When I was attending my first Security Council crisis simulation, the worst thing I could imagine was to represent an observer state, without any real power to affect the direction the committee is taking. Needless to say, when I received the email with details about country assignments, I was assigned an observer country. Although my first response was very much disappointing, I soon realized that it may not be that bad at all.
While the first impression of most new delegates about the observer states is: powerless observers of the action of the committee; this is to a big extend wrong perception. Although observers don’t have voting rights and are thus deprived of considerably important element of the simulation, they have other similarly effective “tools” on their disposal. As I soon learn, observer state is indeed one of the most challenging positions in the committee, requiring lots of creativity and knowledge, however if you play your role well, you are in the pretty good position to win awards.
1. They are talking about you – BE ACTIVE!
When talking about observer states, we must realize that they are present in the committee with a reason and that is because they are of significant value and importance to the situation on the ground. In most cases the crisis the committee is dealing with is evolving either on the territory, in the region, or is in any other way substantially connected to the observer country. Realizing this, the most powerful “toll” of any observer country is direct action on the ground. Therefore delegates representing observer countries should be very active sending their notes to the crisis staff and handling things at their “homefront”.
2. Find an ally
Another important goal of any observer state is to find a reliable ally between countries with voting rights. Since as an observer state you are not allowed to write a resolution or submit amendments to the resolution, you will need somebody to do that for you. Usually the most suitable ally will be a medium-strong delegate, preferably a permanent five member, who you will be able to control and pass your proposals to be addressed at the committee, while he will still be strong enough to suitably represent your position. You should let him get some credit for representing your position, however make sure that the committee is well aware of the original author of the ideas.
3. “Do your homework”
Observer has to be very active in lobbying and diplomacy. You have to persuade other delegates with strong arguments, “silent diplomacy” and decisive action on the ground. That means that when you are representing observer state which is directly involved in the crisis, you have to do your homework and be very well prepared. You have to know the situation on the ground in detail, know the details of any international contracts or documents regarding the situation and understand how different actions and actors affect each other. While you cannot vote, you can persuade fellow delegates with facts and strong speeches.
Although skeptical at the beginning of my first crisis committee as an observer state, I finished the simulation strong, barely missing the best delegate award and finishing on the 2nd place. Needless to say the best delegate award was won by the second observer state in the committee. Therefore if you are assigned an observer state, don’t panic, prepare well, follow the tips I wrote about and you should be among serious candidates for the best delegate award!