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February 13, 2012

The 30th East African Model United Nations Opens in Kenya

The 30th East African Model United Nations opens in Kenya's capital Tuesday.  The four-day conference brings together 900 teenagers from the region to simulate the United Nations' General Assembly, Security Council, and U.N. committees.  The youth represent U.N. member countries.

Conference, models UN assembly

Secretary-General of the East African Model United Nations, 16-year-old Shiro Wachira, told reporters in Nairobi that East African youth are vastly underrated. “Our conference is the proof that kids can do a lot, that they have so much potential.  If you just walk out and talk to a few [delegates] you would be amazed at the projects they are involved in," Wachira said. "There is a group of kids who have started a website promoting environmental awareness and social causes. The entire conference is led by a group of people, not one of them is 18 [years old].”

She said that the theme of the East African Model United Nations, or EAMUN, is Promoting Cultural Diversity. “We wanted to have this to make delegates aware of the cultural differences that do exist between us but to embrace them and to appreciate them because they are areas of strength. Our strengths lie in our differences,” Wachira stated.

Diverse attendees

Some 900 young people from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, DRC, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Sweden are in Nairobi this week attending the conference, which simulates sessions of the United Nations' General Assembly and Security Council, as well as the U.N. committees of Ecology and Environment, Economic, Health, Human Rights, Political, and Technology.

Yvette Ankunda, a delegate from Uganda, is the ambassador of Haiti. “We learn about these countries - we research their problems and issues.  We also learn about other countries around the world.  And then we come up with resolutions to try to help with the solutions for that country,” she said.

There is also a small group of students who are journalists covering the event.  They produce a daily newspaper reporting on deliberations that happened in each of the committees.

Leadership building

The conference’s aim is to build leadership among the region’s youth.  Coordinator Caroline Mithika explains. “[In] exposing them to all these different situations, we are giving them an opportunity to grow in their confidence, they are able to grow in their leadership skills, they are able to grow in the knowledge of what is going on in the world and come up with proposed solutions for the world,” she explained.

For 16-year-old Sohee Hyung, EAMUN's deputy secretary-general, the conference gives the youth a chance to address the huge discrepancy between the regions’s rich and poor. “The rich kids do not understand the lives of the poor people.  They ride [in] their car, pass by the street kids -- it seems that they are ignorant of the suffering that they have," Hyung noted. "I think the EAMUN is an opportunity for them to come together, and it is an opportunity for us to show video clips or make a speech or even writing a resolution and showing what is going on around the world.”

She urges current regional and world leaders to rule with integrity.

“If they are listening right now, why would they be selfish when we are trying to be unselfish ourselves? Why are they giving us education, love one another, to care for one another and be the leaders for tomorrow, when they are not doing it themselves?  They need to be an example, because they are the leaders for today, and they are going to be the example for the leaders of tomorrow,” Hyung said.

The conference concludes Friday.