It’s four o’clock in the United Nations. The World Health Organisation has been debating its response to the outbreak of swine flu for two days, and almost twelve hours. The delegates are visibly worn down. Many wonder if the UN can pass a resolution at all.
Most developed powers have rejected a duty to fund vaccines for poorer countries, which now form a voting bloc to secure their collective interest. A bloc of developed nations, led by France, is poised to pass its own resolution. Could the developing world stop them?
Only if so many of them weren’t now just waking up in a dingy hostel on the other side of Canberra.
No, this isn’t the real United Nations. It’s the Asia-Pacific Model UN Conference (AMUNC). Universities from all cross the Asia-Pacific have convened at ANU to represent countries – and their interests – in debates across all organs of the UN.
Two rooms away, student delegates in the UN Security Council plot retaliation over the hypothetical assassination of a politician. Meanwhile, the student Press Corps is publishing state secrets leaked by an unnamed diplomat. Delegates in the Security Council agonise over the whistle-blower who exposed US intentions in the Asia-Pacific. Was it that girl from Griffith? That guy from UNSW they met at Mooseheads the night before?
Within the halls of Model UN, politics is a serious, but exhilarating process.
As a law student, people often query MUN’s place on my CV. Sure, Model United Nations is my passion, but could it get me a job interview? Will all of those debating skills count for something?
In my experience, Model UN develops skills that are directly transferable to working the legal profession: oral argument, research, thinking on your feet and arguing for a party’s interests. Researching and advocating for a nation’s interests in a mock UN Security Council is remarkably similar to defending a client in court.
But let’s not limit this to Model UN. I think law students wishing to develop their CV should consider non-law extra-curricular activities. Participation in student societies teaches you leadership skills, problem solving and how to work with other people – skills that are useful in any profession.
Ben Game is President of the ANU UN Society.
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