By Leon Heckmann
HamMUN 2015 was my second MUN after EuroMUN in Maastricht this year and once again it was a blast. For all those who have never been to a Model United Nations or think about attending one, here are five facts to convince you that MUN is a great concept:
- You take the role of a country’s (or political parties) delegate to an international body and simulate international negotiating and decision-making. This will not only provide you with information on the forum itself and the topics you will be discussing, but gives you a first-hand experience of a diplomat/delegate’s work in a fun and beginner-friendly environment.
- MUN is a great opportunity to practice and enhance you public speaking and debating skills. This goes both for beginners and MUN-veterans: While for the former MUN is the perfect staging to train your rhetorical skills by representing a country’s specific interests on a topic, for the latter it can become a real rhetorical contest between the best speakers, with the prospect of the best or distinguished delegate award.
- However, MUN conferences are not simply a rhetorical context between individual speakers. Rather, it is all about teamwork and finding collective solutions to common problems: Without actively engaging in collaborative negotiation and resolution drafting, no MUN delegate will be successful. More specifically, key is to find allies and partners inside your committee who share a common stance with you, in order to strengthen your bargaining power collectively. It goes without saying that such teamwork and leadership skills will be more than useful in your academic and later also professional careers.
- MUN conferences are also predestined to meet lots of new people and, in fact, make new friends. Especially in the smaller committees (>30 delegates) you will get to know everyone quite well during the 3-4 days conferences, simply because you will be debating, drafting and working together intensively throughout this time. Committee session normally start at 9 in the morning and the last ones may well continue until 7 pm, followed by the obligatory social few hours later (see point 5). Moreover, the MUN community is a truly global one: You will get to know delegates from many different countries, from different cultural and educational backgrounds. It’s also more than likely that you will meet people again at other conferences throughout the world – be it as delegate, chair, or even board member of a Model United Nations. The word is that after the third consecutive conference, it is officially considered “MUN addiction”.
- Last but definitely not least, MUN conferences are simply a lot of fun. That is, in addition to the committee sessions, due to the social programme (which, when optional, you should book in any case): The conference hosts will provide you with parties, pub crawls and the obligatory Delegate’s Ball as highlight every evening of the conference. This gives you the opportunity to get a grasp of the conference’s host city and country and to relax a bit from university. Rumor has it that socials have also been used by some delegates for extended unmods or “bilateral negotiations”… But moreover, the socials will also test your ability to work under aggravated conditions: You will most likely need to recover a few nights’ sleep after a MUN conference.