The aim of the Model United Nations is to seek, through discussion and debate, solutions to problems of the world such as human rights and disarmament issues. Students participating in MUN learn how the real United Nations works, what lobbying, formal debate, and resolutions are and why they are important when they try to solve problems. They can also practice their language skills (the language of most MUN conferences is English) and hopefully give them an understanding of the world’s problems.

In 2001 two first grade students asked me whether we could arrange a MUN conference. Our school had participated in the Hague International Model United Nations the previous January, and the girls wanted to share their experience with the Kulosaari students. We got the permission from the principal to organise a conference and I had no idea that in Spring 2011 we would be arranging our 11th annual conference and HELIMUN had become a much awaited happening for the ninth grade students.

In the spring of 2001, the only students participating in our conference were the ten students who had accompanied two MUN-Directors to the Hague and the 9th grade students of our school. I remember visiting each 9th grade class to explain what they would be doing for two days and the only critical comment came from one 9th grade boy, who questioned the whole concept of the MUN conference. The first conference was a success and we got the permission to arrange another one the following year. During the following three years the MUN conference, now known as KUMUN, expanded. Besides Kulosaari Secondary School students, also other schools were invited to participate in the conference. In the spring of 2004 upper secondary students founded the HELIMUN association, and in August, the name of the conference was changed to Helsinki International Model United Nations (HELIMUN) to encourage also foreign schools to participate in the conference. The first conference under the new name was held in May 2005 with participants from various schools, for example, the International School of Helsinki, Maunula Secondary School and Riga Hanza School from Latvia among those participating.

The structure of HELIMUN has changed during the past ten years, but the basic idea has remained the same; to give upper secondary students the possibility of organising a simulation of the United Nations for the lower secondary students. Each year a devoted, academic and trustworthy student is appointed as the Secretary General, who is responsible for the organising of the conference together with the Conference Manager and student officer team. We started with ten General Assembly committees, reorganised the conference in 2002 to have only four General Assembly committees and the Security Council. We introduced the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), mostly because then our conference would be similar to other international MUN –conferences.

Each year HELIMUN has a different theme and all the issues on the agenda are somehow related to that specific theme. In the 10th anniversary conference, the theme was ‘Crises Management’ and the issues on the agenda included questions such as; peace consolidation in West Africa, desertification and land degradation, and effects of the Icelandic financial crisis and reconstruction of the economy. For two days the students, who represent UN member states and non-governmental organizations, tried to find solutions for these questions and passed, after debate and voting, resolutions on most of the issues on the agenda.

In 2009 we introduced the International Court of Justice to provide a more demanding forum for the upper secondary school students. The International Court of Justice has handled two cases; the case concerning Pedra Branca, Middle Rock and South Ledge (Malaysia vs Singapore) and the dispute over aerial herbicide spraying in the border area (Ecuador vs Colombia). Two pairs of advocates research the case, introduce their written evidence, examine and cross examine the witnesses and wait nervously for the judges to complete their deliberation. The deliberation, which is held behind closed doors under the supervision of the ICJ Advisor, is a very intense discussion between the judges when they are trying to make a decision.

Today several Finnish schools organise their own Model United Nations simulations in Finnish, but our own conference is the oldest, largest and the only one in the English language in Finland.

Sirpa Hildén

This section lets you browse through the history of HELIMUN. Please choose any of the sessions listed in the menu for detailed information about each session.