Preparation and Rules
The Model United Nations Program is the successor to a student-directed simulation of the UN's predecessor- the League of Nations. Primarily major universities conducted these early simulations, however, there are over 60,000 young Americans today, starting at the sixth grade, taking part in the MUN Program. In addition, MUN has taken root outside of the USA in over 30 countries.
The Model United Nations experience is a "learning by doing" approach, in which students are equipped with valuable experiences including increased vocabulary, knowledge of foreign policies, UN functions and structure, geography, research skills, public speaking, negotiation and compromise, among others. Every part of the MUN allows students to develop such skills that will not only benefit them in the simulation, but for the rest of their lives.
The most unique and wonderful part of the MUN program is the fact that these skills acquired by the delegates through the preparation are actually used directly in the simulation itself. This stimulates the desire to learn, as students are able to use all they have learned and see near-immediate results to all their hard work.
The MUN gives students the opportunity to experience first-hand the ways and means of global cooperation. In the world we live in today, it is crucial to understand the world around us, and to learn to empathize with people of diverse countries, cultures and view points.
An effective delegate to a Model United Nations Conference
1. Demonstrates knowledge of his/her country's policies, of the specific issues discussed in the committee, and of the nature of the United Nations;
2. Shows ability to articulate his/her country's policies, to negotiate with others, and to compromise;
3. Knows when and how to use the rules of procedure to advance his/her country's interests.Top
Skills Necessary for Participation in a Model United Nations Conference
Practice Public Speaking:
It is useful to provide practice in public speaking and presenting policy statements. Speeches are important both informal committee sessions and in informal caucusing. Mini-model UN's are an excellent way to facilitate learning and using rules of parliamentary procedure. These can be extremely helpful in giving delegates a "feel" for the way MUN will work. It also requires delegates to broaden their knowledge of the policies of other countries. Practicing impromptu debates is another useful way to facilitate learning in this stage. (See Appendix A for further suggestions on running such a simulation).
In pursuing goals and objectives in a multilateral framework such as the UN, effort must be expanded to build support for a position. Compromise is an essential ingredient of that process. The purpose of a MUN conference is not just passing resolutions. That is not a measure of success. The purpose of the MUN, as of the UN, is to seek solutions to international problems, while at the same time protecting national interests. For some countries ( i.e. Israel and South Africa), the latter maybe the dominant concern. If another delegation presents a better resolution or one that might stand a better chance of passage without amendment, it is clearly more diplomatic to support that resolution than to persist in passing one's own (depending, of course, on one's own purposes). There is also no point in expending time seeking support from delegations that oppose a resolution. As in any vote-maximizing situation, concentrate on consolidating existing support.
Caucusing is the process of building support for a particular course of action or resolution which involves consultation among delegates. Such caucusing is the largest part of UN negotiation and frequently takes place among members of regional and specific interest groups or blocs.
Productive caucusing, however, should not be limited to your bloc alone. A large trend in the UN is to strive for consensus on as many issues as possible. The more support on a certain idea or view, the more chance there is for concrete action to take place.
The purpose and structure of the United Nations necessitates cooperation among the member states. To develop common positions and resolutions acceptable to the largest possible number of members, delegates engage in a great deal of informal caucusing and discussion in regional, economic, and to a smaller extent, ideological groups. The membership of these groups may overlap and may vary with different issues. The groups are also not equally cohesive on all issues.
A Model United Nations cannot duplicate the complex network of negotiations and contacts at the UN, but through bloc meetings such interaction and group activity can be encouraged. Resolutions, which have the support of a group of nations, will have a better chance of passage than those that do not.
In order to develop bloc support for a resolution, it may be necessary for nations to be flexible in their position on specific points or sections of the resolution without compromising their country's basic position. Once a draft resolution has been developed, the sponsoring states must then determine whether the support of other blocs and individual countries must be sought. Further modification of the resolution may then be necessary. If it is not possible to get other nations to support the resolution, then it may be possible to get assurance of abstention. Abstentions can be as important as affirmative votes in some cases, in as much as it is only the votes for and against the resolution which are counted. However, some nations may refuse to modify their positions on a specific resolution, and call for a vote in order to defeat the resolution for political purposes.
Some of the most common bloc divisions are:
Western European Bloc: Austria,Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (among others that wish to be involved in the EU)
This bloc's leadership sits mainly with the European Union. All other nations are those that wish to be involved in the EU, and thus follow their lead.
