Post available to Premium Members only. Please upgrade your account in order to apply.
Wilf: Success in Model United Nations is often misconstrued as being the recipient of an award or accolade whereas the truth is far from it. Success develops at different levels, depending on your participatory role. As a delegate, success should be a belief that you have developed your skills during the conference. That the committee has allowed you to grow, even if in just some small way. In many ways, I would see attendance as the greatest success.
If you are going to Model UN’s you are already taking steps towards developing yourself and learning. You can sit there for the whole conference and not speak, and yet you will still be learning, subconsciously if not actively.
As an organizer, success is simple. It does not matter if you made money, if the sponsors are happy, if your speakers were satisfied. What matters is that you provide delegates with a learning experience. With a forum in which to voice their opinions, and develop as people. If you have achieved that, you have achieved success.
Tomas: Success to me, in a broad sense, is meeting your goals which you base on your ability and potential - the highest capable potential you can achieve (your best). For a conference, this means holding the best possible conference you can which provides the best experience possible that students need.
The best way to measure this to me then would be how much students gain from the conference experience. If they make progress, even if it's just a little, in giving a speech, implementing a new idea, understanding the complexities of the topic, or simply just getting involved, then I'd say it was pretty successful. Ultimately, how well they meet those needs and provide a great experience is how I measure success of Model UNs.
Marilena: The main and most precious indicator of success for Model EU Creta was the confessions of our participants during and after the event, accompanied with huge bright smiles on their faces. Participants would approach us round the clock to exclaim wholeheartedly and blissfully what a great time they had. I have never seen that in other simulations I had joined in the past.
A measure of success could be how well-wrapped and well-delivered is the package you offer, no matter the circumstances and all unexpected events; and furthermore how good your crisis-management approach is. Because even the most well-organized event can collapse in front of your eyes, unless you are very well prepared to face the worst case scenario.
Wilf: The first and most obvious difference is the dedication to ‘the international’. Regardless of whether participants are in a health-based committee or one focused on disarmament, there is a dedication to the idea of ‘the international’ […]. An amalgam of ego, intelligence, dedication, cooperation, empathy; choose a positive characteristic and it can probably be applied. All of these elements make our community special.
Tomas: But the defining difference between MUN and other types of groups or organizations is that Model UN profoundly changes you as an individual. Your horizons expand when you engage in MUN because you can't really succeed with all of your assumptions about the world; it challenges you to think outside of your perspective, to see the world from another perspective, and to act for the benefit of everyone, not just yourself.
This is incredibly different from many other communities because you're not only expanding your mind but also engaged in it.
Ana: The level of education, motivation, and ambition make the Model UN community absolutely unbeatable to me.
Some of those who have met once in a committee, will become good friends for life, some will remain as acquaintances. In any way, it is a great network, which will eventually grow out of the ‘MUN’ and grow into the network of policy makers, business people, and scientists. At every conference, we keep being told that we are here to make change. And we are!
Marilena: Compared to the Model United Nations community, the MEU Community is centrally coordinated by the NGO Bringing Europeans Together Association (BETA), the oldest organization in the field, which organizes the renowned Model European Union in Strasbourg in the European Parliament’s premises. This soft coordination ensures that local MEUs do not overlap each other in terms of time-slots and content, and promotes partnerships with one another. There are bimonthly online meetings of the heads where know-how is effectively exchanged and challenges are discussed. Since the MEU concept is relatively new and slower in terms of proliferation, the same MEU participants might bump into each other in more than one MEU. All in all, the MEU Community feels like a big family.
Tomas: The increasing number of MUN organizations is certainly a welcome sight. The more students engaged in international issues the better!
Considering many MUN organizations are run by or involve students, it can be difficult to implement a professional standard or code, but it certainly is not impossible. I believe there is a thing as complete professionalism, but it doesn't sound like what is truly needed for a MUN organization. A good compromise between professionalism and informal/personal standards is to me the best means of organizing conduct and outlining expectations. In terms of professionalism, being courteous to others, respectful, polite, calm, collected, and exhibiting a good level of maturity is important for the success of any organization, not just Model UN ones.
Marilena: Proliferation of MEUs takes place at a slow pace, as their scope is less broad than that of MUNs (EU-related vs. UN-related content). Their proliferation, though it increases competition among MEUs, promotes further the EU spirit and knowledge in EU law and politics, raising awareness of such issues to non-EU citizens as well. The EU and its good practices are thus used as a role-model and inspire many young people with African or Asian origins to revitalize the legislative and political systems back in their countries.
Wilf: Proliferation then does not represent a negative for the community at large. Quite the opposite, the larger the community becomes, the more prevalent our educational objectives and opportunities will be. […] The idea of a professional MUN then is an alien concept to me. I don’t doubt that such a conference will soon exist, run entirely by paid staff who make it their full time job. However, I doubt such a conference will exhibit the sense of community, of unique enjoyment, that engagement with students, other students, can provide.
