Society profile: United Nations Association
Wednesday 24 October is United Nations Day, marking the anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter and the founding of the United Nations. To mark the occassion, we caught up with Queen Mary's own United Nations Association to find out what opportunities it offers its members for developing their skills and knowledge of international issues, and to hear about the upcoming Queen Mary Model United Nations conference organised by the Association.
What is the United Nations Association (UNA), and what is your mission at Queen Mary?
QMUL UNA is a platform for students to develop their debating skills within the set rules of the United Nations’ debating style. Our aim is to increase our members’ confidence in public speaking and to widen their knowledge of past and present international issues, as at each session a different international topic is discussed.
Who can get involved with UNA and what opportunities are there for your members?
The society is open to anyone who is passionate about the United Nations, politics and debating in general. We are proud that this society is truly diverse, as there are members studying politics, history, physics, law, maths and even medicine.
The aim of our weekly meetings – in other words, trainings – is to prepare our members to attend and do well at Model United Nations (MUN) conferences. We are sending our members to UK and international MUN conferences to test the skills they have been practicing and expand their network among like-minded British and international students.
Are there any key campaigns that you are focusing on this year?
Our greatest and most challenging objective in 2018 is the organisation of the second Queen Mary Model United Nations conference (QMMUN), taking place on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 December. Most of the universities in the UK have their own MUN club, and the best among them organise their own conference. Therefore, it is important for our society’s reputation to continue this tradition.
The theme of the conference is ‘digital diplomacy’. We thought it was time to discuss this issue after all the international debate that Trump’s tweets have caused.
The different committees are going to discuss topics such as:
- introducing cryptocurrency as a universal payment method in failed states
- the right to a free internet: the question of monitoring against cyber-attacks at the expense of privacy
- technological warfare: fully autonomous vehicles and their consequences on armed conflict
- the role of intelligence agencies in the digital monitoring of non-state actors as part of international security.
We are expecting around 100 delegates form across the UK, abroad and from our own University.
Do you have any big plans for the UNA in the year ahead?
We are aiming to strengthen the relationship with other London-based universities’ MUN societies, such as those of KCL, UCL or LSE. We are planning on hosting joint debates and social events with them. This is a great opportunity for students to form friendships with people from other universities who share similar values.
How can people get involved with UNA if they are interested?
It is very easy. Students simply have to pay our membership on the Students’ Union website or at the reception in the Students' Union Hubs at the Mile End campus. They can also like our Facebook page or subscribe to our mailing list by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with their name. Then they can attend our weekly meetings that take place every Thursday, 6-7pm in the Bancroft Building, Mile End campus.