The Financial Express

The decline of Model United Nations

The decline of Model United Nations

Extra curricular activities have always been an important part of a student's life. These ECAs not only help students develop their inner skills or ability but at the same time help them connect with students from various other backgrounds as well. Model United Nations (MUN) has been one such ECA. This is an ECA which has been practised across the world, but the real question is: has MUN lost its glory?

Model United Nations is a simulation of the United Nations. The UN being the biggest intergovernmental organisation in the world has various committees and organs running under it. Students are allocated into one of these committees given a particular country to be a delegate of. For example, a student can be allocated to become the delegate of the United States of America in the committee of United Nations Security Council. The Student under the circumstances, even if he/she is from a different country has to act like he/she is from the USA and bring out the policies of the country. Under the circumstances, they would also be able to use the veto power, as can be done in an actual United Nations Security Council. But since it's a simulation every MUN has its own particular set of Rules of Procedure or ROP so that it is easier for students to operate within these committees. This ECA is based on individuality but it teaches you enormous amounts of skills. First and foremost, you are in the shoes of a diplomat of your country so therefore you would be able to learn the basic diplomatic etiquette. Furthermore, you would also be able to learn public speaking and research while putting forward your country's policies, documentation while developing draft resolution, negotiation and leadership skills while gathering votes for your policies and draft resolution and most importantly you would be able to learn about UN itself.

The first known Model United Nations was conducted in Harvard University. But even before that a League of Nations simulation was also conducted in Oxford University. In Bangladesh the first organisation to introduce Model United Nations was the "United Nations Youth and Student Association of Bangladesh" (UNYSAB).  The first known institutional MUN was conducted by Dhaka University. In between 2016-2017 MUNs used to be one of the strongest ECAs in the country. One of the major reasons for this is because MUNs had reached out to schools. Once school students got engaged in this ECA, it was a revolution for the MUN circle in Bangladesh. MUNs were organised by schools, universities and even independent organisations alike. Now this is where the real problem began. When you are organising MUNs in such a high quantity, you would not always get the delegates of the right quality, Executive Board Members of the right capability and when independent organisations start to operate MUNs, they do not even show any accountability. However internationally, it is considered to be a small part of a big simulation, but in Bangladesh a lot of the organisers promote their MUNs based on the socials. Furthermore, even in terms of organising while done under a particular institution, there used to be a credibility when it comes to choosing a particular student to become the President of the MUN club and thus become the Secretary General of the Conference. But when it is done independently literally anyone and every one can be the Secretary General regardless of their capability. The independent organisations, throughout this pandemic has organised multiple online MUNs. But when one looks at these MUNs, the Executive Board Members that have been selected, the advisors of the conference, the agendas of the committee and the organisers themselves are put into question because of their credibility. For school students it is very difficult to understand how inefficient it is to participate in a non-institutional MUN conference. Even UNYSAB that opened the door to MUNs for school students through "Bangladesh Model United Nations" (BANMUN), it is also an independent organisation. But if the conferences are closely examined, one thing can be found in both selection of the Executive Board Panel and the organising committee which is maturity. This is what the current independent MUN organisations lack.

We have reached a point in time, where students do not give enough importance to MUNs, due to two main factors. The first one being the importance given to socials over academics and the second one being the way independent organisations have completely ruined the quality and reputation of this ECA. Delegates do not seem to make any effort in terms of researching; alongside that there is no difference between beginners and advanced level committees as every other committee seems to be filled with first timers. Another, important reasoning is that every delegate these days participates with a goal of becoming the Executive Board Member and it is turning out to be a reality because of the nepotism and favouritism that exists within the circuit.  So, therefore, if we want to take MUNs back to its old glory, it would be very important for us to fix these loopholes, otherwise MUNs would continue to go downhill as it is already continuing to do.

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