What is Model United Nations?
The United Nations or “UN” for short, is the largest international organisation in the world
with 193 member states. Its primary goal is the maintenance of international peace and
security. Some of its other purposes include economic cooperation and the harmonising of nations to advance solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
Model United Nations or “MUN” is an academic simulation of the United Nations where participants take on the role of diplomats called “delegates”. They represent different countries and engage in constructive debate about current world issues, while developing and collaborating on possible solutions.
MUN is a fun and innovative way of combining case-based instruction with experiential learning to introduce sophisticated political concepts and cultivate holistic skills such as researching, writing, speaking, negotiating and networking.
It is estimated that over 200,000 students globally participate in MUN each year – making it one of the world’s most popular after-school activities.
As the foremost expert of MUN in the region, MUN inc. continuously seeks ways to pioneer
new ways of using MUN as an educational learning tool, and strives to elevate the standards of MUN conferences by introducing internationally recognised best practices and teaching methods.
What is Model ASEAN?
The Association of South East Asian Nations, better known as “ASEAN”, is a 10-member regional
organisation which promotes inter-governmental cooperation and integration across numerous sectors of society, including economics, politics, defence and education. In recent years, ASEAN has played an increasingly important role in the region by facilitating collaboration with larger stakeholders such as China, India, Australia, Japan and the United States.
Model ASEAN is an academic simulation of the ASEAN meetings, where participants play the role of diplomats and represent any one of the 10 ASEAN member states. They attempt to solve real world issues by adopting the policies and perspectives of the country which they have been assigned, and the “ASEAN way” of consensus decision-making.
The key objective of Model ASEAN is for participants to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of ASEAN, as well as its inner-workings which are unique to it as a Southeast Asian organisation.
Model ASEAN is similar to Model United Nations in the way that it facilitates learning and develops critical skills. However, it is also very different due to how ASEAN has its own norms, rules, procedures and customs. This difference influences how decisions are made and how negotiations are conducted.
MUN inc. was honoured to have worked alongside the ASEAN Foundation to develop the first
official Model ASEAN Meeting (“MAM”) protocol which is now being used by students, educators
and non-profit organisations in the region.
Benefits of Model United Nations
According to the United Nations Foundation in 2013, over 400,000 students participate in Model United Nations (MUN) conferences around the world. Furthermore, to satisfy the high demand for MUN, reputable universities such as Harvard University have been bringing conferences abroad. In this article, we share five key benefits of MUN that have made it one of the most popular academic co-curricular activities across the globe.
Engages Youths in Current Affairs and Global Issues
Participants who sign up for MUN will be exposed to greater insights on global affairs through their background research and discourses during committee sessions. If students feel detached from international affairs, MUN can provide them with the excitement of international events and broadened knowledge on global issues. For example, in MUN conferences, the various committees will usually include the most contemporary and pressing issues that the world is tackling at the moment.
Therefore, MUN provides students with in-depth exposure to international affairs and enables them to develop global perspectives. There has also been broad consensus on the literature surrounding the benefits of MUN in increasing students’ awareness of global affairs and the politics of international organisations.
Builds Confidence and Public Speaking Skills
Participating in a MUN conference is a great way for someone to build up confidence and hone their public speaking abilities. As delegates are presented with opportunities to give speeches and engage actively in debate, MUN serves as a great platform for them to practice public speaking and learn from other delegates.
In a study conducted by Ginn et al., it was found that 88% of the students from the sample believed that they improved their speaking skills from MUN. Furthermore, 89% of the students felt that participating in MUN has boosted their self-confidence.
Thinking Through New Perspectives by Representing Different Countries
MUN trains students to think from perspectives that are different from their own. When participants take on the role of a foreign delegate of a particular country, they are compelled to do a thorough study of its culture and policies. This enables them to reflect on unfamiliar viewpoints and cultivate empathy for alternative perspectives and beliefs. Furthermore, during the conference, students engage in active debate and discussion with other delegates, while constantly maintaining the position of their assigned country. This cultivates an enriched understanding of the country that they represent, as well as provides exposure to new and differing perspectives.
Learning the Art of Diplomacy and Negotiation
MUN can serve to familiarise students with patterns of negotiation and provide a platform for the observation of negotiation processes and international regimes. The conferences are essentially diplomatic simulations that require a great deal of respect and cooperation, which enables students to gain experience on diplomacy and negotiation. Additionally, MUN participants are trained in the protocols of diplomacy, where they are required to honour diversity and differences as well as provide their opinions respectfully and productively during the conference.
MUN also trains students to use their research from their policy position papers to prepare their negotiation positions, which educates them on the importance of good research skills in the practice of diplomacy.
Meeting New Friends and Expanding Social Networks
Through MUN conferences, students can meet and connect with other delegates, thei chairpersons, and faculty advisers from all around the globe. They may even get to rub shoulders with prominent government officials, from Ambassadors to the United Nations to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of a state, to United Nations diplomats, which could be useful in providing career advancement opportunities in the future.
Apart from the main committee sessions, most MUN conferences also organise social events which will certainly promise to be enjoyable and exciting for the participants. Events such as cultural dinners, dance parties and city tours are all great opportunities for fellow delegates to mingle with each other, have fun, and expand their social and professional circles.
Law | Politics & Government
Well known for his "Yes We Can" campaign, former two-term American President Barack Obama honed his oratorical and lobbying skills at Model United Nations conferences before moving on to the world stage of politics. The first African American President in history shows us that MUN can be a life-changing platform to develop skills, build networks and learn what it takes to bring about real change. Yes, you can.
Samuel L Jackson
Before assembling The Avengers, internationally acclaimed actor Samuel L Jackson was once a Model United Nations delegate. Since then, he has gone on to appear in more than 100 films. Samuel L Jackson (or Director Nick Fury) redefines the MUN stereotype to show that delegates can be fun, creative and downright bad-ass.
Law | Politics & Government
Former Attorney General of
Singapore and current Professor of Law as well as Ambassador-at-Large, Walter Woon was a pioneer of Model United Nations in Singapore. Speaking at a university conference organized by Yale-NUS College, Professor Woon revealed that he was an early adopter of Raffles Model United Nations - a reputable high school conference in Singapore. It is no wonder that he would go on to serve as Singapore's Ambassador to Germany, Greece, the European Union, Belgium, Luxembourg and more between 1998 and 2006.
Prince Felix of Luxembourg
Politics & Government
Known for being an avid sportsman, Prince Felix of Luxembourg was voted the Best Athlete of his school for five consecutive years. Not only has the Prince excelled in football, basketball and tennis, but is also eloquent in French, English, Italian and German. Most notably, a former participant of Model United Nations, he shows us how the activity instills the high level of self-motivation and tenacity needed for both the academic and athletic fields.
Politics & Government
Given his continued support for
Model United Nations conferences around the world, it is no surprise that former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon was an avid participant when he was in high school. Perhaps it was what inspired him to join South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade before taking on the real deal at the United Nations.
Politics & Government
Before stepping up as the
vice-chair of the Clinton Foundation, Chelsea participated in Model United Nations and was the 1997 National Merit Scholarship finalist. Since then, she has become a tireless advocate for early childhood education, access to healthcare and women empowerment. As a veteran of MUN, Chelsea shows us how the activity cultivates excellent leadership and the courage to champion world causes.
WHO WE ARE
“Why We” is a not-for-profit initiative created by our parent enterprise, The Global Citizen, to share inspirational stories of how Model United Nations and Model ASEAN have positively shaped the lives of many individuals, many of whom have become better people for it.
We hope to inspire more students to pursue their passions, both in and out of the classroom,
and to take on the challenge of their first conference experience.