Model United Nations (MUN) simulations are popular exercises for those interested in learning more about the UN. Students take on the roles of diplomats from different countries, representing their nation in discussions on a particular agenda topic in the conference. These agendas reflect issues taken up by the UN for discussion, ranging from relatively general topics such as rights of religious minorities in a General Assembly, to specific issues such as improving accident safeguards surrounding nuclear plants in the IAEA. Conferences also sometimes simulate a past scenario, such as the Security Council during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, or a future scenario, such as the G20 in a 2050 Oil Crisis.
It is estimated that more than 400,000 students worldwide participate every year in MUN at all educational levels – from primary school to university.
Model United Nations (MUN) has existed for more than 70 years. But it was never monitored by the UN. The first time that a MUN conference was co-sponsored by the UN was in August 2000 at UN Headquarters in New York. Almost a decade later, the UN Department of Public Information organized three Global Model UN (GMUN) conferences in Geneva, Kuala Lumpur and Incheon, from 2009 to 2011 respectively. It was in the context of these three conferences that new rules of procedure and a new approach to conducting MUN simulations of the General Assembly were introduced. Today, the UN has developed guidelines for conducting a MUN simulation. It does not conduct its own MUN simulations but provides advice on how students can organize them following the proper procedures and processes.
Delegates must research about their allotted countries in great detail, understanding their own foreign policy and thus, the considerations and compulsions that determine state behaviour at an international level. They must also research their committee agendum, fully exploring the intricacies of the issue at hand, including the background, history, its treatment in the UN system, resolutions passed on it, major countries involved, causes, consequences, past action and more. Finally, delegates must research and propose innovative and feasible solutions to the problem, within the mandate of the organ or agency they are simulating. The entire discussion is carried out through formal rules of procedure that require students to truly step into the shoes of a UN Diplomat.
Preparing for, and participating in, a Model UN conference can help students and young people develop leadership skills as well as research, writing, public speaking and problem solving skills. The imperative of devising solutions that are acceptable to a majority of the states present engenders skills of deft negotiation, conflict resolution and cooperation.
The UN has recently taken an initiative to guide organizers of Model UN conferences towards more realistic simulations by conducting workshops and releasing a guidebook. The UN Department of Public Information began UN4MUN to help organizers and participants in MUN conferences worldwide to help build a more accurate experience.
UNIC New Delhi collaborates with Model UN conferences organised by schools and universities upon request. We partner with almost 50 conferences every year, reaching between 15000 to 20000 students a year as of 2013. For details visit the Collaboration section.