The Stanley Foundation
Seeking a secure peace with freedom and justice, built on global citizenship and effective global governance.

Model UN: Building a Legacy for the Future of International Relations
September 2011

At 3 p.m. on September 13, 2011, the 66th regular session of the United Nations General Assembly will open. This body serves as the chief deliberative, policymaking, and representative organization of the United Nations, giving a voice to all of its 193 members. At the same time in classrooms around the world, academic simulations of the UN will give a voice to the leaders of tomorrow on the issues of today. This phenomenon is called Model United Nations (MUN), and aims to educate students about current events and international relations while giving them the ability and confidence to stand out and speak up on what they believe in.

In its beginning, Model UN participants were mostly students at select colleges in the United States. However, interest, participation in, and development of Model UN has grown functionally and expanded across the world. Today’s Model UN participants are of all ages, coming from public and private schools in cities, suburbs, and rural areas. According to the United Nations Association of the USA, more than 400,000 students participate in Model UN every year.

As participants in Model UN, delegates (as they are called in the MUN world) play the role of diplomats representing a nation or NGO in a simulated deliberative session. Delegates research the issues to be debated and the stance of their respective country, representative, or role. They then enter the fray of debate with the goal of developing solutions to world’s problems.

Traditionally, simulations are based on UN bodies, such as the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council and its specialized agencies. Additionally, intergovernmental organizations such as the Arab League and solely national organizations such as the United States National Security Council (NSC) are frequently simulated. The NSC in particular serves as an example of what is termed a crisis committee: delegates are forced to deal with issues as they are presented by a crisis staff, and individual delegates are typically allowed to take action on their own.

While Model UN brings the interests of students from the classroom to the conference room, it also helps them bridge the gap between the issues debated and the real world. This year, I have the honor to serve as the secretary-general of the 49th session of the North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN XLIX), the largest student-run Model UN conference in the world. Like many of its peer conferences, NAIMUN works to make the debate more real for delegates by augmenting the committee experience. At NAIMUN XLIX, this means extensive fundraising for an international charity; lectures by top academics and policymakers in committee; and Model UN training for an underprivileged Washington, DC, school by NAIMUN XLIX’s staff of Georgetown University students.

Model UN’s influence continues to expand, developing the students of today into the leaders of tomorrow. Through its simulation of debate and problem solving and required study of international relations, it has impacted the lives of participants and current leaders such as US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. It has inspired many students, including myself, toward deeper study of international relations and law and preparation for a career that promotes international understanding and common growth. As the nations of the world come together on September 13 for the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly, they should know that the youth of the world are watching. Through Model UN, these youth are building a legacy of international cooperation to last through the 76th, 86th, and 96th sessions, and beyond.

—Taylor Wettach
Summer 2011 Policy and Outreach Intern, The Stanley Foundation

Share: Email Facebook Twitter
Catherine Miller Explorer Awards: Where in the World Do You Want to Go? Catherine Miller Explorer Awards: Where in the World Do You Want to Go?
Attention all full-time Muscatine Community School District and Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School K-12 teachers, for the 2019-2020 school year, the Stanley Foundation announces: Catherine Miller Explorer Awards. Enter the drawing.

60th Strategy for Peace Conference 60th Strategy for Peace Conference
The Stanley Foundation convenes its Strategy for Peace Conference annually to consider key policy challenges, drawing on the experience and knowledge of invited experts from the public and private sectors.

Concurrent roundtables focused on each of the foundation’s three current areas of programming—climate changenuclear policy, and mass violence and atrocities. These roundtable discussions are intended to generate group consensus recommendations for policy change and multilateral action. More.

Courier Courier
The Spring 2019 issue of Courier highlights some of the impact-driven activities the Stanley Foundation pursue with its partners. This includes stories that resulted from two journalism workshops: one examining the false missile alert in Hawaii, as well as one focused on issues of conflict and instability. This issue also examines how Green Banks could help bridge the climate finance gap, explores a new initiative that hopes to bring gender equity to the nuclear field, and brings you the stories of three teachers who enhanced their understanding of the world through travel. Spring 2019 PDF. Subscribe for Free.

the latest the latest
Our bimonthly newsletter is filled with resources to keep you up to date with our work at the Stanley Foundation. Each edition includes news about recent publications and stories as well as features our people and partners.

You will also find many extras, from upcoming events to multimedia resources. 

Sign up for the latest to stay engaged on key global issues.

Receive Materials Receive Materials
The Stanley Foundation publishes policy briefs, analytical articles, and reports on a number of international issues. To reduce our carbon footprint and cut waste, we almost exclusively, use electronic distribution for our publications. Sign up to receive our resources via e-mail.

The Stanley Foundation: Part of COP24 The Stanley Foundation: Part of COP24
As a part of our efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the foundation put forward policy ideas to achieve a global turning point in emissions by 2020, built upon efforts to catalyze global climate action by countries and sub- and non-state actors, and worked with journalists to strengthen coverage of the UN climate negotiations.