The city of Lagos is famous for many things–the largest hub for economic activities in all of Africa, Yabacon Valley, and the home to Nigeria’s foremost tertiary institution–but likely not for Model United Nations. Prior to 2016, when a group of undergraduate law students at the University of Lagos birthed the Model United Nations in August, Model UN was a rather obscure concept for law undergraduates in Nigeria compared to other more popular extracurricular activities like moot court or mock trial. Since then, the University of Lagos has grown over the years to become a beacon for Model United Nations throughout Nigeria due to its promotion of public speaking skills, diplomacy, and youth participation in the progression of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It is noteworthy that Model United Nations has yet to be incorporated into the Nigerian tertiary institution educational curriculum, and is more or less an extracurricular in Nigerian universities; this categorization is not matched by moot court or mock trial, unfortunately. The classification of Model UN as purely extracurricular has not, however, in any way damaged the level participation or enthusiasm for Model UN among undergraduate students.
Without any doubt, the formation of LMUN started a wildfire for Model UN participation in Nigerian tertiary institutions–it started a movement.
The Lagos Model United Nations draws 200+ delegates in attendance each year, and it has created a reputation for promoting the competitive elements of Model UN without sacrificing the spirit of diplomacy among delegates. Though LMUN started out as an almost exclusively law-student affair, it now boasts of multi-discipline and diversity in its participants, both administrators and delegates alike.
LMUN excels greatly due to the tireless and high-performing secretariat which ensures that all substantive and procedural aspects of the conference are of excellent quality. The Secretariat is divided into the Upper Secretariat–popularly dubbed as the “X12”– which is responsible for training all committee chairs and ensuring the overall success of all activities prior and during the conference, and the lower Secretariat which coordinates committee sessions during the conference (more “on the ground” administrators.”
Undoubtedly, the organization of the conference, the quality of background guides and delegate resources, the expertise of committee chairs through rigorous training, and the quality of guest-speakers at the conference are integral to a successful conference. The Secretariat of the LMUN recognizes this, and ensures that all pre-conference preparations are of the best standard. Members of the Dias are trained for months on the nuances of committee procedure and the substantive aspects of each topic of debate. It is therefore expected that detailed and well-written 30+ page background guides on the assigned committee topics are available months before the conference on the website, which allows for thorough delegate preparations.
The 70+ members of LMUN staff embody top-notch professionalism that makes it nearly impossible to believe it is a student-run conference.
Committees and Preparations
LMUN is comprised of a wide variety of committees, divided into three major departments with ten committees total divided between the three departments. The breakdown of committees beneath the three departments are as follows:
1. The Peace, Security and Human Rights Department
- UN Security Council
- UN Human Rights Council
- United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)
- United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
2. The Development Department
- United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
3. The General Assembly Department
- 3 General Assembly bodies are rotated annually
All committees traditionally discuss topics which revolve around a central theme for the conference that year.
A unique aspect of LMUN is the high number of committees despite the small scale of the conference; this results in intimate committees with only ~20 delegates per committee.
Committee sessions last for three days, starting as early as 8a.m and ending as late as 7pm.
LMUN is a notoriously competitive conference; as such, the Secretariat is intentional and deliberate in adopting a standardized criteria for deciding individual and delegation awards. There are position paper awards in each committee, and these tend to be a much bigger deal and hold more significance in the Nigerian Model UN sphere than in many American conferences. Beyond that, each committee offers an Outstanding Delegate award, a Distinguished Delegate award, and an Honorable Mention award based on the quality of delegate participation in committee sessions. Again, though LMUN is known as being a competitive conference, award-winning delegates are consistently those who exude diplomacy, pragmatism and thorough topic-understanding in proffering innovative, intelligent solutions. Hence, the awards policy is one way in which LMUN demonstrates a competitive conference offering for delegates without sacrificing the philosophy and ethical integrity of diplomacy and a collaborative approach to debate.
Idea Fair and the SDG Workshop
During the opening ceremony of the LMUN, delegates are encouraged to participate in the University of Lagos Model UN Idea Fair to share their innovative solutions pertaining to the SDGs. These participants are judged by independent judges who are individuals representing enterprises already actively pursuing the sustainable development goals. They judge the viability of these ideas and their innovativeness.
Behold the coolest part: a seed fund is usually given as the cash prize, for the winner to expend in kick-starting the proposed project.
There is equally the SDG Workshop, which provides a platform for SDG experts to share with delegates their experiences as it relates to the realization of their choice SDG. Consequently, pragmatic action plans are drawn up towards galvanizing all into achieving the SDGs.
LMUN utilizes technology to make conference management as efficient as possible. The sign-up process for delegates as well as payment for the conference are both completed entirely online. Proper email correspondence between delegates and the secretariat is equally maintained to ease registration and preparation for the conference. All committee materials and guidelines for delegates are available on the conference website.
For LMUN 2020, the Secretariat will offer a virtual training program for delegates, alongside relevant training videos to assist their preparation for the conference.
During the conference, working papers and resolutions are shared between the delegates and members of the Dias via email or Google Docs, for the first time this year. We should also lend credence to the heavy social media presence of the LMUN team on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, a smart usage of technology which yields fantastic responsiveness to enquiries alongside brilliant editorial commentary on pertinent international issues from members of the Secretariat.
The annual hash tag #LMUNiscoming captures the imminence and continuous improvement of this world-class Model United Nations conference. LMUN has evolved over the years and perpetually gets better as the years progress. LMUN has indeed carved a niche in Nigeria while it continues to maintain a global outlook. Indeed, University of Lagos Model UN promises a world of benefits to anyone interested in a Model UN career.