A turning point in Model United history was made on August 26th, 2016 in the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations Headquarters. Nearly 300 Model UN youth leaders from around the world - United Ambassadors delegates, observers & staff - as well as United Nations Diplomats and Senior Officials - including the President of the General Assembly - convened to officially launch & celebrate the resolution adopted at the MUN 2016 Youth Assembly at the United Nations. This was the world’s first and only Model UN focused Youth Assembly. The MUN 2016 resolution is a comprehensive collection of 103 clauses that collectively and effectively address how Model United Nations around the world can improve in relation to the agenda items discussed. The resolution was guided and inspired by the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the United Nations Academic Impact’s definition of “global citizenship”, United Ambassadors’ definition of “Everyday Ambassadors”, the United Nations Department of Public Information’s Model UN Education Outreach Division’s development and launch of UN4MUN, and Security Council Resolution 2250 and the role of youth in promoting peace. References were frequently made to the Charter of the United Nations during discussions. The resolution congratulated conferences already implementing Multilingual MUN initiatives, recognized the commitment of all MUN Societies, Clubs and Organizations towards the development of global awareness and understanding and highlighted the social responsibility of Model United Nations participants and organizers to their local communities.
This article presents a summary of discussions and explanation of the ideas proposed and recommendations made on each of the various “MUN-strategy” topics addressed at the Assembly.
A) MUN 2030 - The Role of SDG’s in MUN: Various action oriented recommendations were made in relation to incorporating SDG’s into Model UN, and they can be summarized into 3 categories:
1) Incorporating SDG’s Academically into MUN Simulations, Conference Discussions & MUN Education Curriculums. It was recommended that Model United Nations conferences (simulations) actively and directly work to explicitly add specific SDGs into the agenda of their committee discussions.
Direct and explicit discussion of all 17 SDG’s and the work of the United Nations in MUN simulations.
Education initiatives in which presentations, workshops, pre and post conference programs that aim to include SDG’s in Model UN program curriculums are used. Creativity was encouraged in this area.
Examples included establishing General Assemblies that discuss progress and implementation of specific SDG sub-targets, innovative futuristic crisis committees, or historical committees to simulate previous natural disasters and crisis situations, or arranging in-class mock debates addressing SDGs.
2) Incorporating SDG’s Practically into MUN Conference Structure: It was recommended that MUN organizers adopt practices that include and promote the SDGs in their structure. This refers to: secretariat selection, the conference’s external partnership initiatives, the upholding of the universal values of the United Nations internally and externally. Below are some examples on the above:
*The creation of a code of agreement for Model UNs -- an MUN Green Chart (MGC) to promote and facilitate the organization of environmentally friendly and responsible MUN conferences, involving actions if applicable, including but not limited to: reducing the use of paper and locating alternatives that are less harmful to the environment, using reusable or recyclable material and reducing waste and plastic use when possible.
*Staff selection was a strongly highlighted element of debate. It was recommended that large and reputable MUN organizations ensure national & cultural diversity and geographic distribution of their selected members, and actively strive to maintain gender balance while maintaining a transparent, scientific & unbiased selection process of staff/ secretariat.
*MUN Culture: Inclusiveness, respect for diversity and adopting a global mindset in the world of Model United Nations was highlighted as a critical and indispensable quality of “Model UN culture”. Delegates referred to the United Nations Charter frequently as they discussed how it should project on “Model UN culture” and working towards equality, inclusiveness, tolerance, acceptance and non-discrimination in all its definitions was encouraged as a value in Model United Nations, in all countries, around the world.
3) Field Advocacy – MUNers working to promote the Sustainable Development Goals. The third theme was the actual engagement of , through that promotes the UN’s 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, by their MUN club or society. The following actions were recommended to Model UN conferences, clubs, organizations, students and graduates around the world:
*Community engagement to raise awareness on the SDG’s through active publicity, social media (or any) marketing, in addition to in person workshops/outreach was highly recommended.
*Active sharing of SDG related updates, news, or facts through the Model UN Circuit, employing social media or other connection opportunities.
*Initiatives to use in person outreach to make Model UN accessible to all, through organizing visits to public schools, orphanages, communities identified as less developed, shelters, rural areas and others where conditions of vulnerability clearly exist.
*Participation in open online forums that allow discussion and thought sharing about sustainable development and Model UN topics addressing them.
*MUN clubs/ teams/ conferences organizing social project competitions, and university student platforms, hosting campaigns, events, free workshops or charitable social events to raise awareness of the student body on the UN’s 2030 agenda, what it means and how they can get engaged.
*Annual post-conference discussions, follow-up meetings and summits regarding the implementation of SDG-related projects, publishing MUN conference resolutions on social media and attempting to communicate them to the relevant bodies of the United Nations when possible.
