UNITED NATIONS ACTIVITY
In this activity, students will conduct a "model United Nations
General Assembly" session. The activity is designed to acquaint
students with issues in international relations and the structure,
aims and procedures used by the United Nations to resolve disputes
between nations. Students will learn about the early history of
the United Nations by examining the contributions made by Ralph
Bunche to the organization during the first 25 years of its existence.
Subject areas addressed: American History, World History, Communications
(Speech), Civics (Government).
Students will have the opportunity to:
about current and past problems and situations affecting the
about the life, career, and philosophy of Ralph Bunche, American
diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize winner
cooperative learning skills and develop the ability to reach
critical thinking skills about historical issues as well as
current issues in international relations
time for lesson: 6-8 class periods.Students will have the opportunity
- Copy of the video Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey
TV and VCR (for showing video)
Computer(s) with Internet access
Letter cutters to make signs and flags for UN member states, video
equipment to tape the session, microphones and podium for speeches).
lesson addresses the following national technology standards established
by Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning.
influences on international relations after World War II and
the effectiveness of the United Nations in reducing international
tensions and conflict
how post-World War II reconstruction occurred, new international
power relations took shape, and colonial empires broke up
the shift in political and economic conditions after World War
II (e.g., why and how the United Nations was established, where
it has been actively involved, and how successful it has been
as a peacekeeper; and the United States' international leadership
post-World War I and post-World War II).
teacher should open the lesson with a "warm-up question".
This might take the form of asking students what approach they think
should be used to satisfactorily resolve a current classroom (or
schoolwide) dispute. Suggestions may include allowing an administrator
or outside counselor to decide how the dispute should be settled.
Choosing a "peer mediator" whom both sides feel can be
trusted, and recommendations that the students "hash it out"
teacher may mention that disputes between nations are often settled
the same way, that this was the principal reason that the United
Nations was set up after World War II, and that, often, the methods
used by the UN arent much different than those they recommended
to resolve school disputes: mediation, compromise, and conciliation.
teacher should introduce the "Model UN Project" explaining
that the class will be set up as a UN General Assembly, and that
the students (in most cases groups of students) will represent member
states. First, however, they will look at a video about someone
who played a key role in setting up the United Nations and who had
an impact on the policies and procedures that are still in use today.
teacher then shows the video Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey
to the class, noting that the students should pay special attention
to Bunches role as a UN mediator and official.
should also be noted that Bunche was an international civil servant,
not a delegate or representative of the US. However, Bunche could
and did work effectively "behind the scenes" to promote
peace and justice throughout the world (More information on this
can be found on the Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey website
pages, Mr. UN. and The
Peacemaker. Bunche also directly lobbied the US delegation
for policies that would strengthen the UNs position on human
rights (More information on this can be found on the Ralph Bunche:
An American Odyssey website page, The
time is limited, the teacher may omit the formative experiences
and academic career sequences in the video. Sequences dealing specifically
with the UN include the one beginning at the 43 minute 30 second
point, with Bunche being part of the conference which created the
United Nations, working with Harold Stassen to write the section
of the UN Charter dealing with the status of the colonies and trust
territories (53 min.), continuing through the segment of Bunche
being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in solving the
Middle East crisis of 1948 (77 min 44 sec.). Also, of particular
relevance is the sequence on the first UN Peacekeeping operation
(87 min. 10 sec. to 91 min.) and the section on East-West relations
within the UN and the operations of the Secretariat (85 min 29 sec.
to 87 min. 10 sec.)
viewing the video, the teacher should propose that the class research
the history and purpose of the United Nations. Using the United
Nations web site (web address below) or a comparable site, the students
will learn about the UN Charter and the various organs and departments
of the organization.
