What is Model United Nations?
Model United Nations, also known as Model UN or MUN, is an extra-curricular activity in which students typically roleplay delegates to the United Nations and simulate UN committees.
This activity takes place at MUN conferences, which are usually organized by high school and college students. At the end of most conferences, outstanding delegates in each committee are recognized and given an award.
Thousands of middle school, high school, and college students around the world participate in Model United Nations, which involves substantial researching, public speaking, debating, and writing skills, as well as critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership abilities.
The UN Charter established six main organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council. It gives primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the Security Council, which may meet whenever peace is threatened.
According to the Charter, the United Nations have four purposes:
– to maintain international peace and security;
– to develop friendly relations among nations;
– to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
– and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.
All members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to member states, only the Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter.
When a complaint concerning a threat to peace is brought before it, the Council’s first action is usually to recommend that the parties try to reach agreement by peaceful means. The Council may:
– set forth principles for such an agreement;
– undertake investigation and mediation, in some cases;
– dispatch a mission;
– appoint special envoys; or
– request the Secretary-General to use his good offices to achieve a pacific settlement of the dispute.
When a dispute leads to hostilities, the Council’s primary concern is to bring them to an end as soon as possible. In that case, the Council may:
– issue ceasefire directives that can help prevent an escalation of the conflict;
– dispatch military observers or a peacekeeping force to help reduce tensions, separate opposing forces and establish a calm in which peaceful settlements may be sought.
Beyond this, the Council may opt for enforcement measures, including:
– economic sanctions, arms embargoes, financial penalties and restrictions, and travel bans;
– severance of diplomatic relations;
– or even collective military action.
A chief concern is to focus action on those responsible for the policies or practices condemned by the international community, while minimizing the impact of the measures taken on other parts of the population and economy.
The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946 at Church House, Westminster, London. Since its first meeting, the Security Council has taken permanent residence at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. It also travelled to many cities, holding sessions in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1972, in Panama City, Panama, and in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1990.
A representative of each of its members must be present at all times at UN Headquarters so that the Security Council can meet at any time as the need arises.
Under the United Nations Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are:
– to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations;
– to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;
– to recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;
– to formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;
– to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;
– to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;
– to take military action against an aggressor;
– to recommend the admission of new Members;
– to exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in “strategic areas”;
– to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice.
The Council is composed of 15 Members:
– five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States,
– ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.
More than 60 United Nations Member States have never been Members of the Security Council.
A State which is a Member of the United Nations but not of the Security Council may participate, without a vote, in its discussions when the Council considers that country’s interests are affected. Both Members and non-members of the United Nations, if they are parties to a dispute being considered by the Council, may be invited to take part, without a vote, in the Council’s discussions; the Council sets the conditions for participation by a non-member State.
Human Rights Council
The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.
The Council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly. The Human Rights Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251. Its first session took place from 19 to 30 June 2006. One year later, the Council adopted its “Institution-building package” to guide its work and set up its procedures and mechanisms.
Among them were the Universal Periodic Review mechanism which serves to assess the human rights situations in all United Nations Member States, the Advisory Committee which serves as the Council’s “think tank” providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues and the Complaint Procedure which allows individuals and organizations to bring human rights violations to the attention of the Council.
The Human Rights Council also works with the UN Special Procedures established by the former Commission on Human Rights and now assumed by the Council. These are made up of special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts and working groups that monitor, examine, advise and publicly report on thematic issues or human rights situations in specific countries.
When creating the Human Rights Council in March 2006 the United Nations General Assembly decided that the Council’s work and functioning should be reviewed five years after it had come into existence at the level of the General Assembly. More information about the review and its 2011 outcome are available here.
The Council is made of 47 Member States, which are elected by the majority of members of the General Assembly of the United Nations through direct and secret ballot. The General Assembly takes into account the candidate States’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.
The Council’s Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution.
