Are you a Model UN Beginner, Veteran, or Alum? Here’s a compilation of tips to help with every aspect (Prep Work, The Social Aspect, and last but not least, Debate) of Model UN. It's much more complex than you think, noted by the plethora of definitions on Urban Dictionary. Use this article as a way to improve your strategy or to be overly nostalgic (yes, this is a good time to revisit those MUN Squad Pictures).
PREPARING FOR THE CONFERENCE:
The Position Paper:
It’s your first impression to your chair and a marketing tool during the conference, as you can send it to countries to find overlap in your positions. The paper should address the problem at hand, your country’s stance on the topic, and mention future solutions that your country has implemented or supports. More advanced delegates should research past resolutions or agreements. Knowing the intricacies of you position is key.
In general, be sure you know information about your country and its history. This will help you to find your block and prevent you from looking like a fool in committee (E.g. India and Pakistan are NOT friends, even if they are neighbors). Good sources include the CIA world factbook, any news publications from your country, press releases, and information found on government websites. Additionally, you must cite EVERYTHING. Plagiarism is not cool and anyhow, adding obnoxiously long footnotes helps you reach your target number of pages. “You can do too much research” … said no one ever. Finally, don’t procrastinate. Plan to finish your paper a week before the actual due date, which gives you extra time if needed.
The Conference Website:
Visit the Conference website to get acquainted with the city, your chair, the topics, and additional resources. If you are eyeing an award, be thinking about what are they looking for from an outstanding delegate. Chairs can be looking for a variety of things, from the quality of the paper, to how you articulate your thoughts in committee, to how effectively you caucus. Also, familiarize yourself with Parli Pro since this varies from conference to conference.
Lastly, bring a folder with:
- An annotated Background Guide (Yes, this implies that you must actually READ the ENTIRE Background Guide BEFORE the conference)
- Two copies of your position paper (one to keep and one to share with others)
- Parli-Pro Handout
- A List of Preambulatory and Operative Clauses
- Notebook Paper, a Legal Pad, and plenty of pens
F3 (F cubed) : Fierce, Fabulous, Flawless
F cubed is the brain-child of a friend and it stands for how you should feel (no matter the gender) when you walk into a Model UN conference. You are beautiful + brilliant. It’s time to show the world (your committee is a microcosm of the world, duh) your mad skills. Get excited for an awesome weekend and walk in ready to kick butt.
Stuff dryer sheets in blazers, dresses, or in your suitcases for padding and a fresh smell. Depending on what clothes you bring, you may want to bring wrinkle spray and get practice ironing your clothes.
The Outfit:Western Business Attire
MEN: Please know you look fine in a suit.
Would you catch my eye in normal clothes. Maybe.
But do I do a double-take when you walk by in a suit? Absolutely.
You’re basically eye candy in a suit.
Just don’t wear your dad’s jacket, okay? Finding a suit that fits just right is a worthy investment. If you don’t want to splurge, check out stores like Forever 21. However, if you choose to woo girls over participating in committee, I will be acutely disappointed.
LADIES: There are endless possibilities: Dresses, Pantsuits, Blouses, Blazers…. But Modest is Hottest.
First things first: wear what you feel comfortable in. That being said, it is just as important to dress for success. Black is a no-brainer, but I recommend being bold and standing out. My favorite staples? A formal dress or a jumpsuit. Both are effortless yet powerful. My favorite stores are LOFT, Ann Taylor, and J.Crew, but Target and H&M have cute clothes at very reasonable prices as well. Caution: It’s better to feel overdressed than under-dressed at a Model UN Conference and your “Sunday Best” may or may not be formal enough.
