A Model United Nations Conference (MUN) is a simulation of various international political, economic, and social organizations. During an MUN university students have the opportunity to take on the role of diplomats and ambassadors, representing different countries, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and even corporations. MUNs allow young people to experience the complexities of international relations, keeping in mind current events and self-interest. These conferences serve as an insight to the politicized nature of international predicaments and the bureaucratic functioning of the various organizations that try to solve these problems. An MUN usually has several different committees from various international organizations including for example the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union. Each committee then discusses a couple of pressing issues decided upon by the secretariat. Students prepare by accumulating knowledge about their specific country, NGO, or corporation, based on the specific viewpoints or history that these stakeholders might have with the issues that will be discussed during the days of the conference.
During the conference participants are asked to actively engage in debate in order to make the simulation as realistic as possible. This involves extensive public speaking and debate, problem-solving, and comprehensive negotiations. The goal of an MUN is to gain and improve these skills in a setting that is both respectful and challenging. Participants are able to reflect on the realities of the international system. Furthermore the participants have a responsibility to represent the respective interests of the assigned country in their specific committee. In addition to this, delegates have the opportunity to join in dialogue across different cultures and nationalities, developing their skills not only professionally but also socially, making connections that will outlive the conference. Despite the fact that an MUN simulates mostly the political arena, the skills that an MUN strives to teach young professionals can be applied in all fields from business, to law, and even natural and physical sciences.
In many ways MUNs serve as a platform, allowing the next generation of leaders and academics to understand the intricacies of world affairs, using a practical approach rather than a theoretical one. Conferences such as these stress the cooperation between states and organizations as a means of taking advantage of the differences between our cultures and the effects of globalization.
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