Model U.N. Meets The CRISOSOC

by oliver on December 16, 2013

The World Health Organization at UPMUNC XLVII

Co-written by Oliver Nacey and Erik Leiden

This year, in the double-delegation WHO committee at UPMUNC XLVII, a new committee format was showcased.

UPMUNC Secretary-General Hirsh Shah called it the CRISOSOC; a crossbreed of the standard ECOSOC committee with a real-time, live update crisis.

Whether this format will become a part of the Model U.N. circuit remains to be seen, but this new committee style opens the door for an entirely different style of debate.

Giving delegates in a larger committee the form of moderated caucus found only in the crisis room creates a rapid, quick-thinking debate that is consistently sparked by crisis updates and saved from the unfortunate debate stasis so feared in General Assemblies, ECOSOCs and Specialized Agencies.

This format keeps discussion fresh and requires an entirely different strategy from delegates.  The CRISOSOC changes the game and requires delegates to think on their feet while still creating logical solutions to the problems at hand.

The WHO at UPMUNC XLVII, which adopted the CRISOSOC format for much of the fifth and sixth sessions, saw an instant increase in proactivity and strength of debate once the crisis, one which addressed religious acceptance of IVF, was introduced by Chair Bianca Faccio.

From then on, the committee began to write directives, not resolutions, a system that was hindered by the sheer number of literature being submitted.

While this posed a problem for the possible CRISOSOC of the future, it also drew attention to the increased level of cooperation required to produce positive directives as a committee. Delegates can no longer fall into the standard resolution writing format, but must seek universal contribution from the committee to pass solutions to the crisis.

CRISOSOC Committees, by adopting the crisis format of fast-paced and clearly directed debate, allow for specific components of issues to be addressed one at a time. Updates draw attention to individual parts of an issue without the actual facts of the update constituting a “crisis”, but rather serving simply as a guide for debate. This promotes the discussion of specific facets of an issue individually, rather than trying to address the issue as a whole in a 1-minute speech.

This format provides for more substantive conversation rather than the traditional platitudes of Model United Nations. Debate becomes more focused on “What are we going to do”, and “Should we as an organization do anything about this?” rather than what specific “grassroots education programs”, “best practices and expertise sharing programs”, or “comprehensive funding protocols” will be implemented.

This assures that all of the major points that need to be addressed on a topic are fully addressed by the body, and that what is being discussed in committee are the issues that delegates prepared for, not the technical aspects of each working paper.

Because this format has delegates debating different aspects of an issue individually as new updates come up, to successfully draft legislation in committee, resolutions would best be built clause by clause.

As delegates debate each point, they could draft single clauses subtopics to determine the body’s policy and plan for how to address the issue, and then move on to the next sub-topic to form a comprehensive all-encompassing resolution at the end comprised of the individual clauses approved by the committee.

Gone is the standard large committee power delegate. The CRISOSOC gives every delegate the voice they deserve and puts all committee members on the same unbalanced ground. Delegates are forced to truly represent their nation’s best interests and forced to do so swiftly, no matter the issue.

Thus is the beauty of Model U.N., it is only limited by the community that so fervently supports it.

This committee format could revolutionize the way Model U.N. approaches the ECOSOC and committee in general, building a bridge between the General Assembly and Crisis committees of old.

The advent of this new committee format addresses a need within the Model U.N. community: a need to evolve at the same pace as the very world it tries to represent.

It is far too early to tell whether the CRISOSOC will become a Model U.N. staple, but the response from delegates in the WHO at UPMUNC XLVII was ultimately positive.

The CRISOSOC has a short-term future at the very least as McMUN 2014 aims to implement crisis elements into its World Water Forum 2039 committee. This committee should be the first true test of the CRISOSOC format and may decide it’s viability for the future.

The Model U.N. circuit is in constant need of fresh ideas whether they be in committee setting or in committee format. Perhaps the future of Model U.N. is the combination of some of its greatest traits through the CRISOSOC.

  • Troy Robinson

    This format is fairly common in high school conferences, especially in the South. GatorMUN for instance has been known to initiate crises in Assemblies and ECOSOCs, not only as a means to make debate more meaningful, but also to give traditional assembly delegates a taste of crisis; a format so prominently used on the collegiate circuit. I think it would be incredibly intriguing to see this applied more often on the collegiate circuit, especially when the number of interesting and well-run assembly committees shrinks year-after-year because of the rising ‘tide of crisis.’

    • Eric Hinkle

      I’ll second that. The high school conference I went to at Washington and Lee University used a very similar format.

  • Hillary Harlan

    It definitely gives a new way of thinking to specialized committees and could perhaps challenge the expectation of these committees. It would assuredly bring in a greater depth of committee knowledge. It will be interesting to see if these CRISOSOC committees become a circuit staple. Great article!

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