Community / The Nation and the World

The ins and outs of Model UN

Dana Hall MUN has been very active lately. On December 10, 12 Dana Hall students attended a conference at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts, and on January 12-15, 12 students attended Columbia University for an overnight conference.

Model United Nations (MUN) is a club that emulates the structure of the United Nations, an international organization which collaborates over world issues. There are Model UN clubs at schools all across the country. These schools travel to conferences where delegates model ambassadors and engage in discussions and problem solve. Each delegate represents a country, and their views on world issues. 

The topics covered at St. John’s Prep include: international security, immigration reform, misinformation in social media, equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccine, sustainable nourishment worldwide, and the Colombian Drug Wars among others. Dana students were present in most of the rooms, with heads Lizzy Dorsey ‘23 and Amelia Thames ‘24 acting as co-chairs.

At St. John’s Prep, Gabi Antun ‘24 was given the role of a notorious Colombian drug lord and stated “We definitely talked a lot about the drug trade and how it affected the Mexican and American economies, governments, people of these countries and the violence. We did come to a peace treaty and we didn’t ever agree to stop selling the drugs but definitely a decrease in that and compromising with the two different governments.” Gabi enjoyed lobbying someone else’s opinion despite not agreeing with their decisions and beliefs. 

Maddie Mcgill ‘25 discussed the topic of food insecurity in Ukraine and was chosen to represent the United States. Two resolutions were passed in the room; they developed a port system that allowed Ukraine to export and import goods, and set up refugee centers. Maddie enjoys meeting different people at MUN conferences and traveling to different places.

At a traditional MUN conference, delegates are assigned a country, topic and committee in advance. Based upon one’s assignment students prepare accordingly by researching, developing an opening statement, and writing a position paper. The opening statement is read at the beginning of the conference to introduce oneself and announce their position. 

Two to three people act as chairs who facilitate the conference keeping order among delegates and the open and closed discussions. Moderated caucuses are organized discussions relating to a topic in which there is a set speaking time and only a few spots open for discussion. Moderated caucuses are used to discuss each country’s position in different subtopics. Unmoderated caucuses are a time for collaboration, in which delegates can meet with other representatives whose beliefs may align. During these periods coalitions are often formed and resolutions begin to develop. 

Towards the end of a conference each bloc’s resolution should be complete and should contain a preambulatory clause, which is used to introduce the topic of concern, and an operative clause, which outlines the resolutions purpose and goals. All resolutions are then presented by their sponsors and voted on by the room of delegates, with a 2/3 majority needed in order to pass. The conference ends with the presenting of awards for categories such as best public speaker, best position paper and others.

According to the National Model United Nations website, “Through these experiences students develop an appreciation of differing viewpoints, experience the challenges of negotiation, see the rewards of cooperation, broaden their world view, and discover the human side of international relations and diplomacy.” The United Nations website states that “Many of today’s leaders in law, government, business and the arts participated in MUN as students”.

Lizzy Dorsey believes that, “the biggest benefit of being in Model UN in general is learning how to see things from different perspectives.” And that “Model UN skills translate really well to school skills because it teaches you how to research really well and it teaches you current events and it helps you gain a sense of what’s going on in the world.”

Photo source: Alla Baranovsky

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