Model United Nations

Model United Nations, also known as Model UN or MUN, is an educational simulation and/or academic activity in which students can learn about diplomacy, international relations and the United Nations.

MUN involves and teaches participants researching, public speaking, debating, and writing skills, in addition to developing critical thinking, teamwork and leadership. It engages students and allows them to develop a deeper understanding of current world issues.

2017 MUN conference

MUN at Calthorpe Park 2017

The students were in teams of three, representing countries that are in the United Nations. They researched key issues such as, but not limited to, HIV prevention, nuclear weapons, dam-building, energy resources and economic climate. They prepared a proposal for something they would like to introduce for the country they are representing that they would need to obtain UN backing for. This planning process is taken on by the students, as they research the difficulties that the countries that they are representing face. During the activity, students attempted to convince other UN teams to sign their proposal. The ones with the most votes were put into the full debated agenda. These were then discussed, considered, amended and voted upon.

What were our aims?

  • For students to recognise the intricacies of passing global legislation within the framework of the UN. Helping them to understand problems faced by countries that struggle within this confine and how politics between countries play a large role in global policy.
  • For students to further recognise the differences in global politics, thus giving them a global awareness and a higher interest in current affairs.
  • For students to develop skills in public speaking, negotiation, teamwork, debating and research.

What the students say:

“I’ve been lucky to do many competitions and activities with County, so it is saying something that I found the Model UN Competition last week to be the most exciting so far.

Armed with proposals ranging from economic aid in North Korea, to halting desertification in Mongolia and China, or from building a multilateral dam of the River Jordan, to reducing HIV incidence in sub-Saharan Africa, the 3 teams from County representing South Korea, South Africa and Syria set off to Calthorpe Park School in Fleet. We lobbied for our ideas, gained signatories through diplomacy and in some cases deal-brokering, and then finally voted on the best proposals, ready for debate on Friday.

On Friday, the UN General Assembly convened, amazingly set up by Calthorpe Park School to mimic the UN as closely as possible: I felt like an actual delegate, and at times had to remember that this was simply a model. The atmosphere was incredible, from the first few words spoken by the Turkish delegate who eventually went on to win best speaker, fighting terrorism with direct military confrontation. Pitting the tension of each country against the others, the room bristled with the enmity between those wanting peace and stability, and those wanting to wipe out terrorist groups with missiles. Blue notes, passed by the professional aviator-shade-wearing security teams, allowed countries to communicate their strategies with allies, or – in the case of North Korea – to pass threats to the USA.

The tensions increased in temperature as issues such as medical patents, nuclear disbarment, LGBT rights, gun ownership, free trade, and refugee status came into the firing line, culminating in County’s team from Syria walking out (as fitted Assad’s government), when they weren’t given the opportunity to speak during a debate on the Syrian refugee crisis. It was incredibly enlightening to be forced to vote how your country would, disconnecting yourself from your own opinions, and to see the harsh – but also democratic – choices which the UN is founded on. South Korea had to refuse to legalise LGBT marriage, for example.

One of the highlights for me was to find a diplomatic solution to defuse the tension between North Korea and the world. Researching into this issue really made me grapple with the choices facing our leaders today, and it was incredibly gratifying in the Security Council to have my solution passed at the (fake) news that North Korea had launched its 7th nuclear missile towards Guam.

The day finished with the prizes, and we – in our team of South Korea – were shocked to be awarded the prize for the Best Delegation, securing this prize for County in the second year in a row!”

Matthew Doran