How it started
The history of Model UN movement in Azerbaijan can be divided into 3 phases. The first one is the phase of acquaintance with MUN. Azerbaijani students have shown interest to simulation games by participating in regional conferences and organizing some faculty-scale events. These first initiatives contributed to the formation of primary idea on what Model UN is. I believe the most important happening of this phase shall be considered simulation which was held by Association of Former United Nations Interns (AFUNI) Azerbaijan and Student Youth Organisation of the Academy of Public Administration in collaboration with British Council Active Citizens programme and UNDPI Azerbaijan. It was a 2-day National Model UN Conference which theme was “Reduction of nuclear power plants for a safer environment”.
The second phase starts on March 12, 2012 when in order to respond to national and international calls on youth empowerment, UNDP and the Ministry of Youth and Sport of the Republic of Azerbaijan signed a Memorandum of Understanding launching a first ever partnership between these two organizations aimed at youth empowerment in the country. One of the areas of cooperation under this MOU calls for giving youth “ample opportunity to prepare for international events through critical/analytical research, assessment and formulation of national position in relation to global policy issues” through the set of different activities and simulation exercises.
UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sport and as part of joint project “Youth Participation in decision making and policy implementation” supported a youth camp titled “Azerbaijan 2020”, where selected young people were given an opportunity and platform to discuss the country’s long-term development vision through 2020. Youth shared their points of views on country’s draft Vision 2020 through a simulation exercise where they were given the role of different national agencies and governmental bodies that would shape the country’s future development agenda.
For keeping this momentum and continue supporting youth in discussing national and international development/political agenda, Model United Nations was chosen as an instrument to broaden the scope and geography of youth dialogues. To this end, one of the components of the joint project was to nurture young leaders who are suited to represent Azerbaijan at the international forum through Model UN Security Council. The objective of this component was to organize International Model UN Security Council with the participation of youth delegates from the 15 current member states (3 delegates per country), exposing the Azerbaijani youth to the exchange of information with their international counterparts and showcasing the country’s performance as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for years 2012-2013. It was Azerbaijan’s first International Model United Nations Security Council Conference, a joint project aiming to spur youth participation in decision-making and policy implementation in the country. The conference was a four-day exercise in high-level diplomatic decision-making, centred on finding ways to curb the ever-growing threat of cyber warfare. This was a challenge the conference’s young participants were eager to tackle.
Seeing the interest of young people in simulations and MUN as well as observing the benefits and contributions of Model UN to the personal and professional development of Azerbaijani students, The Ministry of Youth and Sport and UNDP Azerbaijan supported their participation in various international Model United Nations Conferences.
The third and ongoing phase has started with designation of institutionalization of Model UN in Azerbaijan as one of 2 objectives of the joint project "Creating new platforms to support active youth engagement in the global policy debates" between UNDP Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Youth and Sport. Within the framework of this project Model UN initiatives and clubs were and are being formed in 9 universities of Azerbaijan. Project aims to broaden the geography of Model UN movement in Azerbaijan and increase the involvement of Azerbaijani youth interested in policy and international relations.