In an effort to limit the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, many Model UN conferences were canceled or postponed this spring. While at first, it seemed like there would be no Model UN conferences again for a very long time, the community has responded in a similar fashion to universities, schools, and other large gatherings: moving online. Although online Model UN is not a new occurrence, there has been a staggering rise in the popularity of conferences taking place through the internet over the past few weeks.
Throughout the many applications being used to host online Model UN conferences, it is clear that there are a few large differences between Model UN online and in person. The important practice of sending notes to other delegates takes place through private messaging. Blocs gather together in different chats, making it harder to discuss ideas with other delegates during unmoderated caucuses. Depending on the platform, you might not even be able to see the faces of your fellow delegates.
It is clear that although online Model UN conferences have the same goals of simulating the UN, learning diplomacy, and practicing teamwork, they are a different experience entirely.
Nonetheless, there are several benefits that online Model UN can provide that real-life Model UN cannot.
Online Model UN’s nature means that delegates come from all around the world. Whereas a typical conference may have a few delegations from international schools, online Model UNs truly have a global reach. This allows for more diversity within the committee, because while delegates intend to truthfully represent other countries’ stances, their cultures can still impact their behavior and ideas. Some may view language barriers as an obstacle, but learning how to resolve communication issues is arguably a far more authentic Model UN experience. Rather than trying to prevent language challenges, taking the time to work through them can teach a valuable skill.
Online Model UN conferences also provide the opportunity to engage in Model UN to a wider audience. Attending real-life conferences can be expensive, but most online Model UN conferences are free because they do not require many resources. Delegates living in areas with inactive Model UN circuits can also participate this way. Online conferences allow the crucial skills that Model UN teaches to spread to an even greater number of people, as long as they have a computer and internet access.
As the world grapples with the Covid-19 situation, online Model UN can be a way for the community to keep participating in one of their favorite activities while taking appropriate measures with regards to public health. In these stressful times, doing things you enjoy can be key to finding a sense of normalcy. Potentially, online Model UN may be one of the ways that you stay connected with others while also staying at home.
Related Article: 3 Ways to Keep Your Model UN Team Active During Quarantine