Report on the XXXVI (Thirty Sixth) Annual Session Of The Hague
International Model United Nations- (THIMUN) and other Peace and Human
Rights Campaigns in The Netherlands.

On January 28th, 2004, Andrew Benson Greene, Jr. had the honor to be summoned as a Guest Speaker to the 36th session of The Hague International Model UN by the THIMUN Foundation. The overall theme of the THIMUN conference this year was ‘Information, A Power for Change.' Greene spoke amongst several renowned speakers including Lucie de Lophem of UNHCR, The Hague. His speech was entitled ‘The Question of the Promotion and Protection of The Rights of Children’, with particular focus on children in areas of armed conflicts. Like previous speeches and workshops delivered in Beijing, Capetown, Moscow, UK, Geneva, etc., he shared his native country Sierra Leone’s tragedy of its children being torn and tattered apart from family and friends through recurrent acts of violence emanating from the civil war.

Greene made mention of the far-reaching effects of physical and emotional scars left on the more than 300,000 children due to warfare. He emphasized the extent of human barbarism of children’s hands being hacked by the sheer brutality of a rebel group in Sierra Leone. Greene also suggested that to assure human rights, the global community must constantly express support and solidarity to the children of the world who are caught up in wars, and that they must be prepared to help the children in any possible way. In turn, the children and youth will be inclined to raise awareness of the need to protect children’s rights on a global level, thereby building a solid foundation for peace and human rights.

Andrew Greene on the importance of THIMUN:
"When I first heard several years ago about The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN), I was not quite convinced of the impact such a simulation could make to the UN and humanity as a whole. My thoughts were that merely having young people brainstorm issues of the UN at such a conference, when decisions at the UN are made by their seniors, rendered the exercise ludicrous. But my perceptions have since changed as I realized that THIMUN delegates were youth who could do more than merely brainstorm, but who also have the verve to put their thoughts into concrete action upon returning to their respective countries. More often than not, the resolutions taken at THIMUN are constructive and presented in the form of an action paper that can be unitized by UN organizations."

Andrew Benson Greene Jr.
National Coordinator, iEARN Sierra Leone
www.iearnsierraleone.org

From THIMUN to the International School of Amsterdam

Following the THIMUN conference, Greene then traveled to Amstelveen, The Netherlands, to the International School of Amsterdam (ISA). ISA has been meeting the educational needs of the international community of the greater Amsterdam area for four decades, providing education for students from 3 to 18 years of age (from Pre-School through Grade 13) by offering stimulating and creative academic programs in a secure and caring environment.

The school enrolls up to 950 students, the largest groups being from the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. The student body is made up of over 40 different nationalities.

Students of the International School of Amsterdam

The visit to ISA was packed with many interactions and workshops with students related to the issues of peace building, human rights, and rights of children in armed conflict. Greene initiated an exercise in which the students were obliged to answer questions like ‘how does a child feel when affected by war?'

Andrew Greene conducting an exercise with the students.
"Although the children’s lives at this school have been far removed from any splinter of war," Greene commented afterward, "their responses were as articulate as though they had lived through wars and skirmishes. They were able to step into the shoes of children whose lives were shattered and momentarily make-believe the situation. I could see in the faces the reaction and the common feeling of dread in the faces, as though the kids were tacitly saying; ‘it could have been me facing the hunger, deprivation from education, refugee life, trauma and other dreaded consequences."

Andrew Greene, Mary Kelly and her grade six students.

Greene has great hopes for ISA and Sierra Leone youth who participate in IEARN Sierra Leone's peace and reconciliation programs. Later this year, the school children of ISA will be paired with the children of iEARN Sierra Leone in a communication class that will involve networking and sharing of peaceful ways to resolve conflict as well as allowing cross-cultural dialogue, tolerance and understanding. "I was happy to have been there to shed light on the plight of the children in Sierra Leone and around the world who have endured years of war and hardship and to bring attention to their plight amongst those of their age."