Model UN is a decentralized activity, and the activity has evolved independently in different regions. This has led to different standards including its rules of procedure. The three major rules of procedure are:
North American procedure: this is a catchphrase for procedures derived from North American conferences, most notably the oldest conferences such as HMUN, HNMUN, and BMUN or conferences that helped the procedure spread rapidly worldwide such as UNA-USA and WorldMUN. The procedure has some roots in American Congressional procedure or Robert’s Rules of Order. Common terms include unmoderated caucus, moderated caucus, sponsors and signatories, and awards. The procedure is widely used at the university level worldwide and at the high school and middle school level in the Americas and in parts of Asia. Some Indian MUN procedures deviate from this by mixing it with elements of Indian parliamentary procedure (e.g. challenges).
THIMUN procedure: this is procedure that is derived from THIMUN in The Hague. The procedure has some roots in British parliamentary procedure. Common terms include lobbying, closed and open debate, main submitter and co-submitters, and plenary session. The procedure is relatively standardized across THIMUN-affiliated conferences by the THIMUN Foundation. The procedure is widely used at the high school level and the middle school level in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and many parts of Asia.
UN4MUN procedure: this is procedure that was created by the UN Department of Public Information’s UN4MUN initiative. The procedure is based on how the United Nations functions as an international organization for states (and not as a parliament). Common terms include informal consultation, bureau elections, Secretaries, and adoption of resolutions by consensus. Only a few conferences have adopted this procedure so far as it is relatively new, but it has significant backing by UNDPI and by WFUNA. The NMUN procedure can be primarily classified as North American procedure but has the closest similarities to UN4MUN procedure.
One type of rules of procedure tends to dominate the Model UN simulations in a particular country. A few countries have at least one minor conference in each of the three procedures — I can think of the Netherlands, India, and Korea off the top of my head. And occasionally there will be a conference that has an experimental committee using a different procedure from the rest of the conference.
Interestingly, Europe is the only place where all three types of procedures are relatively thriving. Europe is the birthplace of THIMUN procedure, and THIMUN procedure is dominant across Model UN simulations at the high school and middle school level in Europe. European conferences have widely adopted North American-style procedures at the university level, and Europeans attend conferences both in Europe and in other continents using this procedure. And Europe is the most interested in UN4MUN procedure as it organized a second UNDPI workshop in Vienna and has the most vocal calls online for implementing UN4MUN procedure.
Is Europe a battleground for the three Model UN procedures? Or can the three Model UN procedures co-exist? If the latter, will the different procedures continue to cause a disconnect where there is barely any interaction between the university and high school circuits in Europe (whereas North American universities host conferences for North American high schools)? Or will Europeans be able to become cross-trained in procedures?
In my opinion, learning and experiencing all three procedures — and being able to appreciate each one for what it teaches — would provide the most well-rounded Model UN education. Best Delegate conducts Model UN training and workshops in all three procedures and supports major non-profits such as UNA-USA, THIMUN Qatar, and WFUNA that use different procedures.
However, the question of which procedure(s) is best for Europe is for Europeans to decide, and it will be interesting to observe what the choices are in the upcoming years.