Seventy two high school students from around Australia gathered in Canberra for the weekend of 15/16 August for the Model United Nations Assembly (MUNA).  In 27 teams representing their country of choice, they debated contemporary global issues related to peace and security, human rights, refugees, the environment, nuclear disarmament and violence against women. This was the 19th National MUNA conducted by The Rotary Club of Canberra Sunrise with the support of the major sponsor, the Australian National University (ANU). MUNA was first introduced to Rotary in NSW in 1980 and, since then, has spread throughout most districts of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
This year’s MUNA provided students with the practical experience of debating in a UN-style assembly while at the same increasing their understanding of international affairs and diplomacy. Students dressed up for the event in the national costume of their adopted countries. The event was held in the historic House of Representatives Chamber of Old Parliament House now known as the Museum of Australian Democracy, and was opened by Mr Greg Moriarty, the recently appointed Coordinator of Counter Terrorism and previously Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia.
Students toured the ANU during their time in Canberra and, on Saturday evening, joined with diplomats from the embassies of the countries they represented and Counselors and Rotarian at a dinner hosted by the Canberra Sunrise Rotary Club. The guest speaker was Mr Gary Quinlan who up until January this year had spent six years in New York as Australia’s Ambassador to the United Nations.  He enthralled all with his insights into the UN during his time there and some of the challenges the organisation faces in the future.
This was, according to those who had seen previous events, the best MUNA ever.  The standard of debate was very high and all teams acquitted themselves well while debating real global issues that continue to challenge the UN and its member states. Teams with the best overall performance were judged by adjudicators and prizes awarded. The team from the Shore School in Sydney carried off the major prize whilst the team St Peters College was awarded the Totenhofer Peace Prize having been judged to have made the  greatest overall contribution to issues concerned with the promotion of world peace.
The Rotary Club of Canberra Sunrise looks forward to conducting the MUNA from 19-21 August, 2016.