LAU assumes responsibility of Model UN conference in New York
May 16, 2015—
LAU was center stage at the United Nations headquarters on May 15. In the stately General Assembly Hall, a crowd of 1,600 students from 20 countries and 16 U.S. states gathered on the occasion of the Global Classrooms Model UN Conference.
“[It] is more than a conference, it’s a movement,” said Chris Whatley, executive director of the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA).
In the same room where member states from 193 countries gather every year for the UN General Assembly meeting, Whatley announced that LAU would take on the responsibility of running two of its major programs: the Global Classrooms International High School Model UN Conference and the Global Classrooms International Middle School Model UN Conference.
“Today, we are passing the torch,” he said proudly.
Founded around the time of the UN’s establishment in the mid-1940s, Model UN is an academic competition in which students simulate the multilateral organization’s two main bodies: the General Assembly and the Security Council. In doing so, they learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations. They also learn critical skills such as public speaking, debate, leadership and teamwork, among others.
For Assistant Vice President of Outreach and Civic Engagement Elie Samia, “LAU’s ownership of the international Global Classrooms brand is a recognition from UNA-USA that we have had the most successful MUN program in the world for the last ten years.”
At last year’s event, the 15th Annual Global Classrooms International Model UN in New York, LAU’s delegation to the MUN won six awards. Over the years, LAU’s program has taken home more than 54 awards, making it all the more natural for LAU to assume responsibility for the Global Classrooms conferences.
Given Lebanon’s history as a nation that oscillates between periods of violence and stability, and as ongoing turmoil continues to plague the Middle East and North Africa, it seemed a natural fit that Lebanese would feel particularly drawn to contributing to the making of young global leaders and peacemakers.
Keynote speaker Jan Eliasson, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, brought up the challenges the war in Syria poses to Lebanon, and to the world. “Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something,” he told the young delegates.
Following Eliasson’s speech, LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra reminded the enthused audience that on December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was established, and that at the time, Lebanese philosopher and diplomat Charles Malek served as the Commission for Human Rights’ rapporteur. “Today, Lebanon is coming back to the halls of the UN to inaugurate a partnership,” he said.
Marcel Ghanem, host of famous TV show “Kalam el Nass”, also addressed the future leaders, providing them with a few life lessons. Among them, he stressed that a dream is not a dream without a deadline, that optimism is critical, and that success is a result of both work and competence, not one or the other.
“It’s a great initiative,” said Lebanon’s ambassador to the UN Nawaf Salam, “We are proud of LAU, of Lebanon’s youth and its presence at the United Nations.”