Through simulating deliberative bodies within the UN system and other international institutions, Model United Nations (MUN) offers an opportunity for experiential education in practical global policymaking. MUN participants play the role of diplomats in global committees, commissions and council, representing the interests and policies of a member state or organization assigned to them.
In addition to providing students with in-depth knowledge of the UN system, international relations and diplomatic practice, MUN teaches students ways to shape and negotiate policy. MUN participants prepare position papers outlining their countries’ policies, give both prepared and impromptu public speeches, converse within established rules of order and draft resolutions to be passed by the body. Lessons learned in MUN are often applicable to influencing and enacting policy in local government assemblies, parent-teacher associations, unions and academic institutions.
For information on how Model UN conferences function, visit the MUN website of the USA United Nations Association. They also provide a guide for MUN beginners, including guidance on doing research, giving speeches and writing position papers. For latest Model UN news, visit the blog BestDelegate; their Resources page is particularly useful, as is their article “5 Skills Every Delegate Should Learn.” For a light-hearted guide to getting ahead in conferences, visit MyModel UN. The above video offers a good introduction to what Model UN is and how it functions:
Understanding the United Nations
For basic information about the United Nations, click here, or visit the BBC’s profile of the United Nations. For more detailed information, visit the UN’s Cyberschoolbus. For UN documents, such as the Charter or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Security Council Resolutions and General Assembly Resolutions, click here. Duke University has a particularly good webpage on researching the United Nations.
Researching Your Country Assignments
There are many useful places to find information about the country you will represent in conference. For general information, have a look at:
For detailed news and analysis, check out these sources, as well as the usual news outlets:
- BBC News
- International Crisis Group
- Institute for War and Peace Reporting
- Al Jazeera
The UNA-USA has a good guide to researching country assignments, available here.
The following organizations produce useful reports on topics that often come before Model UN committees:
- US State Department Human Rights Reports
- Arms Control Association
- Amnesty International
- Human Rights Watch
- International Campaign to Ban Landmines
- Overseas Development Institute
- UNDP Human Development Reports
- UNHCR Statistics
- Chatham House