By definition, MUN (short for Model United Nations) is an educationally riveting stimulation of the United Nations – its Security Council and General Assembly committees, affiliated specialized agencies such as the World Health Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and often like-minded diplomatic forums such as the Indian Parliament, International Criminal Police Organisation and others being featured. Umm, okay, you can’t really call Lok Sabha (the House of People in the Indian Parliament) too diplomatic with its infamous chair-throwing records, but no matter, no matter…
Essentially, participants of MUN conferences dress in formal attire, represent allotted countries in respective committees, and are supposed to debate and deliberate over the course of the multiple days of the conference on a preset agenda. You could walk into a high school MUN conference and perhaps get a glimpse of the following:
- The delegate of the Russian Federation is having a heated argument with the delegate of the United States of America about the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Syria in the United Nations Security Council. While the experienced delegates play the blame-game and the European Union member states grumble about the refugee influx, the delegate of the Syrian Republic, being a first-timer, is a little too lost and overwhelmed to contribute to debate himself, and leaves it to the committee to decide the fate of his state.
- Moving on from the impassioned arguments in the UNSC, you reach the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime and observe the exact opposite. With the agenda being set to discussing the financing of extremist organisations via the trade of narcotics, the committee chairperson has a tough time getting those frightened faces to make formal speeches and constructive arguments. With substantive intervention on the part of the Executivve Board, intelligibility and sensibility begins showing in debate, and you feel proud of the fact that the committee is making gradual progress.
- Appreciating the hardworking Logistics team of the MUN’s Organizing Council from passing chits in committee to guiding observers like you, you arrive at the Special Political and Decolonization Committee. Discussing the flaws of the Antarctic Treaty, Convention on the Conservation of Marine Living Resources and the Convvention on the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, intimidation is what engulfs you by the mere technicality and confidence possessed by most of the delegates. The UN Charter is wrapped by delegates, past UNGA and UNSC resolutions are cited, and an excess of placards always challenges the chair on whom to recognize and whom not to. You wonder who will win the Best Delegate award in SPECPOL – Chile with its diplomatically deadly yet constructively candid speeches moving debate forward, United Kingdom with its sensible and practical propositions, Nepal with its unwaveringly spot-on criticism of other countries, or a number of other equally deserving delegates.
Even after walking out of the conference venue, you can’t help externally praising the safe hands the future of this world is in, but are secretly overjoyed that such is not the competitiveness and knowledge level that everyone (particularly you) needs to display.
But wait, in this hypothesized observation of an MUN conference that I have been busily conjuring, there are a lot of terms that demand explication –Executive Board, committee chairperson, Logistics team, resolutions-framing, chit-passing, placard-raising and what not. Why should you bother yourself with these intricacies and nuances of Model UN anyways?
The crux of this entire post is to introduce to you Model UN as more than a smart alec’s paradise, more than a formal debate in which rehearsed speeches are articulated, and more than an event of roleplaying and pretending. Contrary to common mindsets, MUN is not just one of the above, but all of these and much more.
I personally perceive a Model United Nations conference as an opportunity to productively spend a weekend, to continually better the art of negotiation, leadership and teamwork, to open my mental horizons to political, financial and military issues present in every nook and corner of this planet, and to leave with a comprehensive solution formulated and some great memories etched.
Through a series of blog posts on HAH dedicated to Model UNing, I hope to familiarize you with the concept and working of a MUN conference, enable you to revisit all the MUN conferences I have participated in, and get you to sincerely appreciate the tough job that national ambassadors, foreign diplomats and human rights agencies do at multilateral peace-making forums such as the United Nations, and that reminds me – maybe the United Nations Organisation, its structure, role, spirit and more might also necessitate a separate post for these crucial topics to be done justice…
P.S. I am no veteran MUNer, only six Model United Nations of experience so far.