THIMUN is a transformative experience for students selected as active participants. What THIMUN is and does is no state secret but only those that have been a part of THIMUN can truly appreciate the opportunity that such an activity provides Leysin American School students.
What are MUN and THIMUN?
Model United Nations, or MUN, became a popular program in the 1950s. The school Model United Nations initially began at the university level and later matriculated down to the high schools. LAS has incorporated MUN for many years, both as a class and as an afterschool club. MUN creates a global outlook for LAS students, teaching and reinforcing skills that prepare students for university and the professional world within the mock setting of the United Nations General Assembly. The skills students take away from the MUN experience include:
- Public speaking;
- Analytical research;
- Consensus building; and
- Advocating and debate (sometimes in contradiction with personal beliefs).
As students grow into capable adults, being able to consider all views, argue a point with valid support and create consensus with others, demonstrates strong leadership capabilities to both colleagues and employers. Students build self-confidence and understand the importance of working together to achieve objectives and push through a set agenda. The culmination of the MUN experience for a select few LAS students is the Hague International Model United National Conference, or THIMUN, an annual weeklong conference that takes place in the Netherlands and puts twelve of our best LAS students to the test.
See the Model United Nations in Action
LAS is pleased to participate in two MUN conferences each year. They are:
- The Leysin Youth Model United Nations Conference, or LYMUN, is hosted by LAS in the MUN format and is open to all LAS students. It provides all students a taste of the MUN concept.
- The Hague International Model United National Conference, or THIMUN, the crown jewel of the MUN year, is only available to twelve carefully selected LAS candidates.
Much is expected from THIMUN participants and the event itself is held annually at The Hague, Netherlands. THIMUN is the largest high school MUN conference in Europe with over 3,500 students and 200 schools participating in the weeklong conference. LAS students represents a country each year and then debate a range of topics as they relate to their selected country. LAS students have represented countries such as Liberia, Libya, and Serbia. This year has LAS representing Macedonia, officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Students are set to debate topics including, the disputed islands in the East China Sea, the rights of people with disabilities, how to effectively end female genital mutilation, and the right to privacy in the digital age.
What Happens to Our Select LAS Twelve?
Time is of the essence for THIMUN students. They are at the conference for a brief time and they must make sure that they have a chance to debate their topic. Student time is broken up into three categories:
- Debate; and
- Exploration of The Hague.
The first step is for students to find allies from like-minded countries. They will then form a working group in which they must come to a consensus and create a resolution to be submitted for debate. Resolutions are written out in a carefully worded document that is edited and conforms to a specified technical format. Each resolution describes the current situation and the proposed solution to one of the topics of the conference.
Special consideration to collaboration and speed must be given during this writing process. THIMUN students are mandated to work with a minimum of five different co-authors/sponsor, each representing another country, in order for a resolution to merit approval. Simultaneously, they are racing against the clock and competing against other collaborative groups to be the first to submit their resolutions to ensure that their resolution will be debated.
After submission and selection, the debate process kicks off. Students work with co-authors/sponsors to formally and informally influence and convince peers to support their resolution and to vote against competing resolutions. A resolution must receive a majority vote to be passed.
Outside of the conference itself, all participants are encouraged to explore the city. The Hague is considered a major hub of international diplomacy and law. Past years have seen LAS students observing criminal trials at both the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and the International Criminal Court. LAS students have also been privileged to hear talks sponsored by the International Court of Justice. This is an experience unique to THIMUN participants.
THIMUN is Not to Be Missed
Students that may initially dismiss MUN are hooked once they participate in the LYMUN. If they are among the select few invited to attend THIMUN, they return to LAS with a changed perspective and an enhanced skillset that they can continue to develop as a school Model United Nations participant at the university level and use professionally within their chosen profession. Memories of a lifetime are made at THIMUN. Students return from their first THIMUN experience eager to share their stories of the transformative experience with fellow students and families. Eyes light up as THIMUN students tell their tales to rapt audiences. The THIMUN experience is unlike any other a student will have at LAS.