What is the UN?
“UN” stands for “United Nations”. The UN was formed after World War II by the Allies, who had just won the war. It originally had 51 members (it has 193 today). It also has five main purposes, which aim to:
1) Keep peace throughout the world;
2) Develop friendly relations between nations;
3) Solve global issues such as poverty and promote human rights;
4) Coordinate global efforts to achieve the above goals;
5) Preserve the national sovereignty of all member nations;
The largest committee of the UN is the General Assembly (GA), where all 193 members are represented and all votes have equal weight. However, the UN has other decision-making bodies focused on more specific issues, such as the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which has 54 members, the Human Rights Council, which has 47 members, and the Security Council, which has 15 members (10 elected for two year terms and five permanent: China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States of America). Note that the Security Council is the only body that can authorize the use of force and also that the permanent countries, known as P5 (for “Permanent Five”), have veto power over resolutions, meaning a “no” vote from them automatically makes it impossible for the resolution to pass. The Security Council can also pass legally binding resolutions, meaning that UN member nations are compelled to follow what the council decides.
What is MUN?
“MUN” stands for “Model United Nations”. An incredible extra-curricular activity and formative experience present in many high schools, colleges, and even middle schools around the world. Thousands of students participate in MUN clubs globally. As a simulation of the UN, MUN emulates the same procedures as those adopted in the actual UN. Delegates, the students who participate in MUN, represent different delegations, or countries, and discuss pressing global issues by researching, writing resolutions , and speaking in favor of their solutions to the topic at hand, formally known as resolutions (learn more about these three things in “How to Become a Great Delegate”).
The end goal is to solve the problems discussed by passing a resolution. For this, it is necessary that delegates are able to negotiate and persuade others to reach some sort of compromise so that enough nations can back a resolution and see it passed. As MUN expands around the world, it is actively evolving and being shaped through various small procedural differences in each country in which it is present. The core of Model UN, which is the incredible and formative experience for all involved, is present around the world.
Why should I join?
There are many great reasons for joining the Model UN club at your school or, even better, creating your own local club. First of all, it’s fun! An important part of MUN is participating in conferences, which allow you to meet new people and develop new relationships, as well as see various different places. Participating in such conferences affords delegates a plethora of engaging experiences, empowering you to learn new cultures, make new friends, and be exposed to varying perspectives.
Some conferences also offer awards to the delegates and delegations that stand out and have the strongest impact on their committees. Awards are a fun and important part of conferences as they recognize delegates’ hard work and effort, but are never the goal or objective of participating in Model UN. Perhaps the most important and lasting reward of such participation is that MUN will give you invaluable skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, public speaking, debating, researching, writing, diplomacy, organization, conflict resolution, and leadership, as well as a better understanding of the world in which we live. These life-long attributes are an important reason why anyone, regardless of whether they wish to pursue a career in Foreign Relationships, should consider participating in Model United Nations.