Students groomed for real, UN-style diplomacy
Like real diplomats, they suited up and engaged in fiery debate on several pressing issues like the urgency to reform the much-criticized UN Security Council.
“The council should abolish the right to veto,” a student representing Iran told a simulated UN session at Gedung Merdeka in Bandung. “It should have two more permanent members,” another student representing African countries said.
They acted like diplomats; they also talked the talk, as the students — from Parahyangan University’s International Relations Department — were expected to know exactly what real live diplomacy in action is like.
“This is a special subject,” Mira Permatasari, a lecturer at the university, told The Jakarta Post.
“This is the exercise of everything they learned in class. This is the time for the students to act like real diplomats.”
More than 200 students took part in the session, and were divided into 37 groups representing 37 members of the UN. The lecturers assessed each group’s skills in diplomacy: their gestures, articulation and way of thinking.
The students have previously taken a test, based on issues raised at the last UN meeting in New York, to gauge their mastery of the issues that would be addressed in the model UN session, Mira said.
The students should know about the countries they represent in order to be able to make appropriate diplomatic decisions, she added.
Even if a group of country representatives succeeded in pushing their resolution to be approved, Mira said, it is
no guarantee that they have secured a good grade.
“We will also examine if their proposal matches the policy of the country they represent.”
Students representing African and South American nations – which are considered as having little political clout – for instance, may get good grade if they make alliances with the right nations,
she said. “If they deviate from their countries’ policies, they would have their scores reduced.”
The university regularly practices model UN sessions, which have proven to bring great benefits for its students. In the 2009 Harvard National Model United Nations held in Harvard University in Boston, US, a delegation from Parahyangan University received the Outstanding Delegate award in the African Union committee.
The Harvard National Model United Nations is a major annual event attended by more than 2,600 students and lecturers from around 30 countries.
“That’s why we will continue to have this subject. We want to help our students so they can become diplomats. Besides, the Foreign Affairs Ministry is very supportive of this activity,” Mira said.