The annual Model United Nations project is a rite of passage for tenth graders. And on Tuesday, April 13, sophomores took on the role of diplomats from various countries to examine two articles in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR): article 19, the right to freedom of expression, and article 21, the right to take part in government.
Leading up to the MUN Summit, students were assigned the countries they would represent. They then studied the country’s current events, wrote papers about their country’s position on the UNDHR articles, and prepared speeches. The summit was the culmination of this in-depth research, during which delegate committees discussed the UNDRH articles and developed language and supporting arguments for changing or maintaining them.
Amelia von Jan ’23 represented India and focused on article 21, which, she explained, “India was in support of.” She noted that “article 19, however, is not popular in India.” While it was difficult for the group to pass new clauses due to the wide variety of stances on various issues, von Jan shared that “The most rewarding part was seeing the whole finished document at the end with every country’s additions.” History and Religion Department faculty member Eric Shapiro said that “the thoughtful, enthusiastic discussions and relevant proposals developed by students” made the project a resounding success.
Adopted by 48 nations in 1948, the UNDHR consists of 21 articles that laid out, for the first time, universally protected and fundamental human rights. Shapiro explained that “Our department feels that the chance to apply the knowledge gained from the study of global historical events to current issues is invaluable.” The faculty specifically chose to have students study the UNDHR because it “allowed students to address issues of basic human rights and democratic values from the perspectives of a variety of countries and peoples.”