Ever since the initiation of Model United Nations (MUN) in 1949, its popularity has grown immensely worldwide, and as a result has sprung into a variety of styles, each with its own merits and adopters. The crossovers between the styles when joining different conferences can be dizzying, especially if you have been rooted in a specific style, and this guide will aim to set apart these differences.
This is the elder of MUN styles, being the originating style first practiced in the United States upon its founding. Many North American schools and the majority of college MUN conference still adhere to this style. Compared to THIMUN, UNA-USA procedure tends to be the more flexible and dynamic, as it allows for freer movement between the debate phases.
In UNA-USA, the agenda is set by a vote in the house after roll-call, upon which the house moves into formal debate. During this phase, speeches from delegates, around 60-90 seconds, take place in order of the list as recognized by the Chair. After the Speaker’s List has been exhausted, or passed for a certain number of speeches, delegates may motion to change the mode of debate -- either to a moderated caucus, where the committee decides to focus on a sub-issue and initiate general debate related to the issue for a period of time allocated by the chair, or an unmoderated caucus, where delegates are free to move and collaborate with others to discuss the issues at hand. Unmoderated caucuses are usually devoted to lobbying, where delegates find allies with similar ideals, before being devoted to crafting resolutions.
After the decision-making made in the caucuses, delegates may also choose to move time back into formal debate, and vice versa. Committees proceed to switch between these three modes of debate, until draft resolutions are complete, merged, and ready to be presented, upon which the whole resolution is subject to a vote.
Originating from the THIMUN Conference in the Hague, this has become the prevalent form of MUN procedure in many international high school conferences around the world. In THIMUN procedure, the key difference lies in the comparatively more rigid agenda, as topics are allocated roughly equal amounts of time, predetermined by the chairs. This is enabled by the first day being dedicated to unmoderated caucuses, where resolutions are crafted through lobbying.
The focus of THIMUN debate compared to UNA-USA is the amending of resolutions, since the resolutions are already created in the first day amongst the respective blocs. Amendments are submitted by the delegates, with a certain amount of time also allotted to present and debate the amendment. Voting takes place at the end of amendments and decisions on resolutions, and forms the majority Compared to UNA-USA, conferences also tend to be perceived as more formal, or at least, in terms of adherence to procedures.
THIMUN tends to be preferred in high school conferences amongst due to the clarity of the procedures, but as UNA-USA permits for livelier dynamics, it becomes increasingly prefers as delegates gain more experience. However, both of these procedures are based upon parlimentary procedure and vote-based mechanisms, which in fact, are far from how the United Nations actually works and makes decisions. This hole is now filled by...
The UN4MUN procedure is a relative newcomer in the MUN scene. In response to the two prevalent procedures in the MUN scene being largely based upon parliamentary procedures far from simulating the UN, the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) introduced their own set of procedures in 2009, with an aim of accurately simulating the processes undertaken in the UN, which actually relies on adopting consensus to make decisions rather than voting, out of views of ensuring that minority opinions are not ignored, as they would be if resolutions were primarily adopted through vote. The flagship conference for this approach is the WFUNA International Model United Nations (WIMUN) conference, and UN4MUN procedure has become synonymous with WIMUN. The UN4MUN procedure is as follows:
Although chairs are still the facilitators of debate like in the other procedures, the chair is instead elected by delegates before the conference. This designated chair is then who is then trained and aided throughout the conference by a Secretary, part of the conference secretariat. Simulating debate in the actual United Nations, the WIMUN/UN4MUN format replaces the Speaker’s List with a single speech from delegates addressing the house, much like the actual UN General Assembly, where world leaders begin sessions with addresses to the whole of the house representing their country.
The writing of the resolution follows. However, unlike THIMUN and UNA-USA procedure, change takes place not through formal debate protocols, but instead through informal consultations, where delegates are roam around the committee to work with other delegates to collaborate and create the versions similar to unmoderated caucuses in the two styles. Compared to unmoderated caucuses, where lobbying usually dominates, the process of consultation and subsequent bloc formation in WIMUN/UN4MUN procedure adheres to real life dynamics rather than at random, as the groups for these informal consultations coalesce around already defined political groupings.
These groups include, for example:
Organisation of American States (OAS)
Asia-Pacific Group (Most of the Asian and Southern Pacific countries)
Non-Aligned Movement (a coalition of nations not formally associated with the two Cold War blocs)
Group of 77 (a large coalition of developing nations)
These individual political groups create their versions of resolutions which best serve their own needs, which is then brought to the other political groups for negotiation, where delegates seek to create one resolution that seeks the best consensus for all groups. This is where lobbying mainly occurs, now between the differing interests of the political groups rather than delegate influence. This results in a more intense, and accurate simulation of international relations as now there is a greater emphasis on compromise when merging resolutions, so as to achieve a responsible consensus.
Following the writing of the resolution, a review meeting will be held by the chair where consensus is ensured between all delegates. This is done through a paragraph by paragraph review of the resolution, and amendments are made depending on the responses of delegates upon review. After the review is completed, delegates enter an action phase, and choose to adopt the resolution either by consensus (which is preferred) or vote (less preferred). At the end of the conferences, plenary sessions are held to ceremoniously adopt the agenda and passing of resolutions.