MUN first glance – The most important fundamentals

Before you put on your suit and walk into that first committee session, you should learn as much as you can about what Model UN is and how it works.

What makes a gripping speech? How do I write a position paper and what on earth is a preambulatory clause? Starting your MUN journey can be scary and there are so many things to learn, we want to make that process a bit easier.

At a MUN conference, you are the representative of a country, business, or person and you must solve a problem with other delegates from around the world. You share your ideas, make arguments, and write working papers. After the resolutions are signed, everyone heads home, and one person leaves with a fancy wooden gavel.

Today, we will show you what to expect from a MUN conference by going over a few basics. We will show you what Model UN is and how it works. We’ll also help you understand some key differences between the UN and MUN that will help you to be better prepared!

Connecting the dots between MUN and the United Nations

First, let’s look at the United Nations. This organization has been around since 1945 and has served as a guiding light in international law and global cooperation. Each year, they send representatives to monitor elections around the world and deploy massive food-aid programs that supply millions of people.

The UN is an organization that aspires to eventually eliminate the need for violent clashes to solve problems. In your own committee, you should write resolutions that work to reduce violence and armed conflict wherever possible.

Structure of MUN conferences and the UN –

How does the UN manage all of this? Having so many projects running at the same time requires a lot of organization. To be sure that every issue gets the attention it deserves, the UN developed a system of Organs, Committees, and Offices. This helps them to handle any problem that they face.

The diagram below shows what this structure can look like:

The UN has 6 main branches, for MUN the structure is different. Delegates they should concern themselves with Specialized Agencies, ECOSOC committeees, General Assemblies and Crisis Committees.
Image showing the structure of the United Nations – Including GA, ECOSOC and Security Council Committees.

For an exhaustive diagram showing the full UN structure click here.

The diagram shows the 6 primary organs of the UN in the center along with committee examples on the outside. For MUN delegates, the secretariat, trusteeship council, and the ICJ are not as important. In most scenarios, you will see committees labeled as General assemblies, ECOSOCs, Specialized agencies, and Crisis.

Some other things to keep in mind:

1 – Committees in MUN are not always labeled according to their position in the UN structure. For example, the WHO can be categorized as a GA, and the Security Council can be labeled as a specialized agency or Crisis committee. However, the way they are labeled will not significantly affect their content.

2 – You may see committees that are not a part of the UN system in MUN conferences. Topics can range from historical committees such as a WWII allied cabinet to futuristic councils that discuss lunar colonization. While content may vary, the solution-making process will be the same – you may just be sitting next to Legolas instead of the Delegate from Peru.

3 – Crisis committees are a format that is unique to MUN. They are more dynamic and have a unique solution-making process. We explain the differences between Crisis and GA committees in more detail here.

Inside the committee room –

The UN has also found a way of making committee discussions more structured. An important part of this is the Dais – these are the people responsible for moderating your committee. In MUN, it is not likely that your committee will be full of professional diplomats, so your dais will be more involved. The committee chair will control the pace of the debate and will give guidance on what topics to discuss. They may also time your speeches and will stop you if you continue for too long.

The diagram below shows the structure of a typical MUN dais:

The Dais in a MUN conference can have multiple tiers, this includes a Chair, Vice Chair, Page, Crisis Director and Assistant Crisis director.
Image showing the typical Dais structure for MUN conferences

Aside from the structure of your dais, there are a few other important aspects to consider. In a MUN committee, the main objective is to pass a resolution. This document organizes the solutions that your committee devises and is a tangible indicator of the consensus of your committee. It will show exactly what has been accomplished by the end of the conference. Your resolution will be similar to the ones that you will see in the UN, albeit somewhat less exhaustive. For an introduction on how to write a proper MUN resolution click here (coming soon).

The final part of the committee structure that you will need to understand is the system of points and motions. Motions help with a discussion on procedural matters, they help to create a steady flow of debate. Points can have a broader range of applications and they normally indicate a break from formal debate. Points and motions can seem daunting at first, to learn more about what they are and how to use them properly click here.

Where to go next

Hopefully, by this point, you have learned a few basics about how MUN works and are ready to find out more. Make sure you check out our other guides and sign up for our Mailing list. In the next few weeks, we will post even more guides on Conference preparation to make learning MUN as easy as possible!

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