Working for UN no child's play

28 April 2009 | Story by Newsroom

Mbalenhle Mbatha

When UCT student Mbalenhle Mbatha (left) clashed with Pakistani delegates in the Münster University International Model United Nations 2009, she encountered some of the difficulties of working for the international body.

She had offended a Pakistani male student when she objected to a draft resolution he had made.

Long nursing a dream to work for the UN, Mbatha, a final-year student in labour organisational psychology and human resources management, found that working there is not as easy as she'd imagined.

"I realised that there are so many social and cultural issues to deal with," she explained.

Mbatha, who hails from KwaZulu-Natal, was the only South African student, and one of the three from Africa who were sponsored to participate in the conference in Germany, which took place in April.

The annual event is a simulation of an actual UN conference, and gave students from around the world an opportunity to meet the organisation's leaders, explore debates and learn how decisions are made by UN delegates.

This year's topic was Change Today - Shape Tomorrow: Scarcity as a challenge for security and development, and students had to come up with innovative ideas on dealing with rising food prices.

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