The UN4MUN Revolution Is Being Led by the BRICCS: Brazil, Russia, India, China, Canada, and South Korea

by KFC on October 5, 2017

The BRICCS are leading the UN4MUN revolution

The BRICCS are leading the UN4MUN revolution

Back in 2009, the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) noticed that Model UN conferences were using Rules of Procedure that were far from simulating the United Nations accurately. Almost every major Model UN around the world used Rules of Procedure modified from American Congressional or British Parliamentary procedures, which are not related to the UN and seek to pass resolutions through voting instead of adopting them by consensus like at the real UN. UNDPI tried to resolve this with its own procedure, called UN4MUN, and it primarily targeted existing Model UN conference organizers with workshops held at UN offices in New York and Vienna.

Mr. Bill Yotive, formerly with UNDPI and now with WFUNA, speaks during WIMUN 2017

Mr. Bill Yotive, formerly with UNDPI and now with WFUNA, speaks during WIMUN 2017

UNDPI developed some inroads — it got several international Model UN organizations such as the World Federation of the United Nations Associations (WFUNA), Montessori MUN (MMUN), Best Delegate (BD), and United Ambassadors (UA) to adopt the UN4MUN approach into their programming. These organizations now do their own promotion of this approach to MUN participants, and the WFUNA International Model United Nations (WIMUN) held at the UN Headquarters is seen as the flagship conference for this approach with 800 high school and university participants at its 2017 edition.

But for better or worse, the participants from the traditional centers of Model UN — the United States and Europe — were satisfied with existing Model UN procedures and have not yet adopted UN4MUN into the mainstream of their MUN circuits. Instead, the UN4MUN revolution is being led by participants from a set of rising and regional powers — both geopolitically in the real world and in the Model UN world: Brazil, Russia, India, China, Canada, and South Korea (BRICCS).

Anecdotally, these six countries stand out in terms of UN4MUN adoption:

Brazil: About half of one of the UNDPI workshops at the UN Headquarters was attended by Brazilians, which has led to a strong grassroots movement by Brazilian MUN conference organizers at the high school and university levels. WIMUN has also expanded to WIMUN Brazil.

Brazilians made up 50% of an UN4MUN workshop at the UN Headquarters

Brazilians made up 50% of an UN4MUN workshop at the UN Headquarters

Russia: Two of the most prominent Russian university MUN organizations on opposite sides of the country are engaged with UN4MUN — MGIMO in Moscow and MUNFRE in Vladivostok. Russians have held prominent roles at WIMUN such as the President of the General Assembly and the Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Management.

MUN of the Russian Far East hosts Mr. Bill Yotive for UN4MUN training

MUN of the Russian Far East hosts Mr. Bill Yotive for UN4MUN training

India: WIMUN first expanded outside of New York with WIMUN India in partnership with MUN Cafe. Multiple organizations have held UN4MUN workshops across India, and the UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan is actively supporting MUNs that follow UN4MUN. Northeast India International MUN (NEIMUN) was one of the earliest adopters of UN4MUN in December 2013.

WIMUN India provides a consensus-based approach to MUN, which contrasts starkly with the competitiveness of typical Indian MUN procedures

WIMUN India provides a consensus-based approach to MUN, which contrasts starkly with the competitiveness of typical Indian MUN procedures

China: Chinese delegations recruited by the large Chinese MUN companies make up the largest country contingent at WIMUN. Chinese high schools and universities that are independent of the large Chinese MUN companies have also performed well at WIMUN. UN4MUN is also now a sub-conference at the WEMUN Expo in Beijing alongside established sub-conferences like ILMUNC and MUNUC, and multiple organizations have held UN4MUN workshops across China.

UN4MUN is now a sub-conference at WEMUN Expo in China

UN4MUN is now a sub-conference at WEMUN Expo in China

Canada: A University of Toronto student is serving as the Secretary-General of WIMUN 2018 in New York, another University of Toronto student served as Secretary-General for UA-MUNC 2017 in Geneva, and a McMaster University student served as Secretary-General for the MUN Youth Assembly 2017 hosted by United Ambassadors. McMaster University and Carleton University have both won delegation awards at WIMUN. Canadians from a plethora of universities make up the largest contingent of staffers for the upcoming WIMUN 2018. The Canadian Permanent Mission to the UN also sponsored the MUN Youth Assembly hosted by United Ambassadors.

McMaster University is the most recent Canadian university to win a delegation award at WIMUN

McMaster University is the most recent Canadian university to win a delegation award at WIMUN

South Korea: Having been the host of the first iteration of an UN4MUN conference (Global MUN in 2009), South Korea has hosted the longest continuously-running UN4MUN program with the WFUNA Youth Camp Korea since August 2013. The camp is open to high school, middle school, and elementary school students, showing that UN4MUN can be done at all academic levels.

The WFUNA Youth Camp Korea brings UN4MUN to multiple academic levels

The WFUNA Youth Camp Korea brings UN4MUN to multiple academic levels

Of course, UN4MUN was developed by UNDPI and therefore promoted across many UN Member States. There are signs of adoption outside of the BRICCS, too. Countries where UN4MUN has an active participant presence but not yet mainstream support include but are not limited to: the United States, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Ghana, Slovenia, Italy, Georgia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Israel, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Singapore. This list should grow as both WFUNA and United Ambassadors only begun doing UN4MUN workshops in the past year or two.

Overall, UN4MUN is still relatively new. It took about four years of UNDPI promotion before the earliest adopters implemented it at their own conferences. WIMUN has only been in existence since 2014, meaning it has only served one generation of students. Recently, UNDPI re-scoped the definition of its “UN4MUN” activities — it now wants to promote the UN in general to Model UNs instead of just focusing on UN4MUN procedure. Therefore, it will be up to the grassroots Model UN community to decide if the UN4MUN procedure revolution continues in the future. Student-leaders in the BRICCS and beyond have the opportunity to seize leadership of this Model UN movement.

Interested in experiencing UN4MUN? Upcoming conferences include WIMUN at the UN Headquarters in New York in February 2018, and UA-MUNC at the UN Office in Geneva in April 2018.

Delegates take a selfie during WIMUN at the UN Headquarters in New York

Delegates take a selfie during WIMUN at the UN Headquarters in New York

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