The UNIS-UN Conference is organized and run by high school students from the United Nations International School (UNIS). The conference is held annually in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations Headquarters. The use of the General Assembly Hall by the UNIS-UN Conference is a strong representation of the tie between the United Nations International School and the United Nations. The conference is targeted towards the international high-school students that make up the majority of its audience. The conference is run with an invitation-only policy.
Each year, a new topic of interest and importance is chosen for the conference. The UNIS-UN Conference is designed to provide students with expert knowledge imparted by provocative guest speakers. The conference also endeavors to give students a platform to express and debate their own opinions and views in arguably the most internationally significant gathering place on earth. The conference has gained much notoriety over the years, and is commonly the first thing associated with the United Nations International School. More than six hundred students hailing from six continents attend the conference. Approximately 400 of the attending students are enrolled at UNIS. An additional 200 - 300 more students are invited from international schools around the world.
UNIS-UN was founded in 1976 by several UNIS students in collaboration with a tutorial house (UNIS equivalent of high school) teacher. The conference has been held in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations Headquarters every year since. The organizing committee has grown tremendously over the years (to its current number of approximately fifty).
The UNIS-UN Organizing Committee is split up into several committees (Visiting Schools, Finance and Resource, Technology and Public Information & Communications, Debate, Editing, and, perhaps the most important, Speakers.) to ease the organization process. Visiting Schools is in charge of organizing the students visiting from abroad. Finance and Resources buys merchandise for the attendees to buy. Technology organizes any technological feats, like presentations for the speakers. PIC/PR & Communications deals with advertising the conference throughout UNIS, and Debate sorts out the student and speaker debates. Editing edits the articles for the Working Paper, and Speakers find people to speak at the conference, which is why it's so important. Each committee is headed by one or two students (usually juniors and seniors). These committee heads make up the UNIS-UN Executive Committee (EXCOMM - borrowed from President Kennedy's EXCOMM during the Cuban Missile Crisis.), however there are a selective few students who are not the heads of the commissions, but are prominent members of the commissions. But EXCOMM failed to produce in the conference of 2008 and hope to succeed in 2009.
Preparations for the conference are begun nearly a year in advance, and include finding and researching a topic of global relevance, drawing up a list of speakers, inviting several hundred students from schools all over the world, and compiling a Working Paper of articles pertaining to the topic written and edited by members of the UNIS-UN Committee. The conference is also broadcasted live on the Internet, via a webstream on the UNIS-UN website
Previous UNIS-UN speakers include UN Secretary Generals Ban Ki-Moon, Kofi Annan, Jan Eliasson (President of the General Assembly of the UN), Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Vanessa Redgrave, Fabio, Morgan Spurlock, and Mick Brinkman Krever.
Previous topics include Youth at Risk: The Future in Our Hands, Modern Mass Media: The Influence of Information, Global Health: Rights and Responsibilities in the 21st Century, The Role of the Corporation in Today's World, "Global Warming: A Hot Topic" and, in 2008, "The Pursuit of Energy: A Catalyst for Conflict".