The second George Watson’s College Model UN (MUN) Conference took place over the weekend of 14–16 March.
This year, over 320 delegates from 21 schools (three from Northern Ireland, eight from England and 10 from Scotland) debated world affairs from the point of view of 61 UN Member States. The topics that were debated were as diverse as biofuels, child soldiers, inflation, health – ‘the postcode lottery’, the right to adopt and surveillance.
The Scottish Schools attending, apart from Watson’s, were Balerno, Currie, Firrhill, James Gillespie's, Perth Academy, St George's, Stewart’s Melville, Merchiston Castle and Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen. Thirty of our senior pupils were in charge of running the Committee and General Assembly debates, and pupils, from P7 onwards, acted as secretaries.
One of the exciting developments this year was that the members of the Security Council had their first debate in a Committee Room of the Scottish Parliament. This was accompanied by a tour of the Debating Chamber – carried out by Mike Pringle MSP.
The calibre of speakers that the pupils persuaded to come and share their experiences with the Conference delegates was superb.
The Keynote Speaker at the opening of the Conference on Friday was Nicol Stephen MSP, Party Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
The Environment Committee had the pleasure of hearing from Dr Graham Floater, Senior economist in the Stern Team at the Office of Climate Change. He has worked on financial and economic issues in the UK and Europe, and as private secretary to a Cabinet Minister, and has recently been appointed Head of the Eliasch Review, to examine the role of international finance to reduce global deforestation. With such credentials he held his audiences attention as he provided an insight into climate change – the past, the present and the future.
Margo MacDonald MSP and Angus MacKay, former Finance and Justice Minister, who served during the first Scottish Parliamentary session, both participated. Mr MacKay addressed the Economic Committee, speaking on the wider issues of tackling global terrorism. In addition, he promoted free speech and challenged the practicalities of the United Nations, provoking many challenging questions from the delegates.