Five Things You'll Need To Know To Get Started with a THIMUN Conference.
Thousands of delegates from all around the world converge every year, for THIMUN conferences. The THIMUN Foundation, one of the most established & prominent institutions in Model United Nations, and the high school Model UN circuit worldwide.
However for me, THIMUN holds a very special significance. It was for a THIMUN conference, that I developed the first International Arabic MUN program in the world in 2014, and saw to life, the first International Arabic MUN committee in 2015 for THIMUN Qatar.
This procedure however, was introduced to me 12 years after starting North American style Model UN. This article therefore is intended to help everyone who's just like me only a few years ago. Still getting to know THIMUN.
Here are the 5 key facts you'll need to know, before entering any discussion about The Hague International Model United Nations.
1) What is THIMUN Procedure? It is a famous Model UN platform, that was developed by the THIMUN Foundation, based in the Hague, Netherlands.
It is derived from Parliamentary Procedure, same as Traditional MUN, but follows a rather different debate style and Philosophy.
2) How do you identify a THIMUN Conference?
You know you're in a THIMUN Style Conference when you hear terms like: (Lobbying), (Main Submitter, Sponsors and Co-Sponsors), (Research Report) when referring to the background guide, and (Approval Panel). Also, THIMUN Conferences are for high school students. Unlike North American counterparts, like Global Classroom MUN, the entire leadership team, as well as participating delegates at THIMUN are high schoolers.
3) Famous THIMUN Conferences?
The flagship THIMUN conferences are: THIMUN Hague, in the Neterlands, THIMUN Singapore, and THIMUN Qatar. There are numerous THIMUN Affiliated conferences around the world, and more than 50 new conferences were added to this list in 2015 alone.
4) What are the Key Differentiators?
They key defining elements of this type of conference include:
A) The Flow of Debate:
A THIMUN conference is differentiated by its period of lobbying (the equivalent of un-moderated caucus) that takes place at a much earlier stage of the conference than traditional/ North American MUN, right after setting the agenda and opening speeches. Lobbying, or informal negotiations, take up almost all of the first day of committee sessions. In this phase, delegates gather in blocs to discuss the different topics on the agenda and attempt to address them by drafting resolutions on each. The debate phase, takes place during the second half of the conference, after these draft resolutions are accepted by an approval panel, and returned to the committee to be debated. Debate in THIMUN conferences therefore revolves around particular clauses, paragraphs or amendments to the resolutions themselves, making the overall philosophy and atmosphere rather different from Traditional MUN.
B) The Terms:
Some differentiating terms used in this platform include: (Lobbying), (Main Submitter, Sponsors and Co-Sponsors), (Research Report) when referring to the background guide, and (Approval Panel).
C) Less Procedure Variation - The Affiliation Process is Centrally Controlled:
Unlike Traditional MUN conferences, there is only one THIMUN procedure, that is owned and developed by the THIMUN foundation. Only THIMUN foundation can approve/ grant a THIMUN affiliation to a smaler, externally organized conference. As a result, there is less "variation" among THIMUN style conferences around the world. As independent conferences request to become "THIMUN affiliated", they must demonstrate that they follow accurate THIMUN procedure, have maintained the procedures integrity throughout all aspects of their simulation, and are carried out at the same high standard as original THIMUN conferences.
D) The Simultaneous Topic Consideration:
Topics on the agenda are considered by the committee simultaneously. Instead of opening and closing debate on each topic separately, one after the other as in traditional MUN, a THIMUN committee makes all topics on the agenda available for discussion to all delegates in the committee at the same time.
Every delegate therefore, makes a choice, as to which topic he/she prefers to focus on, and research more in depth, whether based on personal preference, or country/ policy relevance to the topic.
Opening speeches cover all topics if needed, with focus on the one the delegate wishes to negotiate the most. At THIMUN, all topics are informally negotiated by all delegates in the committee during lobbying simultaneously.
E) THIMUN Directors:
There are no Advisors in THIMUN conferences. Instead, "THIMUN Directors" are those who organize and pre-prepare student travel delegations from their school.
F) The Approval Panel:
As resolutions are drafted in committees by a main submitter, sponsors and co-sponsors, they must first be reviewed by a group of teachers/ THIMUN directors for grammatical, punctuation, or structural errors, before being sent back to the chair, and presented to the committee for amendments and debate.
G) 100% High School Students & Student Run:
As a policy, THIMUN conference are made up entirely of high school students, in addition to being entirely student run. All delegates, chairs, student officers/ secretariat, organizing committee and press corps are high schoolers. Some of these students may be supervised by an adult, but only in terms of overall guidance. In the end, the students run the show. And quite impressively, as you would note when visiting a THIMUN conference.
H) No Awards Policy:
THIMUN Policy dictates that no awards whatsoever, may be granted to students participating in THIMUN conferences. While North American Conferences are defined by Awards, including the Best Delegate Award, Best Delegation, Diplomacy award and more, this practice is not a part of THIMUN Philosophy.
5) What Does a Typical Committee Session Look Like/ How Does it Progress?
THIMUN conferences follow a precise structure and flow of debate. They do not witness the same level of variation among their conferences, because all THIMUN conferences are monitored and affiliated centrally, by THIMUN foundation.
A) Roll Call and Setting Agenda
A committee normally begins with roll call, followed by the adopting the agenda.
B) Opening Speeches
Following a speakers list, delegates walk up toa podium and make a statement on the topics in question from the point of view of the country they are representing. This speech has a time limit, and its purpose is to give the committee a clear idea of the delegates's position on the topics, his proposed solutions and how he/ she recommends the outcome of negotiation look like. A very old trick in the book, is to begin with an attention grabber, make the points you are making clear, and end with a call to action.
Immediately after opening speeches conclude, the committee breaks into a period of lobbying; informal negotiation. Delegates break up into groups, discussing different one or more of the topics on the agenda. Countries with similar positions on these topics, political interests or or ideologies, begin drafting resolutions.
D) Draft Resolutions, Main Submitter, Sponsors:
Draft resolutions are written by a main submitter, as well as sponsors, and co-sponsors. After it is drafted, this document is sent to the approval panel of directors to review and correct it if needed. Upon acceptance by the approval panel, the amended draft resolution is sent to the committee/ chair. On the next day, the draft resolution is projected to the delegates, and the committee begins the period of: debate. Resolutions are presented to the committee, one by one.
E) Debate & Amendments:
At the beginning of the debate phase, the chair sets a time to debate the whole resolution, and whether the debate is open (speakers for or against may speak at any time) or closed (certain speaking time for and against). Upon start of review of the first draft resolution, the main submitter of this resolution walks to the podium and reads the operative clauses. He is also is provided the opportunity to make a statement explaining this draft resolutions advantages, and why the delegates in the room should support it. He may also declare he is open to points of information if they are raised by other delegates. He may not accept points of information and he may yield the floor to another delegate. As other speakers take the floor, amendments are then proposed as the chair goes through each clause.
Voting takes place in two forms in committee sessions. Vote on each amendment, and then vote on the resolution as a whole with yes, no or abstain. Amendments and resolutions pass by a simple majority vote. More than one resolution can be passed even on the same topic in the committee. As each resolution passes, clapping is in order! :) Usually the most fun part of the day.
And with the last resolution being passed, committee sessions conclude and delegates move on to the closing ceremony. And this brings us to the conclusion of the THIMUN conference.
I hope this article was helpful! If you have any questions or comments, please drop your feedback in the comment section below!