How to Win Best Delegate, Part 2: Choose Your Committee

by Ryan on November 5, 2007

In my previous post, I claimed that your strategy for winning best delegate is to maximize your probability of success despite your circumstances. How you prepare for a conference and what you do in committee will affect your probability of success, but before that there is something you can do to impact your circumstances. Thus the first step to winning is not about preparation or tactics; the first step is about specialization. The first step is to choose “your” committee.

Choosing your committee does not mean simply looking at the list of committees that are available to you and picking one. It means specializing in a certain kind of committee and participating in it as often as you can. Specializing improves your circumstances because the knowledge you gain at one conference can be applied at the next. It compounds your expertise and, consequently, your success.

For example, my specialty is Security Council. I have won nearly all of my Best Delegate awards in either Security Council or Historical Security Council. In Orange County, the Los Alamitos MUN Conference was (and still is?) nothing but Security Council simulations. In preparing for the conference my freshman year and studying the situations in Israel-Palestine and Sierra Leone, I realized that I was really interested in international peace and security. Lo and behold, that interest and enthusiasm came through during the conference, and that’s when I won my first Best Delegate award.

Afterwards, I tried to do Security Council as often as possible. I found that what I learned at one conference was helpful for the next because I did the same committee at both. I gained a deep and legalistic (for a high school student) understanding of the rules of procedure and how they specifically applied to the Security Council. If I had a good idea at one conference, then I could test it and improve upon it before using it at the next conference. If someone else had a good idea at one conference, then I could give it my own spin and use it at the next conference, too.

I also realized that there was a certain flow to the Security Council. The trick was to start writing the resolution by the first committee session, ask people for more ideas by the second session, and then sign on the entire committee as sponsors by the third session. This was possible because Security Council is a 15-country committee (unless there are observers), so it’s small enough to approach everyone. At the end of the conference, the resolution passed easily and unanimously–everybody’s a sponsor! It included all of their ideas, too. In the process, I became the committee’s leader. And that’s how I won Best Delegate.

Finally, I discovered that a core group of the same people also did Security Council as often as possible. After a while, I got to know everyone and many of us become friends–which was great–but I also came to understand everyone’s delegate styles. If I beat this core group for Best Delegate at one conference via one strategy, then I could beat them again using the same strategy. If I lost, then I could adjust my strategy for the next conference accordingly.

Not everyone is a Security Council guy. Some of my friends are big committee, General Assembly delegates; they have big personalities and their success grows exponentially with the size of their caucus bloc. Others specialize in children’s or women’s issues, so they do UNICEF or the Commission on Women. One friend of mine even did the International Maritime Organization because a) he was actually interested in naval issues and b) no one else was. So he looked extremely knowledgeable in a committee full of bored kids, meaning they would sign on to anything he proposed.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to experiment with different committees, especially early in your MUN career. Doing different committees is the only way to find out which one is “yours.” Until you gain seniority within your MUN club, you probably won’t have much of a choice over committees anyway. Just find out what you like. It all depends on your interests and personality.

As a final thought, this idea of specialization has an investing analogy. Warren Buffett would probably advise you to invest within your “circle of competence,” the industries and companies that are familiar to you, because then you have some personal insight that will help you make good investing decisions. Buffett himself knew that he didn’t know tech stocks, so he didn’t invest in them despite their rise throughout the 1990s; as a result, he famously avoided the 2000 stock market crash.

In MUN, you’re investing your time and money. If you want the greatest “return,” i.e. Best Delegate awards, then invest within your “circle of competence,” i.e. the committees that you know best. In other words: “stick with what you know.” This applies to personal investing, MUN, and you, if you follow this step-by-step guide.

  • Anonymous

    Hey I’m taking security council in an upcoming conference. I’ll be representing India. Do you have any tips for a non p5 country in UNSC?

  • THS We the People

    This is an old article but a great one! I am just not having one of my students specialized in the security councils and also the regional bodies (EU for example). Have you thought about writing an article just on tips for the Security Council? From both the P5 and non-P5 point of view? It could be a great one to add to your strategy toolbox. 🙂

    • Ryan Villanueva

      I like both yours and Joey’s comment below about writing an SC-specific article, that could be interesting…

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