If you are new to Model UN, chances are you will find this extra-curricular to be quite the challenge. Like most of us who started, you’re probably trying to put together all of the pieces. While knowing what to do in MUN is important, it’s especially important for beginners to know exactly what NOT to do, and which specific mistakes to avoid in committee.Being in a different environment, meeting with other people, and facing difficult situations can put you under a tremendous amount of stress, it could cloud your judgment both before, and during the committee. While, nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Identifying some common mishaps and actively trying to avoid them, will ensure the best possible time for yourself.
Without further ado, here are 5 common mistakes you could make, and how to avoid them;
1. Not Doing Enough Research
It should go without saying, that doing your research is one of the most important factors. The most common phrase I hear from my students rest somewhere along the lines of, ‘’I searched up my country, I didn’t find anything and I have no idea what my country’s foreign policies are.’’ Not having enough research, and operating under this framework is undoubtedly a recipe for disaster. Having information about your country gives you the ability to speak and debate confidently with credibility, which allows you to make logical arguments. Not knowing something about your country can put you in a difficult and embarrassing situation, especially if another delegate asks about a policy, pertinent to your country, and you have no idea what they’re talking about.
So, never procrastinate and delay your country research, and make it as detailed and thorough as necessary. Refrain from printing out a Wikipedia page of your country the night before the conference. When you finally finish your research (believe me, it’s actually never over), you should possess enough knowledge to accurately portray a politician of that country. And don’t forget to write down or print out the information you find. Personally, I tend to create a summary or a chart of my country’s research. This will help you retain all of the information you recorded, and instead of trying to sneak a peak at your phone for information during committee session, you can very confidently flip on your binder and find everything you need. Don’t forget, knowledge is power. If you want to learn about research, you can check out these articles to help you: http://www.bestdelegate.com/research
2. Thinking Your Country Isn’t Implicated
After your country research is done, you can start researching and gathering information on the issues/topics which will be debated in the committee. Sometimes you will simulate a delegate of a country of which you have zero background knowledge on. For example, at my first conference, I represented the delegate of Mauritania, and I have to admit, it really stretched my knowledge of African geography quite thin. As a new delegate, you might feel discouraged because your country isn’t valued. You may feel like your country has nothing to do with the issue/topic at hand. But, this is a very discouraging mindset. Always try to remember that if your country is a member of that committee, then you have the right to bring up solutions, conduct debate on substantive issues and vote. Don’t forget that UN was founded on the principles of collaboration and principled hard work in order to solve the world issues. So, every country should be equally involved. Of course, trying to find information for a smaller country will be a bigger challenge in comparison to a more developed country. Essentially the ball is pretty much in your court, the effort you put in and your level determination will determine your success. There has been multiple cases of delegates representing smaller countries,which at first glance seem irrelevant to the topic, but through perseverance and skill, they quickly become their committee’s most active delegate, possibily even the best one.
3. Using The Unmoderated Caucus Time as a Coffee Break
During the conference, you will have unmoderated caucuses, for brief periods of time like 10-20 minutes. You will definitely see some delegates texting at the back of the committee, chit-chatting, or just generally not taking matters seriously. Unmoderated caucus time aims to allow delegates to quickly and easily gather as a group, exchange ideas and create consensus more effectively. For example, an Unmoderated caucus serves as an outlet for the necessity to resolve a crisis which might’ve just been released. Unmoderated Caucuses are generally used to write resolutions, or even determining amongst your bloc who will be speaking for their upcoming resolution, etc. Since time is of the essence, don’t waste it. Try to use it efficiently by getting work done. They are your opportunity to make a plan, or prepare a speech in a fair amount of time. Don’t think of them as breaks. You will definitely be more satisfied with your performance and speeches if you push yourself during the unmoderated caucus time. Then again don’t be too harsh on yourself; take a good rest on coffee breaks when you need to.
4. Only Conducting Research On One Topic, And Ignoring Others
Depending on the conference you are attending, most of the time, there will be a variety of different topics to be debated within a committee. So that means you might have 3 to 4 topics to research, and write about in your position papers. After finishing general research, most of the experienced delegates will focus on one topic and work extensively to find possible solutions. Some lesser experienced delegates, could make the mistake of totally ignoring the other topics. Therefore, they are unable to contribute to the debate when the committee moves on to a topic they have not prepared for.
Being a good delegate may seem like being super professional and prepared all the time, but understand that this is in many ways an equivocation. A good delegate is an individual who knows enough information on all of the topics, with the added skill of having an accurate judgment on which topic will likely be discussed first, which is the topic they’ll most likely put an emphasis on. They understand that it’s improbable to facilitate debate on all topics, but they also know that it is very much a possibility to discuss a topic they will not have the sufficient research on, and they’ll adapt accordingly.
So, don’t make the mistake of exclusively doing research on one topic, budget your time and , instead, research all of them enough for you to talk about. Choose one or two to work on in more depth. This way, you will have the ability to discuss, despite not being the most knowledgeable on that specific topic.
5. Letting Experienced Delegates Humiliate You
In virtually every committee, you’re bound to bump into experienced and overbearing delegates, the typical ”oh really, this my 1000th conference.” they will make you feel self-conscious about your lack of experience, and as soon as you understand that he/she is portraying this kind of a delegate, try to refrain from working with them. You have all of the necessary tools to be an active member in your committee and remember that experience is arbitrary. More importantly do not let this kind of a delegate influence your loss of motivation and confidence. It’s obvious that they are not here to actually debate and look for solutions, instead try to find and work with people who are encouraging and supportive, and yes believe me, your committee is filled with them, but also try to remember that not all experienced delegates are negative either, many are extremely helpful and would love to answer any questions you might have Model U.N related. But if you take one thing away from this article, it should be that if you approach your first conference with zeal while adopting an appetite for learning new things and keeping an open mind to accept new knowledge, then you will have received the most rewarding experience possible, and that’s all that we can ever hope for.