When students assume role of UN representatives
You are a student of a prominent Law School, and you yearn for opportunities to understand the dynamics of international bodies like the UN. How do you go about that? Here is how you can debate issues that normally only world leaders do, and bring in resolutions as your individual response to global issues. “Model United Nations conferences help students gain leaderships abilities, debating capability, team work; knowledge of law, international relations, diplomacy, report writing, research; encourages discussion, consensus-building, conflict resolution and cooperation, insights into global issues and problems; inspires to think about solutions,” says Ujwala Bendale, Assistant Professor at New Law College, Pune.
What is Model United Nations?
“Model United Nations (MUN) is in simple words a mock UN session. People, that is, students, represent nations or states of the particular country and have a discussion on a certain agenda set up for that intended committee,” says Sanaa Krishan, a student of Symbiosis Law School, Noida and Convener of the college’s MUN society,
MUNs replicate the proceedings of the United Nations conferences. An MUN can be defined as an educational mock conference and competition where students acting as delegates enact world leaders, simulate the committees of UN and discuss topics of international bearing. They learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations.
MUNs are usually organized by colleges and schools globally and skill students in debating, public speaking, writing, research, critical thinking, leadership abilities and organizing and managing an event. Simulation of committees of the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, headed by the Secretary General, is the most commonly adopted model of this conference. There is a separate department for International Press.
“An MUN usually has three committees – A debate committee, an organizing committee, and International Press. The debate committee further has teams comprising two or more participants who represent different countries,” explains Twesh Mishra, a regular participant of MUNs across the country and a former student of University of Delhi.
There are national as well as international MUNs. The most popular international MUN in India is the Harvard Model United Nations, which was set up in the country in 2011.
NLC, Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune
Model United Nations conferences help students gain leaderships abilities, debating capability, team work; knowledge of law, international relations, diplomacy, report writing, research; encourages discussion, consensus-building, conflict resolution and cooperation, insights into global issues and problems; inspires to think about solutions
Participants, who contest on behalf of various colleges, or independently, play the role of delegates and are assigned the position of country representatives. “The Secretary General comes up with ideas as to what all agendas they should concentrate on and then accordingly committees are set up. Maximum six committees are set up, till now what I’ve seen. Each committee has two agendas maximum,” explains Sanaa.
A delegate is given a topic or topics of discussion in advance. He/she has to have in depth knowledge about the country he/she is assigned, including the internal and external policies, political situation, stance of one’s country towards other countries, and so on. The delegates then prepare stances that they debate with their fellow delegates in the conference. At the end of the debate, the best performing delegates are awarded, along with the best performing members of the press.
Importance of MUNs
MUN aims to provide a learning experience to students in an enjoyable and interactive way. It teaches students the method of international debate and negotiation, commonly known as ‘diplomacy functions’.
Model UN further the understanding about United Nations, and also helps students build confidence, develop inter-personal skills, and improve oratory and public speaking skills. It educates students about world issues and enhances his/her general knowledge.
The debate competition basically helps a student grow out of the academic block and encompass several skills necessary for youngsters today.
Student, West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences
The whole purpose of an MUN conference is to make students aware of international events and sensitize them towards the various economic, social and military problems faced by countries across
“The purpose of an MUN conference is to make students aware of international events and sensitize them towards the various economic, social and military problems faced by countries. Students, apart from gaining valuable knowledge on the topic of the MUN, also learn what it is to be a diplomat and to make policies,” says Arhat Chhabra, a student of West Bengal NUJS and Convener of college MUN society. As the Convener, Arhat oversaw the whole MUN; right from making posters to getting sponsorship to handling inter-committee disputes during the MUN.
MUNs and Law Schools
What is the special relevance of these conferences to law as a subject? Bendale explains, “MUN helps to inculcate arguing quality and ability, helps to understand and develop liking towards International Laws and international affairs, helps to be a proactive person – develop abilities to grab opportunities, to be good in speaking and negotiating skills, and to develop networking abilities, it also develops general awareness in a Law student.”
After imbibing the skills a lawyer needs to have and the traits instilled in a student by an MUN, the relation between the two becomes quite clear. According to Arhat, United Nations is also a law making body. Therefore, “The various international treaties get discussed at MUNs, which help students get a better understanding of International Law,” he said. Also, MUNs look just as good on a rÃ©sumÃ© as moots and parliamentary debates do.
Unlike the more popular moot court competitions, MUNs aren’t conducted by all Law colleges. Some of the colleges participate in MUNs but don’t conduct them. MUNs also do not fetch any extra marks or credits to students, but they help them gain ample experience and skills, which you will cherish for life.
To quote United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on MUNs, “You may be playing a role, but you are also preparing for life. You are acting as global citizens.”