Model United Nations comes to CERN

From 20 to 22 January pupils from international schools in Switzerland, France and Turkey came to CERN for three days of "UN-type" conferences.


The MUN organisers, who are all pupils at the Lycée international in Ferney-Voltaire, worked tirelessly for weeks to make the event a real success.

The members of the MUN/MFNU association at the Lycée international in Ferney-Voltaire spent several months preparing for their first "Model United Nations" (MUN),  a simulation of a UN session at which young "diplomats" take on the role of delegates representing different nations to discuss a given topic. And as their chosen topic was science, it was only natural that they should hold the event at CERN.

For three days, from 20 to 22 January, no fewer than 340 pupils from 12 international schools* in Switzerland, France and Turkey came together to deliberate, consult and debate on the importance of scientific progress for society. 120 delegates and 14 moderators took part in General Assemblies held in CERN's Main Auditorium, at which they tackled specialist topics ranging from nuclear energy to the funding of scientific institutions and the brain drain and adopted a series of resolutions.

"There can be no better illustration of CERN's education and science-dissemination missions than the discussion of science and its future by the future citizens of Europe," says Sascha Schmeling of the Physics Department, who was in charge of the project on CERN's side. "The pupils from the Lycée international School in Ferney-Voltaire, which was founded in the 1970s with support from CERN, have taken up these missions in an enthusiastic and exemplary way."

"It means a lot for us to come to CERN for this Model United Nations," says Céline, one of the pupils from the Ferney school, who acted as a UN press officer for the event. "CERN is a very international organisation that holds a special place for us since many of us have parents or other family members who work here or worked here in the past."

Éric, another pupil from the Ferney school, who took on the role of Japanese delegate, enthused about the success of the project: "The Model UNs are great from the human perspective. You get to meet lots of people from other schools, but you're also required to engage in critical enquiry as you're representing a country and its interests."

Although this was not the first MUN for some of the young "diplomats" taking part, it may well have been one of the most successful they've attended: "The first few sessions are not usually quite as lively as they were here," says Céline. "But we soon felt very much at home at CERN!" The youngsters took the exercise very seriously, getting into the skin of UN delegates right down to their smart suits and footwear. But the corridors of the real Palais des Nations are still a long way off and we hope that they won't leave their adolescence behind too quickly.

*The International Schools of Ferney-Voltaire, Geneva, Grasse, Grenoble, Istanbul, Lyon, Montpellier, Nantes, Paris and Saint-Etienne took part in the MUN at CERN.

by Anaïs Schaeffer