Model United Nations

Model United Nations (MUN) started in the 1950s as a diplomacy simulation game for university students and soon made its way to the high school level. MUN clubs work towards attending 3-5 day national or international conferences where students assume the role of United Nations delegates, ambassadors, committee chairs and judges. They assume the identity of one of the 194 UN members, research and investigate the most pressing issues of that face our world, and formulate policy statements and resolutions designed to solve these problems. Once at the conference, they engage in structured debates to try to get their resolution passed. The trick is to make sure one really represents their country’s position but at the same time to use diplomacy to convince other delegates to support what might be a rather unpopular stance.

RISS MUN is made up of mostly 9th to 11th graders. There are preliminary organisational meetings 2-3 times a year where a new conference is announced. MUN involves quite a bit of research and written work, a real interest in current affairs, plus a willingness to speak in front of mostly unfamiliar students, so MUNers are often a self-selected group. Often, there are limits as to how many delegates we can bring, so sometimes we have to create a waiting list. Meetings are free periods during the school day. MUN students must make the commitment to attend these meetings as well as to meet deadlines for policy statements and resolutions. Participation always involves travel, and some meal, costs and often hotel costs as well.

After over 14 years of involvement in the program, I have seen participation change students’ lives, determine career choices and help some realise that they are not alone in their passion for politics. Every participant becomes more comfortable speaking publicly, hones their research, writing and vocabulary skills and develops more sensitivity to the perspectives of others. Perhaps the most rewarding for all members is the strong feeling of comradery and respect between all RISS club members no matter if they are 13 or 18 years of age.

For more information about the MUN programme, please contact Carolyn McNanie.