How to Organize Your First Model UN Conference
Are you ready to take your Model UN experience to the next level? Hosting a Model UN conference will offer your Model UN team an experience unlike any other. You have probably been attending conferences with your delegates and have likely gained experience for your students and prestige for your school. You have seen what different conferences have to offer and you may be ready to try to have your team and school host one of its own. The experience can be rewarding, but it will be hard work.
If you haven’t attended any conferences with a Model UN team, then it is probably not a good idea to host one yet. If you have been to conferences, you have seen what works and what may not work. If this is the first time your team or school has hosted a conference, you will need a starting point. There are many questions you need to consider. How big will the conference be and how many days will it consist of? Where will the conference be held? How much will it cost to host the conference? Do you have sufficient support from your own Model UN team and school?
The preparation is intensive but the outcome can be rewarding. Hosting a conference will bring your team and school to the next level. We have put together a list and explanation of things you will need to consider when hosting your own conference. We begin with pre-conference preparation the move to conference time. We will end with how you can reflect on the experience to make it better in the future.
Stages of Planning a Conference
Most of your work as the teacher and host team will be done during the pre-conference period, which can last up to a year. Hosting a conference is not a small undertaking, so proper planning is vitally important. Follow these steps:
When will the conference be scheduled?
- You need to schedule the conference around major high school dates (prom, EOC testing, homecomings, holidays, etc).
- Work with your school and district administration for the best date.
- Be sure you choose a date you can stick with. You will not be able to change it once you begin the registration process.
- Conference size and fees.
- Decide how big you want your conference before you make any other decisions.
- If you are a beginner, consider a smaller, one-day conference to start with.
- How much will you charge participating delegations for attending? You need enough to cover your expenses but you don’t want the fees to be too high.
Decide where the conference will be held.
- Is your school building big enough to host the conference?
- Consider how many committees you have as well as opening and closing ceremonies.
- Where will you have the formal or social? (If necessary)
- Is there lodging nearby?
- Do you need a conference center? This will cost more but may be necessary due to space needs.
Set up committees within your Model UN team to handle difference tasks. Examples –
- Executive committee – to ensure each committee is fulfilling their responsibility. This can be you as the teacher.
- Selection Committee – to decide which UN committees you will be simulating at your conference. This is important. Focus on committees that have an active role in current global events to topics can be generated.
- Communications Committee – to coordinate communications between host team and participating teams. Setting up online forums, mailing strategy, etc.
- Finance and Fundraising Committee – to help locate money to fund conference and ensure that each delegation pays their fees.
- Hosting Committee – Have a team to organize lists of local accommodations
- List local hotels and rates (call hotels and see if they can offer discounts).
- List local restaurants and approximate cost per meal.
- List local activities (movies, shows, etc) and prices.
Decide on leadership positions needed
The following list is from the United Nations MUN outreach website. Leadership positions will be based on the size of your conference. They offer great opportunities for experienced delegates to be a part of making a successful conference. To learn more about how to structure a secretariat check out our article on Secretariat Roles for Model UN.
Promote to other schools
- Are you promoting just in your region or others as well?
- Advertise to all local schools or universities.
- Get in touch will other conferences to see how they promote their event.
Set up registration
- Will your registration be through traditional mail or online?
- If it is online, ensure the webpage is working and payment method is secure.
- Set a firm deadline.
Select leaders (Secretariat, Chairs, Rapporteur, etc)
After schools have submitted, choose leaders.
- Use those who have experience in previous conferences.
- Try to ensure a regional balance (not all from one school or area) and a gender balance.
- Be careful with this step. You want to consider each delegation’s experience as well as the level of your committees.
- For more experienced delegations, give them the more difficult countries and committee assignments.
- First time delegations should be put in beginner committees, and sometimes given less critical country assignments.
- If you are going to have any guest speakers, make arrangements early for them to avoid scheduling conflicts.
Give out topics
Through email or other electronic means, assign each committees’ topics.
Provide a Conference Guide
- You will need to create a conference guide with all of the important or useful information. This should be send to every delegation. A manual This can be electronic or in a physical printed copy given out during registration.
- This manual, at the minimum, should have:
i. A welcome letter from the Secretary General, or conference organizers
ii. The conference schedule
iii. Committee room allocation
iv. Committee names, topics and chairs
v. Map of the venue
vi. Details about the socials
vii. Emergency contact email and phone number
The guide can also include
viii. The Rules of Procedure
ix. Position paper information and deadlines
x. Draft resolution template
xi. Short history of the conference
xii. Information about the host city
You can get a good idea of how one of these guides looks here from the International Programs School.
Decide which awards you will be giving out at your conference. You may have some of the following: best delegate, distinguished delegate, honorable mention, notable distinction, best representation of country, best position paper, etc.
Electronic work area
It will be beneficial to have an electronic area for delegates to communicate with the staff and each other. This can be an area to handle any pre-conference negotiation (if allowed), position papers to be submitted, and for you to transmit documents to delegations (topics, delegate’s guide, teacher’s guide, etc).[DG1]
If logistics permit it, you should try to have the chairing staff come early so they can familiarize themselves with the committee areas and the conference expectations. This will benefit the entire process, as each committee session depends on active and knowledgeable leadership for success.
Post MUN Conference Debriefing
Build in time for a proper debriefing. It is almost certain that not everything will have gone right during the conference. Maybe some technology didn’t work as planned or maybe your guide didn’t lay out everything it needed to. That is okay. The first conference is not going to be perfect. No conference will be. The key is to have a session with your team to go over how to improve for the next conference.
Hosting a Model UN conference will involve time and effort on the part of your Model UN team and your high school or university but it is a great opportunity to create something to bring impact that can last. It is also a great chance to create a networking platform for students, visiting peers and administration. If done right, you will be providing a learning environment that cannot be matched by most high school activities. When you are ready for the challenge, we are here to help. Always check our website for articles on how to maximize the Model UN experience. Finally, good luck! We congratulate you on your willingness to expand the educational opportunities of your society and the Model United Nations community as a whole.