From January 28th to 31st, St Lawrence’s Political Science and Debate Club participated in the 32nd edition of McGill University’s Model UN. Although the PSD has participated in multiple editions of McMUN before, this was of course the first time participating in an entirely virtual context, creating a unique experience for all participants.
Model United Nations, more commonly abbreviated as MUN, is an extracurricular activity, usually organized by colleges and universities to simulate United Nations’ meetings. Student participants are placed into committees dedicated to the discussion and resolution of a topic. McMUN 2021 featured twenty different committees, including the Summit to End Gender Discrimination, the Second Royal Commission on the Future of Healthcare in Canada, and even a committee based on the Jurassic Park films with the goal of regulating future (fictional) genetic dino modification. Depending on the nature of the committee, the participants, known as ‘delegates’ within the conference, are often assigned a country or individual which they will represent.
A MUN conference is essentially a highly formalized and competitive debate. The event kicks off with a roll call, followed by each delegate’s opening statement which makes clear the delegate’s opinion on the topic at hand. This is the prime time for a delegate to make their voice heard and listen to fellow delegates’ statements to find potential allies. Opening statements are followed by general discussions, at which point delegates can propose moderated and unmoderated caucuses. A moderated caucus serves to focus the debate on a specific topic while adhering to general debate rules. An unmoderated caucus, on the other hand, is a bit of a free-for-all. Delegates can speak to whomever they wish, without time limits or constraints on the number of times they can speak.
Prior to the conference, delegates were required to submit position papers to the chairs of their committees. These position papers (though not generally considered the fun part of the conference) serve to outline the delegate’s assigned country’s views and make delegates eligible for receiving awards within the committee. They are also a useful tool for structuring the delegate’s research on their topic, and preparing for the resolutions eventually drafted within the committee.
Most of the committees participated in by the college’s delegates had an end goal of writing and passing resolutions. Throughout the conference, delegates in a committee form blocs, or groups, of delegates that work together to draft a resolution on their topic. In the MUN world, this is a formal text detailing a measure that proposes to resolve the issue discussed in the committee. At the very end of the conference, draft resolutions are voted on. The draft that receives a majority of ‘Yes’ votes is officially adopted as the committee’s resolution.
The PSD plans to participate in 1-2 more MUN events this semester and return to McMUN in the coming years. If political debate and possible participation in future MUN events interest you, the PSD meets every Wednesday evening at 6 pm and is eager for new members!