Simple Steps to Building the Strongest Bloc in Committee

by Ellen on January 25, 2014

dictionary-1Unmoderated Caucuses, especially in the initial stages of committee, can be a chaotic affair at best. With so many delegates moving from bloc to bloc trying to determine which to join, the major challenge that this part of committee presents is not only establishing yourself as a leader, but building a level of unity within your group early on that will retain delegates and prevent them from dispersing to other groups, allowing you to build a bloc that is strong in both numbers and group dynamics.


Define the Group

The foundation of unity is group identity. For this reason, the most successful blocs with high delegate retention are the ones that define themselves early on in the committee. When everybody in your bloc is on the same page about what they stand for, it will be a more straightforward resolution writing process. It will also allow you, as the bloc’s chair, to avoid being pulled away from the group by questions from other blocs, because even the least engaged delegates on the edges of your group will be able to explain briefly what the resolution is about.

Giving the group a goal to work toward or something to call themselves  that is more specific than the goal or name of the committee will make delegates feel like they as individuals stand for something and cumulatively have both significance and power. And you, as the one who stated the definition, will be in a position to shape the direction of the bloc that will be difficult for other delegates to match.

Another great application for a group definition is avoiding the messy, semi-diplomatic power struggle over what your resolution will be called. Instead of arguing over whether it is the “Australia Resolution” or the “Luxembourg Resolution” you can simply call it by its definition.

Coming up with your definition

Your group’s definition shouldn’t be too narrow or you run the risk of excluding delegates with different opinions, but it should also be more specific than the committee topic or a derivative of it, as this will set your team apart from the rest of committee. Here are a few strategies that you can use independently or in tandem to define the group.

  • The Sub-Issue Strategy- A simple way to define your group is to identify a sub-issue of the topic that your group feels is particularly important and use this emphasis to clearly explain how your group differs from others. For example, your group may feel that prevention should be the main focus of successful resolutions. Your bloc’s identity, then, should be the prevention resolution.
  • The Marketing Point Strategy- If your group cannot unify under a single facet of the issue, then look for a unique solution or a point your group is addressing that other resolutions do not. For example, in a committee on climate change, most blocs will focus on revising the Kyoto Protocols or regulating international commerce to increase accountability. Your group can still address these points, but your major one that your group identifies under can be something more unique, such as soot reduction, which is a simple way to make commercial emissions much cleaner. This is also where acronyms can be handy, though they are employed most effectively when the group as a whole decides on them.
  • The Goal Identification Strategy- When there are no clear marketing points and the resolution doesn’t have a firm base in any sub-issues, you can still define the group by sitting down and simply running through the resolution’s goals. It can be as simple as gathering a few of your bloc’s major ideas and synthesizing them into an agenda. You don’t even have to be covert about what you are doing. Simply say “from what you all have been saying, it seems like this resolution’s goals are____. Its primary goal is_____” By doing this, you are verbally giving the paper shape and creating a structure into which your bloc members can fit their relevant ideas.


One Step Further: Define Individuals in Your Group

6a00e54f871a9c88330120a5530312970b-800wiEverybody who is working in a group wants to have their contributions recognized. Unfortunately, resolution blocs are not always conducive to sharing credit and recognizing contributions. If you want your blocs to truly respect you as a leader and really follow you in committee, rather than simply tolerating you, then you’re going to have to build a group that values every member. Once your bloc knows what the whole is working toward, you can begin giving individual delegates definitions that recognize what they have contributed. Maybe they are the author of your microfinance clause, or maybe they wrote your preambulatory clauses. It can be as simple as an idea they felt strongly about, or a role they have played, but always remember this definition when you refer to them. When you speak to the group, make sure you mention other people’s contributions with their country names, and you will notice a major difference in the way your group regards you.

This accomplishes two goals for you. For one thing, delegates know that you appreciate their work and recognize them for it. It helps delegates understand what exactly their contribution was. Many delegates simply contribute ideas without claiming them as their own, so recognizing them helps them remember that they are a valued part of the group. Defining the members of your bloc will also help the bloc as a whole understand who deserves to be a primary sponsor. When everybody is aware of what everybody else has contributed, then nobody will wonder what a person did to become a primary sponsor, which reduces resentment and discontent.

  • Stormbird

    Nice article. Thanks for sharing! I find it very helpful and precisely aimed.

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