Model United Nations Conference to be held at UMass Amherst March 12-14

AMHERST, Mass. - Key global issues, ranging from nuclear proliferation to HIV and AIDS in Africa to sustainable development, will be debated March 12-14 when the UMass Amherst International Relations Club hosts a Model United Nations conference in the Campus Center.

The three-day event is expected to draw approximately 375 students from 17 high schools across Massachusetts and New Hampshire, according to club president Chris Murray. “The goal of the conference is to provide high school students the opportunity to gain deeper knowledge of world affairs and be exposed to other countries’ perspectives on policies,” he says.

The majority of the participants are already involved in Model UN clubs at their high schools, according to Murray. After registering for the conference, the schools were given country assignments based on the number of students who will attend as well as the number of countries available to assign.

Opening ceremonies for the conference will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 12 in the Campus Center Auditorium. The guest speaker will be Masuo Nishibayashi, Japan’s consul general in Boston.

Over the course of the conference, student delegates representing various nations will debate issues under the aegis of various UN organs, including the General Assembly, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the Security Council. Topics will include the illicit trade in small arms, urban migration and poverty in cities, child labor, and protection of coral reefs. During the debates, participants must build coalitions with other delegates to pass resolutions aimed at addressing the issues or conflict under discussion.

Other delegates will represent states from the African Union, European Union and the League of Arab States as they discuss issues of regional concern, such as relations with Iraq, the status of Cyprus, and unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Some participants will portray members of the U.S. National Security Council and China’s Politburo during a simulated crisis over Taiwan.

The International Relations Club is a registered student organization at UMass Amherst whose purpose is to enhance awareness about international issues through off-campus college Model United Nations conferences, on-campus lecture events, and the high school Model UN conference.

Reporters are welcome to attend the conference but are requested not to interfere with committees during debates. For information, contact Chris Murray at 413/546-2579 or by e-mail at