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Filed under: Development Social inclusion


Can a Model UN Conference get youth more actively involved in public decision-making?

That’s the question UNDP in Azerbaijan and our partners from the Ministry of Youth and Sport put to the test in October.

We hosted Azerbaijan’s first international Model United Nations Security Council Conference, a joint project aiming to spur youth participation in decision-making and policy implementation in the country.

The conference was a four-day exercise in high-level diplomatic decision-making, centered around finding ways to curb the ever-growing threat of cyberwarfare. This was a challenge the conference’s young participants were eager to tackle.

baku mun participants giving thumbs up

Baku MUN participants give the conference a ‘thumb’s up’ with UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi (fourth from left).

The experience was difficult and exciting. For Roza İsmayilova it was also empowering. She said:

“After taking part in the Baku MUN, I strongly believe that one of the most important sets of skills for our future leaders is facilitation skills. If you want to do good planning, keep members involved, and create real leadership opportunities in your organization or business, you must empower those around you to be confident in their own ideas and incorporate them into the decision-making process.”

girl receives certificate

Roza İsmayilova receives her Baku Model UN certificate.

Like many of her peers in Azerbaijan today, Roza would like to be more engaged in her country’s leadership and public discourse. Following the conference, she said she felt confident about her skills and motivated to contribute to a better future for Azerbaijan.

As a teacher at Qafqaz University, she knows all too well how important an asset youth are:

“I have a huge responsibility to my students in motivating them to contribute positively to society and I feel more confident in seeing this responsibility realized after my experience at the MUN conference.”

So what’s next? Will there be more projects on youth empowerment?

Absolutely!

The Security Council Conference is just the first step in UNDP’s new joint project with Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Youth and Sport which will support the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in preparing for and conducting the first Global Youth Policy Forum later this year.

The forum is an opportunity to build a community of experts who can contribute to future national youth policy developments.

The project also aims to establish a national Model UN program to allow for similar initiatives and events in the future.

Hopefully, expanding Model United Nations in Azerbaijan will foster more stories like Roza’s – stories that speak to the power of youth participation in public decision-making and leadership.

We’ll bring you more on Global Youth Policy Forum as we get it.

We’d also love to hear from you:

What are some other ways we can empower Azerbaijan’s growing young population?

>> See: Some great pictures of the conference from the Baku International Model UN Facebook page