3 August 2006

Young Would-Be Diplomats Gather at Vienna International Centre for Model United Nations

Interviews with VIMUN Participants from Austria, Hungary and Romania

VIENNA, 3 August (UN Information Service) -- About 300 would-be diplomats from around the world will be learning the skills of international diplomacy at the 12th Vienna International Model United Nations (VIMUN) from 6-10 August.

The participants will test their diplomatic skills in simulated UN conferences and committee meetings, discussing issues from the crisis in the Middle East, to human rights and trade in Africa. They will have a chance to experience the life of a diplomat, take part in intense negotiations and gain valuable insight into the workings of the United Nations.

The event is organized by the United Nations Youth and Student Association of Austria - Academic Forum for Foreign Affairs (AFA).  Since the first VIMUN in 1995, nearly 2,500 students and young people from five continents have taken part.

Participants between the ages of 18-35 from a wide range of countries including Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Romania (*) will be gather ing at the Vienna International Centre for the UN Model School.  One of the Austrian participants, Moritz Haller from Vienna, said: "It is a great challenge for us all to search for new solutions to unresolved, very difficult and complicated problems.  For young international delegates, the Model United Nations can be a testing ground for future challenges, a wonderful opportunity to meet and work with students from all over the world on a professional level and most important of all, the chance of learning how to build a positive future through the process of peaceful negotiation."

The Model United Nations replicates the negotiations of specific committees and organs of the UN. Participants act as delegates of a foreign country, not their own, or a non-governmental organization (NGO) and have to negotiate and protect the national interests of their chosen country. The challenge is to argue from a different angle to gain a better understanding of different perspectives on world politics, problems and crises.

There will be Security Council debates on the crisis in the Middle East; a meeting of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice looking at 'Combating Organized Crime Networks: Drug Trafficking and Trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weapons'; a nd a Commission on Human Rights meeting discussing legalized arrest, torture and restraint; 'Verification of Nuclear Non-Proliferation' will be the topic for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting and 'Clean Water for All' will be discussed at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) meeting.  There will also be sessions of the International Court of Justice and the Economic Commission for Africa.

The committee sessions will be conducted by Chairs and Co-Chairs and all delegates have to obey rules of procedure similar to those used in real UN conferences.

The Co-Chair of the Economic Commission for Africa, Johanna Weberhofer from Austria, who is studying at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna after graduating in International Relations and Arabic from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said: "In looking to prepare myself for a career in international institutions, the opportunity to co-chair this exciting and dynamic committee will be a very formidable experience indeed.  I cannot wait to engage in lively discussions on current African issues of global importance."

In addition to the serious discussions, the UN Model School offers the would-be diplomats the chance for socializing together too.  The highlight is a reception at the Vienna City Hall hosted by the Mayor of Vienna, Michael Häupl, on Monday 7 August. 

The Vienna UN Model School is one of around 400 such events held annually worldwide, sponsored by different organizations such as Harvard University, to raise awareness of global issues and the role of the United Nations.  Some participants attend more than one such event.  VIMUN is especially liked by Austrian and international students because it is held at a United Nations Headquarters.

The UN Model School will be viewed as part of the guided tours of the VIC, organized by the UNIS Visitors Service.

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(*) UNIS Vienna directly services Austria, Hungary and Slovakia and provides strategic guidance and support to Poland and Romania.

For further information contact:
Anne Thomas, Information Officer, UNIS
Tel: +43 1 26060 5693, Mobile: +43 6991 459 5693
Email: anne.thomas@unvienna.org


Irina Beikert, Secretary-General, VIMUN
Tel: + 43 1 512 8521
Email: vimun@afa.at  Website: http://www.vimun.at/


Journalists are welcome to attend the opening or closing sessions of the UN Model School.
(Opening: Monday 7 August 10-11am; Closing: Thursday 10 August 10.30am-12noon, both at VIC)