*Host virtual awareness campaigns, either in the form of social networking, discussions led by experts, conferences, articles or other suitable manners, to generate interest and understanding of climate change, the impact of urbanization and ways to embrace responsible lifestyles;
B) MUN Reform Around the World: Multiple insightful recommendations from experienced Model UN veterans that attended the MUN 2016 Youth Assembly were proposed. They cut across the main topics: UN4MUN, Multilingual MUN, MUN Awards, MUN differences around the world, MUN fundraising, MUN partnerships and MUN as a promoter of world peace.
1) The UN4MUN Phenomenon – How to support UN4MUN around the world:
While understanding the value of UN4MUN as a Model UN platform that provides an accurate understanding of the functions and decision-making processes of the United Nations, yet acknowledging that many are not yet familiar with UN4MUN as it’s considered as a nascent MUN platform, various recommendations were made. The UN4MUN action oriented paragraphs are divided into: proposed action by key players in MUN (organizations, conferences, individuals, schools and the UNDPI), in addition to ideas for UN4MUN reform.
Much of the below section on UN4MUN is directly quoted from the resolution.
a) Key players – role in UN4MUN support & promotion:
Joint promotion & cooperation: Recognized the importance of various MUN organizations worldwide that possess existing audiences join & cooperate in the promotion and support of UN4MUN, together, through various promotional channels & platforms.
Create more educational opportunities that enable students to “learn UN4MUN through MUN organizations and throughout the academic world, whereby both the differences and similarities between and across various MUN platforms are explained”.
“Requests that United Ambassadors continues strengthening their training of representatives from various MUN societies on the UN4MUN platform, in-person or online”;
“Encourages MUN organisations and individuals with expertise in UN4MUN to assist in providing training and resource materials necessary to facilitate the adoption of UN4MUN”.
MUN Leaders (Individuals) “make in-person appearances at large conferences, such as having an information desk, or giving a presentation on UN4MUN to conference plenaries”
MUN Conferences, Schools & Universities: “hosting of at least one UN4MUN “exhibition” committee and MUNers pursue negotiations and proposals to ensure hosting of UN4MUN “exhibition committees”, “establishing partnerships between resourced and under-resourced schools, where students from both schools attend these UN4MUN activities as a joint delegation; & encourages MUN societies to set up an appropriate application system to cater for the recommendation made in the abovementioned clause”.
The UNDPI: “requests that the UNDPI continues supporting all MUN networks/conferences/training workshops that are successfully applying the UN4MUN platform; Appreciates the continued support of UN DPI in: conducting trainings and providing resource materials while ensuring the UN4MUN procedures are met & proposes the establishment of a certification programme by the United Nations Department of Public Information for conferences that wish to adopt UN4MUN”.
b) Ideas for UN4MUN Reform: The below are mere ideas/ proposals raised by experienced UN4MUN delegates at the MUN Youth Assembly:
Defining Consensus: Recommended that delegates learn how to find a balance, and try to achieve consensus while remaining true to their individual foreign policies, and not compromise then entirely solely for the purposes of achieving consensus, even if it was not reached at the real UN.
Training & Transition: Proposed that conferences carry out pre-conference training for delegates with little to no familiarity with UN4MUN and that secretariat provide guidance & adequate training to committee chairs/council presidents and ease the transition into this role by elected delegates.
Think Tanks & Insight Generation: Proposed potential think tanks be made available to share various perspectives on the UN4MUN experience and openly considering ideas for UN4MUN reform
Preconference Communication: through committee blogs during the preparatory phase to allow delegates to communicate and discuss the substance of the committee before meeting in person.
Make simulations as inclusive as possible, and ensure delegates are engaged at all times. In the GA: expanding the role of initial drafting groups organized along political or regional groups; and ensuring that facilitators are appointed for all contentious mergers of large groups of delegates. In the SC: encouraging all groups of delegates to work on different documents simultaneously, such as (aside from the resolution), a presidential statement, press release, or press elements; making full use of all meeting formats to ensure that all delegates are maximally and continuously engaged throughout.
Improve the technical accuracy of some UN4MUN conferences through ideas like: adopting the term “Permanent Representative, introducing simulation of non-General Assembly, expand resources available on the Security Council, and creating an “Accredited Press” committee that press to allow reporting duties to be taken up by delegates and to facilitate stakeouts with the GA officials, Security Council presidents, and other delegates.
2) Multilingual MUN – How Multilingualism in Model UN worldwide can grow:
The committee highlighted crucial benefits of multililgualism in the MUN Framework, while acknowledging the challenges and complexity of facilitating a successful Multilingual MUN conference, program or initiative, especially in light of the variety of Rules of Procedure around the world.
The below recommendations were made:
MUN conferences adopt multilingual committees and promote equal regard of all six official and working languages of the United Nations while simulating it;
MUN Organizations requested to strive to make Multilingual MUN training resources & articles, available as much as possible
MUN leaders promote multilingualism in MUN as a concept (linked to multiculturalism).
