UN breaks tradition to bring real diplomacy to `Model UN`

The United Nations is educating students on how things are actually done inside its chambers by launching a new guide for Model UN.

Last Updated: Sep 02, 2013, 15:46 PM IST

United Nations: The United Nations is educating students on how things are actually done inside its chambers by launching a new guide for Model UN, the first time the organisation has tried to change the direction in which the role-playing diplomatic simulations have evolved.

"Through our interactions with Model UN conferences around the world, we have learned that most traditional Model UNs do not mirror the way the United Nations actually functions. MUN simulations use different rules of procedure and do not typically adopt resolutions by consensus that is now the common trend at the UN," said Maher Nasser, Director of Outreach in the UN Department of Public Information.

In an effort to educate organisers of Model UN (MUN) about the differences, the Organisation created the "UN Guide for MUN" and has been introducing it in UN workshops, like the one held this week for 80 participants from 36 countries here.

In a Model UN, students take on the roles of ambassadors in simulated sessions of the General Assembly or Security Council, and research and debate a wide range of topics drawn from the UN`s agenda. In that respect, MUN and the United Nations not so far apart; the differences really start to emerge in the details of how the discussions take place.

"There is a huge gap between how the Model and the UN actually work. We work with parliamentary caucus style and the UN does not. So there are a million points of order that you do at Model UN that do not happen in the real UN," said workshop participant Aura Maria Gualdron.

A 15-year veteran of MUNs, Gualdron is working with the local government and the UN Information Centre in her native Colombia to organise a simulation that will include the ongoing peace process negotiations.

Scheduled for next year, the Simulacion del Modelo de las Naciones Unidas (SimONU) will include about 1,600 first-time MUN student delegates from private and public schools. Since the 1940s, MUN conferences have been held around the world.
Some schools use Model UN as part of their curricula; others support their students in planning conferences as leadership opportunities.

In Azerbaijan, preparations are now underway for an October 21-25 session of Model UN Security Council organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Youth and Sport.

The timing coincides with the rotating presidency of Azerbaijan at the real Security Council in New York, and will include young representatives from the same 15 countries that currently make up the Council.

Over the course of the four days, participants also heard from a variety of UN officials.

An informal survey showed students most enjoyed hearing from Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, who detailed the UN priorities to the students but also gave them a bit of a pep talk, and Stadler Trengove, Senior Legal Officer at the UN Office of Legal Affairs, who detailed the rules dealing with how representatives are accredited and how disputes regarding representation are resolved, among other topics.

Secretary General?Ban Ki-moon, a former MUN member himself, had spoken this week at Leiden during an official visit to the Netherlands.