Student Model of the UN Has Opened in Prague

The sixth annual conference of the Prague Model of the United Nations opened in the Czech capital on Thursday. Over the next few days, some three hundred secondary school students from around the Czech Republic will simulate the negotiations held at UN headquarters in New York. Alena Skodova has this report:

In his opening speech Czech President Vaclav Havel told the students that his generation was raised in what he called Czech provincialism. But the young generation - he said - must realize that the Czech Republic is also responsible for world events.

After the ceremony, I spoke to a girl who had immediately captured my attention, thanks to the Arab costume she was wearing: "I'm a delegate from the Socialist People's Djamahiria of Libya, we are four delegates in the delegation, we represent Gymnasium in Prachatice, South Bohemia."

Did you study facts about Libya?

"Yes, actually it's our second year we represent Libya, we had last year good help from the representative council of Libya here in Prague and we tried to find more information."

Why have you chosen Libya?

"Libya is good to be represented because it's interesting and they're radical, and they're orthodox and they know what they want..."

So that's what you like about them?

"Yes, and it's really interesting to represent someone you don't agree with, Muslims, etc. But in these four days I'll wear this tahiva and I have to represent opinions I don't like. We are strictly against Americans and we fight against them, and we actually have a lot to tell."

The director of the UN Information Centre in Prague, Andreas Nicklish believes the Prague UN model has great significance:

"I think it's very important that people in the early age get the feel how the world works. What power, what interests, what motivations, what principles influence the international decision-making and I think there's no better way than to simulate an international crisis and to find solutions at the Prague model of the United Nations."

This is the 6th conference, do you have any experience from the previous years, how do the students do?

"I think they are very serious, my impression is that they are very well prepared, they are not coming here, cold, and discussing international events, they have been going through a series of preparatory meetings, so they know very well what they're talking about, and I think with a few exceptions you can be fooled and thinking that you are visiting real United Nations when you go and listen to the debates."

What is actually simulated - the General Assembly?

"Of course, it depends where you are, I think here in Prague they are limiting themselves to representing the major organs of the UN - that's the General Assembly which has to take decision at the end of each meeting, it's the Security Council and the Ecozoc and a few selected committees of the United Nations."