Model United Nations
Models United Nations (MUNs) were initially developed in the United States and Europe during the Post-Second Great War, right after the creation of the United Nations (UN). At that time, the objective was to educate young students on the structure and proceedings of the new born organization, contributing not only to spread the values held by the UN, but also to gather peoples and nations, as the experience of simulating allows delegates to get to know the cultural diversity of different countries all over the world.
During MUNs students are invited to represent specific delegations of international organizations, aiming to deliberate and set solutions to the world problems in a variety of areas, from international security to international trade or the role of women in society. Taking roles as diplomats or country representatives to these organizations, delegates will enter a world identical to that in which the official representatives negotiate, facing the same problems, limitations and difficulties; and establishing dialogues and cooperation to provide a common solution of topics from the international agenda.
Although the expression MUN has been commonly used throughout the years, simulations have included committees based not only on the UN system, but also on distinct organizations which can promote fruitful multilateral debates, such as Parliaments, Governmental Cabinets, Juridical Courts, Historical Diplomatic Meetings, among others.
Taking part of MUNs allows students to develop an important range of useful knowledge that will serve for a variety of activities; therefore simulations are not exclusive to specific areas of academic or professional interest. On one hand, it improves the learning process, which involves content and academic aspects, such as the foreign policy of the represented country and the proceedings of the simulated organizations. On the other hand, simulations contribute to the development of personal skills, such as capability of argumentation and negotiation; team work and socialization; cultural knowledge; tolerance and respect; and the sense of responsibility for the role represented.
In countries where MUNs were developed, simulations are a usual practice in schools, universities and even outside academic spaces. The contact with students from different schools, cities, states and even countries fosters a great approximation among peoples and cultures. Some consolidated universities, such as Harvard University, promote models throughout the world, aiming to prospect talents in different countries.
In Brazil, the development of MUNs has been traditionally connected to International Relations Courses. However, participants come from different academic and professional areas. As far as promoting models to High School and College students, MUNs help to increase connections among knowledge areas, bringing together students interested in not only Humanities, but also Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Arts. There are no restrictions to participate in MUNs – it is a unique experience, as one model is completely different from the other. MUNs add positively to all aspects of young participants’ lives, because they are a ludic, practical and interesting way of acquiring knowledge.