“I am counting on your continued leadership and engagement,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in a personal message to the over 5,000 students gathering for the National Model UN (NMUN) conference in New York City today.

Ki-moon acknowledged that “opportunities for youth are falling short”; in the current economic climate “Youth unemployment rates are at record levels.” But he called on young people to “work together to expand economic and political empowerment to…make the most of their enormous potential.”

Thirty students from Pace University’s New York City Model UN program, along with a delegation from the Pleasantville campus program, will participate in the conference this week, themed “Hope for Lasting Peace.” Student delegates will engage in simulations of United Nations deliberations, including on the controlling the arms trade, protecting human rights, encouraging sustainable development, and promoting gender equality.

“We need to forge a common agenda that can help ensure that future generations grow up in a world of sustainable peace, prosperity, freedom and justice,” Ki-Moon challenged students. “You are part of the largest generation of young people our world has ever known — and in our times, we have seen young people turn the tide of history.”

Located only two express subway stops from the iconic United Nations complex on the East River, Pace University’s New York City Model UN program has a 60-year history of excellence in regional, national and international conferences. Model UN at Pace is uniquely integrated into the Political Science curriculum within the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences and aims to encourage students to develop skills in global citizenship and policymaking.