Model United Nations (informally abbreviated as Model UN or MUN) is an academic simulation of the United Nations that aims to educate participants about civics, effective communication, globalization and multilateral diplomacy. In Model UN, students take on roles as foreign diplomats and participate in a simulated session of an intergovernmental organization (IGO). Participants research a country, take on roles as diplomats, investigate international issues, debate, deliberate, consult, and then develop solutions to world problems.
During a participants must employ a variety of communication and critical thinking skills in order to represent the policies of their country. These skills include public speaking, small and group communications, research, policy analysis, active listening, negotiating, conflict resolution, note taking, and technical writing. However, school delegation formats vary from region to region.
Most Model UNs are simulations of a body in the United Nations system, such as:
Many conferences simulate other IGOs including:
In addition, solely national organizations such as the United States National Security Council are often simulated, with delegates role-playing specific people (e.g. the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense) rather than representing countries. This may be taken one step further, having the delegate represent merely the interests of his/her office, or role-play a specific holder of the office (e.g. Condoleezza Rice). Such committees are typically "crisis committees;" that is to say, they do not begin with a fixed topic but rather are forced to deal with issues as they come up. A team of conference organizers (known as a crisis staff) thinks up new situations and informing the committee of changing events on the ground, to which the committee must respond; in addition, individual delegates are typically allowed to take certain actions on their own, without committee approval, subject to the interpretation and agreement of the crisis staff. However, the correspondence between single-country and crisis committees are not perfect; for instance, the UN Security Council and some NATO bodies are typically run as crisis committees, and some national cabinets are fixed-topic committees.
More unusual committees abound at the collegiate level; for instance, a college conference may simulate the Greco-Persian Wars via a committee of the Greek poleis, or even have a committee simulating President David Palmer's cabinet from the TV show 24, simulated by the University of Pennsylvania Model UN Conference in 2007.
Many conferences also run crisis simulations in which hypothetical real world factors are included in the simulation, including representatives from various groups such as member states that are not members of the simulated committee. These can take the place of rapidly-changing Security Council simulations, historical simulations, hypothetical simulations set in the future, and war games (typically conducted by War Cabinets, either standing alone or with two Cabinets running in parallel). Some conferences substitute research topics for a crisis which can span all the committees of the conference.
Model UNs are often run using basic parliamentary procedure. This allows all delegates to be active participants. Common activities in MUN involve giving speeches to the committee and writing resolutions concerning a given topic. Additionally, at the end of longer conferences, awards are commonly given to either individual delegates, delegations, or both. The judging of this varies. For example, American conferences on the West Coast, such as BMUN, give delegates points for every action they perform, which are added. At the end of the conference, awards are given to the highest point scorer. On the other hand, conferences on the East Coast such as the Harvard National Model United Nations, delegates are judged in a more holistic manner, but perhaps to the detriment of objectivity and transparency. Giving awards is less common at smaller conferences. In addition, many larger conferences do not give awards at all, feeling that competition detracts from the simulation experience.
Model United Nations groups are usually organized as either a club, conference, or class. A class can be a full semester class called "Model United Nations" or just one class period devoted to a short simulation; secondary schools may often incorporate the club of Model United Nations with the class of Advanced Placement Comparative Government. Meanwhile, a conference is a school-wide, local, regional or international gathering of Model United Nations students who come together over a period between one and five days.
In the early days of Model United Nations, participants were mostly students at select colleges in the United States of America. Today, Model United Nations has greatly matured and expanded. It is now practised all over the world in classes, clubs, and conferences on every continent except Antarctica. Model United Nation participants are elementary, secondary, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students. Recently even university alumni and professionals have taken part. Participants come from public and private schools and universities, and they live in city, suburban and rural areas.
Over 90,000 students take part in Model United Nations Conferences in the USA. The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA)the most comprehensive calendar of Model United Nations conferences: the 2003-2004 edition lists 400+ conferences in 48 countries.
Some simulations are small, including members of only a single class. For example, 20 students can do a one-hour simulation of the (15-member) United Nations Security Council in their classroom. Other simulations can be very large, involving many committees and taking place over the span of several days. The majority of conferences have a population between 70 and 300 students, with most students living around that one region. The largest conferences can have thousands of participants from many different countries. Each simulation and conference varies greatly in number of participants and their involvement.
The concept of Model United Nations has grown substantially all across the world, with various third-world and traditionally non-English speaking nations joining in. One prime example of this is Pakistan where at least four universities (SZABIST, LUMS, the Lahore School of Economics and the University of the Punjab, Lahore) have a developed platform of Model UN.
Many conferences require delegates to submit a copy of their position paper, as a means to ensure that the delegates research important topics and construct strong and well-informed positions on those subjects.
