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Community of Scholars’ Students Run U.N. Simulation

Students in Community of Scholars' conflict resolution class participate in a model UN security council meeting.

A delegate from Vietnam addresses other members of the U.N. Security Council in a mock United Nations debate as part of the Community of Scholars conflict resolution class. (Photo: Jeff Watts)

The frustration AU’s Community of Scholars students felt Tuesday as they tried to hammer out a solution to a problem the world has not yet conquered could not have been more real.

During an all-day United Nations simulation, phrases like “perambulatory clause” and “operating measures” were bandied about while the conflict resolution class experienced the intricacies of diplomatic sausage making firsthand. Their task: pass a resolution dealing with North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

“You’re not just a bystander, you’re an actual participant,” said Andrew Sagers, 17, who represented France. “You really gain an appreciation for the complexity of it and how quickly things can fall apart.”

Small groups represented about 10 countries on the U.N. Security Council. Professor Robert Kelley made sure the proceedings mirrored actual deliberations as closely as possible. When students discussed their country, they said “we.”

“It’s a formalized mode of conversation, and we want them to understand the protocol,” said Kelley, a professor in the School of International Service. “I’m seeing them become more and more comfortable and some of them become better negotiators.”

In the end, the class unanimously passed a resolution calling for nonmilitary measures to check North Korea's nuclear ambitions. The negotiations boiled down to two competing draft resolutions sponsored by China and the United States. The Chinese held out until the end, when they were satisfied that a resolution would not threaten North Korea's sovereignty.
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“There are so many cultural issues that are sealed so deep,” said Kevin Iannone, who represented China. “Trying to do something that no one’s been able to do is frustrating. But it’s a lot of fun.”