What is a MUN?
MUN stands for Model United Nations. In short it is an academic activity where the world's most pressing issues the United Nations tackles are debated and solved using the same procedures as the UN. MUNs are hosted all around the world from Oxford university to Harvard and right here in Belgium, the most well known in Belgium being our very own conference hosted by KULMUN. These conferences are open for anyone to join. Each conference is split into several committees who each discuss several topics ranging from legislation of autonomous weapons, women's rights in less developed countries, mental health in conflict zones and many more, depending on the committee.
MUN conferences are the core of KULMUN's activities. The training activities we provide in debating, negotiation and so on, are all aimed at improving our members' ability to make the most out of any MUN conference that we send delegations to, or our own MUN conference KULMUN2020.
Content and Structure
MUN conferences held around the world:
MUN conferences are hosted by various universities, examples include Oxford University and Harvard. Conferences range greatly in size, difficulty and duration.
Conferences are typically split into committees of 20 delegates. Each committee is a reflection of a UN body. Topics depend on the committee in question for example a committee of the KULMUN2019 conference was the World Health Organisation which discussed mental health in conflict zones or the UN Security Council which discussed the Yemen conflict.
Delegates and Chairs:
Each participant, called a delegate, will represent the interests of an assigned country and debate and negotiate with other participants accordingly. In most cases there are two chairpersons assigned to moderate the debate (In special cases there may be more chairs).
Number of attendants and duration:
Conferences are typically either 2 or 5 days long. Conferences can vary greatly in size though in most cases each conference is split into 5 or more committees of 20-30 delegates.
However, larger conferences like the Harvard Worldmun have up to a total of 2000 participants split into 8 or more committees. This is considered an advanced conference.
Chances to Network
Opportunities to make meaningful connections:
All MUN conferences also provide plenty of opportunities to network and socialize where you can expand your contacts and more importantly connect with new and interesting people.
Examples of MUN socials:
These socials can become very extravagant in some conferences, such as the Harvard WorldMUN global village where the entire Cybele Palace in Madrid was rented out just for their social or BiMUN who hosted a party on a Yacht. When it comes to MUN socials the variety is endless, from karaoke nights, galas, dance off's to good old parties you will never find yourself bored of what there is on offer.
Conferences are typically open to the public:
Almost all conferences are very open to anyone to apply, you do not need to be a part of any MUN organisation to join. As well as this, very few conferences, if any, place prerequisites based on a participants study. However, proficiency in English is required as most debates are held in English with few exceptions. Most conferences do not specify a required level of proficiency hence no documentation (Such as IELTS or CAE) is required to prove your language skills.
Benefits of joining with an MUN association:
As stated before it is not necessary to be part of an MUN organisation to join MUN conferences, this applies to our own conference KULMUN2020. However, there are a number of major advantages to attending an MUN conference as part of an association.
Better preparation: MUN Associations like KULMUN organize mock MUN conferences to allow their members to learn the rules of procedure of a conference through practice, making you significantly more prepared.
Simplified logistics: associations typically organize transportation and accommodation for its participants.
Reduced cost: As well as this, associations may receive discounts for sending their members in larger groups reducing costs or may even receive funding to reduce costs. For example KULMUN is often granted funding from the University of Leuven.
Interest in international politics:
A question some might be asking is 'what are the benefits of attending?'. Of course there are many reasons a person might attend, the simplest of which may be a passion for debate and international politics, in which case, you don't need much convincing to participate in an MUN.
Improving career prospects regardless of study:
MUN conferences are an excellent way to prove to future employers that you have been actively developing your soft skills, being an extremely important factor in a persons chances in employment in today's job market.
This is especially the case when attending conferences attached to prestigious educational institutes such as the Harvard Worldmun or KU Leuven's KULMUN conference. One may further prove their excellent soft skill base to employers by attempting to win awards in one of these conferences. However, attending a conference with the sole purpose of winning an award very heavily detracts from the experience.
Meeting new people:
As previously mentioned the socials of MUNs are a fantastic place to meet like minded, or even better vastly different minded people. It is very common for conference goers to meet life long friends and connections.