Written by Nevena Djakovic
Belgrade International Model United Nations (BIMUN) is an MUN with high academic quality and 13 years of experience. This project is organized by United Nations Association of Serbia. There, students all over the world have the opportunity to learn about the United Nations system and discuss some of the most important topics of today’s world. World Heritage Committee (WHC) was one of the six committees on BIMUN 2016 that took place from March 16th to March 20th in Serbia. I had the honor to be the Chair of this amazing Committee and I can say it was one of the best experiences I have had.
The topic of the Model WHC was Protection of Heritage in Areas Threatened by Extremists, one of the most important and most urgent questions for UNESCO, World Heritage Committee and whole international society. Participants were presenting countries that are currently on the WHC and they prepared very well their countries’ positions and came up with very constructive and concrete ideas and solutions during the debates. Different delegations had different suggestions for finding best solutions. Main points that were raised were regarding creation of safe zones and challenges regarding this idea, restoration of damaged sites, prosecution of smugglers and looters of the artefacts, promotion of social media campaigns such as “Unite4Heritage” and ways of using education as a long term solution to the problem.
All the ideas had one main thing in common – strong willingness and preparedness for stopping heritage destruction and providing necessary support for damaged and destroyed sites. This string connecting all the proposals lead to the final Statement that was supported by all delegations and which combined the ideas in one coherent document with strong point to it.
Greatest benefit from participation in BIMUN World Heritage Committee for all students was achievement of better understanding for the issue of destruction of heritage by extremists and the necessity of its protection. Participants that had solid knowledge and experience on this topic, shared it with others but also found out about new perspectives and information. On the other hand, participants interested in protection of heritage but without a lot of experience in this area had the chance to learn a lot about the World Heritage Committee and how it functions. Through the research before and during the conference they learned about this particular topic and everyone learned about good and bad practices and mechanism of heritage protection in different countries.
For me this experience was extremely valuable. Not just the knowledge that I gained and diplomatic skills that I have improved but great benefit of this conference was connecting with people from all over the world interested in making a positive change and willing to contribute with their knowledge and ideas and who are open for learning new things. This is the true value of BIMUN - power of young people, knowledge and positive energy all in one place. When all this is present and combined, great ideas are born and they show the importance of youth involvement and how much youth can contribute.