Model UN: Breeding awareness, leadership

Published: November 19, 2010
SHARES
Email

Delegates for the Eurasia MUN conference. PHOTO: LUMUN

This is in response to the blog titled ‘Model UN: Breeding pointless Leadership’. The writer has made many generalisations in this article and  I’ll try to use my limited knowledge to counter the opinions expressed by the author.

Firstly, as the scope of Model United Nations (MUN) is global and not national, issues like Kashmir and Palestine are not the sole issues being discussed, rather they form a small segment of the 10-15 topics being discussed in different committees. As far as the practicality of the concept is concerned, delegates at such MUN conferences engage in extensive research on the topic before coming to the conference, take the role of a diplomat and discuss the probable solutions and negotiate with all stakeholders involved and pass a resolution which is agreeable by majority.

So, students who participate in such activities at this stage of their lives are able to make better leaders in the future roles they take up, where they take decisions that actually affect the nation or the world.

I would divide the concept of MUN culture in Pakistan into three distinct categories:

i) It breeds a class of youth who are well aware of international issues and take interest in knowing more about them and solving the issues once they occupy important portfolios in the coming years;

ii) it provides a networking platform for students coming from across the country; and

iii) it promotes a softer image of Pakistan abroad when our students participate in international MUN Conferences.

Breeding well aware leadership and tolerance

To take the debate a step ahead, once we are breeding a class of youth well aware of international issues, having had the experience of demonstrating the viewpoint of other countries and understanding their concerns, we will be able to have leaders who in the future prevent embarrassment in the international arena and instead prove more rational when taking decision on behalf of our country.

Moreover, the strong bond of friendship built between students coming from different cities of the country at MUN conferences helps breed greater tolerance, inculcate the habit of listening to others viewpoints and accommodate differences in opinion – all characteristics lacking in our community today.

The networking of different schools for the promotion of MUN in Pakistan and the effort of the students will prove to be an invaluable asset for realising the shared responsibility of solving national/international issues. The network of MUN delegates spread across the country will prove to be one united class of similar thinkers who will vow to change the future of the country.

Promoting a softer image of Pakistan

Now, coming to the third aspect of the MUN culture in Pakistan of promoting softer image of Pakistan abroad. Every year, many students from different institutes of Pakistan take part in International MUN Conferences. LUMS, LSE, Headstart Isb, PAF-KIET Khi, SZABIST Khi, are just a few of those who take part in various MUN conferences around the world and have achieved marvels in the filed of diplomacy and helped promote a positive image of Pakistan.

These delegates have been successful in changing the opinion of conference participants from various countries of the world about Pakistan, and inculcating in them an interest to get to know more about Pakistan and to visit Pakistan. There have been many instances where international delegates have come to Pakistan to attend MUN conferences only after getting to know our fellow MUN participants in other countries and obviously this helps spread a positive image which is a need of the hour for our country.

To quote an example, in LUMS alone, there have been four German students coming on exchange to Pakistan in the last two years only after they got to meet Pakistani students in international MUN conferences. So, such a trend is obviously promoting Pakistan in the international arena, let alone the obvious benefits of a MUN conference for a delegate.

Achievements of MUNs

Also, just to briefly highlight the achievements of MUN in Pakistan, it is the LUMUN (LUMS Model UN) team which has won the last five Harvard WorldMUN titles in the last five years, which is attended by around 2, 000 delegates from all around the world. Besides this, EurasiaMUN conference co-hosted by LUMUN in Geneva, Switzerland in 2008 and Passau, Germany in 2010 is yet another platform where people from Europe and Asia meet to discuss issues of international importance. It is only because of the influx of MUN culture in Pakistan, that in WorldMUN 2010 there were teams from Pakistan apart from LUMUN, therefore increasing the representation of Pakistan at the International Youth Forum.

It is only because of the MUN, that LUMUN Social Responsibility Programme (LUMUN SRP) started two years ago is helping under-privileged children in some schools of Lahore are being taught English and public speaking.

