March 8, 2024

For thousands of teenagers worldwide, MUNs are a gateway to international affairs

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August 8, 2010, Vienna, Austria. Over 200 students from around the world took part in the 16th Vienna International Model United Nations (VIMUN) Conference.

Picture by: IAEA Imagebank

“My journey with MUN started when I was 15,” reported Natalia, a Polish high-school student who has always been passionate about debates, public speaking and diplomacy.

She told me that it had been her older brother who had motivated her to apply for the first Model United Nations (MUN) conference.

A symposium of the United Nations, MUN is where the participants – typically students – represent different countries or stakeholders and engage in discussions on various issues such as climate change, migration and human rights.

The aim, like in real United Nations meetings (MUNs are based on the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice and other UN bodies), is to discuss methods of conflict prevention and promote international cooperation.

And last year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recognising the importance of MUNs.

The resolution encouraged various ways of support for MUN conferences and underlined ‘the important contribution of Model United Nations to diplomacy and international cooperation, and in building the capacities of young people in the field of international affairs, providing them with the knowledge and opportunities that they need’.

Natalia assessed that her two years of participation in the MUN format provided valuable experience in diverse debates by preparing speeches and moderating discussions in front of a large audience.

Another participant from Poland, Norbert, said that in the past he did not care about his verbal statements, but that changed when he joined the MUN format. His friends “noticed a lot of improvement” in his confidence and described him as “loud, clear and mostly right.”

He added that MUNs taught him to speak smoothly and avoid stage fright. “I know it’s a problem that a lot of students face. MUNs are a very welcoming and forgiving environment, perfect for mastering public speaking skills,” he noted.

Michał, a high school student from Warsaw, added: “Nowadays, governments aren’t really interested in what youth wants. They are rather interested in people that can actually vote for them.”

“This is a terrible way of thinking, as current youth is going to take their place someday,” he added.

According to the United Nations Association (UNA), ‘more than 400,000 people from primary schools, secondary schools, universities, and beyond take part in a Model United Nations (MUN)’ annually.

For those interested in joining, MUN does not require any previous experience. Applications can be made through the official MUN website. Currently, there are almost 5,000 conferences you can select from.

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Klara Hammudeh

Journalist

Warsaw, Poland

Born in 2008 in Warsaw, Poland, Klara joined Harbingers’ Magazine to cover international affairs, crime and music.

In the future, she plans to study ‘psychology, international politics, or criminology‘, preferably in the United States.

In her free time, she enjoys reading, dancing, listening to music and exploring the realm of pop culture, with a particular focus on how Broadway and West End create musical adaptations of classic Disney stories.

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