Why General Assemblies Are Crucial to Model U.N

by Ayush Saxena on May 4, 2017

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Most people start off their MUN careers in the sprawl of General Assemblies consisting of hundreds of delegates all trying to contribute to 5 or so working papers. Crisis seems like a mysterious phenomenon that completely diverges from traditional committees. Most high school students, in fact, don’t even get to try them out until sophomore or junior year depending on how their program is run. I’m here to tell you that a lot of what you think about crisis is less than true and that the core of Model United Nations prevails across all committees.

Firstly, crisis is not elite. While it is true that fewer delegates are able to participate in crisis committees and that it runs by a different set of rules, by no means does crisis deserve a leg up in reputation. The truth of the matter is that conferences can only offer so many crisis committees due to staffing limitations. If they can incorporate 300 delegates with a team of a chair, moderator, and dais in a GA, or 20 delegates with a team of 5 crisis staffers, they have to make the best use of scarce resources and organize most delegates into GA’s. Thus, your school receives 25 general assembly assignments and 5 crisis assignments, crisis assignments are harder to allocate, and you’re left wondering what happens in those closed rooms of 20 delegates.

Another myth about crisis is that it requires a completely different set of skills. This notion drives many successful GA delegates away from it in fear, and causes others to criticize it for diverging so far that it no longer deserves a place in Model UN. From participating in multiple local and national conferences, I can confirm that not only are skills from General Assemblies useful in crises, but they are necessary to succeed. Here are some examples of skills that are often overlooked in crisis by beginners:

  1. Being social and building consensus: The majority of national conferences weigh public actions and committee presence as half, if not more, of the total evaluation for awards. This means that good crisis delegates still caucus and try to move committee forward by building support for their ideas. In fact, their skills are tested more often by each directive vote, contrasted with a single vote in general assemblies. Regardless of one’s private actions, the chair can’t deny someone an award if a majority of committee always supports them.
  2. Being detailed in documents: Everyone knows about 20-page resolutions in General Assemblies that elaborate on every aspect of a certain topic, but quality can often dip in crisis. A time constraint is by no means an excuse to slack in the amount of detail that goes into directives, and one-line directives are unacceptable.
  3. Speaking eloquently: While it is true that crisis delegates more chances to speak and that flowery language is not valued, it is important to put an effort in speeches all the way until the last committee session. Considering the fewer number of unmoderated caucuses in crisis, moderated caucuses are the prime time to shine.
  4. Deferring to staff: Some crisis delegates let the power and freedom of private actions get to their head. Just because you can write about actions completely irrelevant to what is going on in committee doesn’t mean you should. Also, if crisis staff shuts down your idea twice, then maybe it’s time to consider a different arc.


Whether you’re just starting off in crisis committees or a seasoned delegate, never forget your experiences in General Assemblies. While some people are more inclined to perform better in a General Assembly or in Crisis, there are lessons to be learnt along both types of committees. 

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