Eastern European Bloc: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Former Yugoslavia
While this group's positions are often close to Western Europe's, they more frequently side against NATO—led military operations and favor developmental aid programs.
African Bloc: made up of all of the countries in this continent, with very few exceptions, such as Libya, which also has ties to the Arab bloc.
Arab Bloc: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, PDRYemen, Yemen
Asian Bloc: Afghanistan,Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Kampuchea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, The Philippine Islands, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam, Western Samoa
Latin American Bloc: Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Trinidadand Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela
Non-aligned Conference: Most of the Asian, African, Arab, and East European states, as well as several of the Latin American states (Argentina, Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, Peru, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago) are members of the very large and active Non-aligned Conference. Unity among such a heterogeneous group is frequently difficult to attain. There is strong consensus on decolonization and economic issues, but not on many other issues.
United States: The US often consults with the EU and West European Bloc, but is not a formal member of any bloc. It negotiates with several groups, depending on the issues at hand. In many ways, the United States is its own bloc because of its ability to affect the implementation of UN resolutions
Japan: Japan also consults with the Western bloc on occasion, but will caucus with its fellow Asian states also, so is not a formal member of any bloc. The group with which Japan caucuses depends on whether the issues find Japan holding common positions with other industrialized nations or with other states in its geographic region.
China: China, too, is not a member of any bloc because of its long isolation and the split with the former USSR. They do consult with the Non-aligned Conference on occasion and with the Less Developed Countries on issues of economic development.
Israel: Israel is in an unenviable position in the General Assembly because of the almost unanimous opposition to its policies. It is not a member of any bloc, however, Israel will often consult with nations which might offer support, such as the US, Western Europe and the EU, and some of the Latin American states.
Strategy : As the Conference approaches, the delegates should wind up their research and begin to give thought to their goals and interests at UDMUNC. They must decide which issues are of greatest importance to their country, including those on which they might sponsor a draft resolution, and consider the following questions:
•What kind of role are we going to play(conciliatory, obstructive, aggressive, neutral, leading) and how are we going to play that role?
•How can we achieve the goals and interests of the country as identified in earlier research?
•With which other countries are we going to attempt to work?
•What countries will be our principal opponents?
At this point, all the earlier research on the country itself, its international position, and the issues at hand should come together to lay the foundation for diplomacy and interaction. The development of strategy should be done by both the individual delegates and by the group as a whole. Again, coordinating positions on related issues, and across different bodies are essential to an effective representation of the country.Top
Research and Preparation
This is the first step in the preparation process. The delegate must remember that they are part of a much larger group. Working as a delegation is essential both in the preparation process and during the Conference itself. The faculty advisor should develop a program to coordinate and consolidate research done by each individual delegate. If preparation meetings are not a part of the school curriculum, regular weekly or biweekly meetings for the delegation should be arranged. In developing the preparation program, take into account the particular needs of your delegation.
Familiar with the United Nations:
Sessions should begin with a review of the basics. It is of vital importance that the delegate understands the United Nations, the United Nations Charter, and the particular bodies on which a country is represented.
The UN Charter This is the UN's constitution; it describes the purposes and principles on which the UN is based, defines the functions and powers of the principal organs, and the relationships among these organs. Its provisions; especially the preamble, Article 2 Paragraph 7, Chapter VII, and Article 52; are frequently cited in speeches and resolutions, so time spent in familiarizing oneself with the Charter is an investment well made. It would also be beneficial to be acquainted with the following documents:
If you have not had the opportunity to take a course which focuses on the United Nations, it might be worthwhile to read the initial chapters of an international organization text (see bibliography).The following two United Nations web sites are also filled with a wealth of information that will assist you while doing your research:
Getting Acquainted with the CountryAssigned:
This can be accomplished via lecture, circulating fact sheets, or a division of labor with presentations to the group by the delegates themselves.
In order to formulate a coherent foreign policy for your nation, research in your nation's history, culture, geography, economy, and relations with other nations is important. Understanding these elements will not only give the delegate an understanding of the country's position, but will also clue the delegate into what went into making such decisions.
Basic facts can be found in your library and on the Internet. Foreign embassies, missions and information centers located throughout the country are often able to provide information and may have web sites, as well. The UN Chronicle is also an excellent source; an issue of the Chronicle in the fall summarizes the opening policy statements made at the General Assembly session.
