You’ve never heard of it? Well, I’m here to tell you all about it. Model United Nations or as it’s more affectionately known by its members MUN. So what’s it all about? Well in essence, it does exactly what it says on the tin-models the actual United Nations. It is a simulation of the real United Nations. It was originally an American phenomena but the popularity has spread and most universities in the UK have one; including Reading, UCL, Sheffield and Warwick, just to name a few. I joined my university’s MUN society in October when I enrolled as a fresher and have had a great time since. I don’t want this to sound like a terrible promotional article, but it truly is great, don’t take my word for it, get involved and find out for yourself.
As a Politics and International Relations student, I love nothing more than a good debate on the current issues of the day, my flatmates and I often spend the early hours of the morning putting the world to rights. At most universities a society meeting is held each week or fortnight and a particular topic is selected to debate on, at Reading where I am a student we have a vote on our facebook group each week to decide on the topic. Previous topics have included the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, prevalence of HIV and Aids in Latin America and drug trafficking. One of the benefits of MUN is that it caters for everybody who has even a mild interest in current affairs. How? Well just as the real United Nations has different committees which are allocated to different areas, such as Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and we debate the issues covered by all of the committees. This means that if weapons of mass destruction aren’t quite your thing, you could be debating on capital punishment the next week. As I say, the range of topics covered is so wide I challenge you not to find something you’re interested in.
MUN may sound a little odd-I am aware of this, university students acting as countries pretending they’re in the real UN, but it truly is great. Why? Well you learn so much about the various foreign policy stances of countries-you can represent any country as long as they are a member of the UN. The country you represent changes week by week meaning if you get bored of it or they don’t have a particularly interesting stance on the topic at hand you are free to select a new one. Being part of an MUN society really does open your eyes up to the world around you, and in areas you would never have thought of.
All MUN societies go to conferences held across the country at various universities, the most recent conference I attended was held at University College London, but conferences are not limited to the UK, they can take place all over the world in Belgium, Germany and even Australia. At these conferences you debate for an average of 3 or 4 days, representing a country and two topics are assigned to your committee, your committee must then work together in order to pass a resolution; a resolution that could actually be passed in the UN in strict accordance with your country’s foreign policy. The conferences are amazing, the debates are of such a high standard, they can get very heated and blocs of allied countries forming never ceases to cause controversy. There are awards for the best delegates (contributors) at the end of the weekend, so a chance to be recognised for hard work. But by far the best things about MUN for me so far are the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made, the value of meeting likeminded people with an interest in the wider world is really not to be underestimated. I’m only at the beginning of my MUN career but I look forward to seeing where it takes me. So if it sounds like something you’d be interested in then join up at your university and if they don’t have one then start one. The opportunities brought about by being a part of MUN are really way too good to be missed.
By: Yasmin Levy-Miller