Model WHO Conferences
Model WHO conferences are educational simulations in which students recreate the process of the annual World Health Assembly as held in the WHO Geneva Headquarters. The focus lies in addressing global health issues at the local, national, and international levels.
Students select from several different roles including WHO Ambassadors, Media Representative, NGO Representative, Pharmaceutical Representative, or an Assembly Moderator (Dais). WHO Ambassadors will be split into one of five regional blocs: African Region (AFRO), Americas Region (AMRO), Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO), European Region (EURO), and Western Pacific & Southeast Asian Region (WPRO/SEARO).
Before the conference, delegates are expected to research their roles with respect to the chosen conference theme so as to form an understanding of their member state/organization’s stance on the theme from a global health policy perspective.
During the course of the conference, students participate in regional debate sessions to the conference theme in relation to its impact on their representative roles. Once similarities are realised, students are able to collaborate in the creation of a resolution paper, a formal document that suggests the methods by which to address these concerns. Following presentation of and voting on these regional resolutions to the full assembly in Plenary, the final documents are submitted to the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland to demonstrate the creative capacity of the next generation of global health leaders.
WHO Ambassadors are representatives of Member States that pursue the interest of their country and should conduct all debate from this perspective during the conference. They can vote in favour or against proposed resolution papers and use this authority to negotiate with other Ambassadors as well as with Non-Governmental Organisations during the drafting process.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) seek to inform WHO Ambassadors of how their own organisation works, explaining how their interests and objectives may align with that of the Member State in order for their objectives to be included in any resolutions being written.
Business Representatives, for example from pharmaceutical companies, may also attend the Assembly in order to lobby WHO Ambassadors. They may also attempt to align with Member States so that the resolutions being written advance their own business interests or improve their public relations. These companies hold great financial power and the ability to control the supply of important resources.
Journalists provide commentary throughout the simulation, through direct interviews and observation of regional blocks and plenary sessions. They can direct the attention of delegates through press releases and stimulate debate and discussion. Whilst they are unable to directly speak in conference discussions, they can still have great influence on the final resolution papers as WHO Ambassadors respond to news, rumours and opinions shared through social media.
The ultimate aim of a Model WHO simulation is to produce a Final Resolution in Plenary that represents the Committee’s approach to global mental health. This will be voted on at the end of the simulation by all WHO Ambassadors.
In order to reach this point, the simulation progresses from individual Member States expressing their own concerns and ambitions through a Position Paper. This enables Regional Blocks forming small working groups, responsible for the production of Working Papers that respect the views of multiple Member States. These Working Papers will be presented to the Dais for approval as a Draft Resolution, before being presented to all WHO Ambassadors for editing, merging and voting at Plenary.
Robert’s Rules of Order
All proceedings in a Model WHO conference use Robert’s Rules of Order (also referred to as “parliamentary procedures”). It is the standard form of communication used in the UN’s General Assembly and the WHO’s World Health Assembly to ensure fair and orderly communication among delegates.
Each regional block has a Dais, which comprises a Chair, Vice-Chair, and Rapporteur. The Chair conducts each session and ensures along with the Vice-Chair and Rapporteur that debate runs smoothly and efficiently.
At the beginning of each Model WHO conference, delegates will be trained in the Rules of Order. As such, no prior Model WHO or Model UN experience is required prior to attending a Model WHO conference.
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