BUHMUN Conference 2020

The 2020 COVID-19 edition of the Bond University High School Model United Nations (BUHMUN) conference at Bond University on Friday 30 October was attended by a delegation of nine A.B. Paterson College students. BUHMUN is Australia’s first university-run High School Model United Nations conference. The conference theme for this year was:

‘To promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’.

In addition, there was a clear focus on the global refugee crisis and toxic narratives about refugees. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, addressed the conference in a video in the opening session. 

In Committee 1, we had Mariam Joy representing Hungary, Jade Mikael standing for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Lauren Woods advocating for South Sudan on challenging toxic narratives about refugees. In Committee 2, we had Charley Ellwood representing Turkey, Eden Harder speak for Cuba, Bita Mahani acting for Czech Republic, Charles Morris appear for the United Kingdom and Robyn Paskell represent Bangladesh on the impacts on refugees’ access to education. Chloe Britton tackled Committee 3 as Sweden in a challenging and vibrant group on countering toxic narratives in the media. We participated with students from around ten schools.  

BUHMUN was a poignant experience, particularly as all global citizens have faced the challenges provided during the pandemic, but these are severely exacerbated for refugees who already face significant challenges. We conducted negotiations and diplomacy on key issues that affect the refugee crisis today. Bita was nominated the Best Delegate from Committee 2, while Chloe Britton was given an honourable mention as the second-best delegate in Committee 3. 

Chloe’s reflection: BUHMUN 2020 was an amazing experience that I will cherish forever. It was a great opportunity to get practice public speaking, debating and learning about issues facing our planet. It was also a good way to learn about the ways in which these issues can be solved and it has taught me a lot about teamwork, confidence and the United Nations. I enjoyed public speaking and taking on the persona of my country, Sweden. Even though it was out of my comfort zone, I feel as though it has prepared me for the future, especially in leadership and public speaking.

Charley’s reflection: As someone with aspirations for diplomacy in the future, the BUHMUN conference was the perfect opportunity to expose myself to the realities of international relations. Through teamwork and the art of negotiation, we were able to create new ideas to promote the access of education for displaced asylum-seekers (without breaking too much international law). The experience was truly memorable, and I hope to attend again next year. 

Bita’s reflection: Despite being held in the middle of a pandemic, as always, BUHMUN 2020 certainly delivered, allowing for plenty opportunities to learn and grow. It is my dream to become a diplomat or a human rights lawyer when I am older and this conference has allowed me to gain insight into the future career path that I want to take in a way that is both accessible and enjoyable for a wide audience. I am incredibly grateful for the experience I have gained by taking part in this conference and value the friendships I have created throughout the course of the competition. This year marked my second time participating in BUHMUN, whereby I represented the Czech Republic, and I find that participating has allowed me to not only improve my public speaking and debating skills but my effectiveness as a negotiator as well. I appreciate the opportunity that my peers and I were given to gain ideas and learn from others’ perspectives whilst emulating the procedures followed by senior diplomats. There is no doubt in my mind that the web of international relations operating at the UN is incredibly complex at this time, yet I believe that youth participation is the key to discovering innovative solutions to modern problems. As part of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ (UNHCR) MUN challenge, BUHMUN has allowed me to consider different angles for helping combat toxic narratives surrounding refugees, as well as how to improve refugees’ access to education. Knowing that the resolutions drafted by our committees will be sent to the UNHCR to be considered by prominent diplomats and leaders is truly a humbling thought. For those who seek to create a difference in the lives of people who they may never meet, BUHMUN has been an incredible experience for me, and I encourage others to apply and participate.

Anthony Chetter
Social Sciences Teacher