Model United Nations @ Brunswick European Law School (BELS)
“Be a global citizen. Act with passion and compassion. Help us make this world safer and more sustainable today and for the generations that will follow us. That is our moral responsibility."
Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Brussels (Belgium), 27 May 2015
Model United Nations conferences are conferences at high school or university level which simulate UN decision making for students. In today’s globalized world, we as global citizens increasingly face problems which transcend borders. In order to address these issues effectively, a forum for voicing them, discussing them and deciding on common actions is of utmost importance. Model United Nations conferences create such a forum for high school or university students from all over the world in order to discuss solutions to transnational problems together.
Prior to the conference, students are required to prepare. Students do so by learning more about UN decision making, by practicing debate and by researching a position paper outlining their assigned country’s position. It is important to note that the assigned country’s position is not necessarily the delegate’s personal one which may sometimes cause some internal personal friction for the delegate when debating. Delegates are assigned a committee by the conference organization and are required to research two specific topics which are given out prior to the conference. Topics usually include current problems in world politics and international law. The prepared “ Position Paper” usually has to be handed in to the conference prior to the conference.
The ability to compromise and negotiate together for a common sustainable solution is vital to the success of individual delegates and also to the success of the committee as a whole. During debate, some form of consensus should be reached to be able to finally adopt a joint resolution. Also, at the end of each conference usually awards for individual delegates are given out. These might include awards for outstanding contributions to the debate such as for example being “Best Delegate” or for writing the “Best Position Paper”.
Every conference is organized in a slightly different way and rules of debate (“Rules of Procedure”) usually also differ slightly according to individual regional requirements. Participating students get to know other students from all over the world as networking is an integral part of MUN conferences.
As past experience has shown, students generally enjoy these conferences. They acquire numerous new skills: Speaking in a foreign language (usually English) in an unfamiliar setting in front of an unknown audience. Students are confronted with complex legal and political problems. They have to be capable of researching them and then in turn alsofor presenting a position which might not be their own – one which might be in fact in conflict with their very own beliefs and values. During debate, students have to be able to apply complex UN-based rules for speaking and voting. During resolution writing, writing skills as well as critical thinking and teamwork is required. Last but not least students gain experience in strategic and tactical thinking as well as leadership skills by leading a group.
I as lecturer/Faculty Advisor also enjoy preparing students for the conference as well as coaching them during the conference. It is amazing and tremendously rewarding for me to see how students develop further and gain confidence during this process.
Text: Anna-Theresia Krein, M.A.