5 Common Mistakes of Model UN Newbies

5 Common Mistakes of Model UN Newbies 
  1. Ignore the Delegate Guide and Handouts– Basic information are usually included in the guide; rules of procedures, topic introduction, Dais information, these are all information that you can use to your advantage. The Delegate Guide will be your starting point. Organizers usually give a background guide for all topics that will be discussed during the conference. Not reading the Delegate Guide is a big mistake for both Newbies and Veterans.

    Research is very important in MUN. Not knowing what to say is not fun. Not understanding what others are saying is not fun. How do you make Model UN fun? Read! Look at Joshua Ito the most Promising Delegate of VMUN2011.

  2. Ignore FREE training– Model UN Conferences that are organized by schools usually provide basic training at least 4 weeks before the start of formal sessions. In the College of Saint Benilde, we allot 3 training sessions for the Delegates. Recently, I heard that they had a separate MUN Conference for freshmen two months before the big Conference. Last year, VMUN had 5 training sessions before the real conference. Why is it a mistake not to attend training? In training, you do practice simulations. For Newbies, you need to see how a simulation looks like before the real conference. Attending training for a conference also gives you an opportunity to network with your co-delegates. You can already come up with strategies weeks before the Conference.

    Attending MUN Training not only enhances your knowledge but it also gives you an opportunity to network.

  3. Becoming a passive delegate during formal session– This is a very common mistake for Newbies. How do we define a passive delegate? Passive delegates simply listen to everyone during formal sessions. Passive delegates do not interact with their co-delegates during all Phases of the MUN. They only stand up or go out when they need to use the restroom. The only time you hear them talk is during ROLL CALL. When I ask “passive delegates” to actively participate I always hear them say “I just want to observe this year so I know what to do for next year”. For Newbies, you can avoid becoming a passive delegate if you read the Delegate Guide and attend training. You will not have fun if you become a passive delegate! Passive delegates will always see MUN as either boring or complicated because they make it that way. Do NOT make this mistake. It’s a waste of time, money and space if you become passive during formal session.

    Actively participating during the actual Conference is very important if you want to have a meaningful Model UN experience.

  4. Believing everything you hear from a MUN Veteran – This is a dangerous or perhaps a tactical move by Veterans. Not everything you hear is true. Veterans can compel you to vote for his/her Resolution paper. By simply doing your own research, you may be able to confirm if the statements of the Veterans in your conference is indeed true.
  5. Copy Pasting articles – Plagiarism is a big thing in Model UN. Newbies often think they can get away with plagiarism. They probably think that we don’t read their policy papers. Back in CSB MUN 2009, I was presiding over the Economic and Social Council and I received a text message from one of the staff in the General Assembly who reported that a group of Delegates copied an entire UN resolution and passed it as their own working paper. Plagiarism happens.


Big thanks to Thomas Chua who contributed to this article! Thomas has expressed his interest in contributing regularly to the blog. So, watch out!



Filed under Tips and Strategies, Top 5

10 responses to “5 Common Mistakes of Model UN Newbies

  1. Great advice, I’ve passed on your blog to our MUN folk at my school. (though I do not think they are MUN newbies anymore, it’s probably still good advice for revisiting)


    • Thank you very much! I really appreciate it 🙂 I hope I can feature you in my next Delegate In Focus. Or if you know people in your country that has been very successful in Model UN, please let me know!

      • Global Jaya International School regularly participates in the JIS SEASAC MUN in Jakarta, Georgetown University MUN in QATAR and BIS MUN in Bandung.

  2. ryanvilla

    Good points! A small point that I would add: new delegates should learn to pass (appropriate) notes during formal debate/speakers list. Listen to delegates when they make speeches, and after they sit down, send them a note to let them know whether you agree or disagree with what they said, and that you’d like to meet during the next unmoderated caucus. This helps you build relations with other delegates and develop your presence in committee. This also helps you stay active and engaged in debate, preventing you from becoming a passive delegate (which compliments #3 above).

    • Thanks for the comment Ryan! I remember doing this during NMUN-NY back in 2009. Sending notes is really important in getting noticed. Especially if you are in a big committee like the General Assembly. Hope we can collaborate soon!

  3. No. 6 – Choosing your alliances/blocs on the basis of strength, popularity, or “winnability”, and not on the basis of your country’s foreign policy. Back in my day, the IAEA saw an alliance between Iraq and Iran. Iraq then was a first-timer, who had little to no experience in writing, but was really quite popular within the committee. Iran, ALSO a MUN first-timer was represented by a very smart student with an excellent resolution, but didn’t have the numbers to get his resolution. They eventually got together, had resolutions approved, and brought about one of the most bizarre alliances I can recall in all my MUN experiences.

    In relation to no. 6, there’s no. 7 – Participating in MUN with the sole intention of garnering recognition, accolades. Iraq entered MUN with the intention of winning at least one award (back then there were Best Resolution, Best Speaker, Best Delegate). I am sure at some point, smart as delegate of Iran was, he wanted recognition as well. Such way of thinking led to their complete disregard of their respective foreign policies and the formation of their baffling alliance. MUN is NOT about feeding your own ego. First and foremost, it’s probably one of the best learning experiences you can ever have, granted you let yourself enjoy it that way. Winning awards, if ever, is just gravy.

    Hi Vince, I just came across your blog. Props to you (and everyone else affiliated) for this endeavor. It made me feel slightly nostalgic. MUN was definitely one of the best highlights of my college days, and back then I always wished more students could experience it as well. I laud you for ensuring that it does, one class at a time. 🙂

    • Thank you very much Chiki! I’d love to feature you one of these days. 🙂 I’m sure you have a lot of MUN stories to tell. It’s very true that some use Model UN only for recognition. I was a victim of this mentality I have to admit. But later on I realized that it’s not about the awards. When I started teaching Model UN, it was all about learning something new and making it fun and meaningful for the students. Not about the awards. 🙂 I love your last line! “…one class at a time” Thank you again. I hope we can collaborate soon.

  4. Pingback: Delegate In Focus: Amiel Nagtalon | Model UN with Vince Naval

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