Posted on 17 November 2011.
By Jim Hsiao, International Bilingual School at Hsinchu Science Park
True to its name, Model United Nations is complementary to the official United Nations. The first thing an unassuming observer notices about MUN is the dress code. Students who replace jeans and t-shirts with formal suits and blouses attract pointed stares ranging from bewilderment to awe that originate from intimidated and unknowing bystanders. The dress code enforced by MUN is the most obvious aspect of the conference identical to that of the UN. With the exception of a few colorful individuals such as Gaddafi, most attendees of UN dress much like a respectable MUN delegate should.
Art by Christine Lin, Intl. School of Taichung
The similarities do not stop here. The purpose of any MUN conference is to produce resolutions of issues selected by the officers and directors. Frustrated delegates often question the validity of the issues, as they pound on their keyboards in distress. These issues are not chosen for the ability to demoralize and massacre brain cells in a grim harvest of cellular death, but for their utmost importance and presence in real UN conferences.
In the debating process, MUN employs procedures that are drawn directly from the UN. MUN participants take the floor, make speeches, and propose points of information, which is exactly what official UN representatives do at conferences. Delegates from both conferences also submit resolutions and amendments through similar processes. Some conferences, like the Global Model United Nations, go as far as inviting UN officials to their preparatory meetings to further emulate the UN.
Despite the overwhelming similarities, there are still differences that separate the two organizations. The participants of the conferences dictate many of the events that happen. UN delegates are trained professionals, who are experienced veterans at navigating the intricate field of international politics. Their decisions have a cosmopolitan effect, thus the conferences are far more serious. MUN delegates, on the other hand, are students. The sight of sleeping delegates and questionable analogies are exclusive to MUN, as no respectable UN representative would risk ruining the reputation of his or her delegation.
MUN also has preset assumptions that normally limit the actions of the United Nations. For example, monetary funding is an issue that is not discussed in MUN, while it is an important factor that must be addressed in sessions of United Nations. Another contrast is the influence and reach of the organizations. “MUN is on a much smaller scale and effect, it is not as far reaching as the UN,” proclaims Xavies Neo, an administrator of General Assembly 5. While the United Nations has the power to affect the seven billion inhabitants of our planet, MUN conferences are limited to spreading awareness among the student participants of the conference.
MUN is also limited in its power to implement and propagate the resolutions. Aman Puri, the chair of GA 6, believes that the main difference between the two organizations is “the fact that the resolutions don’t necessarily come into effect.” This, however, does not stop the delegates from trying their best to produce resolutions worthy of the UN itself. Puri maintains that “the essential drive behind UN and MUN is the same.” Whether it be Model United Nations of United Nations, delegates are united under the banner of peace and diplomacy, striving to create a brighter future.