The Yale Model United Nations (YMUN)
The Yale Model United Nations conference, held annually in the Spring semester, is attended by over 600 secondary school students from around the world. YMUNs intent is to serve many purposes in educating its delegates. First, YMUN works to provide secondary school students with an opportunity to learn about international relations and to experience the international negotiation process first-hand. Being a good delegate requires learning good public speaking skills, rules of procedure, and knowing how to negotiate positions on often complicated issues. Second, by having students represent various countries and policy positions, YMUN forces delegates to research, prepare, and present arguments which may be contrary to their own personal assessment of the issue being discussed. This provides an opportunity to look at the issue from a different perspective, taking into account different cultures, political ideologies, and economic situations. YIRA feels that breaking down stereotypes and misinformation is imperative to making delegates critical thinkers, and allows them to better understand the complex relationships between domestic culture, politics, and economics in forming national policies. It is the hope of YIRA that through such contact with divergent viewpoints, delegates will better understand the positions, and most importantly the reasons behind the positions, of UN Member States and their governments. Third, YMUN views itself as an excellent forum in which Yale students can learn about international relations as well as gain practical conference organization skills. With a staff of over 70 Yale students, YMUN engages almost the entire YIRA membership. Conference administration, event-planning, advanced computer work, publishing, graphic design, public relations are areas where YMUN provides Yale students practical, hands-on training.
The first Yale Model United Nations conference was held in 1974 and consisted of only an International Court of Justice and a Security Council. Currently, YMUN has expanded to 11 committees of various sizes and topics, and draws delegates from four continents and such diverse countries as Bolivia, France, Ghana, and Panama. At one point YMUN held over 800 delegates, but this was seen as being simply too large and was affecting the quality of the conference. Therefore YMUN has become much more selective in recent years, allowing only the best schools from around the world to participate. This smaller size, of approximately 600 delegates, allows YIRA to organize a very high-quality conference, which promotes a better committee environment and more efficient conference administration.