The Model UN Circuit in North America - Where it all Started!
Founded and popularized in the United States, Model UN has had a long and diversified
history in North America. Many of the world’s most respected and influential conferences span North America, with different regions practicing various styles of Model UN. Because the scope of these conferences is limited only by the imagination and vision of the respective organizing committees, conferences differ greatly by size, theme, and committee type. While every Model UN conference has its own rules of procedure, most conferences follow some variation of the globally dominant North American parliamentary procedure, sometimes dubbed “Harvard procedure”. However, it is important to note that while parliamentary procedure commands the North American and global Model UN circuits, the actual United Nations does not in fact use parliamentary procedure.
In 2009, the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) began to run its own conference, Global MUN, and subsequently developed UN4MUN rules of procedure, which seek to accurately simulate UN procedures and practices.
The following list of conferences is short, and certainly not exhaustive of all the
extraordinary conferences in North America. While there are a great number of influential and well-established conferences, the following conferences have been selected for a combination of their global and regional influence as well as from my personal experience.
Stanford Model United Nations Conference (SMUNC)
Stanford Model United Nations Conference (SMUNC) is a longstanding conference, famous for being a fun, crisis-driven, non-conformist, drawing 600 high school delegates to the prestigious Palo Alto campus. Some of SMUNC 2015’s crisis committees included “Black Panther Party for Self-Defense” and “Stalin’s Politburo”. Previous coverage of SMUNC showcase some of SMUNC’s inventive spirit: crises have included apocalyptic zombie alien invasions and Rome and Carthage getting their hands on nuclear weapons.
National Model United Nations (NMUN)
National Model United Nations (NMUN) is the largest and among the most prestigious
collegiate-level UN simulations in the world. In 2015, NUMUN attracted 6600 student
delegates from 130 UN Member States and 49 U.S. states. NMUN holds conferences in New York, Washington DC, and Portland, and since 2008, has expanded internationally to host conferences in 9 countries outside the United States. NMUN’s guiding principle is cooperative, experiential learning that allows students to learn about contemporary
international issues and to advance understanding of the United Nations. NMUN
emphasizes that diversity is key to its success, and its conference make-up proves its
point—more than 50% of NMUN’s participants are from outside the United States. Like
NHSMUN and WIMUN, NMUN also allows participants to sit and debate in the United
Nations Headquarters in NY.
Harvard World Model United Nations (WorldMUN)
Harvard World Model United Nations (WorldMUN) is a traveling conference led by Harvard University in conjunction with a local university team from a host city. Annually, over 2500 university students from over 115 countries attend WorldMUN in a different global location. WorldMUN has been hosted in 23 cities in 6 continents, including Geneva, Beijing,
The Hague, Taipei, and Melbourne. WorldMUN 2015 was held in Seoul, South Korea, and WorldMUN 2016 will take place in Rome, Italy. WorldMUN’s partnership with The
Resolution Project, a nonprofit founded by WorldMUN alumni, encourages interested
participants to compete for grants in a social venture challenge, allowing them to
implement creative solution in areas such as healthcare, education, water, and technology.
WorldMUN includes many conference trips and workshops, providing participants a
chance to explore the host city and culture and interact with elected officials, diplomats,
Johns Hopkins Model United Nations Conference (JHUMUNC)
Johns Hopkins Model United Conference (JHUMUNC) is one of the largest high school
conferences in the United States, drawing over 2000 delegates and running over 30
committees—two-thirds of which are