Model UN is a multi-faceted endeavor and can be, at times, difficult to understand. We have several common questions and their answers below. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us.
How does the team work? What do you exactly do/practice?
We recruit in the fall to start gearing up for our work in the spring semester. In the spring, we train and research. In April 2009, we represented Finland. Finland was on nine committees at the UN, including subsidiary bodies such as the General Assemblies and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as other inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), such as the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). We learned how to function within committee as speakers, giving approximately minute-long speeches on our country’s point of view on an issue, and we also train on Model UN procedure, which is similar to learning about parliamentary procedure. The ultimate goal of what we do in committee is to come together with other member states to write resolutions on how we can solve problems the world is facing today, while remaining in character.
What is the competition about?
The competition is about learning about global politics and issues, and educating students on the importance of the United Nations. Few people realize how much good work the UN actually does; it’s much easier to bemoan its bureaucratic system than realize what it’s like to be a part of it and do some good in the world.
How long has the team been around?
The team has been around since 1996. We’ve represented really interesting countries- Bosnia & Herzegovina, Syria, and even Israel. We started winning awards with our representation of the Philippines in 2005.
What did you exactly do at competition?
We started out the conference at the UN Headquarters with an opening speech by someone who actually works at the UN. We started our sessions that night. We are given three issues to study beforehand and then we go there and debate on which one we’ll be discussing for the week, as we usually only get to one of them- this is called setting the agenda. From there, we start making alliances with other countries (in our case, as Finland, it would have made sense to ally ourselves with Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland).
We discuss our ideas for solutions to the problems, and then we put them in writing. We submit them to our committee directors, who give us feedback and eventually give us the okay on it. Then it gets tricky because once the committee sees it, you have to work to convince them that your idea is really good and will help a lot of people. The second to last day usually involves several hours’ worth of voting on the different ideas put forth by Member States. On the last day, sometimes there is a crisis simulation, and we get to have our closing ceremony at the UN Headquarters.
What does it mean to chair a committee?
Those who became chairs are people who have been on the team before and have extensive background knowledge on the rules and procedure of Model UN. A person has to submit an application and go through an interview with the directors of their committee in order to get the job. As a chair, the goal is to facilitate discussion in the most fair way possible so that no country feels slighted. The chair takes motions from delegates as well as facilitates the speaker’s list. The people who run the conference think very highly of teams whose members try out for and receive chair positions.
How did the team prepare for the competition?
The team has two primary ways of preparing. Our team has a mandatory class every fall in the Government Department, where we can really focus on our goals. The first way we prepare is in writing and researching our position papers. These are issue papers that contain a huge amount of information that must be condensed to one page, front and back. This helps us familiarize ourselves with our country, our committee, our issues, and the UN documentation system and history. The other way we prepare is by holding simulations of what we do at conference on a small scale among members of our team.
What does it take to win competitions?
There is no set formula, but our team prides itself on its preparation. Although we tend to go into the conference feeling nervous about our abilities, we always end the first day of competition saying, “I know all of this better than anyone in that room!” We pick top-notch potential delegates from across the wide array of majors here at NMSU, and their confidence and ability to adapt is also something important in helping us be prepared to win.
What is the purpose of the Model United Nations team?
Our purpose is to educate members of the team in a variety of ways: communication, debate, writing, history, culture- the list goes on and on. We hope that Model UN can prove to its members and our community that the UN is an important part of the global society and it is relevant and worth keeping.