Former secretary to Benazir Bhutto speaks at York conference

Azmi Haq, a former additional secretary and consultant to two-time Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto who died last year, will speak about recent troubles in Pakistan and the future of democracy in that country on Friday at the 2008 York Model United Nations Conference.

Left: Azmi Haq

This year’s conference, organized by the student-run York Model United Nations (YMUN), will take place from Friday,  Feb. 29, to Sunday, March 2, at Queen’s Park, MacDonald Block Provincial Conference Centre, 900 Bay St., Toronto. The YMUN conference is attracting delegates from across Canada, the UK and Nepal.

Now executive director of strategic communications and outreach for Ontario’s Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care, Haq will join Deputy Premier George Smitherman, the minister of health & long-term care, at the conference’s opening ceremonies at 4:30pm on Feb. 29. 

Haq served as a federal secretary in Bhutto’s office in Islamabad from 1994 to 1996. He has published a number of articles on domestic politics in Pakistan and has created programs for Pakistan Television Corporation, Showcase and the CBC. 

Former Ontario premier Bob Rae; Richard Kohler, assistant deputy minister to the provincial Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs; Will Postma, Canadian director of programs at Save the Children; and local social justice activist Jo Gray, will participate in the conference’s media panel luncheon at 1:30pm on March 1.

The 2008 YMUN conference is expected to be a weekend of intense debate with delegates divided among several mock United Nations programs and committees. The UN Development Program will look at the role of women in Third World industrialization and the role of foreign aid and international financial institutions in development, while the UN Environmental Program will discuss waste management and water scarcity.

Right: George Smitherman

The Economic and Social Committee will tackle sustainable development and the rights of children, the Canadian cabinet will delve into homelessness in Canada and foreign policy in Afghanistan, and the UN Security Council will talk about the post-election crisis in Kenya and political instability within Burma. The International Criminal Court will look at war crimes in Sudan, while the Crisis Committee will discuss regional conflicts in the Middle East and South Asia.

Left: Richard Kohler

Participants will have an opportunity to discover their sense of leadership, improve their global awareness and work towards creating innovative solutions to international issues. It is a unique opportunity for students to step into the role of ambassadors and debate pressing world issues in a simulation of the United Nations.

Model United Nations is a growing worldwide movement that addresse some of the most significant current political issues head on. Conferences are held at some of the world’s most prestigious universities, including Harvard.

YMUN is a student-run organization dedicated to realizing the goals of the United Nations by sending its delegates to Canadian and International interactive simulations.

For more information or to register for the 2008 YMUN conference, visit the York Model United Nations Web site.