Model United Nations(MUN) can be really complex to understand, especially if you’re a beginner. As a starter, you’re excited as well as nervous about what’s gonna happen.
However, usually an MUN progresses so fast that if you’re not aware of what’s going on, you’ll easily fade away from the whole game. To understand what’s going on, you need to understand the terms first.
MUN has its own glossary of terminologies. Without knowing these, there’s no point going to an MUN.
Beneath is a list of 10 most important MUN terms with their explanation for dummies(no hard feelings as I was also a dummy once. I aced and so will you). Each term is given adequate explanation so that you can completely understand the meaning and the context it can be used in.
I will be adding 10 more in my next article and so forth.
Stay tuned for more upcoming MUN content made easy to understand!
For now, let’s get going!
1. Model United Nations(MUN)
Let’s start with the complete basics. What does an MUN mean? Well, as indicated by the name, it’s a model of the actual UN. It models what the actual UN does. It functions by following the way of the UN, although there are some slight differences.
You don’t necessarily need to go and check how exactly does the UN work(you actually shouldn’t unless you have too much time). What you need to know is that your aim is to solve world issues at an MUN like world leaders gather at the UN to solve the issues.
2. Host Team
This is also called the Secretariat, although the term host team is usually more common. This is the team that is behind the MUN. It’s responsible for managing all the affairs of the MUN.
A host team is divided into sub-teams e.g. Public Relations(PR) team, Logistics team, Photography team etc. but we won’t get into what each sub-team does. All you need to know is that the host team organizes the whole event.
If you’re not part of the host team but rather participating, you’re called a delegate. In simple words, a delegate is a representative of a country, group, organization etc.
You may have heard in the news that country X sent a delegation to country Y or group X sent a delegation to wherever for talks etc. What the delegations do is convey the messages and do whatever they’ve been told by those who sent them.
For example, let’s say you’re assigned Pakistan by the host team. Now your job is to represent Pakistan and do whatever Pakistan would do(When I say ‘do’, I actually mean ‘say’ because you’re going to an MUN to interact, not take actions).
You don’t have to do what you think is right but rather what your country, organization etc. would do. To know what your country or organization would do, you’ll have to do your research on that particular country, organization etc.
Sometimes 2 people represent one country/organization in a committee(discussed below). The 2 people are called dual delegate/double delegate and they refer to each other as co-delegate.
If a group of people register together for an MUN, they’re called a delegation. In this case, there is a head delegate who registers everyone and manages the whole team’s affairs.
4. MUN Committees
Each committee has its own specific agenda(discussed below). This is what makes it different from other committees.
A committee in which 2 people represent a country/organization is called a dual delegate committee/double delegate committee. Usually, there are single-delegate committees unless mentioned otherwise.
Examples of MUN Committees
- United Nations Security Council(UNSC)
- International Court of Justice(ICJ)
- United Nations Women(UNW)
- United Nations Human Rights Council(UNHRC)
- Economic and Social Council(ECOSOC)
- Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Committee(SOCHUM)
- Committee on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice(CCPCJ).
There are also some special or advisory committees e.g.
- European Union(EU)
- African Union(AU)
- Arab League(AL)
- Asian Development Bank(ADB)
- International Monetary Fund(IMF) etc.
Note how each committee’s name defines, more or less, what aspect it would be discussing. UNSC would be discussing topics like Kashmir, Palestine etc. while CCPCJ would be discussing things like drug trafficking and crime related stuff.
Also, note that UNW isn’t restricted to female delegates only but EU is restricted to European countries and so is Arab league for Arab countries, unless there is an observer state present from outside.
You don’t need to memorize the full form of each committee as all committees are referred to by their abbreviation.
How is a committee assigned
When a delegation goes into an MUN, all of them are assigned the same country but each of them has to represent in a different committee(unless a committee is a dual-delegate one in which case 2 people will be with each other).
It is possible that a group of people register together and half of them are given one country and half the other, or one-third is given one country and the other two-thirds given two different countries, and so forth. This actually depends on the number of committees in that particular event.
For example, let’s say an MUN has 5 committees(let’s assume none is a dual-delegate committee, for simplicity). Now, when 5 representatives of each country are put in each of the committees, no more can be put. So if the group of people registering together are 5 or less, they’re given the same country/organization. If more, some of them will be assigned some other country/organization.
