Updated: Jun 29, 2021
Do you know what you can gain from an MUN Conference? Through practice, participants gain confidence and leadership capabilities. The conferences provide a secure and supervised environment for students to practice research, public speaking, collaboration, negotiation, and writing skills. In this blog we’re going to discuss the basics of Model UN, especially how to prepare for your first MUN. Your experience and network can help you get into college and find work. Your time here as a delegate or conference organizer will serve as strong examples of leadership for admissions officers and job interviewers. You'll also build a network of alumni and folks you've met at conferences.
The Basics of MUN Preparation
Before diving into the essentials of Model UN, we must understand the basics of MUN preparation, that is, conduct expectations: In a diplomatic context, every garment must convey professionalism. The conferences require all participants (delegates, head delegates, faculty, delegation leaders, visitors, secretariat, staff and board members) to be courteous and polite in their voice, actions and appearance. Jackets, dress shirts, ties, slacks/skirts/dresses, and formal shoes are all acceptable. Dresses and skirts must be knee length according to the guidelines.
Essential Elements of Model UN
An MUN has 3 main elements viz country, committee and agenda.
Country- When attending Model United Nations, one of the most crucial considerations is which nation to represent. It is critical that you choose the apt country for a Model UN conference. Delegates are expected to campaign and debate for resolutions that reflect their country's real-world foreign policy. As a result, when choosing a nation or portfolio, choose one that you can explore and learn a lot about, such as the United States, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Turkey or Afghanistan.
Committee- Before selecting a country for Model United Nations, consider how it interacts with the various committees. It is generally made up of a number of committees, each with its own role and goal, much like the real UN. The Security Council, for instance, is responsible for maintaining international peace and security. The five permanent members of the Security Council - the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China – will play the most important roles in this committee; so if you want to be actively involved in this MUN committee, picking one of these countries is an excellent option. If you prefer a simpler role in MUN, avoid picking a nation with a large involvement on the committee.
Agenda- An important part of MUN preparation is the committee's agenda. The agenda for each committee at Model UN will be published, and it is vital to examine how the nation you choose fits within this. Delegates who are new to this program should choose a nation with less complex roles, while those with more experience should represent a country that will be significantly entangled in many agenda elements. For example, if you just wish to support other delegates' resolutions at the conference, picking the small African country of Togo might be a smart choice. However, if you want to be fully involved, Russia or the United Kingdom would be a prudent option.
Major MUN Rules of Procedure
Roll Call- The Model UN Conference usually begins with Roll Call, which determines who is present and the number of individuals are attending the committee. The Chairs are able to compute the requisite majority in procedural and substantive vote using this method. You can just say "Present" when you hear your country's name. You may also say "Present and Voting" to add some spice to the conversation and show how sincere you are about the issue being discussed. Once the list is finally read, you can move on to the next step.
Setting the Agenda- This approach may vary according to your MUN. Before starting the discussion, you may be given one issue to discuss, in which case this section is theoretically superfluous. If you have many subjects to choose from, it will be up to you and the other delegates to decide which one to debate on. You should be cautious with these things; based on your country's policies, you may have a preference for one issue over another; consequently, you should make every effort to get the debate topic that best suits you off the ground. A motion is required to set such an agenda.
Opening Statements- Once a topic has been selected, each state's delegate will deliver an opening statement in which they will quickly express their position on the issue in question, in alphabetical order. You may use your opening address to: align yourself with like-minded countries to begin forming an alliance; and bring up specific aspects within the issue that your nation is passionate about.
The General Speaker List (GSL)- Within a debate, the GSL is effectively your default section. Chairs will set a time restriction for each speaker, and countries can then request to be added to the list, taking turns speaking in the sequence set by the Chairs.
Moderated and Unmoderated Caucuses- While the GSL is primarily intended to facilitate general talks, there are instances when additional time is required to focus on specific issues, for which an unmoderated or moderated caucus might be convened. Speakers in a moderated caucus must limit their speeches to the issue at hand. An unmoderated Caucus, on the other hand, is a whole different tactical game. For a period, conventional rules cease to exist within it, and one might engage in a freeform argument with no turns, points, or speaking time. You are free to wander about the room, get to know the other nations better, and negotiate and write your draught resolutions.
Draft Resolution- A draft resolution is a record that presents the suggested solution to the problem in hand and is designed to represent the perspectives and objectives of those who wrote and signed it. Once the arguments are over, it must have a certain number of sponsors who support it and will vote in favor of it. The number of sponsors required varies depending on the council and the chair, as well as the size of the committee.
