30 May 2014
Press Release

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Students to Propose Action against Atrocities as Bronx High School of Science


Hosts Model United Nations on Holocaust, Genocide Prevention, 2 June


Students from the Bronx High School of Science in New York will present their recommendations for world action to prevent atrocity crimes at the first ever Model United Nations simulation on the Holocaust and Genocide Prevention, to be held on 2 June.

The event is being organized at the school in partnership with The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, the UN4MUN programme of the Education Outreach Section and the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect.

As a first step, a preparatory workshop on Sunday, 18 May, gave students the chance to examine issues that contributed to the rise of national socialism, which ultimately led to the Holocaust, and learn about the international legal framework for the prevention and punishment of genocide and other atrocity crimes.  A discussion on specific case studies with the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect helped to sharpen the students’ analytical skills and prepare them for a debate during the actual simulation of preventive action.

Speaking at the International Conference for the Prevention of Genocide on 1 April, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said:  “All of us should be thinking about what more we can do about the atrocity crimes taking place before our eyes — and what more we can do, much earlier, to keep societies from splintering and descending into destruction and violence.”  With the introduction of his “Rights Up Front Initiative”, the Secretary-General is calling for early responses to human rights violations, while encouraging support for building resilient, inclusive, transparent and well-governed societies that enable countries to protect their people.

The Model UN simulation will also enable the students to deepen their research, problem-solving and public speaking skills while they learn the art of diplomacy and how the General Assembly makes decisions.  The topic and location of the simulation are also significant because the Bronx High School of Science houses a Holocaust Museum and Studies Center dedicated to memory as well as the search for the causes of human behaviour and the consequences of extreme prejudice.  The Museum is run by students and serves to educate all about the history of the Holocaust while helping to promote tolerance in a very diverse public school.  The Museum and the Social Studies Department, which provides guidance to the school’s Model UN Club, were co-organizers of the event.

David Colchamiro, Assistant Principal in the Social Studies Department, will make opening remarks and Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division within the United Nations Department of Public Information, will deliver the keynote address.  Leading the Model UN simulation will be students of the General Committee, including Miranda Tyson, Spencer Shapiro, Aaron Shavitz, Maheen Khan and Abrahim Assaily.  Teachers Diane Steiker and Sophia Sapozhnikov were instrumental to the project.

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme was established by General Assembly resolution 60/7 to encourage remembrance of and education about the Holocaust (www.un.org/holocaustremembrance).  The UN4MUN programme has developed a new model for simulating United Nations meetings that more accurately capture the way in which decisions are made, and provides an online guide (http://outreach.un.org/mun/).  The United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect raises awareness of the causes and dynamics of genocide and other atrocity crimes and alerts relevant actors where there is a risk of such crimes, while advocating and mobilizing for appropriate action (www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/).

For additional information about the Holocaust Museum at the Bronx High School of Science (www.bxscience.edu), please contact Sophia Sapozhnikov at sapozhnikov@bxscience.edu.  For more information on the school’s Model UN Club, please contact Diane Steiker, at steiker@bxscience.edu.  For more information about the Model UN simulation, contact Kimberly Mann, Manager, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, tel. +1 212 963 6835, or e-mail mann@un.org; or William Yotive, Project Manager, Global Teaching and Learning Project, tel. +1 212 963 1400, or e-mail, yotive@un.org.

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For information media • not an official record