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Preparing for MUN!

PreparationPreparations all depend on the type of Model United Nations you are looking forward to attending. We have been able to distinguish three major types of MUNs. It could either be a class, a club or a conference MUN, with the most demanding and challenging being the conference. Most of the content here will be treated on the assumptions that you are attending the highest level of MUN, which is the conference MUN. In defining a class MUN, it could include, (but not limited to) a full semester class called "Model United Nations" or just one class period devoted to a short simulation of any or all of the UN conferences. For Club MUNs, many colleges today do include the Model United Nations as a club within their school programs. This is becoming a very commong practice especially withing the English speaking countries.

A MUN conference, considered the highest level includes, but not limited to a school-wide, local, regional or international gathering of Model United Nations students who come together over a period between one and five days. Some high ranking MUNs are previledge to hold their simulation conferences at the UN Head quarters provided the schedule does not conflict with UN conferences. This is often the case with MUNs held in countries hosting a UN Headquarters or similar facility. The Vienna Model United Nations commonly refered to as VIMUN is one good example of the MUNs held regularly at the UN Head Quarters. The National MUN (NMUN) held anually in New York would be another example except for the fact that only the opening and closing ceremonies are held at the UN Head Quarters in New  York.

Preparing for a Model United Nations conference can be a very challenging task, irrespective of whether you are attending as a delegate of a staff member. As a prospective participant you are oblige to carry out thorough research. Since not all participants are staff members, we have decided to split the preparation phase into thre sections. One will cover issues pertaining to those preparing as delgates and the other section will cover issues mainly concerned with staff members. The third will cover organizational issues for both delegates and staff. However, it is recomended that you spend some time on all sections since it will give you a broard understanding of how things are done. You could become a staff member during your next MUN.

Preparing as a Delagate

Preparing as a MUN delegate requires determination, research and organizational skills, depending on the level of the MUN. If you are preparing for a conference, it could even be challenging since it may involve travelling, if it is not a local conference. Which means you will have to arrange for accomodation, and other travelling needs. Besides that, you are heading into a competetive atmosphere where each and every other delegate is well equiped with Knowledge and facts on the issue to be simulated. This therefore means you willl have do elaborate research on the issue so as not to be over-shadowed during the simulation. Experience has shown that some participants even go as far preparing working papers to introduce during the simulation and hence pulling the entire simulation to his/her tune. This has a chance of happening in committtees where other delegates are not well vest with the issue or did not fully prepare on the issue.

But if each delegate has done enough research on the issue and well informed, then there is little chance that this may happen, which will of course lead to a lively simulation with all delegates fully deliberating on the issue at hand. It is therefore highly recomended that you spend adequate time studying the issue to be discussed. A full month is a moderate time period to alocate for your research.

Intensive research on the issue can lead to a very rewarding MUN experience. As mentioned earlier, allocate enough time for your reaserch before the conference. Read and then formulate your arguments using the vast amount of resources available on the internet, or your local library. It is of vital importance to keep these three things in mind when doing your research:


Country

Answering the questions belows will be a good starting point for researching on a country and it's position

  • What sort of government does your country have?
  • What types of ideologies (political, religious or other) influence your country’s government?
  • Which domestic issues might influence your country’s foreign policy?
  • What are some major events in your country’s history? Why are they important?
  • Which ethnicities, religions and languages can be found in your country?
  • Where is your country located and how does its geography affect its political relationships?
  • Which countries share a border with your country?
  • Which countries are considered allies of your country?
  • Which countries are considered enemies of your country?
  • What are the characteristics of your country’s economy?
  • What is your country’s gross domestic product (GDP)? How does this compare to other countries in the world?
  • When did your country become a member of the UN?
  • Does your country belong to any intergovernmental organizations outside the UN system such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)?
  • Does your country belong to any regional organizations such as the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU) or the Organization of American States (OAS)?
  • Does your country belong to any trade organizations or agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)?

Issue

After a complete and thorough research on your country, the next thing you should be looking at is the issue at hand. Developing a full understanding of the issue will put you in a position to fully defend your country's position and debate confidently at the conference. Below are a few questions that could help you better in your research on the issue.

  • What is the problem? How does it affect your country?
  • What has your country done to combat the problem?
  • What are the various “sides” in the debate?
  • Which aspects of the issue are most important to your country?
  • If your country is not involved with the issue, how can it become involved?
  • How will your country shape the debate at the conference?
  • What arguments will other countries make?
  • How do the positions of other countries affect your country’s position?
  • Is there evidence or statistics that might help to back up your country’s position?
Source: UNAUSA

The UN System

Understanding the UN System and its sister Organs is of vital importance to being a successful MUN participant. Having an idea of the UN mandate and its boundaries when it comes to international mediation and negotiations will enable you know what the UN can do and what the UN can not do. Below are a few questions that to get you started.

  • What are the important elements of the UN Charter?
  • What are the main bodies of the UN?
  • How are the UN’s bodies and agencies organized?
  • Which countries serve on the body or agency you are simulating?
  • How does the body or agency you are simulating operate?
  • What are the most recent UN actions on your issue?
  • Why did past UN actions succeed or fail?
  • What conferences and meetings have been held with regard to your issue?
  • What have UN officials said about your issue?

Position papers

Some MUNs do require participants to forward a position paper before the conference. It describes the detailed position of a certain country on a topic or issue that the writer will debate in his committee. Position papers are not always required, but certain conferences do enforce that each delegate sends his own before the opening.

Position papers should explain an issue from their countries' point of view and NOT your point of view. This is an aspect you will have to maintain through out the conference. It is a very common error that delegates go to MUN conferences and deliberate from their own perspective rather than from the country's position. This issue is fully covered in the Do's and Don't's" section. It's also good practice that you include in your position paper statistics about the issue that would support the cause you will be defending. The paper would also try to convince the other countries of the committee to their view of the issue. It should sound as though it would have ways to solve the situation.

Requesting a position paper is also a means to ensure that the delegates research important topics and construct strong and well-informed positions on those subjects.

Preparing as a Staff Member

Most MUN staff members are local participants or participants who have relocated to the conference city or town, since preparations involves regular meetings with the rest of the Staff team. It is more challenging being a staff that a normal delegate, since all MUN staff members are required to act as coordinators during the conference. It therefore means all staff members are to be well informed on all organizational issues concerning the conference. PreparationBesides this, those holding functions such as president, secretary, chair and co-chair have to fully understand the functioning of the conference especially its rules and procedures. The rules and procedures may slightly vary from MUN to MUN, but the fundamentals reflect those of the UN conference or meeting they are simulating.

Prior to the conference all staff members are required to do a few pre-simulations so as to fully understand the rules and procedures. This is to enable a fast and smooth running of the conference when it begins. They (staff) will be in the position to use the first few hours of their respective sessions to familiarize themselves with the rules alongside, teaching the fresh delegates who might have never had the chance to practice the rules. It is also on this node, of vital importance to hold such pre-simulation meetings with local delegates, since they will also be in the best position to teach their newly arrived colleagues.

Much administrative work is involved, which requires the full attention of each staff member. The entire staff team is under the supervision of the MUN Secretary General who delegate duties. Any successful MUN conference or meeting require intense team work, meaning as a staff, you must be ready to work in a team, which sometimes can be very multinational. It could be your first opportunity to work in a team, and therefore a huge chance to learn what it takes to execute team work. An asset you will always appreciate later in your professional carrier.