Just like country, your committee is assigned to you before the MUN. In well-managed MUNs, the country and committee may be assigned to you 15-25 days before the event, so that you can prepare well. When registering, you’re asked to give your preferred choices(usually 2 which are ranked by you) for both the country/organization and the committee. If none before you has opted for your options, you’ll get it.
This is what makes each committee different from another one. Agenda is basically the topic that the delegates in the committee would be discussing.
Sometimes there are 2 agendas. This doesn’t happen in most committees but if it does, delegates get along and vote on what topic should be discussed, even before the event. They leave the next to be discussed if the first is completed(which almost never happens, so basically they leave it completely).
You’d ask: How do they meet before the event? Well, they don’t. The thing is, almost all MUNs make a Facebook group for delegates of each committee. In their respective committee group, someone initiates a poll and people make a consensus. This consensus is important so that everyone thoroughly prepares the chosen topic.
Then, in the committee, they formally vote again to confirm their decision.
No, you don’t sit on these. Actually, don’t ever even try. It’ll be devastating.
These are also called Dias. This refers to the people who are appointed to facilitate the delegates and oversee the whole conference. Every committee has its own chairs.
The chairs are like judges of a committee. They make sure the committee is progressing and evaluate the performance of each delegate and then rank them at the end of MUN, thus deciding who gets which award.
If you’re lucky, chairs will also help you a lot as well and make the sessions fun for you. Most chairs are nice and will try to help the delegates move the committee forward. However, a few are rude, to be honest, and that can, to some extent, ruin your experience. This all comes down to your luck.
Hey. Don’t worry, you’ll get great chairs most certainly!
The chairs are usually(this may vary) announced after the delegates have chosen their country/organization and committee. This is why you really can’t make your decision based on the chairs even if you know them.
The chairs are not part of the host team. They’re invited from outside.
7. Committee Director
This is also called the Head chair. The term chairs refers to the Committee Director and the Assistant Committee Directors(ACD).
Sometimes they’re can be two Committee Directors(CDs).
There’s not too much difference between Committee Directors and ACDs. It’s just that ACDs help the Committee Director(s) to do their work. For example, the ACDs would come to you if you have a question(I’ll discuss how that happens in detail in my upcoming articles), but a Committee Director would never, unless there’s no ACD at the moment.
You’re probably familiar with this term. This basically means the order of a place which shouldn’t be disturbed.
Unless you come from a non-English medium background, you’ve most certainly heard this term in your classroom when the teacher says, ‘Please maintain the decorum of the class.’
When you’re being loud or disrespectful, you’re disturbing the decorum. The chairs note it and your marks are deducted. Depending on the repetition of your action or its severity, you may also be suspended from the committee for some time(or maybe completely although I’ve never heard of that, highly unlikely).
Talking is considered disrespect, especially when someone is speaking. So make sure you listen carefully when someone is speaking. If you want to talk to a delegate, talk so secretly that no one is disturbed.
Usually delegates pass chits to talk so that the decorum isn’t disturbed in any way, so you can try that too!
9. MUN Placard
Placard is cardboard-like thing with your country’s/organization’s name written on it. It’s given to you before the sessions.
When you have a question or you want to be selected to speak when the chairs are selecting delegates(will talk about this in my upcoming articles), you raise your placard to be identified.
10. Position paper
This is the first and probably the most important document a delegate has to make.
Position paper has to be submitted before the start of the 1st session through soft copy. Delegates are provided the email and they have to send it there.
As indicated by the name, it’s a one-page document that defines your position on the issue everybody in your committee will debate on.
As mentioned above, it’s not your personal position but rather the position/stance your country/organization has on the issue. For example, say you’re assigned India and the topic is Kashmir issue. What would be India’s stance on this issue? Of course that ‘Kashmir is India’s integral part. So, for starters, it shouldn’t even be discussed here but rather be left to India.’
Now you’re not gonna write these 2-3 lines. You’re gonna elaborate on this point to put your position in front.
Position paper carries marks so make sure to ace it.
There’s a certain way a position paper has to be written. That, I will explain in my upcoming articles, so stay tuned!
Thanks for reading the article!
Check out the 2nd part here
If you have any questions or want me to explain something further, comment down below!
Good luck for your MUN journey!