Address to The Middle School Model UN Conference 2014

  • Ladies and Gentlemen
  • Delegates and Excellencies,

Because that is what you are today during this conference.

I would like to welcome all of you to the United Nations Office at Nairobi to attend this Model United Nations Conference.

It is a real pleasure for me to be with you this morning, and to witness your enthusiasm for the United Nations.

First, let me begin by thanking the coordinator of this conference, Ms. Lucy AYODO, for doing such a marvelous job in organizing it.  I would also like to applaud you, the participating students, for all the hard work you have put into preparing for it.

By doing so, you join the more than 400,000 students worldwide who participate in Model UNs every year.

For over 50 years now, teachers and students have benefited from and enjoyed this interactive learning experience. It not only involves young people in the study and discussion of global issues, but also encourages the development of skills useful throughout their lives, such as research, writing, public speaking, problem solving, consensus building, conflict resolution and compromise and cooperation.

We at the United Nations have long recognized that the imagination, ideals and energy of young women and young men are vital for the continuing development of the societies in which they live.

Events such as these provide students with invaluable insights into the U.N. system.

It also demonstrates to the young generation that the UN's agenda is also their agenda.

The issues that concern the UN concern us all as human beings.

All Model UNs have certain common goals:

    to provide a deeper understanding of multilateral diplomacy;

    to strengthen negotiating and leadership skills;

    to improve the ability to anticipate evolving scenarios of complex issues.

Your experience in this conference will give you a good idea about the complexity of international relations and development challenges, the intricacies of negotiating among diverse stakeholders, the challenges of achieving consensus, and the patience required to achieve results.

But above all I hope you will find the time to overcome your initial differences, so that you can seize common opportunities and defend against shared threats.

That, after all, is why the UN was created.

Allow me just a few minutes to give you a quick overview of the UN and its work.

In Nairobi, we are extremely privileged to have the only headquarters of the United Nations in Africa, and indeed in the global South, as well as the global headquarters for both UNEP and UN-Habitat.

Nairobi is also the home base of many regional UN agencies and this complex alone has close to 4,000 UN staff members who work every day to advance the goals of the United Nations.

The UN is made up of six main organs – the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat. All are based at UN Headquarters in New York, except for the Court, which is at The Hague, the Netherlands.

The UN, its programmes and funds, and the specialized agencies (such as UNICEF, UNDP, and WFP) compose the "UN system".

As a family of organizations, the UN performs a vast range of duties that affect us all in a number of ways.

These range from the decision of the Security Council to dispatch a peacekeeping operation in response to a dispute, to setting standards for air safety and communications compatibility; from rushing emergency supplies to victims of natural disasters, to coordinating the response to the AIDS pandemic; from helping countries carry out free and fair elections, to promoting socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all; Ultimately, its work is about making a healthier, more stable world with enhanced opportunities and justice for all of us.

Over the next few days, you, will have an exceptional opportunity to test your knowledge of the UN, your leadership and communication skills and to come to a shared understanding among yourselves about what it will take to achieve some of the UN’s most important objectives.

I encourage you to be creative together, to strive for new and innovative approaches to the problems of poverty alleviation, hunger, inadequate housing, environmental degradation, and stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS.

As the future leaders and decision makers of your countries, you are agents of change. I hope this exercise will inspire you and provide you with a first-hand opportunity to understand, learn and debate the issues and challenges that face all of us.

I commend all of you for participating in this important meeting. I hope that you will have an exciting and productive time here at UNON. I look forward to hearing about the outcome of your deliberations, and I encourage you to continue to support the work of the United Nations long after this event is over.


Thank you.