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So You’re Chairing Your First Model UN Committee

Written by Pierre-Jean

October 7, 2019

So You’re Chairing Your First Model UN Committee

We all know that when your chair sucks, committee sucks. It’s really that simple: which is why it’s extremely important that when presented the opportunity to chair, you do a phenomenal job.


A good chair should be attentive to its surroundings, knowledgeable about both the topic and the parliamentary procedure. How many chairs have been confronted with obscure procedural questions? As you’re on your way to chair your first committee, you should keep one objective in mind, the main objective of MUN: delegates and chairs need to learn about international affairs whilst improving their own skills and having a good time. Effectively carrying out that mission inevitably involves a lot of attention to detail, and it requires a long list of specific decisions and actions on your part as the chair. Trying to hold on to all those tiny details can be overwhelming, particularly if it’s your first time ever chairing; so, here are two broader mantras that you should keep in mind when chairing your first committee:


1.) Watch like a hawk.

One of the most frustrating behaviors to see in committee is a lack of participation or engagement of delegates. Unless the committee that you chair is only made of power delegates, you will have to refrain from embodying an overly laid-back energy: to empower other delegates to lean in to committee, a chair must pay careful attention to the nuanced dynamics of committee and act accordingly. Strive to get to know each delegate individually by watching their role in the committee. An understanding of each committee member’s tailored engagement in the conference will make you more determined to ensure that every delegate is enjoying himself and fostering values of tolerance, education, and inclusiveness. An added bonus is that you will do a better job of picking awards. 


2.) Teach to learn.

The role of a chair during committee in a Model UN committee is actually quite close to that of a teacher, albeit for a restricted event. Currently being students enables us to better embody the position of a chair by comparing the teaching methods that were most successful for us in school: the best teachers are often the ones who possess an iron fist in a velvet glove. They are well-prepared and therefore knowledgeable about any subject they teach, strict when it comes to classroom procedures, and they willingly provide you with the constructive criticism you need to reach your goals. A similar dynamic should be reached in any Model UN committee: the chair is a teacher–a parliamentarian–whilst also being an historian and a mentor of sorts. 


All in all, to be an excellent chair, you must dedicate yourself to improving the skills of your delegates along with your own. In a position of power, you should use your control to empower those around you and foster a positive learning experience for all parties involved. 

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