Taking it further, at this year’s LUMUN conference students from across the country will get a chance to engage themselves in discussing solutions for the rehabilitation of flood victims in Pakistan. Thus, it is the MUN conference which is engaging our youth in such a discussion which they will take back to their schools and friends, and thus help fight the issues of flood IDPs in Pakistan. (Most of the achievements quoted are from LUMUN, as being a LUMUN participant, I have detailed knowledge about it, but the achievements are in no way only restricted to LUMUN; other MUNs also have their achievements.)

MUN nurtured world leaders

MUN over the years has produced many notable leaders like the present Secretary General of UN Ban Ki Moon, Hilary Clinton and many others who have been ardent supporters of Model UN around the world. MUN is a practice which is conducted the world over, and has contributed its part in making people more aware of international issues. In some cases it has created interest amongst many students of high school level to pursue further studies in International Relations, diplomacy, conflict resolution etc.

Therefore, MUN is breeding a class of leaders who will be well aware in the years to come and would be equipped to take rational decisions for the interest of all. No doubt it is equipped with its share of ills, which for some is the social events and its impracticality for others, but it should not discourage us from envisioning the long term benefits of MUN conferences for our youth, society and country at large.

Even if it does not fulfill its purpose completely, just inculcating an interest of international issues amongst our youth will pave the way towards a more aware society capable of achieving more than our predecessors. The decision is upon us: either to portray the negative side of MUN culture or to take the positive side of MUN and portray and develop it in a way which helps overcome the negative aspects which will prove more beneficial.

Happy Munning!

Mian.Taimoor

Mian Taimoor

A Social Science Graduate from Lahore University of Management Sciences, who holds great interest in International Relations and Model UN.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • faraz

    Can LUMUN do us one favour; ask LUMS to return the money it got from the national budget. Thousands of primary schools have been drowned in floods and hundreds have been blown up by taliban; we need money for these schools. And i have no problem with the few dozen students who are learning leadership skills at MUN.Recommend

  • parvez

    I had no idea that this MUN thing existed until I read the last bog and comments and now your rejoinder. Following to ‘for’ and ‘against’ debate what I gather is that this MUN is a good thing. Recommend

  • Mian Taimoor

    @ Parvez: Thanks a lot for your kind words. For more information you can visit http://www.lumun.org.Recommend

  • Saeed Khan

    Thank you Mian Taimoor.Recommend

  • http://www.theideaartist.com Umair Kazi

    Some valid points by author, kudos for a relatively unapologetic and cool-headed post.

    Suggestion: Remove social-events/certificates/international-trips from these conferences and gauge attendance rates. Just for funsies.

    Ps, I’m as big a fan of LUMUN as the next guy, but seriously, this one sounds like an LUMUN advertisement. Would help to tone that down just a notch.Recommend

  • Shemrez Nauman Afzal

    Wow. change just ONE word and you have a totally new and different article!
    Wow ET, just… wow.
    This was SOOO pointless… No, wait. That was the title of the OTHER article wasn’t it? :PRecommend

  • muner

    very well said mian taimoor awesome i was part of last lumun when u were sec gen and it was the most awesome thing happen to my life Recommend

  • hasan

    both sides are indeed true, but for different sets of people. I myself was of the former category when i participated in LUMUN but no doubt I was amused at the level of ‘khuari’ my fellow delegates would do to prepare up, debate and look professional. It was a mixed experience, but insightful nevertheless. I learnt that international diplomacy has inherent flaws and limitations much the same as we have at the MUN. But that makes the countries NOT to go to war, so its understandable. Recommend

  • Amina Ansari

    What is the ROI of all the MUN partying, boozing and talking? How do you justify taking your parents and companies sponsorship money to just talk talk and talk, take no action and party hard? What is the point at the end of the day? Have you done anything to make the world a better place?

    As far as I can see, no.Recommend

  • Noor

    @ Amina Ansari, what have you done to change the world?
    We would like to know to get inspiration.

