At a Model U.N. conference, the outlook is bright
What could be a more encouraging picture than nearly 500 high school students from the region spending a day addressing the foreign affairs issues of the world in a comprehensive forum?
The University of Pittsburgh hosted on Monday its 21st Model United Nations conference. It was attended by 448 students from 23 high schools in the region. Each student in the 83 country delegations participating was required to understand how the United Nations functions and know the position of the country he or she was representing. (For the record, the winning country delegations were France and Egypt.)
The real United Nations frequently gets battered as irrelevant or just a talking machine in American political wars. So far, that does not appear to be the case under the Trump administration. It is also the case that the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, has come to be one of the more visible and competent senior figures in the administration. It is no secret that if Secretary of State Rex Tillerson quits, deciding that he has had enough of Mr. Trump’s undercutting him in policy terms and starving his department of resources, Ms. Haley will probably replace him.
In the meantime, in Pittsburgh, the students argued over and passed some resolutions on issues all relevant today: Terrorism recruitment should be stifled. Emergency responses to global health crises need to be speeded up. Bees, with their critical pollination role, should be protected. Women should have access to clean water with less personal danger to themselves. Nuclear crisis situations should be addressed more rapidly and effectively.
There is probably no more effective one-day experience in foreign affairs for young people than participation in a Model U.N. It sensitizes them to the issues of the world and how they might come to be resolved effectively. Pitt, the students, the organizers and the high school faculty who prepared the students should be commended for their effort Monday. We really needed that.