May 17, 2023

By: Sarmat Chowdhury, Manager of Global Education

This year marked the first full year of in-person events for GCDC and the second year of hosting the GCDC Spring conference in person after the 2022 iteration at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Opening Ceremonies Overview

In a welcome video message, Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, underscored that the issues they would be debating today would be those their counterparts at the United Nations were also discussing.

"Every time I meet with Model UN students, I walk away inspired. Through Model UN, you are exposed to humanitarian crises on the other side of the world—crises that tragically don’t often make the news. You gain an intimate understanding of how the United Nations works, from Security Council procedures to the roles and responsibilities of the six main committees. Above all, you forge relationships with peers and mentors. Relationships that you can lean on as you move throughout your career."

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Brenden Varma, Deputy Director of the UN Information Center, outlined the work of the United Nations and the importance of dialogue in today’s world. He reminded delegates that "…phenomena like climate change, pandemics, terrorism, and natural disasters don’t respect national borders. Global remedies are required."

Ms. Alexandra Nemeth, the Deputy Special Envoy for Global Youth Issues from the State Department, shared her recent experience at the UN Youth Forum, where young leaders worked alongside their government ministers. "The representation of young people is not just a plus; it is a requirement. Young people just don’t deserve a seat at the table, but a seat at the head of the table."

Secretary-General Sanchezclavel closed the opening ceremony by reminding delegates that “…it’s the responsibility of us, the future delegates, ambassadors, and politicians, who are responsible for our own fate and that of those we seek to represent. I know you are all capable of making great futures for yourselves and many others.”

The Conference at a Glance

  • 512 students from 37 schools
  • From 3 states & the District of Columbia       
  • Working across eight committees


International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Topic addressed: Climate Change and Migration
Guest speaker: Former Chief of Mission for the IOM in Washington, D.C., Mr. Luca Dall’OglioIMG 0225 1

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Topic addressed: Democratic Governance and Peacebuilding

United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC)
Topic addressed: Strategic Action on Youth and Peacebuilding

The International Labour Organization (ILO)
Topic addressed: Violence and Harassment Protections at Work
Guest speakers: Mr. Kevin Cassidy, Chief of Mission for the ILO for the U.S. and Canada, and Ms. Deborah Greenfield, the former ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy

United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
Topic addressed: Religion and Restrictions on Women’s Clothing

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
Topic addressed: Rise of Transnational Cybercrimes

United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
Topic addressed: Effectiveness of Current Peacekeeping Missions

United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (UNSCCTC)
Topic addressed: Emerging Threats in Global Terrorism                        

The conference also marked the return of the GCDC Open House, where educators, sponsors, and partners were invited to hear some of the key highlights of the program and learn more about GCDC and what programs and services are offered.

GCDC23 pics4Closing Ceremonies Overview

Ms. Himaja Nagireddy, the 11th UNA-USA Youth Observer to the United Nations, delivered the closing remarks by sharing the story of her unlikely path to the United Nations and how she struggled to find her place, coming from a science background. 

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"Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people from diverse backgrounds who realized how much power can come from approaching problems and solutions with an interdisciplinary lens. They taught me the importance of representation, and when I say representation, I’m talking about representation of identity, lived experience, and knowledge."
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Our partners, sponsors, staff, and volunteers made this year's conference possible. From all of us at UNA-NCA, a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to all who made it possible! The Spring GCDC Conference culminated the year-long curriculum for students interested in learning more about their global community.

The Global Classrooms DC Spring Model United Nations is implemented by the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, a UNA-USA chapter. Each Fall/Winter, GCDC also hosts a training Model UN conferene. You can find more information here.

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