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Manchester High School for Girls

United Nations returns to Grangethorpe Road

For the fifth consecutive year, Manchester High hosted its Model United Nations Conference, MUNHigh.

Over 350 young people from Schools across the country descended on Grangethorpe Road to discuss significant global policy issues which focussed around the theme of justice.

Alexandra Darby, who acted as Deputy Secretary General for the weekend, noted why the topic of justice was so relevant.

“Nine months have passed since we chose the theme for this conference and little did we know that the state of international political affairs would make the choice all the more appropriate. We have seen the evolution of the ‘MeToo’ movement into a global battle for justice and recognition, the brutal murder of a journalist in Turkey, the election of a far right leader in South America and the longest shut down of the US Congress in history.”

During the opening ceremony, delegates also listened to a speech by Hetty Hughes who is a civil and personal injury barrister in London. Hetty outlined her experiences of working as a barrister in London and what justice meant to her. Hetty, who left Manchester High in 2008, was an eager participant in Model United Nations conferences during her time at School. She recalled visits to Eton College and Shrewsbury School as highlights and spoke passionately about how Model United Nations is a stand-out addition to any CV.

Delegates were invited to attend one of eight committees; Health, Futures, Security Council, Human Rights, Enviro Science, Economy and Finance, Political, Disarmament and the International Court of Justice, and delegates that impressed the Chairperson in each committee were awarded prizes for their contributions. The overall prize was won by Iran, the delegation from Abingdon School in Oxford.

Navya Sarwal, who acted as Secretary General for the conference, noted the importance of young people being engaged with international affairs in her closing remarks. “You might go home and continue to see injustice in the world, but just by being here you are making a difference. Young people are the future and we must remain engaged to ensure that long term, effective change can take place.”

This conference was the last that Mrs Jacinta Heydecker will be involved in. Jacinta started the Model United Nations Society at Manchester High almost ten years ago and has been the driving force behind MUNHigh since its inception 5 years ago. She was particularly impressed by the respectful debate shown by all delegates: “In a world of political unrest, young people are setting standards that politicians should follow. By engaging with key international issues, young people can make a real difference and I hope that all the young people who joined us at MUNHigh will have learned something this weekend that they will keep with them for a very long time.”

Her sentiment was echoed by Mrs Hewitt, who said that politicians could learn a lot from the way students at Manchester High conduct their debates. In an open letter to MPs in the Metro Newspaper, she slammed the way politicians are behaving towards each other and said the respect young people at Manchester High show to each other when they disagree is something they could really learn from.

Mrs Hewitt also expressed thanks to those who were involved in the conference. “Model United Nations is an integral part of the co-curricular programme at Manchester High and the success of our annual conference showed exactly why. I would like to say a huge thank you to the organising committee for their work over the last year and congratulate all those pupils who came along as delegates, secretaries and supporters – I can’t wait until next year!”

All the photos from the conference are available here. If you would like a copy of any of them, please email marketing@mhsg.manchester.sch.uk.