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Petri Gozma, President of the GMUN General Assembly

Listen to Petri's UN Radio interview

Petri describes himself as someone who “has moved across boarders” since he was young. Born in Finland, Petri, 21, lived abroad when he was a teenager, including two years in South Africa, where he participated in his first Model UN programme when he was in high school. Currently a college student at the Helsinki School of Economics majoring in marketing, Petri was elected Secretary-General of Model UN organised at the Finnish Model UN (FinMUN) early this year.

At GMUN in Geneva, Petri, as President of General Assembly, will be chairing the plenary meetings of the GMUN General Assembly, focusing on the theme of the Millennium Development Goals. Although he had past experiences in other Model UN programmes as Secretary-General, Petri said after the GMUN workshop in New York, he realised how little he actually knew about the United Nations. He hopes that the results from the discussions to be held in the GMUN Conference will trickle down to the work of the NGOs on the national level and other Model UN programmes worldwide. “The Millennium Development Goals is a great concept but it is a shame how poorly people actually understand it, especially the young people,” he said.

“By participating in GMUN, young people like myself feel more confident about the future and themselves,” Petri said. “We get more energy to drive on and keep dreaming.” Currently heading the development cooperation project at his university, Petri believes this fantastic GMUN experience will give him “vision and mission”, which will help him to pursue his passion for the work of the UN.

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Paul Gathara, Chairperson of the First Committee

A law student from the University of Nairobi in Kenya, Paul decided to do his Master’s degree in International Development after his involvement in the Model United Nations in Nairobi. “I want to see how law can be used to guide development, and to enforce human rights,” Paul said, adding international law, development, and human rights are his passion.

Paul, 21, is currently a project coordinator at United Nations Youth Association of Kenya, organising the Africa regional Model UN, and a series of projects focusing on outreach to youth with new opportunities “so the young people can get access to more information to implement their own projects.” “Young people, particularly in Kenya, don’t have enough information about what opportunities there are for them and how they can actually implement their ideas,”

Paul’s goal is to help empower youth in Africa and he believes GMUN will help him to realise this dream. “Anyone can grow as long as they are given an opportunity,” he said. Paul thinks “it is an unparalleled opportunity” that so many young people from different parts of the world will gather in a forum to debate and exchange ideas about the MDGs. “Sharing experiences among each other could help us better understand the progress of the achievement of the MDGs in different countries and how youth could be part of the process.”

Leading the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) as Chairperson, Paul’s desired outcome from the work of the Committee is “a resolution that shows a deep appreciation, on the part of the delegates, of the threat posed to international development by the continued proliferation of small arms and further an understanding of the measures that need to be taken by the international community in order to eliminate this threat.”

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Akhmed Tillayev, Vice-Chairperson for the First Committee

Listen to Akhmed's UN Radio interview in Russian

Originally coming from Uzbek-Afghan border city, Termez (one of the UNESCO heritage cities of the world), Akhmed is a senior in International Relations in the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He also works as an intern at the analytical department at the Center for Political Studies.

Akhmed first participated in a Model United Nations programme at his university three years ago when he represented China at a Security Council session. After that, he was motivated and inspired to explore Model UNs in Uzbekistan.

Elected Vice-Chairperson for the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), Akhmed would bring what he had learnt from the GMUN workshop (17—19 June) in New York to the work of his Committee in the Conference. “The workshop in New York was a tremendous experience for me and every GMUN General Assembly official because were able to meet with high-profiled UN officials,” said Akhmed. “We will implement what we have learnt in the GMUN Conference in Geneva.”

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Mateusz Drapczynski, Chairperson of the Second Committee

Listen to Mateusz's UN Radio interview

Born in Poland, 19 year-old Mateusz was elected Chairperson for the Second Committee (Economic and Financial). Prior to GMUN, he had been involved in 12 other Model United Nations. Recalling his first Model UN experience in Gorzow Wielkopolski (the city which has the largest MUN in Poland) at 13, he said he had to borrow his father’s suit to attend his first MUN debate as the delegate of Haiti. “The suit was big for me; I was so nervous when I spoke; but it was then when I truly fell in love with MUNs,” he said.

Even with past experiences at MUNs, Mateusz was “thrilled” when he received the letter inviting him to participate in the GMUN Conference. “I was also a bit ‘scared’ because I didn’t even have a passport then but I knew I was going to New York for the workshop and Geneva for the conference,” he recalled.

The New York workshop (17 -19 June) has made Mateusz realise that he needs to be the “most prepared” one in his Committee as Chairperson. “I realise that the Chairperson is not only chairing the debates in the Committee but also should be involved in deciding the topics for the discussion,” he said. “The real United Nations I have seen through the workshop in New York is not just about procedures.”

After the GMUN Conference in Geneva, Mateusz hopes to study economics in PoznaƄ University of Economics. “I see many opportunities in the future for me. Participating in GMUN is just the beginning of my journey to understand the work of the UN.”