teacher should then explain to the students that in conducting a
"model UN General Assembly", in which they will cooperate
to solve major world problems, they have to keep in mind that each
nation is also trying to solve its own national problems and promote
its own interests. The teacher may wish to ask the class what world
problems are currently in the news. Answers may include the Palestinian
problem, issues involving the former nation of Yugoslavia, instability
in former colonial areas of the world, such as Africa. The teacher
may note that many of the problems the United Nations must deal
with in the early part of the 21st Century are related
to issues the world was attempting to deal with in the middle of
the 20th Century. For example, as they have seen in the
video, the UN was involved in mediation of disputes in the Middle
East, dealing with emerging nations on the African sub-continent,
and human and civil rights. The class can compare these issues with
those that are of concern today, for example, including the Palestinian
question, the conflicts in Africa, and human rights issues in various
parts of the world.
next step would be to assign students to represent various "member
states". This can be done by allowing students to form their
own groups (the size of each group will depend on the number of
students in a class, but it is recommended that no more than six
students make up any one group) or by assigning students to a particular
group. Care should be taken to ensure that the ratio of "developed"
to "developing" nations in the model UN parallels that
in the UN today. One way to do this might be to have each group
draw cards with the number "1", "2", or "3".
If a group draws a "1" card, they can assume the role
of a developed nation, such as the United States. If they draw a
"2", then they should become a Communist nation, such
as Cuba or Vietnam. If they select a "3" card, then they
would be a developing nation, such as Bangladesh or the Philippines.
this step is completed, the students can choose the nation they
wish to represent, using the list of member states on the web page,
or the teacher may wish to arbitrarily assign student groups to
specific member states.
is recommended that the teacher supply each group with a "portfolio"
(a manila folder will do) in which the group can keep copies of
all information it collects, resolutions adopted, etc. This file
will serve as verification that the group did the research and developed
appropriate positions or resolutions. (A suggested national
delegate portfolio statement is included below.)
students will develop a profile of the nation they will represent
by researching, either online or through conventional sources, the
background, economic system, and political system of the specific
nation they will represent. The profile should include the following
information: geographic location, physical features, climate, a
description of the political system, form of government, demographic
information, economic system and statistics, issues of domestic
concern, regional or local conflicts, membership in major alliances
and organizations, and global issues that may have a direct impact
on that nation. (Students can use the attached national profile
worksheet, or develop their own.
on the information the group has collected, it can draft "resolutions"
to be presented during the Model UN session. Teachers should take
care to ensure that the resolutions developed are related to an
actual conflict or problem, and that it is intended to be of benefit
to the nation that is presenting it. The attached UN resolution
Sheet Format will give students some guidance on how to draft a
each group has finished preparing its portfolio, the class is ready
to focus on setting up the Model UN session
to be considered include:
Where the session will be held (in the classroom, school cafeteria,
Who (student or teacher) should act as the moderator ("Secretary
General") of the model United Nations session
What procedures to follow to allow nations to introduce, debate,
and vote on resolutions
What the time frame will be (How long should the session run.
One day? Several days?)
How the resolutions, student participation, and other work will
Whether the session should be videotaped
Should microphones, podium, and other accessories be used
answers to each of these questions will depend on the individual
classroom and teacher, but they are questions that should be considered
prior to the session.
teacher should either appoint (or the class can elect) a student
to serve as "Secretary General" and moderate the session.
Teachers and the class may wish to refer to the website Parliamentary
Procedure by John A. Cagle for further information .
the first day of the session, the teacher might wish to remind students
of basic rules of order, how to submit a resolution, voting procedure
etc. The session can be called to the order by the "Secretary
General". It is recommended however, that the teacher act as
"UN Control" throughout, assisting the delegates with
whatever questions or issues arise, and generally helping to keep
the meeting running smoothly, so that one group or resolution does
not unfairly dominate the meeting. It might be advisable to remind
students that delegates of member states function within certain
strictures at the UN. They must consider both their national interest,
their obligations to other nations with whom they have signed treaties
and their obligations as members of the United Nations.
assessment rubric should be used to determine student achievement.
It is recommended that the group be graded rather than individual
students. A sample rubric is provided.
Click here to download these
Documents as a PDF file (32K)
United Nations Online Resources
Model United Nations Help Page contains various links, including
starting a model UN, as well as links to other model UN sessions.
