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Dear Colleagues,

In the interest of safeguarding the health of all of the participants, in this rapidly evolving global pandemic caused by COVID-19, we are required to cancel the MMUN Chicago and Rome events based on government mandates. Cancellation of these two conferences breaks our hearts as we know it will also break the hearts of the delegates who have worked so hard to prepare. But with the ever-tightening travel restrictions and the various mandates from American Center for Disease Control, the Italian Ministry of Health (among others) to not hold large events, we do not see any other option.

Impossibility of Rescheduling 

We had investigated the option of rescheduling the conferences but it has been impossible to identify dates and venue partners available within the next nine months that would be compatible with two hemispheres of school schedules and our conference needs. Therefore, rescheduling is no longer a possibility. 

Complexity of the Situation

In the midst of the world cancelling events in this unprecedented situation of differing levels of quarantine, the complexity of our circumstance is difficult to express. We ask for your understanding as every one of our conference partners are in deep turmoil, and together we are all only beginning to imagine what the new global reality will be. While we regret this grave situation, the unforeseen coronavirus epidemic—and resulting government travel regulations and quarantines —constitute Acts of God that neither we nor you could have ever foreseen. Because these unfortunate events were entirely beyond our reasonable control, this situation constitutes a force majeure and therefore no one is liable. 

Moreover, an MMUN event is much more than a simple hotel booking; it involves individualized, complex multi-year agreements with different vendors, made in advance to secure the services and facilities at the lowest prices for attendees. Regrettably, we find ourselves in the same position as many schools which have temporarily suspended classes, yet are not returning tuition to families because their funds have been exhausted as part of the annual budget. Although we carry various levels of insurance, the policies exclude items such as plague, war and a global pandemic.

As you know, MMUN has been supporting our programs for a full year using the registration fees that are guaranteed by the October refund deadline and paid in full by the December deadline. At that point in December, we are responsible for paying most of the venue and vendor expenses for the spring conferences including a large percentage of the hotel fees. In addition, well in advance of your registration and following the cutoff date for refunds, MMUN paid non-recoverable costs for the conference including:

  • research and academic staff; topic and background guide composition

  • bureau training, honorariums and early bureau work

  • development of bureau and teacher materials

  • recruitment and training sessions 

  • meetings with UN Missions, Ambassadors and other potential sponsors

  • advance payments of honorariums and travel expenses for speakers and entertainers

  • planning with the venue on facilities and services

  • graphic design and advance printing expenses

  • conference program books and materials

  • storage fees

  • communications 

  • set design, lighting, audio-video contractors, audio-visual equipment fees

  • FAO and UN sponsoring mission fees and other related expenses as we work together all year to ensure alignment and engagement with the UN and FAO organization

  • legal and accounting expenses

  • advance payments for buses

  • staff compensation and travel expenses

The hotels and closing ceremony venues have not yet agreed to return any of the funds. We are currently working with international attorneys to help us minimize losses and be able to return a partial refund to the schools. We will be updating everyone as soon as we have these details.

By law, MMUN is required to file full disclosure accounting and that report will include the losses we have sustained.  It is important to remember that MMUN is a not-for-profit organization, therefore, our focus is on the quality of the academic and social experience we deliver to the student delegates. As an NGO, we are not making a profit and work to keep our registration costs low.  Similarly, as an NGO, we cannot absorb major fluctuations nor do we have reserves for such occurrences in comparison to a commercial for-profit operation (which usually would have reserves to cover losses).  

Our Response

In the spirit of honoring all of the work of the delegates who developed solutions and positions, we are offering a free optional MMUN Online MMUN Conference. We understand that this will not replace the academic and social experience of an MMUN conference; they are not equivalent. However, we believe it will provide closure and dignity for their work through the opportunity for group negotiation and creation of final resolutions. An MMUN online conference will provide all of the basic elements of the committee sessions, including: opening speeches, opportunities for the delegates to interact, promoting their positions, negotiations, drafting of resolutions passed by consensus or committee vote, and then the vote for a closing bureau. 

MMUN realizes this is a completely new format and we will be providing online training, infographics, and webinars to make the process as simple as possible. We expect this program will provide some comfort in this time of restricted group activities, through social interaction and international exchange. Delegates will be able to participate in the classroom or from home via an internet connection and computer/smart device. We will be providing you with more information about the MMUN Online Conference on Friday and asking for your estimated participation numbers for our planning purposes. 

Thank You for your Commitment to MMUN

We share infinite gratitude for all the doctors, nurses, the civil protection services and for everyone who is working night and day to treat the many people who have contracted the Corona Virus and to prevent others from getting infected by it. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your commitment to MMUN and your patience as we move forward. 

THE MMUN TEAM

Montessori Model UN
244 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2966 NYC, NY 10001

MMUN is an NGO in Special Consultative Status
with the Economic and Social Council
Copyright © 2020 Montessori Model UN, All rights reserved.

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