The Arizona Model United Nations program was founded in 1963 by Dr. Clifton E. Wilson, a full professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Arizona. Through the program, Dr. Wilson hoped to provide an interactive learning experience in international politics, law and diplomacy for both high school and university students. The first Arizona Model United Nations high school conference was held on January 18th and 19th, 1963. Because the conference was being held on an “experimental basis”, it was initially limited to Tucson, Arizona area high schools. Ten Tucson high schools sent 200 delegates and sponsors to the session which consisted only of the General Assembly. The topics considered at the first General Assembly session were the Representation of Communist China in the United Nations and Nuclear Testing. Because of the enthusiastic response to this “experimental” conference, it was decided not only to make the session an annual event, but to extend it to include all Arizona high schools. In its fifty years of existence, AzMUN has reached out to more than 100 schools within the state of Arizona, as well as schools in California and Sonora, Mexico.
The AzMUN sessions have grown to include the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, specialized committees dealing with topics such as the status of women and crime prevention, and regional bodies such as the Arab League and African Union. AzMUN has also expanded to include a Spanish-language component which now simulates a meeting of the Organization of American States as well as a Spanish-language Security Council. An enormous amount of preparation goes on behind the scenes to get ready for the actual AzMUN session.
High schools select countries, research, write position papers, and send students as delegates. Faculty advisors and student leaders help prepare their delegations by using materials of their own as well as materials provided by AzMUN. Some schools offer AzMUN as a regular class, while others offer it as a club or special activity. The University of Arizona group or ‘club’ consists of about 40 students who act as the Secretariat for the conference, running committee sessions, helping with research, facilitating crisis simulations, etc. These full-time university students organize the program, write background materials to help the high schools prepare and meet with the high school students to advise and instruct them. The activities of these students are run primarily through an eleven-member executive committee supervised by a Secretary General and a Faculty Advisor. The session is held at the University of Arizona Student Union and last for two days.
One of the highlights of the two day program is the International Banquet which features a keynote speaker. Students meet in committee sessions to form strategy, debate, then draft and vote on resolutions. The session ends with the Plenary Session where Special Rapporteurs report on the highlights of their committees and awards are given out to exceptional delegates. The educational value of high school Model United Nations simulations is immeasurable. Student Delegates take on the role of the countries they represent. Through this, they learn how other nations of the world view important issues while also learning how these nations work together. This simulation provides a better understanding of global cooperation and the use of peaceful means to solve programs while also acting as a great introduction to the fields of international relations and international law. Students gain a better knowledge of diplomacy and a realization that many of the problems facing our modern world truly know no geographic boundaries.
AzMUN is one of the oldest and most enduring student organizations at the University of Arizona. We are proud that the AzMUN has grown to become an integral part of the University of Arizona and of the educational program at many high schools. The AzMUN program has attracted the attention of the community and has gained national recognition both for its high school conference and for the performance of its University club-members as they participate at international conferences. We hope that participating students can absorb all that is offered by this unique experience. Our sincere thanks goes out to all of those special people who have worked hard over the last five decades to make AMUN what it is today.