Proposed the inclusion of non-verbal sign language in Model United Nations;
Volunteer MUN Translators encouraged to work with MUN Organizations in order to provide translation/ interpretation during multilingual MUN conferences;
3) MUN Procedures around the world:
Discussions highlighted the importance of celebration of differences between various MUN rules of procedures around the world, heighten awareness of MUN as a multidisciplinary endeavor & framing Model United Nations as a platform for unity and progress. In that respect, the importance of educating all MUN delegates about the differences between various MUN procedures and UN procedures was highlighted and it was recommended that various MUN societies discuss the possibility of aligning their adherence to different systems of rules of procedure while respecting the diversity within the global MUN community.
4) MUN Partnerships & Cooperation:
The terms “cooperation, partnership and collaboration” were explicitly stated a whopping total of seventeen times in the MUN 2016 resolution. This recommendation cut across all topics discussed, in all committees. Partnership and sincere cooperation in the Model UN field was (similar to SDG #17), regarded the practical way to ensure and encourage implementation of all the ideas and recommendations on the questions raised at the Assembly.
We have collected all “MUN Partnership” related paragraphs from the resolution and listed them below:
“Cooperation between MUNs, NGOs, the public and private sectors and individuals, MUN organizers to establish partnerships with local governments and neighbouring MUN communities”
“Resourced schools to promote the development of MUN events in under-resourced schools”
“Strengthening cooperation and collaboration in the Model UN field to expand the modest yet slowly growing UN4MUN community & strengthening of partnerships within the MUN community to expand the reach of UN4MUN”
“Successful multilingual MUN conferences to set an example for emerging initiatives to implement multilingual components and strongly supports collaboration between MUN communities with different levels of experience in terms of sharing ideas and resources”
Further encourages MUN partnerships with the aim of promoting global and regional conferences, and facilitating communication between delegates, advisors, and secretariats”
Recommends delegates to create bi-annual reporting on trending discussions on SDGs in the database and forum
To facilitate opportunities for global partnerships that would help to implement the MUN4UN Draft Resolution;
Encourages MUN partnerships with the aim of promoting global and regional conferences, and facilitating communication between delegates, advisors, and secretariats through establishing initiatives, including but not limited to local, national, regional and international workshops;
5) Revising the Model UN Award System:
Discussions highlighted the potential of competition and award incentives in MUN to become catalysts for more productive participant motivation level and constructive behavior. However, it was also recommended that there be continuous evaluation of delegates’ performance both prior to and during an MUN conference, that staff allocate awards after due consideration and evaluation, and that a comprehensive framework for the granting of awards be introduced into the Model UN sphere, which could include combined criteria for evaluation that considers different measures of success across various Model UN procedures (UN4MUN + Traditional). Award criteria could include: Role Accuracy; Substantive Knowledge, Contribution to Consensus-Building through negotiation skills, public speaking, debating, resolution drafting, appropriate use of procedure. Individual delegate feedback that enables participants to improve and evolve academically throughout the conference and throughout their MUN careers was also encouraged.
6) Sourcing MUN Fundraising: The topic of MUN conference fundraising and sourcing support for Model United Nations Youth led activities was discussed throughout the Assembly. Delegates also discussed affordable pricing of Model UN opportunities, by attempting to locate external funding if it does not exist & working to provide scholarships, grants and whatever is possible. The recommendations on the matter included the following:
“MUN organizations encouraged to explore diverse forms of available assistance in order to promote the SDGs; support micro-loan organizations, allocating small portions of registration fees to SDGs”.
“Raise funds for charitable initiatives & MUN conferences to contribute 5-10% of their profits as far as possible, to renewable energy technology projects, non-profits, start-ups, etc”
Stresses the opportunity for MUN secretariats to seek sponsorship from organizations supporting the multilingual concept, including but not limited to: Embassies; Educational institutions; Cultural facilities;
“MUN organizations around the world to commit to raise funds and allocate resources to make conferences accessible to all especially people with disabilities and those with special needs”.
Idea proposed for MUN cooperation & connection: The resolution contained paragraphs recommending the creation of an online forum for Model UN leaders & organisations around the world to encourage networking between conference participants; facilitate the transmission of academic documents, SG reports, multilingual MUN translations, lessons learned from UN4MUN activities (including workshops, conferences, training sessions etc.), for discussions and analysis of experiences incorporating SDGs in MUN and to support one other in the implementation of the MUN Green Chart. It took on many names, once as “online forum”, once as “resource sharing database” related to social activities, outreach projects, corporate sponsor proposals and funding strategies, as well as SDG conference initiatives.
For the full resolution, please visit: www.unitedambassadors.com/2016-resolution