How Does Model UN Work?

by | Sep 6, 2017 | Model United Nations


Despite the fact that there are Model UN conferences happening all across the globe at every level of education, the basics of every single event are the same. This is because all model UN events are based on sessions held by the actual United Nations, and follow formulas put in place by a national committee to enable groups to interact consistently. Let’s look at how these meet-ups work, and what to expect at your first Model UN!

Pomp and Circumstance

United Nations simulations will always involve a degree of ceremony. Many conferences span several days, allowing for many additional events for participants and spectators to be involved in during that time. These events may include social mixers, cultural festivities or tours of local historical attractions. Opening and closing ceremonies are common as well, uniting all participants and viewers for a prestigious kickoff.

Discussion and Debate

The heart of any Model United Nations event are the committee sessions. Here the delegates raise topics between representatives of various nations and the negotiation of solutions to the issues that these topics highlight. This is what delegates prepare for, after all! The primary goal of each conference is to debate the issue, form coalitions and, together, come up with a policy – or collection of policies voted on by a majority of national representatives – in the form of a draft resolution. Once this resolution passes, voted on by a majority, the simulation ends, usually to applause.

There are three formats of discussion that most Model UN simulations move between. These are:

  • General Speakers List, during which any participant can use floor time to speak on any relevant issue.
  • The Moderated Caucus, which is overseen by the committee chairperson, and delegates speak on specific topics to find workable resolutions.
  • The Unmoderated Caucus, which allows delegates to move around freely to discuss and debate with one another one on one. During this final phase, members may also work on focus papers and create first drafts of resolutions to be proposed and voted upon later.

The cycle of movement between these formats will generally continue until a collection of policies can be agreed upon by a majority. Once the delegates pass the resolution, the chairperson will declare the resolution draft to be passed. The delegates can then vote to close the simulation, making way for the closing ceremony and celebration for the participants. Some conferences may involve several simulations, while others may include only one. Regardless, the focus of every participant is the successful cooperation and collaboration between the national representatives and the addressing of the current, culturally relevant topic of discussion in a way that benefits as many diplomat participants as possible.

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