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 and young people 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. It also offers an opportunity for the development of self-confidence, and public speaking and debating skills.
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 and young people to run Model UNPO exercises.
These role-play debating exercises on issues of human rights, conflict resolution, and environmental justice are loosely based on Model UN simulations. However, 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 exercise, and then come together to simulate a debate of the UNPO’s General Assembly.