Five Things You'll Need To Know To Get Started in North American (Traditional) MUN.
Well, as we said. MUN is a very big world. While there is a variety of ways MUN simulations can be conducted, there is an even more vast array of Traditional Model United Nations Conferences out there. With some of the largest and most famous conferences in MUN worldwide following this procedure, it consequently becomes a very important one for you to learn.
Here are the top 5 questions to answer, when trying to understand, Traditional MUN.
1) What is Traditional/ North American MUN? It is one of the oldest and deep rooted platforms in the Model United Nations landscape.
It is derived from Parliamentary Procedure, and although originally emanated from conferences in North America, is now widely spread around the world.
2) How do you identify North American (Traditional) MUN?
You know you're in a North American Style conference when you hear terms like: Formal and Informal Debate, Moderated and Unmoderated Caucus, the "Best Delegate" Award, Sponsors and Signatories, and more.
3) Famous North American Style Conferences?
Some flagship North American style conferences around the world are: UNA-USA's Global Classrooms Model UN (and GCIMUN by LAU), Harvard Model United Nations (and HNMUN, WorldMUN, etc) and National Model UN (NMUN). There are also many conferences in Europe that follow this procedure, including London International MUN, OxiMUN and more.
4) What are the key differentiators?
They key defining elements of this type of conference include:
A) The Flow of Debate:
A typical North American conference starts with a debate phase that continues for a somewhat extended period of time, compared to THIMUN. This includes a formal debate phase that follows a speakers list, as well as a informal debate in which speakers may be recognized by the chair upon raising their gavel, and given the floor (allowed to make a statement). Debate in North American MUN can take up 50% or more of the conference time. And debate takes place both before, and after, draft resolutions have been presented to the committee.
B) The Terms:
Some differentiating terms used in this platform include: (formal and informal debate), (moderated and un-moderated caucus), (sponsors and signatories), as well as others.
C) The Environment:
The nature of the debate, and the simulation is generally known to be rather argumentative, and competitive, at least in comparison to counterparts, like THIMUN/European and UN4MUN.
D) The Sequential Topic Consideration:
Topics on the agenda are considered by the committee separately and sequentially, not simultaneously. Meaning, every topic on the agenda will be presented, debated, resolutions pertaining to this topic alone are drafted, negotiated and voted on, separately. Then, the next topic is considered. At THIMUN, all topics are informally negotiated by all delegates in the committee during lobbying simultaneously.
E) The Awards:
North American Conferences are defined by Awards, including the Best Delegate Award, Best Delegation, Diplomacy award and more. A practice that is not allowed at THIMUN conferences.
All this is not even closely comparable with UN4MUN conferences.
5) What Does a Typical Committee Session Look Like?
Traditional Model UN conferences mainly follow a certain structure and flow of debate. Within the main structure though, many variations exist between different North American Traditional Conferences).
A) Roll Call and Setting Agenda
In this platform, a committee normally begins with roll call, followed by setting the agenda.
Setting the agenda can follow a motion raised by a delegate that passes by simple majority, or needs a procss of formal and informal debate before an agenda can be proposed and voted on by the committee.
B) Formal and Informal Debate
Afterwards, debate begins on the first topic in the adopted agenda. Debate can be formal (follow a speakers list), or informal (any delegate with a raised placard can be given the floor).
Note: Some conferences use the term informal debate interchangeably with the term caucus. Some conferences separate informal debate and moderated caucus, and many conferences, refer to them as the same thing.
C) Moderated and Un-moderated Caucus
After a period of debate, the committee moves to: caucus. This can be moderated, or Un-moderated.
Moderated caucus is also a form of informal debate, in which delegates may be recognized by raising their placard. Delegates make statements in a rather relaxed tone and its more negotiation based, than argumentative, and usually more productive in progressing with solutions than typical formal debate.
Un-moderated caucus is a period in which Rules of Procedure are suspended, and delegates may freely move around the room. In this period, blocs (groups of delegates representing countries that share similar ideologies, shared interest and/ or political stances on the topic in question) meet, negotiate, and begin preparing working papers, that later become draft resolutions.
Note: The committee keeps moving back and forth between Formal Debate and Un-moderated Caucus (also known as "Un-Mod") as blocs are formed, working papers are drafted and merged, draft resolutions are presented and negotiated, all the way till amendments are presented.
D) Draft Resolutions:
For working papers to become draft resolutions that can be presented to the committee for review and amendments, they must have a minimum number of sponsors and co-sponsors. Upon acceptance by the chair, draft resolutions are distributed on the delegates, and committee returns to formal debate for delegates to either make statements supporting their resolution, or for other delegates to propose amendments to them.
After all statements are made and amendments are introduced, the debate is closed, and the committee moves on to voting. Votes are first taken on amendments, and afterwards, on the resolution as a whole. In some conferences, more than 1 resolution may be passed on the same topic or agenda item.
Following, the committee moves to considering (debating) the next topic on the agenda.
And that's it! You are now 100% ready to look around and identify exactly what your next MUN conference is, to prepare to succeed at it! I hope this small article was helpful, please feel free to drop in any comments or feedback in the comment section below!
And keep surfing the website! :)