Model United Nations uses an exciting concept of mock debate, inviting the younger generation to participate in and offer their insights on world affairs. However, its intrinsic objectives of moulding young thinkers into globally conscious assets are yet to be realised. Of late, MUNs have been reduced to something overused, wasteful, and merely a glamorous space for the privileged to get together and ramp up their Instagram handles.
The Omicron variant is looming dangerously over the horizon. However, it’s still not the most dangerous plague threatening institutions around the country – Model United Nations takes the crown for that.
The idea of MUNs sounds nice enough on paper – a host of students coming together on a bigger stage, each representing a different country, to mock-stage the immensely popular and equally futile United Nations meetings. The ‘delegates’ of MUNs then supposedly engage in ‘discussions’ and ‘debates’ over dominating issues, policies, and threats. The task also involves proposing relevant solutions to tackle the problems at hand.
The actual objectives of MUN meetings are to instill a sense of interest in world affairs in the minds of the youngsters. But with each passing iteration of the event, we’re farther than ever from getting a shred of productivity out of the highly anticipated MUNs. The concept, however, has many supporters and they might rightly propose that MUNs are responsible for instilling a sense of leadership, speaking skills, and thinking abilities among students. But as per the trends, only the already uplifted end up participating in MUNs – the marginalized, who require more representation and exposure to such events, end up being intimidated by the luxurious dress codes and the use of inaccessible, pretentious language all around.
Moreover, Model United Nations are propagating the normalization of the same kind of inaction that seems to have become the foundation of the real United Nations nowadays. The political and societal issues that deserve to be discussed, for example, the unjust occupation of Palestine and the long-lasting displays of systematic brutalities in Kashmir, are conveniently ignored. Through massive, glamorous reiterations of Model United Nations, institutes all over the world are essentially giving in to the notion that debates are the primary problem-solvers for most of these deep-rooted world issues.
It is ridiculous and unfortunate that Model United Nations have adopted the same concept of endless debates and discussions which come at the cost of taking appropriate actions to solve major crises. In a way, the suit-laden student delegates in MUNs are the perfect caricatures of world leaders – they speak well but contribute nothing to alleviate global issues plaguing the world.
The Model United Nations is a deeply-flawed concept where the problems in hand take a back seat while the comfort of the delegates and the glamour of attending these sessions become the real highlight. The extravagance of the debates often overshadows its gravity, and the event is reduced to a competition of mere words, devoid of any empathy, care, or even a second thought for the issues being discussed. The completion of the event is often celebrated, transcending physical grounds to become a showcase for social media as the delegates deservedly flaunt their accomplishments and move on with their lives. The issues, however, remain unaddressed – stagnant as ever.
As the Covid-19 pandemic struck the world, academic institutions suffered massive setbacks as they were forced to close their premises and conduct online sessions. The tiny ray of light was the seemingly indefinite closure of all MUN-related activities. The platform remained, however, and only the stage changed. Model United Nations took the internet by storm once again as it donned an online apparel.
Institutions continued their annual iteration of Model United Nations to keep the spirits up. The politically charged debates now took place on Zoom meetings – a dream come true for world leaders and representatives in the United Nations as nothing would entice them more than the notion of turning their mic and cameras off when the plight of the marginalised and oppressed are being discussed. The same cycle of selective outrage, pointless discussions, and uplifting the already uplifted commenced on an online mode – only this time, the delegates were dressed formally from just the waist up, the need for trousers eliminated by the limitations of their laptop cameras.
It is essential to understand that the commentary is not for those who participate in Model United Nations – it is always an excellent aspiration to keep working on oneself. The criticism is limited to the flawed implementation of the MUNs, which propagates nothing of value and continues to be a massive waste of time and resources.
Anzal Khan is a student pursuing B.Com from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Diptarka Chatterjee