On Friday 20 January 2012 the School of Government and Society held two Model United Nations debates as part of its programmes of events to enhance student experience. Supported by staff from IDD and POLSIS and with additional help from the UN Society based in the Guild, the event involved almost 50 Undergraduate students being assigned country roles in two debates. The first was a General Assembly debate on international responses to piracy in the Horn of Africa, leading to an often heated discussion of whether ‘African Solutions to African Problems’ were sufficient in tackling Somalia’s humanitarian challenges, as well as the consequences of instability in Somalia for neighbouring states. The second group simulated a Security Council debate, discussing possible responses to Iran’s civilian nuclear programme which is suspected by many Western observers to act as a cover for attempts to develop a nuclear weapons capability.


During two lively sessions there were disagreements between state representatives that were not always expressed diplomatically, in the Security Council Russia accused Israel of ‘rank hypocrisy’ amid accusations about Russian operations in Georgia. A veiled threat from Russia to use military force against the UK led to an impassioned call by the Norwegian delegate to both parties: ‘please, for the love of God, just relax!’

As the debate drew to a close the groups voted on their draft resolutions, with the General Assembly considering support for an resolution sponsored by Italy to establish operation PISA (Piracy Intervention in Somalia Action Force) and the Security Council discussing a plan sponsored by Russia, China, India and Brazil to inspect Iran’s nuclear facilities if Israel (which refuses to confirm or deny its possession of nuclear weapons) would submit to the same process. Neither resolution was passed, but the standard of the debate was high and we plan to hold further debates for G&S students in future.

  • General Assembly Resolution
  • Draft Resolution UNSC

For details of previous and upcoming events to enhance the experience of students in the School of Government and Society you can go to our Enhancing your Student Experience section.

If you have suggestions for other events then please get in touch with the School Head of Academic Innovation, Dr Danielle Beswick (d.beswick@bham.ac.uk).