Student delegates study in depth one of the United Nations member countries, research two topics of global interest, learn parliamentary procedure, practice specialized writing formats, practice role-playing, and learn the diplomatic art of negotiation and compromise. Months of study culminate in a two-day conference. At the conference students maintain and defend the positions of a country which may be totally in opposition to their personally held beliefs. In this role-playing the student negotiates to achieve consensus on the issue being discussed, usually from widely divergent views from the collective countries represented. Students use knowledge gained in researching their assigned country and topic(s) to present their nation's points of view.
After schools register for the program they are presented with a list of countries from which they may select those they prefer to represent. Security Council countries, because of their limited number and vital role, may only be represented by schools that have previously participated in the program. Schools are encouraged to involve their students in this selection process to develop early "Ownership" by the students. The Model UN program makes the country assignments based on a variety of considerations, including school preference, previous participation, geographic balance, and issue support.
After country assignment is accomplished student delegates choose the committee, and, therefore, issues they want to research. During this period coaches assist students in their research efforts.
Another area that is researched and discussed at group meetings is the design of the United Nations. Students become familiar with the various committees, councils etc. of the organization and their various functions. This understanding is necessary to later appropriately structure resolutions and conference debate and negotiation.
Study of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure occurs early in the program. Regular practice of these rules ensures that students are familiar with them. This familiarity facilitates and enhances students' enjoyment of the conference.
After a period of time when research is well underway, study is directed to the format and composition of position papers. These are brief papers on the position a certain country would take on a particular issue and why it would assume that stance.
Students also learn how to draft resolutions. These papers are in a highly specialized format and require some practice to comprehend easily. Students are encouraged to compose at least one resolution before coming to the conference. Resolutions will be created and amended in committee activity.
Resolutions are the product of working papers. Working papers lay the focus and support for the preparation of resolutions. Using the format of a resolution working papers form the basis for negotiation and discussion in committee activity. In working papers students may develop concepts for managing an issue in committee. Resolutions are created from working papers but do not become resolutions until approved by committee vote.
Working papers provide the initial impetus for negotiation and compromise in committees at the conference. Students practice their parliamentary skills to gain consensus on an issue and support for the construction of a resolution. Modest to major amendments commonly occur to pending resolutions during the conference, as in the United Nations itself.
Arriving at the conference students are directed to the registration area where delegates sign in and receive a packet of information. Delegates sign in according to the committee, commission, or council on which they are their country's representative. The packet of information includes a placard for voting, a name tag and a conference schedule/program.
After registering delegates begin their negotiations with other countries for support or opposition to budding resolutions.
At the end of two days of formal and informal meetings, using the skills and knowledge they have acquired, delegates may be specially recognized for their outstanding efforts. Awards are presented during Closing Ceremonies on the second day of the conference.