The initial motive for this article was to repeat the year in review format that many magazines have this time of the year, in a MUN way. Therefore, after opening a zillion tabs on my browser hoping that each click would mean the last conference for me to check out and talking to loads of people, I realized that this would be impossible to do since I had mostly collected gossip box interesting information which led me to a –please someone say debatable and get back to me with positive facts- conclusion that this year was a very bad one for the activity of simulating overall.
Let me elaborate: I used the databases available on MUNPlanet, Best Delegate, and Wikipedia. I was going for sections including each continent and divided by trimesters, first-second half of winter period, etc. If I were to publish that option, it would show a decrease in conference’s numbers (not merged MUNs, simply not happening anymore), attendance rates went down and positive feedback was almost nonexistent either on public or private reviews. Additionally, the numbers of MUN organizations were doubled by comparison to 2016 and their field of expertise covers every inch of the muniverse, at least as stated on their web pages. Unfortunately, the overuse of the term “globalization” has brought almost the vilification of the notion; since global reach needs to be actually happening not in our imagination only as in a lot of cases where ambition has no structure.
However, the signs of creativity coming from the inclusion of new committees give me some hope. For example, Lord of The Rings, World Tourism Organization, re-examining old ICJ cases in crisis style made me smile. The presence of more female MUNers in hot spots like crisis or secretariat is encouraging, but the effort of diminishing attitudes like gold gaveling should be constant. Also, the careful expansion of the consensus approach with the first edition of WIMUN Brazil receiving unexpectedly good remarks is perhaps an indication that we are in need of a serious public dialogue over the many different RoPs and their utility.
Moving on, this year proved us that we are expecting simulations to be a low energy profitable activity. There is a broad belief, close to an urban myth that it’s very easy to set up a prestigious conference and have serious personal profit out of it. This perception gave some very poorly run editions that led to delegates turning their attention to other activities, better organized and cheaper than attending a simulation. Let alone the ridiculous portfolios that people came up with, for example, there was Under-Secretary-General for Administration with the task of managing water bottles. Besides that, it led to the publication of stories connected to budgets redirected on needs like the upgrade of one’s wardrobe instead of buying placards. If you have a story like that to share, please use the hashtag #exposethecircuit for maximum reach to be ensured.
Having established that we consider all types of simulations to be an open bank account, we have also dramatically increased the differentiation of simulations to the actual UN procedures. It goes without saying that within the aspects of a conference things will be modified but claiming to be accurate and instead of having mixed up procedures or no procedures at all is not what UN is all about. A simple example can be found in official country names where “nicknames” to official names are used, or painfully long conference themes/committee topics that are not generating interest but yawning. However, the final nail in my coffin was the vast amount of complaints that participants have expressed regarding the quality of social events and the lack of contraceptive material in some MUN venues. If you want another example, follow a mun memes account and you will see that the memes related to flirt have way higher numbers than anything else.
Moreover, branding out with words like “debate”, “national issues”, “fight”, “revenge” makes me think I am about to watch a re-run of Fight Club than a conference. Yes, background diplomacy is very interesting but the UN is not much like House of Cards as much as we would like it to be. And if you prefer HoC, this means that your interest is divided on bilateral relations and the US Congress.
Lastly, it was the first time in this year that I saw muns being used to promote political interests and countries’ agendas. It is a platform, not a political tool and if any permanent mission wishes to engage with youth on a large scale, other ways can be found instead of risking the neutrality of the activity as a whole.
To sum up, if you feel that I am not mentioning anything new then you are perhaps used to the situation. We used to have some major MUNs pulling out great editions and absorbing some of the negativity but our stock on these is getting thinner by the month. The major difference is that this year the problems have been unprecedentedly increased. Is a MUN revival possible?
If anyone wants to see the excel sheets that led to this pessimistic view of mine, feel free to ask for them :)
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