    Thanks Recommend

  • Sahar

    i agree with amina ansari. i see kids take part in lumen every year. its like 25% research and practicing speaking skills, the rest of it is partying. theres a new party every day, every night. everyone wants to get through with the work of the day so they can get together in the evening and party. even o level kids leave lums at like 12-1 at night.
    and i am SO sick of hearing all this random useless things promoting “the soft image” of pakistan. Recommend

  • Ali Khan

    Totally agree with Umair Kazi.. just remove the social events and all the shahshkas and then see what response does the LUMUN get.

    and dont get me started on the CSR thing … lavish dinners at Jason stake!! ,,, 7 day holiday in Thiland!!! Cmon yaar…

    :D Recommend

  • Zain

    Well, nice and ambitious Taimoor. I agree with the need of casting a positive image of Pakistan and indeed the forum is quite appropriate. However, I would hold my reservations in agreeing with the generalizations about inadequate and shameful leadership of Pakistan. Positivity and ambition are the most important aspects of anything we have learnt from LUMS and to say that we’re good because they’re bad reveals lack of substance and of course negativity. That goes without stating the fact that Pakistani diplomats have a reputation of being among the best in the world. Diplomats, the guys you’re pretending to be, not politicians.

    Also, Amina, you seem to be caught up in stereotypes. Sure some students like to party, only after they’ve worked hard, but in case of Pakistani delegates, let me assure you, they comprise of a very small percentage. Most delegates I know are keen to educate themselves about different cultures which reiterates Taimoor’s point of building a better leadership for the future. Also, what better use would you rather make of the companies’ sponsorship money than helping get our students get better exposures and subsequent understanding of different cultures. Oh the flooded and the impoverished you say? Well, this is reserved publicity money in most companies. And even if it wasn’t, I don’t see people criticizing the MUN rallying against such companies to donate their entire marketing budget to help the poor. Recommend

  • Fahad Tanveer

    proud of you champ :) another sock in the face of ignorance.

    great job!

    Best regards,

    Fahad TanveerRecommend

  • Mahin Siddiqui

    Thank you Taimoor, see this is what I was saying, MUN teaches you to debate with logic and sense. Thank you for inspiring us and getting all our MUN-ers point across. Recommend

  • Zubair Ahmed

    @faraz:
    I assume your vision of LUMS is that of an elite institution restricted to the privileged few and hence your call for money for the sake for blown up primary schools. To correct you, LUMS is nowhere even near to being restricted to few socio-economic classes. Almost 15% of the total students are from remote villages studying free of cost, not to mention those on financial aid. I know a student from FATA who cant go back to his home because of militancy and many others from remote areas of Sindh and Baluchistan. Re-constructing blown up schools is not LUMS’s responsibility, making its education affordable to every one in the country is. And that it is doing tremendously well. Recommend

  • faraz

    @Zubair Ahmad

    There is nothing wrong if LUMS is an elite institution; a private institution can charge fee according to its own policy. Yes reconstruction isnt LUMS responsibility but it took money from the national budget. It has no right in the tax payers money. Tax payers money should be spent only on government schools. Recommend

  • Khan

    @ faraz,

    If you were a munner, you’d have the wisdom to go to LUMS website and look at the university’s published accounts to see how baseless your accusation is. Have a look here: http://lums.edu.pk/docs/year_2009.pdf

    But then you aren’t. So it’s ok =)Recommend

  • faraz
  • Abdullah Ishaq

    A great response to a pathetic article :).
    The fact is that MUN’s are making a sense of responsibility grow in many individuals of PAKISTAN and indeed LUMS has played a very important role in regard to it as by organizing LUMUN.
    What i sincerely believe is that social events are necessary after long and exhausting committee sessions and they provide a chance to build up our social relations so people social events should be there.Recommend

