Model United Nations is the simulation of one a meetings or event of one of the major Organs of United Nations. The meetings of Security Council, Special Committees and General Assembly special committees and general debate are the more popular events that are re-created by young people the world over. In the Caribbean the General Assembly debate which happens every September is the event that is most frequently done.
Youth and Diplomacy
It is one of the activities that the United Nations encourages so that young men and women around the world may develop a clearer understanding of international politics; the challenges and opportunities of diplomacy and learn about the key issues on the UN's agenda and how they are addressed in the different regions of the world.
One of the most valuable lessons that MUN teaches is the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of differences in opinion, religion, gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation
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"MUN empowers us"
photo credit: UNIC Port of Spain/ W Ramnarine
"... when we get this sense of empowerment to know that we can make a difference, it will give us the ability to know that our small actions can make a change ..."
-- MUN 2017 Delegate, Gabriel
What and Who
The simulation of one or more of the principal organs of the United Nations - General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council, Security Council or International Court of Justice.
The role of Secretariat is usually a supportive one and may be represented by the administration of activities and events of the simulation.
Who can host a MUN?
MUNs can be international, regional or even small classroom events hosted by groups of highly skilled professionals or a handful of students. There are very few limits to who may organise and host a simulation, once the intent is to discuss contemporary issues on the UN's agenda, accurately represent the views and values of Member States and follow the United Nations established Rules of Procedure for dialogue and debate.
In the Caribbean, for decades the Rotary Club has taken the lead in hosting very well organised simulations of the General Assembly and Security Council and has since grown to become regional events Trinidad and Tobago and national events in Barbados. There have also been MUNs in Guyana and The Bahamas.
As participants young people undertake duties to research background information, temporarily adopt the personas of the delegates for their assigned countries and learn about the protocols of international relations.
Structure of a Model UN
The General Committee:
The President of the GA, Vice-Presidents and Chairs are collectively referred to as the General Committee
The GA is at the centre of the UN System and the UN Secretariat plays a supporting role.
It is vital to any simulation of the GA to include the main GA officials in the leadership structure of the conference to avoid giving over emphasis to the role of the Secretary-General and the UN Secretariat.
The Main Committees of the UN General Assembly:
- The First Committee: Disarmament and International Security (DISEC)
- The Second Committee: Economic and Financial (ECOFIN)
- The Third Committee: Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian (SOCHUM)
- The Fourth Committee: Special Political and Decolonisation (SPECPOL)
- The Fifth Committee: Administrative and Budgetary and general
- The Sixth Committee: Legal
The delegate refers to the role of the students who have the duty of representing a Member State.
Essential musts for the Delegate :
- Read the Charter of the UN
- Understand the UN System and its family of organisations
- Research the issue
- Prepare a position paper
- Understand and accede to the Rules of Procedure
It is also very important that all MUN participants treat each other with respect and dignity and be mindful if their conduct, keeping in mind that the United Nations does not condone any act of discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying or any other act of violence. Organisers of MUNs should have standard rules and guidelines regarding behaviour and the consequences for disobeying them. For example - School rules could be circulated and explained to all students before the General Debate in the assembly hall.
Other useful skills :
- Public speaking
- Summary writing
Rules of Procedure
The quorum is the number of Member States who need to be present for the PGA/Chair to open a meeting and for the GA to take decisions. The quorum for opening a GA meeting is one-third of the Member States in the Plenary and one-fourth of the Member States in the Main Committees. This rule is usually waived at the beginning of a session, based on the recommendation of the General Committee. The quorum for the adoption of resolutions/decisions and elections is a simple majority of Member States.
Points of order
Points of order can be raised by Member States at any point in the meeting. If a delegate believes that the Chairman is not following the Rules of Procedure or not being sufficiently active in ensuring others do so, he/she may raise a point of order. The Rules of Procedure require the Chairman to interrupt proceedings to hear the point of order and to rule immediately on it (where ‘rule’ means to declare either that the point of order has no merit or to accept it and direct any delegate who is out of order to conform to the Rules).
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The Rules also provide that if any delegate believes that the Chairman’s ruling is incorrect, he/she may appeal against the ruling. Because the power within a Committee rests ultimately with the delegates themselves, an appeal must immediately be put to a vote. The Rules further provide that if the appeal is successful, the Chairman must immediately rule according to the appeal. If the Chairman’s ruling on a point of order is appealed, the question put before the Committe is whether the Chairman’s ruling should be accepted or rejected. If a delegate felt the Chairman’s ruling should be accepted he/she would vote ‘Yes’ or would vote ‘No’ if he/she felt it should be rejected. Any delegate at all times has an absolute right to raise a point of order or to challenge the Chairman’s ruling. But he/she does not have an obligation to do so and, before exercising his/her right, he/she should consider whether it is constructive to do so.
Suspension of a meeting
A meeting can be suspended for a limited amount of time upon the request of a Member State or by the PGA. A suspended meeting is usually resumed on the same day.
Adjournment of a meeting
A meeting can be adjourned upon the request of a Member State or by the PGA. An adjournment calls a meeting to a close. Any continued consideration of an item will take place at another meeting usually on another day.
Adjournment of debate
Adjournment of debate ends parts or all of the consideration of the agenda item concerned. This can mean ending the debate, blocking action on a specific draft resolution/decision or ending the consideration of the item as a whole (i.e., closing the item for the remainder of the session). Member States requesting adjournment of debate specify which part of the consideration is to be ended. The motion to adjourn debate is put to an immediate vote, carried by a simple majority, after a maximum of two delegations have spoken in favour and two against. The term “no-action motion” is used when a motion for adjournment of debate is made to block action on a specific draft resolution or decision.
President of the General Assembly ( PGA)
The President of the General Assembly (PGA) is the guardian of the General Assembly (GA) Rules of Procedure but has no say in the actual decision-making of the GA. In this role the PGA, opens and closes each GA plenary meeting, rules on points of order, and presides over discussions in plenary meetings. In addition, the PGA organizes thematic debates and plays an important role in raising the public visibility of the GA
Vice-Presidents (VPs) of the General Assembly
The Vice-Presidents replace the president of the General Assembly, when he is absent, as Acting President. The Acting President has the same powers and duties as the President and remains under the authority of the General Assembly.
read more An Acting President does not vote. If need be, the Acting President has to designate another member of his delegation to vote in his place. The VPs are frequently tasked by the PGA with the facilitation of complex negotiations. In this capacity, the Vice–President will conduct consultations on a specific assignment and chair informal meetings of the plenary at ambassadors and experts level.