More than 1,300 local, regional, and international students concluded a series of broad-ranging discussions and debate around global issues at the seventh annual THIMUN Qatar conference, hosted by Qatar Foundation (QF), on Friday, January 26.
The three-day Model United Nations (MUN) event, which took place at the Qatar National Convention Centre, gave students the opportunity to participate in a variety of committees addressing a range of topics, including disarmament, the environment, human rights, and the rule of law.
During the event, students were addressed by representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) who gave a series of presentations, covering topics such as cybercrime, organized crime and gender, and human trafficking.
Speaking to the young delegates in a specially themed committee, Gilberto Duarte, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, UNODC, said: “This is a great opportunity for youth to learn more about the importance of UNODC-related issues; topics they may or may not be aware of but which certainly impact us all. This idea of working with young people and building a better understanding of rule of law issues at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels is key to UNODC’s Education for Justice (E4J) initiative, part of our Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration.”
UNODC’s valued participation in THIMUN Qatar stems from recommendations made by young people at the Doha Youth Forum on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, jointly organized by QF, held in April 2015. The Doha Youth Forum was held to precede the 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, hosted by Qatar in the same month in which the Doha Declaration was adopted.
THIMUN Qatar, now in its seventh year, encourages participants to prepare for and engage in a simulation of the United Nations, taking on roles as diplomats to discuss and debate international issues in order to develop solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing the global community.
Lisa Martin, Head of THIMUN Qatar, said: “THIMUN Qatar has been able to develop this special relationship with UNODC. It brings real world relevance when UN officials engage with the diplomats of the future. We are very humbled and honored to be working with the organization through the E4J initiative.”
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Gender Equality and Empowerment for Women and Girls’, inspired by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5. Trisha Shetty, Founder and CEO of SheSays India, a youth-led NGO with a focus on youth and civil society engagement to promote gender equality, delivered this year’s keynote speech.
Another key aspect of this year’s THIMUN Qatar conference was the ‘MUN Impact’ program, which served as a hub for sharing stories of impactful MUN activities, best practices, and ways to support the SDGs through action.
Among the issues highlighted by students contributing to the MUN Impact initiative were: the Hope for Education and Leadership in Afghanistan, the Salam Centre for Peace, and Online Model United Nations. These organizations hope to make MUN more accessible to underserved students and to bring awareness that MUN can be used as a force for social change, and not just as debate platform.
The event was attended by a number of visiting dignitaries. Addressing the young delegates at the opening ceremony, Dr. Bahia Tahzib-Lie, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Qatar, encouraged all delegates, saying: “You can inspire the leaders of the world. You are in command of the coming days. Show us how to build a better and more peaceful world.”
Additional embassy representatives attending included: Mr. Roberto Abdalla, Ambassador of Brazil in Qatar; Mr. Eric Chevallier, Ambassador of France in Qatar; and Ms. Ewa Polano, Ambassador of Sweden in Qatar.
THIMUN Qatar’s Regional Office was created as a joint project between QF’s Qatar Academy schools and the THIMUN Foundation, an affiliation program designed to develop high quality MUN conferences around the world.