Seats are distributed as follows:
– African States: 13 seats
– Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats
– Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats
– Western European and other States: 7 seats
– Eastern European States: 6 seats
Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
The Bureau of the Council consists of five people – one President and four Vice-presidents – representing the five regional groups. They serve for a year, in accordance with the Council’s annual cycle.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) represents the world’s commitment to universal ideals of human dignity. We have a unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations.
The High Commissioner heads OHCHR and spearheads the United Nations’ human rights efforts. We offer leadership, work objectively, educate and take action to empower individuals and assist States in upholding human rights. We are a part of the United Nations Secretariat with our headquarters in Geneva.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO’S mission and activities.
The broad goals and concrete objectives of the international community – as set out in the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – underpin all UNESCO’s strategies and activities. Thus UNESCO’s unique competencies in education, the sciences, culture and communication and information contribute towards the realization of those goals.
UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. The Organization focuses, in particular, on two global priorities:
– Gender equality
And on a number of overarching objectives:
– Attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning
– Mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development
– Addressing emerging social and ethical challenges
– Fostering cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace
– Building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication
UNESCO’s governing bodies
The General Conference consists of the representatives of the States Members of the Organization. It meets every two years, and is attended by Member States and Associate Members, together with observers for non-Member States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Each country has one vote, irrespective of its size or the extent of its contribution to the budget.
The General Conference determines the policies and the main lines of work of the Organization. Its duty is to set the programmes and the budget of UNESCO. It also elects the Members of the Executive Board and appoints, every four years, the Director-General. The working languages of the General Conference are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
The Executive Board, in a sense, assures the overall management of UNESCO. It prepares the work of the General Conference and sees that its decisions are properly carried out. The functions and responsibilities of the Executive Board are derived primarily from the Constitution and from rules or directives laid down by the General Conference.
Every two years the General Conference assigns specific tasks to the Board. Other functions stem from agreements concluded between UNESCO and the United Nations, the specialized agencies and other intergovernmental organizations.
Its fifty-eight members are elected by the General Conference. The choice of these representatives is largely a matter of the diversity of the cultures and their geographical origin. Skillful negotiations may be needed before a balance is reached among the different regions of the world in a way that will reflect the universality of the Organization. The Executive Board meets twice a year.
Role: Defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union
Members: Heads of state or government of EU countries, European Commission President, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
President: Donald Tusk
Established in: 1974 (informal forum), 1992 (formal status), 2009 (official EU institution)
Location: Brussels (Belgium)
The European Council brings together EU leaders to set the EU’s political agenda. It represents the highest level of political cooperation between EU countries.
One of the EU’s 7 official institutions, the Council takes the form of (usually quarterly) summit meetings between EU leaders, chaired by a permanent president.
European Council decides on the EU’s overall direction and political priorities – but does not pass laws.
– Deals with complex or sensitive issues that cannot be resolved at lower levels of intergovernmental cooperation
– Sets the EU’s common foreign and security policy, taking into account EU strategic interests and defence implications
– Nominates and appoints candidates to certain high profile EU level roles, such as the ECB and the Commission
On each issue, the European Council can:
– ask the European Commission to make a proposal to address it,
– pass it on to the Council of the EU to deal with.
The European Council is made up of the heads of state or government of all EU countries, the European Commission President and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy.
It is convened and chaired by its President, who is elected by the European Council itself for a once-renewable two-and-a-half-year term. The President represents the EU to the outside world.
European Council usually meets 4 times a year – but the President can convene additional meetings to address urgent issues.
It generally decides issues by consensus – but by unanimity or qualified majority in some cases. Only the heads of state/government can vote.
European Council conclusions are adopted during each European Council meeting. They are used to identify specific issues of concern for the EU and outline particular actions to take or goals to reach. European Council conclusions can also set a deadline for reaching agreement on a particular item or for the presentation of legislative proposal. In this way, the European Council is able to influence and guide the EU’s policy agenda.
Ahead of the European Council meeting, the President of the European Council drafts guidelines for the conclusions. These are then discussed at the General Affairs Council and later adopted at the European Council meeting. Conclusions are adopted by consensus between all EU member states.