The Fall of the Soviet Union – MUN

By Samvit Sibal

Delegates holding up their placards to vote.

The Event

Model United Nations Essex, the Politics Society, and the History Society hosted a collaborative event on Thursday. The event took place as a Model United Nations (MUN) style debate, with members of all three societies choosing to represent a specific country and debate international issues as if they were all delegates at the UN. While MUN Essex typically discusses contemporary issues in international politics, the collaboration between MUN Essex and the Politics and History Societies meant that for this debate, a historical topic was chosen to the interest of all members: The Fall of the Soviet Union. The debate was set in 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the declaration of the new Russian Federation, with Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, and other former Soviet Socialist Republics declaring independence. The USSR was a member of the United Nations Security Council, along with the US, UK, France, and China, which means these countries have a veto over all debates that go on in the UN. This was one of the important issues that were debated, as delegates discussed whether Russia should take the USSR’s former seat on the Security Council as its legal successor. The societies also spoke about the future of the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal, recognition of new former Soviet states, and what international politics would look like after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The event proved a great success, with high attendance from members of all three societies and was an enjoyable evening for all. 

Delegates holding up their placards to vote.

For those that are unfamiliar with Model United Nations, what goes on, and how it all works, we’ve tried to answer some basic questions.

What is MUN?

Model United Nations, or MUN, is an activity that centres around debate, with members taking the role of a delegate – or representative – of a particular country and debating and representing the interests of their chosen country. While Essex has a particularly active MUN society, MUN is not unique to Essex, with many schools, colleges, and universities in the UK and across the world taking part in MUN.

How Does it work?

All those participating choose a country to represent as a delegate. There are then a series of moderated and unmoderated caucuses to allow delegates to talk and exchange ideas. A moderated caucus is overseen by the Chair, who does not represent any country and is instead a neutral person that makes sure debate is organised, with members taking it in turns to speak and sticking to the time allotted to each member to speak. Unmoderated caucuses allow delegates to talk to each other freely, without any debate structure or rules, for a set period. Debates can also have a Consultation of the Whole, where a delegate chairs debate instead of the Chair. The aim of debate is to pass a resolution, which is a document drafted by delegates that includes new rules or provisions to attempt to resolve the issue at hand. Delegates then vote for or against the resolution as their country to decide whether it should pass or fail. While this can sound complicated, there are also beginner debates with less complicated procedure, so don’t be discouraged if you like the sound of MUN but the rules sound a bit too complicated!

Delegates talking in an unmoderated caucus – where there is no Chair, and delegates can walk around the room to talk freely with each other.

We also spoke to MUN Essex President, Toby Warren, who shed some more light on the society.

Can you tell us a bit about the society?

The society has been around at Essex since about 2015, though I’ve been a member since 2022. Our main focus is on preparing members to talk and lead discussion in their real lives. The abstraction of topics at MUN means members can get confident taking charge, whether that’s in class, or in business and the world of work. There’s a giant MUN community globally – most universities have MUN societies, across Europe and Asia, and Africa. This is definitely reflected in the membership of the society here at Essex, and the diverse community is very global, so we get loads of international perspectives on the issues we discuss.

Why are events like this and collaborations with other societies important?

We think the global issues we discuss at MUN are not just political – they are issues that have centuries of history or involve stuff with economic or cultural issues intertwined – especially because we try and model the actual United Nations, we try to reflect the breadth of issues they deal with, from gender equality to access to education. Different societies can bring a different spin to what we normally talk about – so a historical spin in terms of the History Society. The Politics Society brought a sort of human aspect to the debate. At MUN we’re often dealing with foreign policy issues, and so the Politics Society was able to sremind us that behind all these big international and global issues that we discuss are humans and people. This kind of collaboration between societies is a great for new people to meet – we have so many societies across campus, and so events like this are a good way to interact with new people you might not otherwise talk to.

Why should people join MUN Essex?

People should join the society because there’s loads of great things to experience – from opportunities to compete to making new friends. The society also offers the opportunity to sharpen your knowledge and raise confidence in public speaking.

What can we expect from the society in the future?

We want to take part in more conferences in the future – where students from MUN societies across the country and internationally come together, and also in more competitive events too. We’re also hoping to put on larger collaborations with more societies. This event was a collab with two societies, so maybe in the future we can have events with three or even four societies working together, as well as broader collabs with lots of different kinds of societies.

Regular MUN events take place on Wednesdays from 6pm. For more information about the society you can visit their page on the SU Website ↗️, or the society’s Instagram ↗️.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top