Dili 24 October 2009 – Today a celebration of United Nations Day a Model UN conference was held in Dili, Timor-Leste. The Model UN re-created the historic Security Council session of October 1999 which took place during the security crisis which followed the historic UN-organised Popular Consultation, and which led to the formation of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).
Hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and supported by UNMIT, 34 students from the Peace Centre at the University of Timor-Leste (UNTL) took part in the Model UN conference.
"The Model UN has been hard work, but we have learned a huge amount about the UN Security Council and about international relations," said Elsa Araujo Pinto, one of the student trainers. "As official Secretary of the Security Council session I took notes of everything the delegates said during the meeting and passed them to the President to help with making decisions,” she said on her role during the Model UN.
Lucio Jesus Savio’s role was as the delegate for Russia, which held the Presidency of the Security Council in 1999. “I was chairing the model UN session. As President, I needed to show leadership in the debate to pass the Resolution."
Students prepared for the Model UN for two months, with training sessions conducted by eight professional Timorese staff of UNMIT. Working in pairs, students took the role of delegations of each of the 15 Members States represented in the Security Council in October 1999, and presented their perspectives and positions on the situation in Timor-Leste at that historic moment.
“Timor-Leste has a very special relationship with the United Nations. I think that it is important for the younger generation to have knowledge of our history and to learn from the past. This Model UN is an excellent opportunity to learn about how the United Nations carries out its work and how it reacted to the dramatic events of 1999 which are still in our memories,” said Zacarias Albano da Costa, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
“UNMIT and the whole United Nations family in Timor-Leste have been happy to support the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its initiative to conduct this first Model UN,” said , Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Timor-Leste.
“ I congratulate the Ministry, and especially Minister da Costa, for the vision to foster young people’s understanding of international institutions and how they work, and especially about how they can effectively benefit those in need.”