May 03, 2024

Model UNPO: Empowering Youth to Advocate for Marginalized Communities

The initiative Model of Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), has officially launched and is revolutionizing the way young people engage with global issues by offering a unique platform for role-play and debate. Developed in collaboration with partners at the University of Oxford, this innovative project aims to empower youth to  understand and become advocates for marginalized communities worldwide.

Inspired by the success of Model United Nations simulations, Model UNPO takes a fresh approach by assigning participants roles as representatives of stateless nations, indigenous peoples, and minority communities. Through research and engaging debates, highschoolers discuss current issues such as minority rights, human rights, conflict resolution, language rights, youth issues, gender discrimination, and environmental justice.

"Model UNPO offers an opportunity for young people to develop the tools and confidence to become advocates for their communities through practicing public speaking and debating skills," said Professor Fiona McConnell, Professor of Political Geography at the University of Oxford, and promoter of the initiative.

The project has already made a significant impact in engaging young minds across the UK. Professor McConnell and Dr. Liam Saddington, Teaching Associate in Human Geography from the University of Cambridge, and part of the new team of UNPO’s advisory board, have conducted Model UNPO activities in thirteen secondary schools, from a variety of backgrounds, including state school and private ones. Materials tailored for 16-18 year old students are readily available on the Royal Geographical Society's website linked below.

Moreover, Model UNPO has been integrated into UNPO and Council of Europe Study Sessions with youth groups, expanding its reach and impact on a global scale.

"Model UNPO enables youth groups to run role-play debating exercises on issues that directly affect their communities, fostering critical thinking and empathy," added Dr. Saddington.

The project also offers resources specifically designed for 9-11 year old students, focusing on the question "What is a country?" This activity encourages students to explore the challenges faced by unrecognized states and stimulates critical thinking about global governance.

Through Model UNPO, young people are not only gaining insights into global issues but also developing essential skills in public speaking, group work, and critical thinking. By providing a platform for youth to voice the concerns of marginalized communities, Model UNPO is shaping the advocates and leaders of tomorrow.

For more information and to access Model UNPO materials, please visit