Model United Nations International
Government search page with several links to Model United Nations
Nations Cyber School Bus site on model United Nations
and e-mail addresses to various model
United Nations conferences across the US
of California at San Diego Model United Nations
High School Model United Nations contains various links and ideas
from Florida model UN sessions that can be adapted for other schools
model United Nations sites as found by the "Go
Model United Nations" site provides an opportunity for
schools and students to join an "online" Model UN.
resources for Ralph Bunche, his life and work
biography for Ralph Bunche on "Africana.com"
J. Bunche International Affairs Center (Howard University)
Channel biography of Ralph Bunche
Channel information page regarding An American Dilemma
Bunche section at the Schomburg Legacy Exhibition
Guide to the Nobel Prizes" featuring Ralph Bunche. Includes
a QuickTime movie clip of Bunch speaking which can be downloaded.
(Note: downloading the clip may take several minutes on a slow Internet
Daily News story recounting Bunche's role in settling the Mid
East crisis in the late 1940's
Heritage story on Bunche
Heritage story on Bunche's role in helping to mediate the Mid East
sites to assist in developing policy statements or finding information
about UN member nations
World Fact Book (includes government, economic, and social information
regarding more than 250 nations)
of UN member states
Index of home pages of member
CNN Home page
with Jim Lehrer
should keep all materials relating to the Model United Nations in
this portfolio. All information collected will be used to develop
national policy statements and philosophy of ruse in our Model General
to be included in portfolios include:
files downloaded from online sources regarding national profiles
and research on the nation the group has selected to represent
in the Model United Nations
files downloaded regarding United Nations history and/or policies
used by the group. This would include files from the United
Nations, or other news sources, such as CNN.
other sources (newspapers, magazines, etc.) that the group used
to develop their portfolios or resolutions. These may be the
actual stories or may be Xeroxed copies of the stories.
of any statements or policies the group develops for distribution
for the Assembly as a whole, or for any other group or organization.
materials should be brought daily to class by the group.
portfolio will be submitted for evaluation after the conclusion
of the Model United Nations session, or whenever UN Control (the
teacher) asks for a "hard copy briefing" of group activities.
members of the group should do their best to contribute to this
project, just as actual nations find that it takes cooperation between
a nations citizens as well as cooperation between nations
to make a peaceful world community.
of the nations delegates below indicate that they understand
their roles in the simulation and in successful completion of the
portfolio and all aspects of the Model United Nations.
of nation: _______________________________________________________
Use this sheet to find information about the nation you have chosen
to represent in the Model United Nations. Look for information in
the web resources or through conventional resources to answer these
of political system and form of government: (who is the
nations current leader? What kind of government is in
place? What are the governments goals, aims, successes,
and method of operation?
data about the population of your country, its ethnic/religious
background, literacy rate, infant mortality rate, and so on.
Include information about the nations Gross Domestic Product,
inflation, unemployment, etc., and any other relevant or revealing
domestic issues of concern to the nation:
conflicts involving your nation (Be
sure to list both national and international conflicts):
in major alliances and organization: (Note influence these
memberships might have on your nation.)
global issues that could have a direct impact on your nation:
of UN Membership: ______________________________________________
is a framework of how a resolution should be constructed in order
to have the General Assembly consider it.
While resolutions do not have to strictly adhere to these guidelines,
it is suggested that they should be similar.
Delegate(s) (Principle authors name first): __________________________________________________________________________________
on (date): _________________________________________________________________
taken (pass, fail, tabled); ________________________________________________________
of the Secretary General of the United Nations:
delegate(s) should add attachments (such as downloaded information
files, etc.) to the back of this resolution before consideration.
United Nations Rubric
grade sheet will determine your group's grade for the Model United
Nations. All members of the group are given the same grade
(25 points): How did this group conduct its research? Are copies
of all web based and conventional based research included in
the portfolio? (________________ Points awarded).
(25 points): How did the group develop their resolution for
submission to the General Assembly? Did it meet the criteria
set by UN Control? (________________ Points awarded).
(25 points): Did all the members of the group act in a helpful
and understanding manner during the session? Were they argumentative
or keep the session from reaching its goal? (________________
ability/negotiation skills (25 points): Were the members of
this delegation skilled in being persuasive and being able to
negotiate to reach a consensus among the General Assembly? (________________
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