Is It Compulsory to Speak In MUN? And What to Do About It

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The Model United Nations is one of the best ways to get a strong understanding of how the UN operates whilst building the skills needed to work in international diplomacy. Attending MUN for the first time can be daunting though, and some new delegates may want to limit their participation. So, if you do attend MUN, do you have to speak?

It is not compulsory to speak at MUN. However, to get the most out of attending Model United Nations, it’s highly recommended to speak, even if only in a limited way. Speaking at MUN allows you to get the most out of the experience, whilst building your confidence and gaining a better understanding of how the UN works.

So, although you definitely do not have to speak in MUN, you should definitely want to.

Why You Should Speak at MUN

There a lot of reasons why you should speak at MUN. These include:

  • Getting the best understanding of how MUN, and the real UN operates.
  • Gain a good understanding of MUN procedures.
  • Acquiring a strong understanding of your delegate country.
  • Getting a better understanding of international relations, foreign policy and diplomacy.
  • Allows for your views and points to be challenged and tested.
  • Helps develop your public speaking, debating, negotiation and social skills.
  • It’s a huge confidence boost!

Now, let’s break down each of these…

It’s definitely understandable that first-timers to Model United Nations may be nervous about speaking, or may not want to. However, remember the aim of the Model United Nations is to get the best understanding of how the UN operates, and fully participating in MUN by speaking is the best way to do this. Speaking in MUN is the also the best way to quickly understand the proceedings, and then be better able to fully participate in the Model UN.

Another reason why, although it is not compulsory to speak at MUN, you should definitely want to, is that speaking in MUN puts your understanding of your delegate country and arguments for its foreign policy to the test.

Speaking in MUN not only allows you to lay out your points, but for other delegates to challenge them. Although this may sound intimidating, when you successfully come back to another delegates points it’s a huge confidence builder!

Model UN is most beneficial when you are fully participating, and speaking is a key part of this. Speaking at MUN will greatly increase your public speaking skills and confidence. Also remember to lobby.

Lobbying is a key part of MUN and, alongside speaking in committee, will help develop strong negotiation, social and inter-personal skills. All these skills gained by speaking at MUN can be vital for a career in the real United Nations.

The Executive Board at MUN will do their best to give everyone a chance to speak, especially new-comers. If you really don’t want to speak, you can yield your time to the chair or open the floor to questions.

How to Speak at MUN

Now you know you want to speak in MUN, it’s good to understand how. When speaking at MUN remember:

  • Be sure to read the guidance notes MUN provide beforehand.
  • Definitely take advantage of the lobbying time at the start of MUN.
  • In your first MUN committee, start by observing some of the more experienced delegates.
  • When you do speak at MUN, begin by laying out your countries position on the topic.
  • Before MUN, prepare some notes on issues you know will arise and questions you’re likely to be challenged with.
  • Speak formally at MUN. Remain polite and courteous throughout.

Let’s go over each one…

When you first attend a Model UN, it is best to read the guidance notes provided beforehand. These will explain in detail the procedures and processes MUN takes. Be sure to understand these as best you can before attending MUN. At the beginning of MUN it is common for the Executive Board to explain the basic rules and procedures and this is a good time to ask any questions on how MUN works.

The UN publishes a full-guide on the how MUN operates, check it out here.

MUN opens with a chance for delegates to mix, discuss and form positions and groups on issues. Groups of delegates will form around motions related to the committee topics.

To understand what to say when you speak, talk to other delegates about the motions and understand where your country would sit in relation to the joint motions that are being prepared.

In your first committee, it is good to begin by observing some of the more experienced delegates. It can be wise to pick a less prominent country to be delegate of within the committee you are attending for your first MUN, as opposed to picking a major Security Council member or key nation in the committee area. Selecting a nation with a smaller involvement in the committee and topic allows you more time to observe and prepare.

When you first speak at MUN, be sure to lay-out your countries position on the topic. Be clear, concise and communicate directly where your country stands. Also explain briefly why your country holds that position.

Laying out your country’s position clearly in your first speech at MUN, as well as explaining why your country has that view, will allow you to build alliances with other delegates to form blocs, allowing you to vote together to pass motions.

Before speaking at MUN, it is good to prepare notes on what you want to say. You can take notes into MUN, so write down a list of key points you want to raise in relation to your delegate country, the committee and topic agenda. Also try to think about the obvious question’s delegates will challenge you with, and answers based on your delegate countries real-world positions.

Speaking a MUN is formal. Be sure to be polite and courteous, even if passions do rise. You may be questioned hard on the points you have raised and confronted with different view-points. It’s important to remember your country’s views on the issue when speaking at MUN, and not to get thrown off when other delegates attack your stance.

There are two more key things to remember when speaking at MUN. Your speeches need to be in-line with your position paper and chairs mark you on this, so be sure to represent your position paper as best you can.

Secondly, remember when speaking in MUN to speak in the third-person. It is practice to refer to oneself as ‘the delegate for…’. Don’t’ worry, you’ll see all the other delegates at MUN doing this too!

Model United Nations Online Courses

If you want more information on the model United Nations, including how to speak well, we highly recommend the online short course The Complete MUN Masterclass. It’s a fantastic overview of the MUN system and shows how MUN events function. This online course is a must for anyone attending a model united nation. Click the link to be taken to the courses’ page to enrol.

If you want an introduction to the model UN and an overview of how it works, we think the MUN 101: Power Play & Rules of Procedures online course is fantastic. It goes step by step through how MUN works and gives the information participants need to succeed at the Model UN. Follow the link for more information on the course.

Most participants at MUN events want to eventually go on to have a career within the United Nations. If this is you, be sure to check out the United Nations Jobs Guide online course. It provides all the information needed to understand the UN recruitment system, which can be complex, as well as what you need to land yourself a UN job. Follow the link to enrol on the course.

How to Research to Speak at MUN

When speaking at Model UN, especially for the first time, it is important to know the rules and procedures of MUN. MUN mimics the formal processes of the UN and so it is important to know the correct way to speak, as well as procedures such as the point of order, right to reply, private sessions. Guidance notes are issued before MUN that can help explain the procedures of the Model UN.

Once you understand the procedures of speaking at MUN, next it is important to research the committee or council you are attending.

Each committee, such as Security Council, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, International Criminal Court of Justice and United Nations Human Rights Council, for example, can and can’t do different thing. When speaking at MUN it is important to understand the aim of the committee you are attending and what it can achieve.

Now you know the procedures of speaking at MUN, as well as the aims of the committee you are attending, you next preparation for speaking at MUN should be to research the country you are representing. When researching your country for speaking at MUN ensure you have a brief overview of the countries domestic, economic, political and cultural make-ups, then focus on the country’s role in international relations.

When researching your country to speak at Model UN it is good to especially focus on how your country relates to the committee and topic, as well as the major international issues your country has a position on.

You should also research your country to speak at MUN by understanding the foundational values of its foreign policy, who its allies and foes are, as well as previous positions your country has taken in relation to the committee and topic and any resolutions it has backed or opposed. The CIA World Fact Book can be a fantastic place for researching your MUN country.

The UN publishes a list of relevant resources to assist with researching for MUN, check it out here.

Duncan

Duncan is the founder of Humanitarian Careers. With over 8 years experience in the aid industry across fifteen countries, Duncan set-up Humanitarian Careers to help people launch their own career in international aid.