Do you remember the very first time you were ever introduced to MUN? For me, it was at the age of 10, during a summer school by the American University in Cairo. But, I can still remember it, as if it were happening right in front of me. The trainer, was very good, because she was passionate about Model United Nations. That's why the information I was hearing for the very first time resonated, deeply.
Today, I'm confronted with the task of explaining what MUN is, almost everyday, to individuals of all ages, who may have little or no previous interaction with MUN. This is particularly critical when explaining MUN in Arabic, and its the same for MUN in any new language. Its not only you that's explaining MUN to a beginner, it's that you are beginning a new initiative with almost non-existent resources or previous models to build on, AND explaining it to someone whose also new at it.
So, how do we simplify these levels of complexity? How can you explain MUN simply, while maintaining the attention of the listener, and getting their buy-in, ie: convincing them to either start MUN, or support your new MUN initiative?
Start by covering the: "What - Where - How", and make sure you also cover the "Why". Keep it short, sweet and simple.
Here are the basic FAQ's to keep in mind, when explaining MUN to a beginner. If you are* an MUN beginner, this article is made for you.
1) What is Model United Nations?
Model United Nations is an educational, extra-curricular activity, in which participants role play as Ambassadors to the United Nations, in a simulation of a meeting, of one of the main bodies, or sub-committees of the United Nations. MUN Simulations can also be of a regional body, or political organization, like the League of Arab States, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In such a case, the name of the activity reflects the body being represented. Eg: Model Arab League, Model European Council, Etc.
2) Who participates in Model United Nations?
Participants of an MUN conference mainly comprise of school or university students. MUN clubs are usually fully student led, and in many cases, an adviser appointed by the school or university is available to oversee the activity from a high level, and facilitate communication between the student activity and faculty/ administration.
3) Where do Model United Nations Conferences take place?
Model United Nations conferences are distributed all around the world. Over 400 conferences are currently being reported in over 60 countries worldwide, and well over 600,000 students participate in MUN activities every year. Today, MUN is considered to be one of the most popular and vastly growing student & educational activities on an international level, and is only expected to witness growing success in the coming years.
8) Why Should I* Participate in Model United Nations?
a- The Life-long Skills
Model United Nations develops every possible aspect of your skill set, the least of which are public speaking, expressiveness, negotiation, debating, advanced research, critical analysis, problem solving, and teamwork skills, as well as project management, leadership and most importantly, the art of diplomacy. Even one MUN experience can leave you with an invaluable set of life-long skills that can set you up for better success, as a college student, fresh graduate or young professional.
b- Added Qualification for College and Career
MUN graduates frequently report that advanced MUN experiences during years of study gave them an added advantage amidst competitive college applications, and later served as a qualification that enabled them not only to land their first job, but progress better in their early career.
c- The Globally Dispersed Friends and Community.
MUN Clubs are usually very close communities, and International MUN conferences give you access to friends all around the world.
d- MUN is FUN as well as educational.
e- MUN has inspired thousands, and created some prominent world leaders, including current UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon.
MUN can and will, change your life. Or at the very least, contribute in shaping it. Do not underestimate the importance of going through an MUN experience. If you have an opportunity to join MUN, do so now. Below are the different available positions that you may think of, as you progress in your MUN career.
5) What are the different positions in an MUN Conference?
The starting point of a Model UN Journey. As an ambassador, representing a country to discuss/ resolve specific committee topics, this position would put you at the heart of the simulation, where most of the action takes place, and keep you closely engaged with everything happening in the committee. Delegate experiences are usually a prerequisite to progress to higher positions in MUN. As MUN skills can be better developed with multiple delegate experiences over time, many MUN experts continue to choose it, and some accumulate up to 20 delegate experiences throughout their MUN journey!
A Head Delegate is student that organizes and heads a travel team of other delegates from his/ her community to an MUN conference abroad. Aside from participating in the conference as a delegate, the head delegate would guide and support other members of his delegation during research & preparation, as well assist with travel arrangements.
Chair, Vice Chair/ Co-Chair, Director, Rapporteur
Advanced positions in MUN conference simulations. The chairs are the moderators of debate and formal committee proceedings. In traditional MUN, these positions are called "Dais" and are appointed by the conference secretariat. In UN4MUN, they are called "Bureau" and are elected by fellow delegates of the conference.
President of the General Assembly, and Vice Presidents of the GA.
In UN4MUN simulations, these are the highest positions in a General Assembly leadership structure and serve as an integral part of the actual MUN simulation. Added to the chairs, they make up what is known as the "General Committee".
The Senior Secretariat - Under Secretaries-General and Deputy Secretaries-General
also known as "senior secretariat", who usually head their own departments & teams, and work on managing all organizational aspects of the conference beforehand, to both arrange for and facilitate the work of all participants of the simulation (delegates, bureau, etc).
The Secretariat - Teams/ positions managed by these USG's (could) include:
Press Team, Logistics Team, Outreach Team (Ambassadors), Fundraising Team, The Committee Chairs (in traditional MUN), The Secretaries (in UN4MUN) and more.
All secretariat are headed by the conference chief operating officer, and the most sought after and highly coveted position in all MUN careers:
6) What is an MUN career?
Model United Nations is a career of its own. Even before graduating, MUNers pass through a gradual progression, from one MUN position to another. This is a process that requires recommendations, accumulated experience, and specific qualifications to get into every new or higher position. With every new position, and every step up the ladder, come new learning, skills, qualifications and connections. MUN experiences are slowly accumulated up till graduation to finally make up an MUN Resume.
7) What are the different MUN platforms around the world?
The main MUN types/platforms around the world are: Traditional MUN (North American), THIMUN and UN4MUN. The reality is that different MUN platforms diverge greatly in their process, terminology, procedure, steps, nature, outcome and negotiation style. So, before starting MUN, and before learning about it, you must first decide.
Which MUN platform do you choose? See our guide on the different procedures of MUN around the world here.
8) How do I get Started?
If you're interested in joining MUN, the first thing you need to do is find your local MUN community or conference. There may be one that already exists in your school, University, city or community that you had actually been completely unaware of. If one does not exist closely, find one that is closest, but most importantly, one that can give you access to a community, or an opportunity for regular contact, and an opportunity to learn from other MUNers. The next step after that would be looking at an International MUN conference. And after returning, if an MUN does not exist in your school, don't be afraid to explore the option of starting one.
We certainly advise that you explore our website, and its resources. Our team is working hard to make basic resources available to all types of MUNers all around the world, in the 6 official languages of the United Nations. Whether you're looking for some How-To articles to get started with MUN, learning MUN in a new language, or looking to attend an MUN Training Camp, or Conference at the United Nations, we've certainly got everything you'll need.
Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help with your MUN club, organizing a travel team, or getting started. We'd love to hear from you!