What is Model United Nations Now?

by Caroline Bello on November 9, 2015

“Model United Nations, also known as Model UN or MUN, is an extra-curricular activity in which students typically roleplay delegates to the United Nations and simulate UN committees. This activity takes place at MUN conferences, which is usually organized by a high school or college MUN club. At the end of most conferences, outstanding delegates in each committee are recognized and given an award certificate; the Best Delegate in each committee, however, receives a gavel.”

Ryan Villanueva, Co-Founder of Best Delegate

The above quote is  from an article written by Best Delegate Co-founder Ryan Villanueva nearly eight years ago. Since it was written, the MUN world has been flipped on its head. So what is MUN now?

     In the United States, Model United Nations has become one of the most well known non-athletic based competitions on middle school, high school and collegiate levels.  Without even leaving their region, high school students have hundreds of opportunities to compete with other delegates from around the world. And if they still want more MUN, both middle school and high school students now have the option of enrolling in MUN summer camps, such as the Model United Nations Institute,  hosted at some of the world’s most elite universities.

     Model United Nations is still a debate-centric activity, but the rules of procedure vary globally. For instance, in Europe delegates use The Hague International Model UN or THIMUN procedure. This allows for a more accurate simulation of the real United Nations and is a less competitive form of debate. Recently, the United Nations has started promoting a new procedure called UN4MUN, which is almost entirely different from both THIMUN and North American Procedure and very closely modeled after the United Nations’ actual rules of procedure. This wide variety in debate format offers a diverse and varied set of opportunities and  new experiences in nearly every country and truly makes unique activity.      

This year’s NAIMUN, one of the world’s oldest and most attended high school Model United Nations conferences, features a variety of committees. Anything from DISEC to FDR’s Oil Council 1945 is fair game for MUN delegates. In the past few years crisis committees and historical bodies have become increasingly popular. Most large Model United Nations conferences feature at least a few committees that have nothing to do with the United Nations. This offers delegates with interests outside of international affairs and global politics a chance to get involved and showcase their writing, speaking, and diplomacy skills.

Participating in Model United Nations on any level or in any country can give delegates not only an opportunity to practice debate, public speaking, and writing, but can also boost confidence and create a circle of friends from around the world. And now, from UNSC meetings to Harry Potter crisis committees, everyone can find their niche through MUN.  In the past decade MUN has changed a lot. But if one thing has stayed the same, it’s the sense of community and diplomacy that is at the heart of it all.

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