  • Wasif Hussain

    @Mian Great work
    @Faraz…firstly the funding is for the development of school of science and engineering at lums (and not lumun or any other society at lums) which i am pretty sure would become an excellent place for academia in its field upon completion.
    ……….secondly if you would have just looked at the heading on the link you pasted you would have realised that this document is regarding the projects of HEC or the higher education commision which is an organisation which deals with Education (guessing from the name) hence they cannot possibly by law use this money anywhere else because hec is a governmental body and there is a seperate government department dealing with rehabilitation and stuff. just because our country is facing a tough time right now it doesn’t mean that we close down all other projects or that all the other departments divert their funding to rehabilitation. if you have an issue with this then perhaps you should challenge this in the supreme court and while you are at it ask them also to shutdown the pakistan railways as they too are running at a loss and draining capital from the national budget or maybe ask them to cut the budget of rangers because we could really use this money for rehabilitation, who needs border security right now. or even better why don’t all students just boycott their school or colleges for 3-4 years and give their tution money for rehabilitation?
    …..thirdly its very easy to sit in front of a computer screen and write scandalous things about other people and institutes without any basis at all. lums is doing its fair share of the rehabilitation work. you can view details on:
    http://www.lums.edu.pk/inside-lums/lums-flood-relief-fund.php
    all of us know the gravity of the situation and are trying to help in anyway possible but stopping all development projects is not the answer we need to think towards the future also not just the present! if you still have issues with lums getting any sum of money from the national budget then i guess you can never be satisfied otherwise…
    stay safe!Recommend

  • http://www.pakspectator.com Sana Saleem

    Pakistan only needs strong leadership and platforms such as this type of conference can really help us out in future in making a good Pakistan.Recommend

  • KIETIEN Munner

    Well agreed with the writer!!!!
    But still a lot of work needs to be done as through MUNs we can achieve a lot more and we also need to engage a bunch of other schools and universities as well……. Recommend

  • Mirza

    Thanks Taimoor for the blog. You did made valid points but I would also like to add that at time one does find that the debate and the issue being discussed ends up at a solution that is impossible nevertheless the debate on the other hand is productive especially on International arena (i.e WorldMUN) where one gets to hear the opinion of students from different parts of the World. In short it gives you better understanding of the issue and a new prospect to think about, so if someone asked me is MUN a useless platform definitely NOT, if one is open to learn in whatever form and means be it inside or outside the committee or at social events. All of us will be surprised what we bring back along with us.Recommend

  • Alvi

    I wanted to write a response to that rather pointless article myself, but I am glad its already done. Also, the other article made a remark about Kashmire and Palestine issue not getting addressed.

    To everyone who thinks the same way, let me assure you that its very easy to sit back in a room with friends who share your thoughts and believes, and discuss issues such as these while cursing the ones who YOU believe are responsible for the mess.

    On the other hand, a Munner has to prove his point in a moderate forum, where supporters of Israeli policies or Indian policies are present too, and are so well researched that they would shred your argument to pieces if you start blurting out emotions instead of facts.

    Point being, that in order to resolve ANY conflict, its extremely important to stand in other person’s shoes and look at things the way THEY do. Only then will you be able to come to a conclusion acceptable to all parties concerned. And MUN is a perfect forum for such an open debate.

    In 2009, HGA committee at LUMUN had it on its agenda to resolve the Gaza Crisis. This year at Rotmun, Kashmire issue was on the agenda for one of the committee too.

    So its not like these issues are ignored altogether, but they are rather discussed along with other pressing issues which most of the non-Munners wouldn’t probably be even aware off. Its very easy living in a bubble believing your problems are the only problems in the world.Recommend

  • Akbar Munner

    Thanks Mian taimorr.. U rock bro.. :)Recommend

  • http://bestdelegate.com Ryan

    Model UN helped me get into Yale and find a job at Goldman Sachs. From my experience and many others’, I know that MUN helps students learn about the world and develop leadership skills.Recommend

  • TM

    @ Faraz:

    The top US universities like Harvard, Yale & Columbia etc all receive gargantuan amounts of money from the Us government because its only through higher education that countries can have even a semblance of chance to this world.

    As Sir Winston Churchill so eloquently put it:
    “The Empires of the future will be Empires of the mind!” Recommend

  • TM

    @Ryan:

    Thank you so much for that very enlightening story about yourself. Model really does help if you take it seriously. All extra curricular activities do! Recommend