WAU Students Win Awards at Model United Nations Event at the U.S. State Department

March 18, 2024

On Friday, February 23, 2024, Dr. Jonathan Scriven, Associate Director of the WAU Honors College and Director of the Center for Global Programs, took 16 students to participate in the first International Labor Organization Model UN conference (Model ILO) held at the U.S. State Department in Washington, DC.  The event focused on legislation that would protect workers and employees from harassment and discrimination in the workplace.  WAU students ended up winning three of the five awards given at the conference to the student participants.

During the full-day conference, WAU student delegates represented six countries – Burkina Faso, India, Jordan, Mexico, the Philippines, and the United States. Each country had 3 delegates – one each representing the government, employers, and employees in the country. The conference began with a presentation and panel discussion led by Mr. Stephen Moody, Director of the Office of International Labor at the State Department. Panelists included representatives from the ILO in Geneva, the U.S. Council for International Business, and the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States.

The objective of the conference was to discuss and debate Convention 190 (C.190), a Violence and Harassment Convention, adopted in 2019. As of January 2024, C.190 has only been ratified by 36 countries. At the conference, delegations discussed steps that might be needed to encourage more countries to ratify the document. Delegates spent the morning lobbying with each other to propose amendments to C.190. The afternoon was spent debating and voting on the amendments using formal ILO Conference procedures.

At the conclusion of the conference, the organizers identified five delegates who received special awards for their contribution to the debates of the day. Three of the awardees were WAU students: Kyle De Castro (Political Studies, ‘25), Reuben Kirkham (Psychology ‘27), and Junior Aguilar (Theology ‘25). All three are members of the WAU Honors College. The other two awardees were students from George Washington University.

“This is a great example of Nation’s Capital Learning,” reported Dr. Jonathan Scriven. “Not only were our students engaging on an important issue – eliminating violence and harassment in the workplace – they were doing it with policy makers from around the world who are actually working on the issue.  And they were recognized for their superior contributions.”

Model United Nations is part of a broader WAU Honors College plan to increase international opportunities for students at WAU. MUN is an experiential learning activity based on the activities of the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Security Council. Students take on the role of diplomats from countries all over the world as they discuss and debate significant global events and crises. During a typical conference, participants work collaboratively to propose and adopt formal resolutions that attempt to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. 

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