Ana: Make it memorable! Make it the best experience the participants can have! It is very hard to answer this question, to be honest. I can say now, that OstseeMUN did very well in the past two years. I guess one of the reasons was creativity, in the choice of committees, socials. We constantly experiment and look for something new. Also, we take participant feedback very seriously.
Marilena: Here I would emphasize four things: Careful recruitment of enthusiastic team-members and continuous training; Loyalty in and enhancement of our relationship with existing sponsors/ partners; Intensification of public relations over marketing; Long-term communication with the alumni via email (newsletter) and social media.
Juliane: The most important task for us who have been organizing MUNs before is to guide and help out our new organizers through the challenges that might occur during the actual event. It is also very important to be able to trust your new members and to be able to give them tasks and give them the freedom to get certain tasks done in their own way as long as the end result is good.
Ana: The biggest challenge for a cross-border conference is its “cross-borderness”. The live meetings are often substituted with online meetings, the costs prior to the conference rise significantly with the travels back and forth, and so on. Biggest challenge for OstseeMUN is, as funny as it may seem, would be creating a perfectly timed conference, letting the students from both of our cross-border universities to equally prepare and participate. Difference in the timelines of the Syddansk Universitet and the European University of Flensburg makes it very difficult to make sure students from both universities are equally prepared and well-timed for the conference.
Tomas: Fundraising has been the hardest part of Model United Nations. This is not just because financial resources are hard to come by, but because it is difficult to have effective fundraising campaigns. Sometimes they just don't go according to plan or raise the funds you really need. What has worked the best for our organization is direct-donor contact; we have been able to secure larger sums from reliable donors a lot better by contacting them directly and helping them see the benefits their donation provides to our students.
Juliane: As our [TMUN] main asset is the organizing team, to make sure that we are able to have a strong team, it is essential to make sure that everyone feels appreciated. This of course sounds easier than it is. In the long-term motivating volunteers can become complicated as there are no financial rewards. To motivate volunteers one has to make sure that they have the feeling that they are appreciated and that they have fun working in the group with others.
Wilf: LIMUN has a dedication to being as eco-friendly as possible. Much of our apparatus has moved online from the delegate handbooks to the certificates that are given to each delegate. Every effort is made to find responsibly sourced materials for the conference and minimise the amount of paper that is used each year. We see this as being a central priority as an internationally minded charity with delegates from around the world. It is up to organisations, large and small alike, to make a stand against the trend to overproduce and over consume.
Marilena: What made our simulation stand out were our warm attitude/ friendly service, and our high safety precautions. The organising committee and volunteers treated participants with a bright smile and humour, no matter the circumstances, even in time of crisis. Conducive was the team-spirit and motivating enthusiasm of organisers. They literally put their heart in organising the event.
Marilena: Simulations are mushrooming in various countries around the world, usually organized as non-profit initiatives of former participants. This is indication and proof that more and more young people are thirsty to gain hands-on experience in the (legislative) procedures that shape our lives –procedures that are not learnt through formal education or mere observation. Some EU or UN-related master programmes incorporated such simulations as obligatory in their curriculum.
I therefore foresee that the trend will become a necessity for certain academic curriculums in the future. Every young professional who aspires to follow an EU/ UN career will be required to demonstrate experience in such simulations.
Wilf: I think Model UN will become far more franchised than it has been in the past. I think there is a growing tendency towards larger, more deeply sponsored conferences that cater to the masses in growing, upcoming metropolitan cities. I think this is also a shame. I feel that there is a special characteristic of smaller, student led conferences that is unable to be replicated in the wider, bigger world. Part of the hands-on feeling that comes from something small going wrong, or seeing the students organising it running around, rather than people in full time positions fulfilling their jobs because they are contractually obligated to do so.
I don’t see MUN’s dying though, which is a positive aspect at least. They have finally gained a much bigger foothold than they have in the past and this is important in cementing their place as a forum for young people to experience a taste of the international world and the problems it faces .
Ana: I guess, the tendency towards the institutionalization and more organized MUN community will continue. I can see the tendency of increasing number of the small local conferences will continue as well. The other aspect I see happening, refers to content: MUNs are going more and more diverse in terms of actual topics discussed. I am not talking about Star Wars Council, or other fictional committees, but rather the pre-UN committees (as, for example, OstseeMUN’s own London Conference of 1864), committees oriented towards regional/national politics, or tougher and tougher crises, such as HamMUN's or EuroMUN’s American – Chinese Cabinets. I feel, it is a good way to avoid discussing the same UN Agenda from conference to conference, and develop negotiation skills on a completely new level.