Model UN, in simplest terms, is a game. As a delegate you take on the role of an ambassador to one of several world organizations. Through debate, deviousness and demands, you make your nation’s position known to the full committee. The most optimistic conclusion involves coming to an accord–with the other nations represented in your committee–on the topic at hand. However, Model UN being a reflection of real-world politics, this rarely happens. That being said, the true experience of Model UN can’t be described in words. You just have to come to MSUMUN and see for yourself.
Your committee’s background guide should be your first step in beginning your research. Written by the chair and/or crisis director of each committee, the background guide is a “guide” to the “background” information relevant to your committee and the issues it will be discussing. The document will usually provide a history of the region(s) or conflict(s) of concern, along with material related to the current debate surrounding the issue. Oftentimes, the guide will outline what your committee hopes to accomplish during the conference. The background guide will also be a great help in showing you where to continue your research. It may provide you useful resources, websites and news outlets to give you more insight into your topic. Be on the lookout in the coming months for background guides to be posted on the committee webpages. They will start to appear come February.
Position Papers are the culmination of your research for MUN, and are required at MSUMUN to be eligible for a committee award. In essence, they are the homework that you will bring to committee. The short (1-2 pages) report will outline your country’s position on the issues to be discussed in your committee or cabinet, and will be used as reference for both you (so you can stick to your nation’s policy correctly) and your dais (so, when the chairs decide awards at the end of the conference, they will decide whether or not you played your part well by looking at your position paper and your participation in committee). Most position papers include brief 250 word sections on each topic, attempting to answer the following questions: What is the history of the problem?; What has the international community done about this problem?; What does my country hope to achieve in committee to solve the problem?; Who will be willing to help and who will stand in my way to achieve this goal? View a sample position paper here.
Resolutions are the results of a committee’s proceedings. Your goal at MSUMUN is to work with the other nations in your committee or members of your cabinet to come to a consensus (or a majority conclusion) on the issue(s) discussed during your sessions. The document, then, will be a statement of the drafting countries’ wishes or concerns on a particular issue. In committee, you will write draft resolutions alone or with other nations that will be discussed by the committee at large. Neither pre-written resolutions nor laptops are not allowed at MSUMUN. Then, the committee will vote on the resolution; those that are accepted by a certain majority of members will pass. All UN resolutions are recommendations or suggestions for future action, except for those of the Security Council, which are binding to member nations. The somewhat peculiar format of resolutions may be confusing to those who have never before written one. The UNAUSA provides tips for writing effective resolutions and includes a sample resolution. Also, you may want to keep nearby you the list of preambulatory and operative phrases in your handbook. They will come in handy.