2017 Geneva Conference Day 1
We landed safely on Tuesday 10 January, on a cold and snowy day in Geneva. The students were met by their host families at the airport. Our students had made contact already with their hosts and had brought some gifts with them; shortbread, English tea etc.
They then went off for their first night with their respective families. We all met this morning outside the United Nations General Assembly building. There were quite long queues to get inside, due to the heightened security and entering neutral territory. Inside the building the students were pretty wowed by the General Assembly meeting room, used for all official UN debate. In addition, this year it was even more prestigious as we were sitting directly above the real UN ambassadors, debating on the Cyprus issue. It is an amazing space and really lends a grand sense of occasion to the event.
The opening ceremony began with speeches from the student organisers, the Head teacher from the host school in Ferney Voltaire and also from some invited dignitaries, including the UN General Director, Mr Mueller. We also had a moving address from a delegate from Rwanda, who discussed the failures of the UN in the past, but also the importance of moving forward together.
We were also treated to one breathtaking musical performance from two young student violinists. A highlight was the address by two primary school pupils aged about nine who were from a local primary school affiliated with this MUN project. They spoke with such confidence, one in French and one in English, about the importance of human rights, focusing on children and UNICEF. They played an animated video their class had made which was absolutely stunning. They had also written a very catchy song which went with the film. Their parents must have been gushing with pride!
After the ceremony, we all moved down the road to the World Intellectual Property Organisation where we were welcomed by the WIPO General Director, Mr Gurry, who addressed the students on ethical issues, such as generic medicine and the creation of new knowledge and the right to access information. He then kindly agreed to answer questions from students. Following this, the students got down to business as they all went off to their designated committee rooms where the real work of the conference takes place.