A few weeks ago, we embarked on a journey through the world of diplomacy from the comfort of our dining table.
Evatt is a Model United Nations (MUN) competition facilitated by United Nations Youth Australia. UN Youth, commissioned by the United Nations Association of Australia, is an organisation that educates Australian youth about the impact and beliefs of the United Nations through the provision of engaging competitions and conferences. Evatt is the premier MUN competition for high school students in the nation and is convened entirely by young people for the development of the diplomatic skills of Australia’s youth.
Although learning how to use programs such as Discord, to pass notes to other delegates while debating Security Council resolutions on Zoom, proved challenging at first, it was interesting to experience how technology keeps the world spinning by talking online as opposed to in person like usual.
After progressing past the preliminary round – where we represented Indonesia and debated the questions of Surveillance and the Jordan Valley – we keenly awaited an email from the convenors to see if we had been selected for the next round. Fortunately, by the end of the next day we were delighted to learn that we had been identified as one of the 15 strongest teams in the state and were invited to participate in the State Grand Finals!
With only a week to prepare, and exam block fast approaching, we balanced studying for our subjects with researching our nation’s position on current world issues. We represented Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the smallest nation in history to hold a position in the Security Council. With one resolution being provided earlier and two unknown ones to be debated on the day as well, we had to research our nation’s views on anything and everything so that we could cover all bases.
The Grand Final was an astounding six and a half hours long, with five of these hours being filled with debates and negotiations. Our first MUN focused on the ‘seen’ resolution, which addressed the question of Forced Disappearances. For over an hour, we debated amendments and negotiated with delegates representing a host of other interesting nations, including Vietnam, Germany, Belgium, and all of the Veto nations (the US, the UK, China, Russia and France) in order to get our nation’s interests on the agenda. Whilst it was definitely a challenge representing the smallest nation in history to hold a seat in Security Council, we held firm and were able to pass impactful amendments throughout the competition.
After the first MUN, we adjourned for a brief lunch break before returning to debate two unseen resolutions. We had twenty minutes before the MUNs for each unseen resolution to prepare amendments and speeches. The first unseen resolution was on the question of Civilian Casualties and the second discussed the question of the Syrian Civil War. Having limited time to complete these challenges, we found it extremely beneficial that we had great teamwork.
Furthermore, to ensure we worked cohesively and effectively, we swapped roles for each resolution with one person assigned the task of diplomatically conversing with other delegations. This role also involved promoting our amendments by gathering co-signatures to ensure they would be prioritised on the agenda. The other teammate would constantly monitor the situation in the debate chamber by actively listening, asking points of information, voting, and providing speeches on our delegation’s stance on resolutions. One of the amendments we passed included the implementation of a permanent cross-border mechanism in Syria to increase aid delivered to the region, especially in response to COVID-19. Evatt gave us the opportunity to appreciate the power of diplomacy to improve as global citizens and further develop our diplomatic skills, which are essential tools in this evolving world.
After a jam-packed day of debating, we nervously awaited the results of the competition following a brief intermission. Having achieved ‘Runners Up’ for the State Grand Finals, we were absolutely ecstatic!
Next year, we hope to take part in Evatt again and hope that, next time, we’ll be able to compete in person. After this year’s success and having connected with other like-minded students from across Queensland, we would like to encourage other students to take part and hope that we can be of assistance in their preparation.
Stay safe! In solidarity,
Bita Mahani and Angelina Inthavong
Year 11 UN Youth Delegates