In researching a country's position, remember that states do not always base their actions on rational evaluations of their interests, or realistic appraisals of world situations. Group pressures and political and idiosyncratic factors may determine a position. It is therefore important for delegates to see this and to be able to incorporate this into their own representation of that country. It is a primary responsibility of all MUN delegates to represent their countries as accurately as possible, while acting creatively within the context of the simulation.
Extensive familiarity with the country will begin when delegates get their committee assignments and work on their topics.
Researching the Issues:
Researching the issues you will be discussing at the Conference is among the most important research you can do. While the background guides will supply a good deal of information on the agenda topics, in most cases a wealth of additional information is available. Delegates should have a good grasp of the facts related to an issue.
Some sample questions that can help the delegate to begin understanding the topics at-hand:
•How did the issue arise?
•How has it been dealt with in the past by UN bodies?
•What is the central issue?
•What nations have been most involved in supporting or opposing different solutions?
News sources, periodicals, and the United Nations Chronicle, available in most libraries, will be among your primary sources of information.
The geography, military strength, demography, economic and political structure, resources, short and long term goals, allies, opponents, relations with neighbors and major powers, potential or actual threats and conflicts - all are key in the understanding of your country's policies; especially in connection with the agenda topics.
Below are questions regarding the country's national policy on the issues:
•What has been the country's position on the issue?
•Has that position changed recently? Why and how?
•Are your nation's interests sufficiently involved to warrant active involvement on one side or the other?
•What countries would represent the major opposition?
•Who are your likely allies?Top
A resolution is a description of the problem at hand and offers recommendations for dealing with that problem. The subject of the resolution must pertain to one of the agenda topics of the UN body in which it is introduced. Resolutions are seldom complete, self-contained solutions to a problem; but are generally steps or links in the process of finding a solution. In the process of developing a resolution, delegates should consider several different solutions. Prior research should have yielded an awareness of various alternatives; imagination may produce new ones.
The resolution should be in reasonable consonance with the policies of the government of the country represented as indicated by past actions. Nothing is more frustrating for delegates at a Model UN than to be confronted by a draft resolution that is totally out of character for the country sponsoring it.
Most actions of the UN are expressed in resolutions submitted in draft form under the sponsorship of one or more delegations. Resolutions may simply register an opinion, or may recommend action to be taken by a UN organ or related agency. Only the Security Council may make 'decisions' which bind member states to a certain course of action. Draft resolutions should not be introduced into the formal session until they have been circulated among other delegates to incorporate different perspectives and to build support. It is desirable for draft resolutions to be sponsored by several states or by an entire bloc.
When drafting and sponsoring a resolution keep in mind that the wording will greatly influence its appeal. The resolution should be clear, concise, and specific. The substance should be well researched, and reflect the character and interests of the sponsoring nations. Sponsors should expect to introduce resolutions from the floors, and to make impromptu defenses throughout the session. Delegates should not feel that the purpose of the UDMUN is to pass as many resolutions as possible in the limited time allotted. The success of a committee does not rest on the number of resolutions passed. It is much more important that the delegates strive toward a valid simulation of the diplomatic interactions of the UN, which may mean no resolutions passed.
NOTE: In United Nations Rules of Procedure, unlike other more generalized rules of procedure, the topic on the floor is debated in its entirety. This means that during debate, delegates should be discussing the issue in its entirety and all of the resolutions regarding that issue. When debate is exhausted or ended, the body votes on each resolution and amendments as they were proposed. The issue is then considered closed.
The Conference Secretariat will provide facilities for typing, duplicating, and distribution of resolutions and amendments at the Conference.
UN resolutions follow a common format that you are to follow. Each resolution has three parts: the heading, the preamble, and the operative clauses.
The resolution is one long sentence with commas and semicolons throughout the resolution, and with a period only at the very end. Draft resolutions should be single-spaced with each line following the heading numbered in the left-hand margin. The first word in each clause should be underlined, with each clause in the preamble ending in a comma, and all operative clauses ending with a semicolon, except the final. clause which ends with a period.
Heading: The heading for all draft resolutions should read as follows:
Committee: the organ in which the resolution is introduced
Topic: the topic being discussed
Sponsors: list of sponsoring nations
NOTE: the list of sponsoring nations will be removed when the resolution is formally introduced on to the floor. This is because at this point, the resolution is the property of the body and should be seen and worked on accordingly.
