I attended my first University level MUN conference as an A Level student a few years ago. To those of you who do not know MUN stands for the Model United Nations. It’s where students gather to pretend to be delegates of the different member states of the United Nations. The main objective is to pass a draft resolution. A draft resolution is a document created by the UN that’s a guide to what countries should do regarding a specific topic.
I was absolutely terrified before I went and I thought that I was prepared. I had perused the ‘Best Delegate‘ website thoroughly and had come with a research binder offering information about my country’s (Indonesia) stance on the issues we would be debating — which happened to be Private vs Public Health Care and abolishing Child Marriage.
While I was reasonably prepared, there were still many things that I did not know that I wish I did. So I thought, in case anyone here was considering attending a MUN conference themselves, that I would give my tips and advice to help them on their journey. Here goes:
Tip 1: Ask the organisers whether you are allowed to have a laptop with you
Some MUN conferences — like the one I attended — let you bring in with you a laptop to use throughout the committee sessions. I only brought mine in on the last day but it drastically changed my performance during the conference. I was able to take notes easier, research needed information faster and write small speeches quicker. When you are allowed to have a laptop with you, it makes life much easier
Tip 2: Make sure you stick to your country’s policy
This is the hardest tip. The topic we discussed in our committee was child marriage. This is was difficult because naturally, we all agreed on the same thing: that child marriage needs to be eradicated immediately. However, not all of the countries in attendance held the same view with a controversial topic like child marriage, yet nobody wanted to be the one saying ‘I’m all for it’. It goes against our nature. But if there is no conflict during a debate then that makes it boring. You’re just going around in circles. One way to stick to your country’s policy is to research things that the heads of state themselves have said. Browse through their social media accounts and what news outlets have quoted them saying. It’s not easy but research is an essential skill for many different career paths, making this great practice.
Tip 3: Never admit that the stance of your country is wrong
The Delegate of Pakistan once made this mistake at our conference. She stated that Pakistan has problems regarding child marriage and that they are trying to remedy that. This would NEVER happen in the real United Nations. No country would ever swallow their pride and admit that they are wrong and so, as you are representing that country, you must do the same. You must defend your policies even when it is very difficult.
Tip 4: Research the type of diction that you should be using in a MUN conference
What I’m talking about here is the official language used at conferences. For example, when addressing the rest of the committee you should start any speeches with ‘Honourable Chair’ and ‘Distinguished Delegates’ as a sign of respect to all those with you. Furthermore, you are not allowed to use first-person pronouns like I. If talking about your country, you should say phrases like ‘we believe’ or ‘the delegate of [insert your country name] states that’ and so on. It’s these uses of language which will show that you really understand how MUN works and will really impress your chairs.
Tip 5: Go through the rules of procedure, annotate it and bring a copy with you to the conference
Taking the rules with you is just an easy way to reference them during the conference if you’re unsure about anything and need to find out information quickly. For my conference, I read through the rules the day before and highlighted any words or terms that I didn’t know so I could research them. It really helped develop my understanding of MUN.
Tip 6: Have fun
This one is sometimes easy to forget in the middle of the nerves and the tension. But remember that there is no requirement to talk. Take your time and observe how others debate. You’re likely to learn a lot more if you just listen rather than be the one who talks.
Well, what are you waiting for? Go on a search engine and look for your nearest MUN conference. Trust me, it’s an experience you will never regret.