This year, the fifth annual session of the Uganda Model United Nations Conference (UGMUN) was held at the International School of Uganda on the 8th and 9th of December. The chief guest at the opening ceremony of the event was Mr. Shawn Kohl, the Uganda Field Country Director for the International Justice Mission (IJM) who informed the conference participants in his speech that he participated in Model United Nations (MUN) conferences as a youth growing up in the United States of America, and that doing so had greatly impacted his career choices. Also present at the opening ceremony was Mr. Makonnen Tesfaye a retired UNHCR staffer who advised the youth to develop a heart for service and volunteerism. A Uganda youth representative to the United Nations and national debate coach, Mr. Hillary Kururagyire also graced the occasion with his presence.
Many schools from Kampala participated in what is fast becoming the event of the year for many high school students. The participating schools which were drawn from both the Uganda national school system and the international school system included Kampala International School of Uganda, Rainbow International School, Aga Khan High School, Kings College Budo, Gayaza High School, Namilyango College, Heritage International School, Acacia International School, Mount St. Mary's High School Namagunga, Kabojja High School, the Cornerstone Schools, Word of Life International School, Galaxy International School, Mengo Senior School, Greenhills Academy (Rwanda) and of course ISU. Altogether, more than 500 students participated in the event.
Model United Nations (MUN) is a conference, which simulates United Nations committees and addresses relevant and ongoing world issues. It is a life-changing experience that provides students with essential leadership, communication, critical thinking, and debatingskills. UGMUN facilitates this through the embodiment of the United Nations core values such as the Sustainable Development Goals, which are a foundation for the committees and topics being debated. The theme of this year's conference 'Today's Action for Tomorrow's Future' brought light to the role that today's youth have in guaranteeing a sustainable future through their actions, which are a pathway for development.
During the two days of the conference, the students were exposed to a range of activities most of which revolved around the committees including the Health Committee, the Environmental Committee, the Political Committee, the Human Rights Committee, the Economics Committee and the Security Council. The students presented and debated resolutions, which they had written prior to the conference based on topics central to the operations of the respective committees. They simulated the actual United Nations (UN) General Assembly and each represented different global nations, which had been assigned to them prior to the conference to facilitate effective preparation. The Secretary General at this year's UGMUN conference was Ms. Edith Barton, Grade 12 student who played a key role in the planning of the conference alongside a committee of student leaders with the support of ISU teachers Elizabeth Onayemi and Stephen Olanya.