The Panhellenic High-School Student Simulation of the United Nations Committees and mechanisms of the human rights treaties, titled “Students as Diplomats” (original title in Greek: “Μαθητές σε Ρόλο Διπλωμάτη”) takes place annually since 2016 in the city of Thessaloniki.

It is an important initiative that could be considered as a good practice of human rights education, that enables more than 500 high-school young students from public and private schools from all over Greece to get in direct contact with the international human rights principles in a framework of creative dialogue in Greek language.

It aims to raise students’ awareness about issues related to the protection and promotion of human rights and to make them familiar with the implementation of the international UN human rights conventions. The simulation focuses on the proceedings before the various Committees, which have been introduced and operate within the framework of international conventions for the protection of human rights. It will concern some of the most important UN conventions, the content of which we believe should be the subject of education for all students. These international conventions have been ratified by the Greek Parliament and consist an integral part of the Greek domestic law and are superior to any other contrary provision of law, in accordance with Article 28 (1) of the Greek Constitution.

In addition to the content of the conventions and the proceedings before the Committees, students become familiar with the issues of the application of international conventions by the States Parties, learn to defend human rights, accept and respect other’s views and arguments, as well as develop the right arguments to influence others about their positions. They learn the process in the Committees, diplomacy as implemented within an international organization, based on rules of conducting a fruitful dialogue.

Main objective of this initiative is to enable high-school students to be engaged in an education endeavor aiming to promote the respect for human rights, equality and non-discrimination principles. With this simulation, young students raise their voice to the global appeal for hope and determination for the respect and protection of human dignity. The voice of sensitization and conviction that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights echoes jointly with other voices and initiatives across the globe, fostering the dialogue on humanism, self-respect and mutual-understanding.

II. Content and Procedures

Committees and Agenda

25 Committees are being simulated during the Conference. The agenda of each Committee includes one topic for discussion. The topics are related to a specific General Comment (or Recommendation) of the UN Committees on Articles of the UN Human Rights Conventions. Each Committee is being simulated in several versions during the conference, with different participants and a different topic for discussion.

The simulated Committees are:

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council, the inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.
  • The Human Rights Committee, the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its State parties.
  • The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties.
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its State parties.
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the body of 23 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
  • The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the body of 18 Independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties.
  • The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the body of 18 independent experts which monitors implementation of the Convention by the States Parties.

Participation and Preparation

High-school students can participate either as diplomats or as journalists.

  • Participation of students as diplomats requires preparation regarding the assigned Committee and the respective topic area, as well as the rules of procedure. Following the confirmation of their participation, students are being informed about their Committees assignment in the Conference. They are being asked to read thoroughly the Study Guides that have been edited by the Board Members of their Committees. Board Members provide support to students and their teachers regarding the training on the Rules of Procedure of the Committees, through meetings and skype calls. Students have to submit a brief position paper concerning the topic of their Committee, expressing their opinion and arguments. Participants should follow a formal dress code and behave as real diplomats.
  • Participation of students as journalists requires preparation regarding the drafting of articles for the online newspaper. Trainings and guidance is provided by the Communication and Media Manager and the Editor.

Support is also provided to the teachers who are responsible for the preparation of the group delegations. Active engagement of the teachers to this endeavor is encouraged through preparational meetings, skype calls and meetings, during which teachers have the opportunity to receive the required information in order to support the training of their students.

Programme in a nutshell

1st Day
15:00-16:00 Welcome and Registration of participants
16:00-17:00 Opening Ceremony
17:00-20:00 Working Sessions
2nd Day
09:00-19:00 Working Sessions
3rd Day
09:00-11:30 Plenary – Presentation of the outcomes of the Committees
11:30-14:00 Closing Ceremony and awards giving to the best diplomats

In parallel with the committee working sessions of the participants, an additional programme of activities for the teachers who escort the group delegations of students is organized. It includes guest lectures and interactive workshops about human rights and educational issues.

III. Involved Working Groups

The Simulation is organised by the Social Cooperative Enterprise “ROI”. The Governing Board of “ROI” assigns the members of the Organising Committee for every year’s conference. The Organising Committee is then responsible for the selection of the Board Members, the Journalists’ Team and the Supervisors of the Volunteers Team. 

Organising Committee

President of the Organizing Committee is Paroula Naskou-Perraki, Professor of International Law and International Organisations, Director of the Hellenic Institute for the United Nations and founder of ThessISMUN, the unique university-student Model of the United Nations in Greece. The Organising Committee is comprised of seven more members: the Vice-President, the Communication and Media Manager, the Volunteer Staff Manager, the “UN High Commissioner on Human Rights”, the “President of the General Assembly” and two more Members.

Board Members

The Board Members (Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of each Committee) are responsible for the preparation of the Study Guides prior to the conference, as well as for ensuring participants training on the Rules of Procedure. They are also rendered in the position of assisting participants through the procedure and guiding them on drafting their position papers.

The Board Members are being selected after an online public applications period. The call for applications is open to any university-level student who speaks fluent Greek. The two most experienced applicants are being selected to serve as the “UN High Commissioner on Human Rights” and as the “President of the General Assembly”. These two students are also considered as members of the Organising Commmittee and they are in charge of the overall supervision of the Board Members prior and during the conference.

Journalism Team

The journalists are responsible for the newspaper that is being published on the conference’s social media platforms. Announcements and articles are also edited and posted throughout the year, providing useful information about the UN and human rights issues. Journalists may be either university or high-school level students. The journalists work under the guidance of an Editor and is supported by photographers, while the whole Team is supervised by the Communication and Media Manager.

Volunteer Team

Volunteer staff members are responsible for providing organizational support during the conference. The Team is supervised by the Volunteer Staff Manager.