Closing Debate- The GSL must be closed before a draft resolution is voted upon, therefore one must either wait for the GSL list to run its course or move the proposal to conclude the discussion. The argument will come to an end if two-thirds of the people are in agreement.
The Voting Procedure- Except for those nations who said that they are "present and voting," the voting mechanism is a substantive vote. That is, everyone who indicated they were present at the Roll Call had the option of voting "Yes," "No," or abstaining. Furthermore, if you are a sponsor of the current draft resolution, you are not permitted to withdraw. When all of the votes are counted and a proposal is approved, it becomes the committee's resolution, and the council will move on to the next item on the agenda.
Types of Rules of Procedures in Model UN
To enhance the preparation for your first MUN, you must know various types of rules of procedure supported by different organizations. The major ones include:
The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) is a community of Model UN enthusiasts who feel that standing with the world's only genuinely global organization, the United Nations, is the greatest way to advance shared interests and ideals. The rules as declared by this organization are very straightforward and self-explanatory.
According to UNA-USA, English shall be the official and working language of all committees during formal and informal discourse. Delegates must follow the staff instructions. Any committee may hear the Secretary-General or his representative give oral or written remarks on any subject. In order to ease the flow of debate at the conference, the Chair may take any action not covered by the Rules of Procedure. During a normal session, the Secretary-General, who may add new issues to the agenda at his or her discretion, may place additional items of a vital and urgent nature on the agenda.
UNIC & UN4MUN
UN Information Centers are established in 63 countries throughout the world, connecting the UN with people everywhere and delivering global UN ideas to local audiences. The Centers serve as a credible source of up-to-date news about the United Nations, giving information to a wide spectrum of individuals in their respective nations, including elected officials, government representatives, students, educators and researchers. India and Bhutan are served by UNIC New Delhi. In addition to the above rules of procedure, series of formal and informal consultations are also present in these proceedings.
UN4MUN, a UN effort for more UN participation in the staging of Model UN Conferences throughout the globe, was launched in 2013 by the UN Department of Public Information. The program includes the creation of a new approach to Model UNs, with a guidebook launched in August 2013 that builds on the lessons learned from previous simulations. UNIC created an adaptation of this handbook that includes and adds material that is very relevant to MUN organizers in India. You can learn about their procedures by clicking on the link.
Throughout the conference, each HMUN committee has four sessions totaling nineteen hours. The purpose of committee meetings is to keep the delegates interested as well as on their feet. A committee director, who also functions as a moderator to steer discussion according to formal norms of parliamentary procedure, supervises the committee's substantive elements. The first committee session is generally occupied by the delegates determining the agenda by determining which topic area to cover initially. Following that, delegates engage in a combination of formal discussion and caucuses with the goal of crafting a resolution that tackles issues related to the designated topic area. The rules of procedures for HMUN are similar to that of the UNA-USA.
Like HMUN and UNA-USA, IIMUN also has a similar set of rules of procedures which has been mentioned earlier in the blog. However, their uniqueness is in the few additional steps discussed as follows:
E-mendments- The E-mendment is to rectify any grammatical mistakes or divergence from the approved writing format and does not need voting but just the consent of the Chair.
Challenge- In a multilateral setting, this is an informal bilateral/multilateral debate. It is raised when a delegate wishes to challenge another delegate for a set amount of time on a specific subject; this might be a sub-topic or a country policy. Delegates can also employ it as a method of conflict settlement. This is a casual one-on-one discussion that requires just the Chairperson's permission.
Question-Answer Session- This is when a significant number of delegates want to ask a single delegate question(s). Any delegate may request it, and if it is approved by an informal vote of the committee, then they may ask that delegate up to 5 questions in total.
The Online vs Offline Scenario of MUN Preparation
Model United Nations equips students with the information and skills they need to address international challenges, lead in their schools and communities, and bring out the best in themselves and other students. The present COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly an international issue that requires decisive leadership. Model UN is a great opportunity to meet new people while also boosting your stage fright. It's a means of giving you information on current events and foreign concerns. However, the online scenario as compared to the offline conference is a little different. Nevertheless, the scope for learning and socializing isn’t reduced, and the method of preparation of MUN is also the same. The online method has combined the 'classic' Model UN debating experience with real-time global community, mentorship, and leadership possibilities for students all over the globe.
MUN believes in decentralizing the experience by integrating all students in the collaborative problem-solving and consensus-building process, as well as fostering leadership and positive participation via the discussion and debate of the world's most urgent issues. Keeping up with international occurrences by reading news articles or watching television news shows can be tedious at times. As you represent a nation at a ‘global' level and engage with delegates representing other countries, your understanding of the globe will greatly expand. Start the process by participating and preparing for your first MUN conference.