Model United Nations was formed, just as the actual United Nations, as a predecessor to a Mock League of Nations conference. It is still widely debated which conference came first, Harvard MUN, Berkeley MUN or National MUN all commencing in the early 1950s. Regardless of which came first, each of these pioneer MUN conferences shared a mutual reason for inception, to engage the youth on political and global affairs and create a platform for the youth to use their cognition coupled with research to solve real world problems that nations actually face on a daily basis.
This was seen as a truly ingenious initiative because the world now had access to a new set of intellectuals who viewed the same world issues, which were being discussed by actual UN diplomats, yet from a completely different perspective. This fresh perspective was and truly still is what the world really needed/s to eventually attain world peace. (Or at least minimize world chaos) By tapping into this resource, we had the potential to achieve the goals set out by the UN in 1945. To uphold peace and harmony amongst nations.
This reality was phased however, it encountered rough seas created only by its own captain. The introduction of points and awards into the MUN arena was imminent and vital in order to ensure that more children and young adults alike were inclined to participate in conferences. This way, the knowledge and cognitive intuition of more students could be utilized to search for solutions not yet found. It was evident that this introduction of an incentive came at a cost. Much like any platform where a scoring system is emplaced, competition arose between delegates. This was the death of MUN.
What do we see at MUN conferences today? We see delegates blindly voting for resolutions based on either on where their friends lie allegiance to or simply which resolution they are a signatory of. The delegates, especially in a GA, don’t truly understand what is listed within the operatives, the purpose of operative clause 6; sub-clause b; part ii. But this is just the beginning, a lack of understanding can be solved, but the key underlying issue, which is slightly more difficult to be dealt with, is the thirst for awards.
One MUN technique that has been passed down from some of the greatest MUN-ers Sri Lanka has seen, is to research and find dirt on other countries, in particular; your main competition. This practice has only been brought about because of the competitive aspect of the game. There will be two, sometimes more, delegates who are competing for that top spot. The highly reputable Best Delegate award. When it really comes down to it, either one will do anything in their power to ensure they are the ones whose name is called last by their chairs during the closing ceremony. Whether it be publicly shaming them in front of the whole committee, passing chits around to ask other delegates not to vote for their reso, or even poking meaningless holes in their very viable solution simply to make him/her look bad. Believe it or not, these are things that actually happen in committee.
It’s sad really, what it’s come to. Even more than the Best Delegate award, the other award which has caused great distress and trouble is the Best School Award. From a personal experience, during a practice debate one year I was asked by the chair to assist a younger delegate in making a speech on a moderated caucus topic. So I took him aside and I helped him plan out a speech, after he made this speech he wouldn’t put his placard down! He made so many brilliant speeches that day and I was elated. The same day after the committee’s proceedings had concluded I was approached by the 14 year old and he said to me,“Thank you so much for your help Aiya, which school are you from?”I replied with the name of my school and a smile and as soon as I did his face dropped he said“Oh, we were told not to speak with people from your school.”turned around and walked away.
It’s disheartening that something as trivial as a school rivalry in a United Nations simulation could get in the way of two people becoming friends and working together to discover solutions to solve a real world issue. We can no longer come together as a collective body, simply to discuss ideas and solutions. We’ve corrupted this system with greed, egotism and lust for “victory”.
The problem is that no one realizes that no amount of shiny gold medals will; bring peace to Ukraine, help Greece escape its immense debt trap, bring justice to the Syrian people, discover methods of reducing greenhouse gases, or give hope to the citizens of North Korea.
This is what it has come to, this is the digression of MUN