The state has come to dominate understandings of geopolitics: political maps of the world consist of neatly coloured-in state units, and state leaders dominate international headlines. However, those who are most acutely affected by conflict, human rights abuses and environmental injustices are often not represented by state interests. The Model UNPO engages students at all levels with issues facing some of the most marginalised communities in the world and enthuses them about how we can think differently about equality and diversity in the global governance system.
Inspired by an initiative developed by Brazilian students we are working with our partners at the University of Oxford to develop and trial a toolkit to enable students at all levels (primary, secondary and tertiary) to create and participate in Model UNPO's.
The exercises in the Model UNPO programme are loosely based on Model UN simulations but instead of students being assigned roles as representatives of states and enacting UN meetings they are designated roles as representatives of stateless nations, indigenous peoples and minority communities. Students research their assigned non-state actor in advance of the class, and then come together to simulate a debate of the UNPO’s General Assembly based on pre-established rules of procedure.
The programme allows teachers to run role-play debating exercises on issues of environmental justice, human rights and conflict resolution, to engage students with issues facing some of the most marginalised communities in the world, and to enthuse them about how we can think differently about equality and diversity in the global governance system.