But then, is ModelUN really a simulation of the UN? It depends on how you look at it.
To consider the procedural setup of ModelUNs, take the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly (A/520/Rev.17), a 115-page document thoughtfully regulating international collaboration in the scope of this organ. Although some attempts have been made to put the unmodified rules to international negotiations into action, most UN simulations take the liberty to craft their own guidelines.
In ModelUN, however, this spirit is often undercut by fuelling competitiveness, a cut-throat-mentality and self-centeredness through the distinctions awarded to whomever is considered an outstanding delegate by the committee’s chairperson. It would be wrong condemn competitiveness and a healthy realism for a competitor’s possible hidden agenda. However, the MUN community faces a great challenge in channeling the desire to reward delegates for outstanding diplomatic skill. The community - small and big players alike - must reflect on what truly makes a good delegate, and depart from seeing ModelUN as a one-shot competition bound to the scope of the 5 or so committee days. We need to understand ModelUN as an opportunity to build (simulated) professional relationships that last - which requires the delegates to network differently and to play fair, bringing them closer to what collaboration means in both the UN itself and the business world.
Indeed, the skills delegates can learn from ModelUN settings reach far beyond the scope of MUN, embodying the tools for becoming a young leader acting with responsibility in mind. Being a ModelUN delegate should mean being an eloquent public speaker, an elegant persuader, a well-vested resolution writer, and a determined yet fair negotiator, with the goal to find sustainable, equitable solutions to the problems one takes on. These are the kind of skills that we are dedicated to teaching delegates working with us in the scope of our project eMUN-fellows.net, a Germany-wide on- and offline project getting people ready for MUN and - which is at least equally as important - beyond.
In a nutshell, ModelUN can become a good simulation of the United Nations, and a good learning opportunity. But only if it really starts to grow up.