grasse, Grenoble, Lyon and Paris, arrived to collect their badges and start their lobbying work.
The Secretary-General of this year’s FerMUN event was Maria Gomez de Olea, assisted by Charlotte Marie, President of the General Assembly.
The event gave ITU a chance to showcase its exceptional conference organizing skills, as teams from across the Union assisted the Ferney MUN Committee with everything from registration and badging to room allocation and seating plans, audio-visual and live webcast support, training for student interpreters and translators, onsite photo and video production, graphic design and printing for promotional banners and two onsite FerMUN13 magazines, and media relations activities.
The FerMUN club was founded in 2006, and is the world’s first fully bilingual MUN programme, thanks to the merging of the French and English chapters last year.
Wednesday’s Opening Ceremony, held in ITU’s largest meeting space, the Popov Room, featured a strong panel of high-level speakers including:
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva
Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General
Ambassador Alexandre Fasel of the Swiss Confederation
Ambassador Sylvia Poll of the Republic of Costa Rica
Sebastien Chatelus, Conseiller with the Permanent Mission of France to the UN
Jean-Paul Brech, Principal of the Ferney-Voltaire Lycée International
Christian Caron, Representative of the Rectorat of the Academie de Lyon, and
Guy Larmenjat, Vice President of the Conseil Général de l’Ain
ITU Secretary-General Dr Touré told a packed room of student delegates, teachers and UN staff that he was impressed to be surrounded by so many bright and inspirational young people who were committed to debating technology issues in a spirit of international cooperation. “As young men and women, you hold the keys to the future in your hands. In a hyper-connected world, that future includes ICTs in every aspect of modern life – from schools and hospitals and government offices, to homes and businesses and public spaces. Yours is the most connected generation that has ever lived. That connectedness offers fantastic opportunities for engagement and empowerment, as information is accessed, used, created and shared to build tomorrow’s Knowledge Society,” he said.
In recognition of ITU’s role as the UN’s specialized agency for information and communication technology, the FerMUN13 students chose the theme of ICTs as the way forward in development, peace and prosperity.
Eight different committees discussed issues ranging from the combat against cyber-terrorism in the Disarmament and International Security Committee, to e-agriculture as a solution to the problem of global food security, and whether satellite imaging can be a useful tool in development.
The Environmental Committee looked at the disposal of electronic waste, while the protection of existing telecommunication infrastructure in countries suffering from political instability was debated in the Special Political and Decolonization Committee.
Students also discussed whether telecommunications can help achieve greater empowerment, equality, education and employment for girls through greater access to ICT opportunities. The group’s Human Rights Council debated whether or not access to the Internet should be considered a human right, and whether international legislation regulating social media platforms should be put in place.
Finally, the students of the ECOSOC Committee discussed the importance of development of an online education system to ensure access to education for all, and whether telecommunications should be considered as a necessity for economic development.
Model UN is a global UN programme for senior high school students giving young people the chance to organize and participate in a simulated UN conference. Students choose a theme, research the topic, elect senior conference officials, organize their conference work programme, and agree on key resolutions.
Before the event, groups of students are assigned a country, and prepare their interventions based on that country’s actual stance on the topic under discussion, which they are expected to research independently and present in a professional manner. They participate in business attire, and manage their own interpretation, documentation, communications and translation services.
By: Sarah Parkes
Chief, Media Relations & Public Information, ITU