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Margarita Garcia, Vice-Chairperson for the Second Committee

Twenty-two year-old Margarita from Puebla, Mexico is studying International Relations in Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla (BUAP). Prior to GMUN, she has participated in six Model United Nations programmes as a delegate for different General Assembly Committees. She also attended the Simposium Nacional de Internacionalistas y Universitarios de Mexico (SINIUM) in 2008 and 2009. Margarita is currently a member of the Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL).

What Margarita learnt most from her past MUN experiences is how important dialogue is in solving problems. Elected Vice-Chairperson of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), she takes this position as “a great responsibility,” and for this reason she is willing to do her best to achieve excellent results at the GMUN Conference.

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Melissa Seif, Chairperson of the Third Committee

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Eighteen year-old Melissa is currently pursuing her pre-medical degree at Lebanese American University in Byblos, Lebanon, which co-organises the only Model UN programme with United Nations Association in the Middle East. Attending that MUN programme two years ago, she was representing Kuwait as a delegate and later won the Secretary-General Award in a workshop. Since then, Melissa became a trainer at her school to help more than 1,000 high school students from different regional schools from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait to understand the work of the UN.

As a medical student, Melissa thinks her background is very relevant to the work of the UN. Chosen to lead the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), Melissa will try to link her medical major to humanitarian work at the UN. “I would like to pursue my interest in international affairs and humanitarian work along with my future medical career,” she said.

Melissa describes GMUN as “the model of the Model UN.” She explains that GMUN clarifies and shows the transparency of the work of the United Nations. “This experience is beyond my expectation and I have learned from it that even young people can truly make a difference.” Setting her career goal as being part of the UN, Melissa will try to start by becoming a United Nations Volunteer, to gain a better understanding of the Organization’s field work.

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Sophie Pollard, Vice-Chairperson of the Third Committee

Listen to Sophie's UN Radio interview in Spanish

Elected as Vice-Chairperson of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) for the Global Model United Nations, Sophie said her motivation for participating in the Global Model United Nations is her belief that “no person should be oppressed or prosecuted because of who they are” (under the Universal of Declaration of Human Rights).

Always having a strong interest in global as well as domestic politics, Sophie is particularly interested in issues related to human rights and conflict. One of her past Model United Nations experiences includes a trip to Mexico where she attended the Latin American United Nations. At the GMUN Conference, Sophie expects to get “a sense of the reality.” “It just feels so real especially when we are really going to make a resolution through serious debates,” she said.

Born in South London, Sophie received her BA degree in International Relations and Spanish from Birmingham University in the United Kingdom. She is going to commence her Master’s degree in International Development Management next year at the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Barbara Bravo, Chairperson of the Fourth Committee

Listen to Barbara's UN Radio interview in Spanish

Twenty year-old Barbara from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said her early influence of the United Nations came from her late father who was a UN peacekeeper. At the age of nine, Barbara had already decided to pursue her college studies in international relations and contribute to the United Nations when she grew up.

“It [being elected to GMUN] was one of the happiest moments of my life,” said Barbara, adding that being elected as Chairperson for GMUN was everything that she could have wished. “I am learning so much from GMUN, which was much more than what I have learned from the past 30 Model UN programmes I have participated in,” she said.

As Chairperson of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), Barbara expects some “tough discussions”, given the focus of the work of her Committee. Speaking of the work of her Committee, she said: “It is very difficult to find consensus on some issues within this Committee, but ensuring that each vote is in favour of the resolution (on the MDGs) will be a goal to achieve.”

Barbara is currently doing her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations at Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro and she will transfer to study at Georgetown University in the United States where she will focus on Middle East studies next year. Her career goal is to work for the UN Human Rights Council or United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.

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Akachukwu Okafor, Vice-Chairperson of the Fourth Committee

Akachukwu is a Nigerian who was born into a family of five in 1986. He is currently studying his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Nigeria.

Akachukwu started participating in the Nigerian International Model United Nations Conferences (NIGIMUN) since 2005 when he represented Ukraine. In 2006, he represented the United Kingdom in the Human Rights Commission and was elected Director of the conference. He has helped to organise the MUN programme in his university where he is the Vice President.

As Vice-Chairperson of the GMUN General Assembly Fourth Committee, Akachukwu will be assisting the work of the Committee to ensure that the GMUN conference is a success. He expects that at the end of the conference more awareness will be raised on the role of youths in global affairs and that more young people will be inspired to be leaders involved in world issues.

Nine Additional GMUN General Assembly Officials

Faraz Ashwin Merchant (India)
Vice-President of the GMUN General Assembly

Kayimbo Miyomba Katengo (Zambia)
Vice-President of the GMUN General Assembly

Amalya Hovsepyan (Armenia)
Vice-President of the GMUN General Assembly

Vice-President of the GMUN General Assembly

Kathleen Di Martino (United States)
Vice-President of the GMUN General Assembly

Sarai Cosgrove (New Zealand)
Rapporteur of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security)

Marwan Mohamed Abdelhamid Moustafa Gadou (Egypt)
Rapporteur of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial)

Victor Lisandro Elias (Argentina)
Rapporteur of Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural)

Violetta Davydenko (Russia)
Rapporteur of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization)