Russian to Debate: What is Model United Nations?
With over 90 members, Oakton Model United Nations is one of the biggest clubs in the school. Yet very few people know much about it. So what happens in Model UN?
March 21, 2017
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What is Model UN?
In Model UN (or MUN, as it’s affectionately called by those in the club) students from different schools are assigned countries to represent. They are then assigned a committee where they will have to debate different topics. For example, the committee on Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural issues might debate on the displacement of native peoples in the Amazon. During debate, people need to form alliances and debate along those lines. The ultimate goal of the committee is to write up a resolution paper that addresses the issue at hand and can be agreed upon by 2/3 of the delegations. In Model UN, politics is the name of the game. The alliances you form in committee dictate how the debate is going to flow, and what you’re going to include in your paper.
Model UN is conference based, which means that the competition is reset every competition. The downside of this is that there is no continuity. Unlike in debate, you can’t work your way up and win the final award at the end of the season. The upside, though, is that you get a reset every conference. Every competition has different topics, different people, and different countries.
People do MUN for a bunch of different reasons. “I do MUN because it’s a great way to meet people and practice my arguing” said Neil Cyrus, a member of Oakton’s Model UN team. The arguing aspect is actually pretty important, he told me. “I want to do something with politics or law in the future, so this is a great way to get into that.” Model UN is a great way to practice structured debate. Formulating your arguments and effectively delivering them is super important to being an effective debater in MUN. Especially for someone like Neil, who is interested in politics and debate.
The ability to meet new people is also a major pull factor for doing MUN. Conferences held at Universities, like Columbia and UVA, can attract people from all across the country, and even the world. It’s not uncommon to find Model UN delegates from China or Europe at an American conference. This is amplified on the college MUN circuit, where conferences are especially intense and held specifically to attract international competitors.