United Nations' Style Debate Tackles Human Rights' Issues

12 December 2011

Delegates at the United Nations style debate

Delegates at the United Nations' style debate at the University.

The interesting twist was that the delegates would argue a point that wouldn't necessarily be their own.

Event organiser Riikka Leppänen of Finland.

Group shot of the UN style debate delegates

The UN style debate attracted delegates from across the globe.

More than 60 students from around the world 'swapped nationalities' for a one-day United Nations' style debate on religious freedoms, hosted by the University of Derby.

The event on Saturday (December 10) was the brainchild of Finnish student Riikka Leppänen, 20, a second-year student on the University's Joint Honours International Relations and Global Development degree.

She said: "I liked the idea of setting up an event which brings together students from across the world to debate pressing global issues.

"The interesting twist was that the delegates would argue a point that wouldn't necessarily be their own. It was really interesting to see people step out of their comfort zones and into the shoes of a person with a different culture, faith or viewpoint."

Students were briefed before the event on which country they'd be representing. Riikka helped them prepare by providing them with links to news articles, YouTube clips and topical information to help the would-be diplomats understand the viewpoint they'd be representing.

During the conference - held at the University's Kedleston Road site in Derby - participants used their skills of public speaking, group communication, research, policy analysis, active listening, negotiating and conflict resolution to get across the policies of their adopted country.

Riikka added: "It was such an exciting and interesting thing to do. I felt that we had the opportunity to experience new cultures through the lively debate; which hopefully reached across borders to inspire friendship, understanding and cooperation."

The debate was chaired by Stephen Vanson a third-year Politics and International Relations degree student from Keele University.

Dr Franc Jegede, Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Global Development at the University of Derby, welcomed students to the event.

He said: "We live in an exciting time as far as international relations and political affairs are concerned. Huge waves of protest are blowing across the globe.

"All around the Middle-East, Asia, Africa and in Eastern Europe people are becoming increasingly aware of their rights, and are taking bold steps to claim those rights. Economic, social and political freedoms are an essential element of human rights.

"Freedom of worship and freedom to practise one's religious faith, without let or hindrance, is an inalienable right of all citizens in a democratic society. To this end, I welcomed Riikka's effort to debate these issues under the model UN conference at Derby."

For further media information please contact Press and PR Officer Annabel Harvey on 01332 593039, or email: a.harvey@derby.ac.uk

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