This is Shrewsbury School’s 4th visit to 'PAMUN', the Paris MUN, which is brilliantly organized by the American School in Paris and held in the prestigious headquarters of UNESCO, close to the École Militaire and the Tour Eiffel.
10 delegates representing Afghanistan, Australia and Ghana joined 800 others from 60 schools from around the globe in the 3-day conference from Friday 10th until Sunday 12th of December. Here they debated subjects as varied as the Millennium Development Goals, cyber-terrorism, political stability in Somalia, abolishing agricultural subsidies in developed countries, off-shore drilling after the BP spill, returning cultural artifacts to their country of origin and the limits to religious freedom.
As usual Shrewsbury delegates helped make things fizz in their respective committees and were recognised for their efforts in the closing ceremony with 3 big awards and numerous honourable mentions. 3 Salopians were called to the stage to receive Best Delegate awards at the end of the General Assembly session on the last day. Jack Flowers (Afghanistan) was chosen (with two others) as Best Delegate in the 160 delegate-strong Human Rights committee. Kiran Morjaria (Afghanistan), armed with quotations from Albus Dumbledore, that well-known authority on geo-politics, was named Best Delegate (with two others) in the Political Committee (160 delegates). And Xavier Greenwood (Ghana), was voted (with one other delegate) as Best Delegate in the Millennium Development Goal Committee.
In the same ceremony Honourable Mentions went to Nick Lawley (Afghanistan, Disarmament), Angus Thompson (Australia, MDGs), George Mallett (Ghana, WTO) Phil Lackner (Australia, WTO) and Will Shindell, the latter having made his mark in the enormous Environment committee ‘gangsta-rapping’ Afghanistan’s ideas on how to dispose of electronic waste!
Jack Huntley, brother of former MUN President George, had a very good first conference, and got into his stride well on the Saturday, taking the podium frequently in the UNESCO committee, and showing oodles of promise for the future. And PAMUN-veteran Oliver Wray continues to drive debate his way with his long years of MUN experience and adrenaline-charged debating style. It was no surprise that his committee voted him and Xavier Greenwood as their Best Delegates, and I commend Ollie’s dogged determination and energetic loyalty to the team.
Special mention should go to Nick Lawley (Afghanistan), whose work over the previous weeks building up a resolution dealing with the threats posed to national security by Wikileaks, was rewarded on the last day of the conference by an opportunity to take the UNESCO podium and address the 900 people in General Assembly. Although his resolution, put together the previous day with delegates from other countries, was ultimately rejected by the GA, Nick’s speech was clear, passionate, and forceful and it stayed faithful to Afghanistan’s national interests. However, the prevailing view in the General Assembly was resounding: that governments should be circumspect about imposing controls on journalists and the internet.
So what should the 192 member states of the UN do about Wikileaks? And how will their citizens react? As one sage, admired by this generation of Salopian MUN-ers, once put it, ‘Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.’ The international issues facing them and their friends at school could never be described as easy to solve. Let’s hope their solutions are the right ones.