This photo sums how I feel about the Model United Nations (MUN) culture in India and this article is about my gripe with the MUN and why it should be reformed.
The MUN is like an overhyped video game that gets advertised too much and when it launches worldwide, it turns out to be a huge disappointment. That’s what I felt about the two MUNs I’ve attended. They were one of the main reasons I had a mixed time during my final years in school.
4 years ago, I wrote a post on Quora about why I think the MUNs were a waste of time. What I’ve written is that when I attended my first MUN during my final years in school, I saw people arguing aggressively rather than discussing in a more civil manner. Boys were flirting with girls and we were discussing the same old topics like Al Qaeda and Al Shabab.
All they do is discuss trendy topics rather than actual issues. When ISIS was in its prime, it was one of MUNs favourite topics. It just defeats the purpose of the actual United Nations.
Yes, the UN has its flaws. Yes, they failed in countries like Sri Lanka, Bosnia, Rwanda, Congo, Somalia and Syria, but the UN have the decency to talk about the actual issues that are going on in the world just like they did in East Timor.
The MUNs have done a huge disservice to the OG UN. Did I forget to mention that they make tons of money from the participants and people who come to the MUNs wearing expensive clothes to gain some likes on social media and often show their pretentious side?
People also come here to gain approval, girls or go to the party. Not to mention that I had to deal with an a-hole EB who lashed out at me twice when I made an unintentional joke. He was like- “Delegate, do you think this is a joke” or “Delegate are you even paying attention”. Come to think of it now; I think the entire event was a joke.
I don’t think I or anyone should have a problem with words like these, but when some random guy says it in a more aggressive tone, it demoralises you. Yeah, my first day went on like this (I was initially excited when I first attended the MUN and I did try to speak at the conference). I was so upset that I didn’t speak for the whole day.
This gave me my first dose of the reality of the MUN Culture and my realisation about how MUNs give you a gold plated illusion so that you turn a blind eye to what’s really happening. To add salt into injury, I didn’t do any research and I was the Syrian delegate, which does not put me in a good position. Yes, I didn’t do research and I take responsibility for that but the way they treat you is so appalling that it raises some eyebrows regarding the MUN.
On the second day, I somehow spoke sometimes and managed to speak better than my previous day, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. People usually say that the MUNs give you a good experience and a precedent on how to deal with future the MUN. But my experience told me a different story and made me want to hate it.
I did speak on the second day, but it was too little too late because, at that point, I didn’t want to do the MUNs anymore. I couldn’t keep my word because (when I was in class 12) I participated in the second MUN in 2016. They gave me Oman (I have no clue why they give us random a country instead of letting us choose it. I get it popular, delegations are given to someone else and you have little slots left, but still) and the agenda was regarding the LBGTQI+ rights or something.
I came a little bit prepared and I did speak, but there was one delegate from China who spoke once and got “best new speaker”. I did get a little upset, but it turned into disillusionment. I attended their accommodation party after the event and to be honest it was boring. There were dance floors, a swimming pool and food, but I soon lost my interest and went back home for 2–3 hours.
For all it’s talk about personal development, skill development, speaking and debating development, MUNs have done the exact opposite in my experience, and by then, I’d begun hating it. I don’t care, nor do I mind about people coming to the MUNs just for approval or to click some photos with their expensive DSLR cameras or going to the parties or talking to guys or girls.
If MUNs fails to help you in personal development, then interacting with people can help you with your social skills, which is a good thing. But the problem with that is it becomes so toxic that you’ll have second thoughts about talking to people.
The MUN culture is like the lifestyle of Vijay Mallya. Although it is a flamboyant and more extravagant lifestyle, it soon becomes toxic thanks to your poor decisions and career-threatening choices. The MUN culture is just like that except for the decision.
People become hostile or arrogant and those who are EBs or in other “significant position” are inexperienced themselves. And to be quite honest, those words that come out from some of the delegates don’t make sense because they speak random stuff with random statistics. Not to mention the groupthink mentality that exists because people take offence over everything and they demand apologies. Even a New York Times article talks about how the MUN has become a “dog eat dog world” at this point.
When I was in class 11 (2015), the MUNs became a force to be reckoned with. Soon we had Mock Parliaments and Moot Courts. Mock Parliaments are the simulations of the actual parliament, where people discuss the current political situation and policies. The one time I’ve attended, I hated it because it was just too political.
I think when The Clash made the song London Calling, they criticised the rising political apathy in the consumerist society. Now we’ve become so political that there is no room for political apathy nor apolitical people.
But the problem arises when being extra political can make our society a lot more unbearable. That’s what happened to me in the Mock Parliament. It was so political and bad that I didn’t even bother to speak anything. Not because I didn’t do any research, but I was afraid that I would get mauled by both sides if I said anything wrong.
And Moot Courts are just MUNs for lawyers. I haven’t attended it so I can’t say anything about it, but boy oh boy, it’s so expensive. My friend who participated in the Moot Court competition in Mumbai said that it was really expensive and his teammates were a-holes. The judges were aggressive and they can get angry very easily. This gave me second thoughts to participate in a Moot Court competition.
Anyway, when I posted that MUN post on Quora, I was pissed. When people began to critique my post, I was angry, but as soon as I graduated school and went to college, I realised that I’ve not been open to criticism even though I wrote that people are allowed to criticise my post, which makes me a hypocrite.
Either way, the responses were good and some criticisms have a good point. People seemed to have enjoyed the MUNs and it has indeed helped them gain some experience and personal development. Some agreed with me and said it was indeed a waste of time.
We can have the best of the best or the worst of the worst. It couldn’t be both. I can’t speak for everyone because I’ve only attended two MUNs and what I’ve seen is from my own experiences. Had I done more research, then maybe I would’ve enjoyed it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t criticise it.
The MUNs have been vomiting and I’ve begun to despise them, which is why I don’t do these events anymore. That’s why the MUNs are in dire need of reform.
PS: One of the first anti-MUN posts I read was on YKA. And kindly, don’t take my opinion as a fact. It’s based on my personal experience.