What is Model United Nations?

The St Andrew’s Model United Nations programme runs nearly the duration of the whole school year and involves groups participating in conferences both at home and abroad. The highlight of the year is our own conference where we host nearly 700 delegates from as far afield as South Africa, the Middle East and the USA. From humble beginnings, it is an event that has grown in size, stature and reputation and to facilitate the large number of schools that wish to attend, the event is now held at the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire. At all conferences students come together and share their interest for international affairs, the art of diplomacy, and the principles of the United Nations. Representing countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, they gather to discuss some of the most pressing and intriguing problems that confront the world today. Together, they engage in lively debate, searching for solutions to the complex conundrums of contemporary international politics; and in doing so, hone and perfect their skills of diplomacy, debate and public speaking.

But what is the MUN? The MUN aims to be an authentic simulation of the United Nations – complete with Security Council, General Assembly, an ECOSOC committee as well as a wide range of other sub-committees, a Secretariat headed by the Secretary General, a Press Corp and of course the delegates.

For the duration of a Model United Nations conference, every participant or ‘delegate’ represents a member state of the United Nations in one of the committees of the UN system. At SAIMUN there are committees dealing with issues such as health, politics, disarmament and the environment. Delegates representing the same state together form a ‘delegation’. In their individual committees, delegates engage in debate on a wide range of topics, relating to issues as diverse as international peace and security, economic cooperation and development, human rights or the protection of the environment.

The ultimate objective of every delegate is to produce, lobby support for, debate and ultimately have passed a resolution on one of the topic areas within their committee. A resolution is the proposed solution to a problem and forms the main focus of the debate. The delegates aim is to represent the views of their country on the issue while at the same time making it as acceptable as possible to as many member states as possible. Those resolutions passed in committees are then further discussed in the General Assembly on the final day of the conference.

As well as the St Andrew’s Model United Nations, the students travel overseas to attend conferences at the Royal Russell School in England and at The Hague, Netherlands. Closer to home we attend MUN events at Terenure College, Rathdown School and Wesley College here in Dublin.

The MUN experience is much more than just the conference, there is the research and preparation required beforehand, the adoption of views and attitudes other than their own, the working with new people or friends to represent a nation, the mock debates that create such a buzz down in house area 4 in the lead up to a conference, and last but not least, while at the conference itself the social aspect, where delegates wind down after a hard day of committee work, have the opportunity to mix and mingle in the diverse MUN crowd, making new acquaintances and friendships that often last long after the conference has ended. But above all there is the private satisfaction and personal pride felt when a committee room or General Assembly is filled with delegates raising their placards into the air, voting for a resolution that you have researched, written, lobbied for, debated and fielded questions on.

And thus, in a small way, your MUN experience has fulfilled the aims and goals set out by the founders of the United Nations in the Preamble of the Charter: “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours.”