The Advantages of Mock Sessions in Model United Nations
If you have recently seen an invitation to an MUN mock session but were afraid to go because it sounded too much like an actual conference, or if you were even wondering what such a mock session actually was, this is the article you need to read tonight!
In the European circuit, more and more MUN societies choose mock sessions either to prepare or introduce an annual conference, or to train their delegates for upcoming participation at other events. These sessions are not only a great way to teach delegates - by throwing them right into a huge pool filled with MUN procedural rules, fellow delegates dressed in WBA and plenty of details to pay attention to - it is also a perfect training ground for future chairs
Photo Source: American University in Sharjah Model United Nations - Mock Session
Learning by doing - the purpose of mock sessions
If you have read about the classical training cycle in part one of this special training series, you will probably find many of the three mentioned elements in a mock session, but this time all condensed and squeezed into one approximately 2-hour turbo-go with more action and less explications, and most importantly very little time to breath, but plenty to learn! However, some MUN societies actually take the time to organize an entire mock cycle with an overarching topic discussed over several weeks, very similarly to the training cycles we introduced, but in a much more « real » and formal environment. Either way, mock MUN should probably be situated somewhere between the mostly pedagogical and beginner-adapted training sessions and the real conference, and is therefore the optimal transition for the less experienced delegates.
In order to bring you even closer to the world of mock MUN, we have asked Olga Koutsika, greek goddess, pro-MUNer and chair at (among others) this year’s ThessISMUN in the wonderful city of Thessaloniki, to tell us more about this method.
Case Studey: ThessISMUN, a rare pearl among “exotic” European conferences
« Our mock session involves as delegates students of law, international relations and political sciences residing in Thessaloniki, a city in the north of Greece, where the MUN is based, and as chairs the already designated ones by the ThessISMUN Secretariat, who moderate the discussion in pairs, each pair for about 15-20 minutes », Olga explains.
ThessISMUN mock sessions are to prepare the actual conference, and take place once a week for about two months prior to the event, putting its future delegates right at the heart of the traditions and rules of procedure of ThessISMUN. Thus, as Olga says, the conference’s actual Secretariat and chairs run the sessions and make sure everyone understands the rules and is clear about the procedure. « For example, during our last mock session the Deputy Secretary-General explained how a Position Paper is written, and gave directions on how to conduct a thorough research prior to the conference », Olga tells us.
Photo Source: ThessISMUN Conference
Some mock sessions, just like the ThessISMUN one, work with « real » MUN-worthy political and diplomatic topics, like the refugee crisis, tackling ISIS, or any other of the current issues constantly raised inside the committees of the United Nations and echoed by national and international news agencies. But you are also very likely to find less defined and more universal questions to discuss, such as death penalty or gender equality, or even « lighter » and sometimes funnier ones, like « Who should pay on the first date? » or « Which Game of Thrones character should die next? ». In fact, the purpose of the sessions in this case is, on the one hand, to think about convincing arguments regardless of the topic’s seriousness, which is sometimes even more difficult when dealing with an absurd topic, and on the other hand, to be able to focus on the rules of procedure, and to have fun while learning! These kinds of topics usually are announced or selected upon delegate suggestions, at the beginning of the session, and debates flow spontaneously. As for the more serious topics, the delegates are usually informed in advance. As Olga says, « the delegates are notified in advance about the topic, so that they can be informed and conduct general research on the agenda under consideration before the session. »
« As far as the applicable rules are concerned, we use the ThessISMUN General Assembly Rules of Procedure, which are available on the respective website and were already explained to the delegates during the first two mock sessions », Olga explains. « Every time there is a mistake in the application of the rules by the delegates, the board suspends the procedure so as to explain the applicable point or motion, always in the English language, which seems to be a very strict requirement for the preparation and the conference as a whole. » In fact, the aim of mock sessions is, again, very similar to the regular training sessions’. Besides the procedure, delegates become familiar with the English diplomatic language, indispensable component of any Model United Nations conference over the world, and the basic rules and strategies of negotiation, another key skill, for any and every ambitious delegate to remember!
For more information on ThessISMUN and mock sessions, visit the ThessISMUN Facebook page under https://www.facebook.com/Thessismun/?fref=ts or the conference’s website under http://www.thessismun.org/ !
If you want to learn about mock sessions organized in your area, contact the nearest MUN society in order to ask about training opportunities and mock conferences/sessions!
Credits: Reka Varga, United Ambassadors Content Associate