A Model United Nations (MUN) is a simulation of different UN organs for high school or university students. In it, students assume the role of representatives of different countries. The aim of MUN differs from conference to conference, but generally it is to educate participants about diplomacy, International Relations, the workings of an international organization such as the UN, to enhance a participants research, negotiating, writing and oratory skills, to critical thinking, teamwork, leadership abilities and to broaden the participants view and knowledge of the world. The structure of the conferences can differ in structure or programme. The sizes and the amount of participant depends on the conference. Some conferences only simulate a few councils, others simulate many. Some MUNs even work with council substructures such as the different advisory committees related to the UN General Assembly for example. Some MUNs simulate councils from different international organizations such as NATO, ASEAN or the European Union. However all MUNs share the same goal: to accurately portray the workings of the simulated councils. MUNs can vary in level from very simple MUNs for beginners, up to very high level MUNs for the veterans of the MUN world, where extra qualifications are asked. MUN participants commonly agree that there is a certain atmosphere which can be defined as the ‘MUN-feeling’. There are many MUN enthusiasts who travel the globe in search of exciting and challenging MUNs to participate in.
The MUN phenomenon started in the United States where simulations were being held even before the birth of the United Nations. Records indicate that as early as the 1920’s simulations of the League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations, were taking place. Today, some Model UN conferences include simulations of the League of Nations among their committee offerings.
It is disputed which conference was the first Model UN conference held in the world, with the major claimants being Berkeley Model United Nations (BMUN), Harvard Model United Nations (HMUN), and National Model United Nations (NMUN NY). However, it is clear that the first was held some time in the early 1950s.
It’s hard to say what the oldest MUN in Europe is, but it is safe to say that The Hague International Model United Nations is one of the oldest. MUN aims to educate participants about world issues and promote peace and greater understanding of the work of the UN through cooperation and diplomacy.
The popularity of Model UN continues to grow. It is estimated that more than 400,000 students around the world at all educational levels from primary school to university, participate each year in Model UN. A number of today's leaders in business, the arts, government and law participated in Model UN as students – including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
30 July, 2015
Azerbaijan University of Languages
International Relations and Area Studies / American Studies