What are MUNs?
Known worldwide as Model United Nations, MUN events are academic conferences in which participants act out meetings of international organizations, with an emphasis on the United Nations and its related bodies. Model United Nations originated at Harvard University in the twentieth century and soon became popular amongst students all around the world. The first MUN conference in Brazil happened during the 90s.
During the events, students represent countries in debates concerning previously defined topics, where they defend their nation’s interests about the subject discussed. In the end, participants are expected to have drafted a resolution; a document that describes how to best resolve the committee’s proposed issue.
At SPMUN other Model simulations are also frequent, such as historical committees, in which participants discuss issues set in past moments in time; Congressional committees, which focus on internal issues in particular countries; crisis committees, which discuss how to resolve emergency situations; and the Press committee, in which participants act as reporters and have the task of covering the whole event.
Committees can be conducted in various languages, depending on the particular details of each conference. The most traditional debates in Brazil are conducted in Portuguese and English.
At SPMUN students from high school and superior education can participate. Committees are divided between both student profiles, but participants who study at cursinho (cram schools that focus on admission exams for University in Brazil) or who find themselves between high school and superior education can choose which to participate. Any student who is interested in discussing topics of social, political, economic, or historical relevance will find a committee that interests them. In addition to a great learning tool in academic areas, participants develop skills such as teamwork, oratory, rhetoric, cooperation, diplomacy, respect for different opinions, conflict resolution in high-pressure situations, seeking consensus and, above all, tolerance.
Founded in 2009 by students interested in discussing policy issues in an organized manner, SPMUN has become the largest Model UN Conference in the state of São Paulo, the third largest in the country since 2013, and one of the largest of Latin America. Initially only for high school students were accepted, but the event grew with the years and in its eighth edition in 2017, opened enrollment for students in superior education. Among approximately 500 annual participants there is a significant amount of students from out of state who commute to the conference’s host city, Sao Paulo, to participate in the five-day event. There is also an increasing number of public network students who participate in SPMUN free of charge since 2014; in 2016 there were 60 spots occupied by students from public schools, 50% more than in previous years.
Having worked with the rules of procedure instituted by Harvard University, SPMUN was also one of the first Brazilian models to adopt the official regulations of the United Nations, the UN4MUN model, with the purpose of providing a conference that is increasingly similar to the real operation of the UN, and to provide participants with best possible experience.