Durres – Albania – “Invest in Today’s Leaders, Get Effective decision makers tomorrow.”
The largest Model United Nations in the Balkan (MUN) kicked off on May 2 in Albania. Moroccan young leader Karima Rhanem, who participated as guest speaker at opening of the MUN, told delegates that “if we rationally invest in today’s leaders, we would certainly prepare a generation of effective decision makers in the future.”
Organized in the city of Durres between May 2 and 5, the MUN saw the participation of over 120 delegates from different regions of the world, especially from Balkan.
“Bringing together brilliant young minds in our conference, where youth can raise their voices about global issues affecting them and their countries while working together collaboratively to find solutions, was our main goal,” Klevis Rreshka Secretary General of the Balkan MUN said.
The topics being discussed in the MUN are based on the United Nations current agenda, including issues on the agenda of the Security Council, the sixth committee of the General Assembly, as well as other UN entities.
Ms. Karima Rhanem, the only Moroccan participant in the MUN, representing both Africa and the Middle East, expressed her pride to be selected by the Balkan Model United Nations Secretariat to open the conference. “I am thrilled to be a guest speaker at this public diplomacy conference and happy to chair the DISEC committee to discuss important issues for the international community, such as cyber crime and terrorism.”
“On your travel journey, you discover there are many people around the world who have no knowledge of your country’s geography, culture, history, politics and economy, and hold a number of misconceptions and stereotypes; this may eventually lead to conflicts. However, by getting to know people and cultures through such international or regional opportunities as Model United Nations and similar public diplomacy meetings, communication barriers are reduced and mutual dialogue is enhanced,” said Rhanem at the opening.
She called on delegates to step back and ask themselves a key question: what do they want to become in the next five years, what goals they want to achieve and whether they want to be manipulated by decision makers, or they want to be real actors, influencing not only their country’s decision making but also international policies?
“I am sure each one of you wants to be a leader; I am sure you want to be that dynamo or domino effect that inspires others; I am confident you could speak for those who don’t have a voice and that your input could make a difference; I am also confident that you want to be a change maker rather than a spectator of change,” she said.
Generally, young people are rarely consulted in meaningful ways during the creation of strategies. Only few of the action plans link youth-focused strategies to specific targets and budgets or regard the youth as a main cross-cutting issue.
“Today, there are neither more excuses nor ways any policy or strategy could be developed without consulting citizens, including young people and civil society. In my country Morocco, the only country in the Middle East and North Africa that was able to manage the negative impact of the Arab Spring through launching landmark constitutional reforms, youth issues are a top priority,” she emphasized
“The determination of young people who were demanding political and socio-economic change and the wisdom & leadership of HM King Mohammed VI King of Morocco who spared no efforts in initiating big constitutional reforms, led to the adoption of a more liberal constitution, which enshrines the protection of human rights, civil liberties and cultural diversity and pluralism while it affords new roles to civil society and youth to be more involved in the decision-making processes,” she added.
She stressed that “the new Moroccan policy puts citizens at the heart of any strategy or policy, allowing them to take part in developing and evaluating public policies, presenting petitions and proposing legislative motions. The constitution also required from each public institution to conduct a public consultation with citizens and concerned stakeholders prior to developing any policy.”
Ms. Rhanem is entrusted with chairing the United Nations General Assembly First Committee, which deals with Disarmament and International Security (DISEC).
Marrion Mako, delegate at the DISEC committee representing the Syrian Arab Republic, said: “The DISEC committee is in charge of discussing topics that are critical to international security. This is a memorable experience for me to put myself in a position of a country and try to defend its interest in a UN look like environment.”
By working on topics dealing with the real UN and having first-hand experience on the challenges of working with colleagues representing different parts of the world, delegates seek to develop a better understanding of the complexities of international affairs, and an appreciation of the dynamics of group interaction and cooperation, and an awareness of the purpose and the capability of the UN to solve global issues.
Xhoena Blloshmi, representing Venezuela at the Security Council committee Said: “the MUN is a real life experience. I am glad that I have more diplomatic arguments and understanding of the Syrian crisis. This will help me to contribute to solving issues that the people of Syria are facing.”
During the MUN three days, delegates will have the chance to learn and prepare policy papers, debate hot issues that interest the international community and draft and vote on resolutions as real diplomats.
Model United Nations meetings have become an increasingly effective mean to educate young people about global issues and the UN agenda.