High School Students Gather at the United Nations to Discuss Human Exploitation
At the 36th annual UNIS-UN conference, high school students from the United Nations International School and 300 students from around the world congregated at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations to discuss a topic of global relevance.
This year’s topic was “Human Exploitation — Exposing the Unseen.” Many esteemed guests from various fields of study delivered speeches at the conference concerning themes of labor and sex trafficking, child soldiers and prostitution. Katherine Chon, cofounder of the Polaris Project, explained how she had first become aware of human trafficking and how she became inspired to try and combat this type of crime. Daniel Persico, vice president of KEMET, talked about how the large manufacturing company was able to extract necessary minerals and remain 100 percent conflict free. Rachel Lloyd, Executive Director and Founder of GEMS, was once a victim of sex trafficking, but used her experience after she escaped to create an organization in New York dedicated to helping young women reintegrate into society.
One remarkable feature about the conference is the active participation of the students. During the student panel, five students from various countries — Turkey, Argentina, Japan, India and the United States — gathered to discuss how human exploitation affects that student’s country and society as well as how governments handle these problems. Every panelist took a different angle to the wide problem of human exploitation. A student from the United States focused on the repercussions of the enslavement of African Americans on his society while the student from India focused on labor exploitation as well as mail-order brides. Other students referred to the status of prostitution in his or her home country or the popularity of pornography. This panel, followed by a question and answer session with the entire population of students allowed for great student involvement.
The student debate was conducted under the resolution statement, “RESOLVED, adult prostitution is a violation of the individual’s human rights and should be deemed illegal by governments internationally.” The affirmative team from Japan argued how sexual encounters for profit are often nonconsensual and therefore violate an individual’s human rights. However, the American students on the negative side claimed that restricting the occupation of a person is in itself deprivation of rights as well as that it was impossible for governments internationally to completely abolish prostitution. After a lengthy discussion, the students voted the affirmative team as the side that had presented most convincingly. The student film competition allowed different schools to present their perspectives in an engaging way. All of the films took different perspectives on the theme of exploitation unique to their particular lifestyle.
This year’s UNIS UN conference brought to light an issue that students were not necessarily aware about and gave them a plethora of viewpoints and experiences to take back home. Hopefully this type of awareness will decrease ignorance and inspire youth to have an impact. #
Zara Jamshed is a junior at the United Nations International School and an intern at Education Update.