Many intergovernmental organizations also support MUN activities. The EU published a policy paper just for MUN participants. The OAS actually oversaw the earliest Model OAS conferences. NATO often provides speakers and experts to Model NATO conferences. The United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) supports Model United Nations in four key ways:
The CyberSchoolBus is the on-line education program created by the United Nations. It features a Model United Nations Discussion Area and a list of Model United Nations Experts who answer inquiries as well as excellent research tools for country research.
The Public Inquiries Section at UNHQ assists by helping Model United Nations groups to find speakers and it arranges briefings in its New York offices. UNICs in Argentina, Mexico, Panama, and the UK have been extremely involved in Model United Nations activities helping with research, Model United Nations support, and sometimes with facilities. United Nations offices in The Hague, Netherlands; Nairobi, Kenya; Istanbul, Turkey; Vienna, Austria, and Geneva, Switzerland, also support Model United Nations and serve as hosts for at least one conference each year. The Organization of American States has been involved from the very beginning in the support to international civic simulations. North Atlantic Treaty Organization annually supports the Model NATO conference in Washington, DC, USA, with speakers, consultations and advisers. Other IGOs provide research assistance to simulations, conferences and students. Additionally, many UN Missions and Embassies support Model United Nations activities. Many mission and embassy websites have recently added sections created specifically for Model United Nations. Embassies and Consulates will often invite groups to discuss country positions or send a speaker out to speak to Model United Nations clubs, classes, or conferences. The overall support of simulation education activities by the international community is increasing rapidly every year.
Additionally, national governments support or sponsor MUN programs. The US Department of State has been working in Washington, DC public schools for over 15 years as well as providing speakers to MUN conferences around the world. In the Dominican Republic MUN is part of the national education curriculum. Embassies and UN Missions around the world have been providing consultation, speakers, research documents for over 40 years. Many have even reviewed student's MUN resolutions for policy accuracy.
|American Model United Nations International||Chicago, IL||1990||Major international collegiate level conference in Chicago, IL each fall, with over 1,400 participants from 100+ schools over four days. AMUN is an official NGO affiliated with the UN Department of Public Information and provides a variety of MUN resources for all levels.|
|Alexandria International Model United Nations||Alexandria||2005||The AIMUN is a non-formal educational method implemented in Alexandria for the first time by SDA to prepare and motivate university students to be the leaders of development in the future. The activities of the model consist of a series of workshops followed by a conference. In the workshops, the Delegates (participants) are introduced to the required theoretical background in politics and development, as well as being trained in soft skills, i.e. research, presentation and negotiation skills.|
|Berkeley Model United Nations||University of California, Berkeley||1952||First high-school-level conference to simulate the United Nations in the United States. Run by UC Berkeley undergraduate students.|
|Geneva International Model United Nations||Geneva, Switzerland||1998||Held annually at the Palais des Nations. Guaranteed access to all UN offices and allowed to report to the UN Economic and Social Council upon being granted Special Consultative Status.|
|Harvard Model United Nations||Boston, Massachusetts||1927||Oldest high-school-level conference. Founded as a simulation of the League of Nations and converted to a United Nations simulation in 1953. Run by Harvard University undergraduate students. See Harvard International Relations Council.|
|Harvard National Model United Nations||Boston, Massachusetts||1955||Oldest collegiate-level conference. Run by Harvard University undergraduate students. See Harvard International Relations Council.|
|Ivy League Model United Nations Conference (ILMUNC)||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||1984||Attracts around 2,000 delegates gathering for four days in the heart of Philadelphia. Run by University of Pennsylvania undergraduate students. Continuing its Franklin Legacy program, ILMUNC XXV is partnering with the World Food Programme's Fill the Cup Initiative to provide meals to hungry children. Hosted by the International Affairs Association.|
|Model United Nations of the University of Chicago||Chicago, Illinois||1988||Attracts over 2,400 students annually. Run by University of Chicago undergraduate students.|
|National High School Model United Nations||New York, New York||1973||Attracts over 2,600 participants. Run by a staff of 80-100 undergraduate and graduate students from around the world, this conference hosts its opening and closing ceremonies in United Nations Headquarters. Its sponsoring entity, the International Model United Nations Association is an NGO with Special Consultative Status with the United Nations conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (CONGO).|
|National Model United Nations||New York, New York||1923||Founded as a simulation of the League of Nations; adopted current form in 1946 after the founding of the United Nations. Opening Ceremony and Closing Session take place in the United Nations Headquarters.|
|Puebla American School Model United Nations||Puebla, Mexico||1985||Attracts around 800 students from Mexico, South America and the United States. It is one of the oldest and most important Model United Nations in Latin America. It is held anually in January by high school students of the Colegio Americano de Puebla.|
|The Hague International Model United Nations||The Hague, The Netherlands||1968||Attracts around 3,800 delegates. Held annually at the World Forum in The Hague; holds roster consultative status with UN ECOSOC|
|UNA-USA Model UN||New York, New York||1999||Sponsored by the United Nations Association of the United States of America. Hosted at the United Nations Headquarters, with opening and closing ceremonies in the United Nations General Assembly Hall.|