About the Author: Mark Schlachter serves as Public Diplomacy Chief for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of serving as the Secretary-General of the fifth-grade Model United Nations of Cold Spring Elementary from Potomac, Maryland. Tuesday’s special session of the Model Security Council was based on the most recent meeting of the actual United Nations Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), in which they discussed the Secretary-General’s reports on CAAC.
The students had been studying the United Nations and issues surrounding children’s rights, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Their overall objective was to understand the many issues facing children around the world and how the UN works to protect their rights.
The roughly 50 students broke into groups representing each of the 15 Security Council members and developed speeches to deliver during our mock Security Council special session. There were many impassioned pleas for children’s rights. Speaking second, the esteemed Permanent Representative of the Model Delegation from Austria set the tone for the discussion, demanding, “We must keep children safe by building walls against these dangers.”
The Model Japanese delegation raised the issue of using children to clear minefields, while the American delegation discussed child access to health care. The Ugandan delegation recognized the continuing problem of the recruitment of child soldiers in their own country, and requested assistance in curbing it. Speaking last, the Model Ambassador from Turkey, who served as the rotating president of the Council, reminded everyone that we came here “to talk about the next generation—our children,” and implored all parties to do everything possible to curb the injustices perpetrated against our most vulnerable population in areas of conflict.
It was an educating experience for everyone involved, including those of us who have worked with the real Security Council. Prior to the session, the din of discussions and negotiation of text sounded all too familiar, if, perhaps, a little higher pitched.