What is Model UN?

“Even one voice can be heard loudly all over the world in this day and age.”

- Aung San Suu Kyi

The core activity of the Society is Model United Nations, in which students participate in simulations of various UN bodies, such as the Security Council, the UN Development Programme, or one of the several issue-based committees of the UN General Assembly.

Imagine being an ambassador to the United Nations, working on a plan to prevent genocide in Darfur, defuse a crisis in Syria, or improve education in the Pacific, and you’ll begin to get an idea what Model UN can be like.

What is Model United Nations?

The basic concept of Model UN is that each participant acts as a delegate to one of several UN bodies. Usually, they represent a member state (a country with full voting rights), but occasionally they could also act for an NGO (Non-Government Organisation, such as Amnesty International) or an observer mission (for a group such as Palestine). The representation of many different viewpoints gives you the opportunity to get deeply involved in the topic and approach it from all angles.

Delegates discuss a topic of current international interest, ultimately coming to a resolution which embodies the ideas of as much of the committee as possible. The scope of topics is broad, so whether you’re interested in development and human rights, the mechanics of peacekeeping or international law, there will always be something thought-provoking to discuss. Previous topics have included:

  • Iran’s nuclear programme
  • The legality of space weaponry
  • The doctrine of ’hot pursuit’ over borders
  • How best to allocate World Bank assistance
  • A hypothetical Pakistani invasion of Kashmi
  • Anti-doping in sports
  • The doctrine of R2P – Responsbility to Protect
  • The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

To find out more about the mechanics of the Model UN process itself, visit our page on How MUN works.

Why get involved?

Besides being fun and a great way to meet interesting people, Model UN is a great way to develop both your skills and knowledge of international and humanitarian affairs. All you need is an interest in solving important challenges that face the world. The Model UN process is a valuable one because:

It is very approachable for newcomers. If you don’t have much experience with public speaking, don’t worry! At no stage are you obliged to speak (unless you are the lead sponsor of a draft resolution, which is a decision entirely up to you), so it is possible to watch more experienced delegates for a while to see how it’s done. Of course, many prefer to dive right in, and the more interaction you have with the committee, the more you will gain from the experience.

Everyone is working together towards producing a resolution – each committee can only pass one. This gives Model UN events a generally collegial atmosphere, even when delegates have strongly-held opposing views.

It gives you an opportunity to build valuable skills in negotiating, consensus-building, and public speaking — again, with the proviso that you aren’t forced to do these if you aren’t comfortable with them. Many of the best delegates are those who work quietly at producing compromises during informal discussions, rather than making imposing speeches.

Committees generally focus on either one or two topics, depending on the length of the event. This means you get a great chance to delve in depth into a single issue, developing a real understanding of it. Hearing all the perspectives on each question, presented by delegates from different backgrounds, is also very helpful.

If you would like more information on any MUN event, please do not hesitate to contact us.