Preamble: The purpose of a preamble is to show that there is a problem that needs to be solved. This may also mean demonstrating that the problem is within the jurisdiction of the UN. These two purposes are fulfilled by reference to appropriate sections of the UN Charter, by citing precedents of UN action, or by citing previous resolutions. The preamble should also point out the key elements of the current problem by specifically referring to situations or incidents. Finally, the preamble may include altruistic appeals to the common sense or humanitarian instincts of members with reference to the Charter, etc.
NOTE: The importance of the preamble depends on the question under consideration. In some cases, the problem is generally accepted and the preamble is merely a formality. In such situations,it is usually the mechanism of solution that presents the stumbling block. For example, with the question of disarmament, virtually everyone agrees that nuclear weapons are harmful, but few agree on how to rid of them. With the support of a national liberation movement, the solution may be simple, but not everyone agrees that this is the correct perception of the problem; therefore, a strong, comprehensive preamble would be necessary.
Operative Clauses: The solution in a resolution is presented in sequentially numbered operative clauses. Each operative clause calls for a specific action. The action may be as vague as the denunciation of a certain situation or a call for negotiations, or as specific as a cease-fire or a monetary commitment for a particular project. Such actions may be requested towards member states by a particular state, by the UN Secretariat, or by any of the other UN bodies of agencies. Keep in mind that the General Assembly and ECOSOC can only recommend actions. The SecurityCouncil, on the other hand, can make binding decisions.
NOTE: See Appendix B for a list of verbs commonly used in preambular and operative clauses.
The first task of analyzing a resolution involves identifying the topic, the sponsor(s), and the intent. Once these have been established, the resolution can be examined in greater detail for the specific actions proposed.
The tone of the resolution must be noted. Often this can be done on the basis of the language. A mild, conciliatory resolution would be one which called on parties to a dispute to seek a peaceful settlement, negotiations, etc., and perhaps make no reference to a specific situation or outcome. A stronger resolution might take a clear stand in favor of one side by condemning one of the parties to the dispute and calling for unilateral action by that party. Some resolutions are vague, as in the case of the one calling for a specific settlement; others are very specific, calling for withdrawal from occupied territory, appointing a mediator, etc. In general,the less specific resolutions have a greater chance for passage by a large majority.
Where a country is equivocal in its stand on a contentious issue, or trying to protect certain interests, the precise wording of the resolution must be examined carefully. The references in the preamble should be checked. Recollection of a previous UN resolution or reference to a particular principle which the country opposed can be enough to kill potential support for the new resolution unless the country's position has changed, or perhaps an abstention might be considered. If the country supports the general thrust of the resolution, or thinks that it is in its interest to do so, but has reservations about certain sections, it might seek changes in the specific language to make the resolution more acceptable.
In general, the identity of the sponsor(s) would rarely be sufficient to kill potential support. Sponsors of successful resolutions are most commonly neutral of middle-of-the-road states. But it is important to consider whether the objectives and interests of the sponsoring state(s) are consistent with your own interests and goals. Again, the list of sponsoring nations will be removed when the resolution is formally introduced on to the floor. This is because at this point, the resolution has become the property of the body as a whole and should be seen and worked on accordingly.
Finally, the operative clauses should be analyzed for their acceptability and workability. The resolution as a whole should be examined for its potential for passage and for implementation, unless the purpose is to express a position, regardless of the outcome.Top
Appendix & Bibliography
GENERAL SOURCES FOR UNITED NATIONS
Baehr, Peter R., and Leon Gordenker.The United Nations of the 1990's. New York:St. Martin's Press, 1992.
Bailey, Sydney d., and Sam Daws. The Procedure of the UN Security Council, 3d ed. New York: Oxford University Press,1999.
Bennett, A. LeRoy. International lOrganizations: Principles and Issues. 6th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Princeton Hall, 1995.
Finkelstein, Lawrence S., ed. Politics in the United Nations System. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1988.
Marin-Bosch, Miguel. Votes in the UN General Assembly. The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1998.
Muldoon, James P., Jr., et al., eds. Multilateral Diplomacy in the United Nations Today. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999.
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. United Nations Handbook. Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 1999 (updated annually).
Peterson, M.J. The General Assembly in world Politics. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1986.
The United Nations Chronicle, published bythe UN Departement of Public Information, serves as a great guide to issues within the UN.
Abiew, Frances Kofi. The Evolution of the Doctrine and Practice of Humanitarian Intervention. The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1999.
Boutros-Ghali, Boutros. An Agenda fo rPeace. 2d ed. New York: United Nations, 1995.
Diehl, Paul F. International Peacekeeping. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.Top