How to Represent an African Country: Tunisia

by Caroline Bello on January 4, 2016

By Caroline Rose



Tunisia can be an incredibly rewarding yet difficult country to represent. Like many of its African neighbors, Tunisia has a long history of colonization. Having only gained its independence from France in 1956, it is a relatively young country. Tunisia is most commonly know as the birthplace of the Arab Spring and has been championed as a success story for democracy in a volatile region. Still, many Model UN delegates struggle representing this country in committee. While some may be discouraged by their African country assignments, representing Tunisia offers delegates strengths and perspectives that you can’t get as a P5 or western nation.  Here are a few ways to help you start research and navigate committee when representing this small but mighty state.

  1. Establish a theme of ‘Fresh Perspective’

The Republic of Tunisia is a young country but an even younger democracy, a strength many delegates overlook. In 2011, Tunisia was controlled by the extremely unstable regime of Zine el Abide Ben Ali.  Politically and culturally, Tunisians lacked a a voice and power in government. Economically, the tourist and foreign investments that once held its economy together were then nonexistent. Post Arab Spring Tunisia still struggles with an unemployment rate of nearly 13% and a large external debt, but the country is still widely heralded as a successful implementation of democracy. After 2011, the National Unity Government, the party that opposed the regime, drafted a constitution that was adopted just three years later. In 2016 Tunisia stands as one of the few functioning democracies in its region. When representing Tunisia in any committee, though especially in human rights based ones, Tunisia’s fresh perspective and successful democratic positions should be key talking points when establishing your delegation as a committee leader.

2.  Do your research

Here are a few helpful policy points and country facts about Tunisia that are often overlooked

  • Tunisia is part of the ICC but not the ICJ
  • Tunisia is home to Ghriba, Africa’s oldest synagogue, and attracts many Israeli tourists
  • The country has both a President and a Prime Minister
  • The U.S. State Departmnet ranks Tunisia as a Tier 2 in human trafficking, one of the biggest hotspots for traffickers
  • Many human rights organizations have voiced concern about the country’s new anti-terrorism law
  • Tunisia is the northern most country in Africa who’s number one trading partner is the European Union

3. Tunisia is diverse

Many delegates write off Tunisia as a small, desert, African country with little power in the UN when in fact Tunisia, who’s people identify with both North Africa and the Middle East, is a very diverse country. It is a trade and agriculture force within the region, far surpassing neighbors such as Libya and Algeria in arable farm land and exports of natural resources like petroleum. Tunisia has deserts, mountains, and a Mediterranean coastline. While the county’s Sunni Muslims exceeds 90% of the population, Tunisia is home to Arabs, Christians, Europeans, and Jews, each with unique cultures and languages.  Being familiar with this cultural mosaic of identities can help delegates move beyond a one dimensional platform and build a large, diverse coalition of countries that can draft innovative resolutions.

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