Finally, heels are super cute but pack flats as a backup. As much as you really want the delegate from Djibouti to pick you up and carry you down the stairs, don’t count on it. Boys like that are few and far between (I’ve only seen it happen once in my four years of MUN). This is MUN, not Bollywood.[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F07%2F17%2F636043809073831539-1651098483_ddlj_4.jpg%3Fitok%3DetJGW9oG&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=147&h=9df14bfd726cf74e9b631a639e35fec535779fed005d73e15e108eee47505e4e&size=980x&c=1716483497 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F07%252F17%252F636043809073831539-1651098483_ddlj_4.jpg%253Fitok%253DetJGW9oG%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D147%26h%3D9df14bfd726cf74e9b631a639e35fec535779fed005d73e15e108eee47505e4e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1716483497%22%7D" expand=1 original_size="1x1"]
This is completely up to you. However, makeup can make a huge difference in your appearance and make you look more put together. The level of makeup you wish you put on can vary and I would highly recommend doing a test run before the conference because not everyone can contour like Kim Kardashian.
You will get substantially less sleep than you get normally (... if you plan to sleep at all).
However, I always do my best to get SOME shut-eye, even if it is just a Power nap. In a onesie. On the floor of the security council crisis.
A trick to hide those dark spots? Try a little concealer under your eyes. Also, coffee and hotel wake up calls become your new best friend (This is a good time to install Venmo so you can pay friends back for the coffee they will buy you).
THE SOCIAL SCENE:
There are two ways to navigate the social scene at a Model UN conference. You can be on the lookout for new friends or a new special friend (it is okay to be looking for both).
The First Impression:
Be friendly and talk to people. When you walk into the conference room, you may initially be overwhelmed by the people who are extremely talkative and rush up to you, simultaneously introducing themselves while shaking your hand until it’s numb. If you can, be social too (but don’t become an overexcited squirrel either). Introduce yourself and mention where you are from and which high school you go to. The first few minutes is a great time to get to know people personally. You can really get close to people in just a weekend!
After you make that initial connection then you can start talking business (topic order and then your position on certain issues). If people like you as a person they will be more likely to vote for your resolution. Side note: You do you. If you prefer to lurk in the shadows, that okay too. However, you may be missing out on some incredible friendships.
One of my friends said it best: “Being friendly and approachable can help you to find great allies and help you to build the best super resolution possible.” A Model UN conference is so incredibly exciting because suddenly you find yourself in a room of like-minded individuals who also read the news and listen to NPR. Wow. That’s powerful.
Now many of these people are brilliant. If that is you-- Congratulations. Don’t be arrogant and definitely, do not assume you’re the smartest person out of all of these super smart people. We all voluntarily gave up our weekend to debate nuclear weapons just like you, bud.
Notes are an excellent way to correspond with allies, ask countries specific questions, or request the chair to be added to the speaker’s list. Also, notes can be used to openly or anonymously hit on that cute girl/guy. Be sure to carry a list of MUN pickup lines (virtual or hardcopy). Yes they can be trashy, but boy do they come in handy (only use these at MUN conferences. Please do not use these pickup lines on someone who is unfamiliar with our way of life.)
On a more serious note, however, do not stoop so low that you send derogatory notes to other delegates. If you are on the receiving end, shake it off and throw the note in the trash (after you rip it up, stomp on the indiscernible remains, and light it on fire).
Be an active participant. As attractive as texting under the table or sending off-topic notes may sound, stay focused. This way you will be able to ask insightful questions (or tear your opponent apart with your questions that are all on fire), defend your own position, and find your block (aka. Your MUN committee squad)
As a former committee chair, I can say that a lot of work goes into planning a MUN conference. Recognize your chair for his/her hard work but do not be a sycophant either. If you can, email your chair before the conference with specific questions or a news article related to one of your topics. Start a conversation!
First of all, raise your placard during the debate! If you’re a noob, don’t stress just do it! While just sitting back and taking it in (actively, now don’t just stare off into space) is alright, dare to put yourself out there. Honestly, you will probably never see a majority of these people again.
If you’re a veteran, remember quality comes before quantity. The chair has been copious hours on the topic at hand and can easily discern BS. Additionally, strive to strike a balance between staying in position and compromise. While getting caught in the minutiae of the debate can be easy, don’t give in and focus on the important stuff. Finally, get into character and don’t let your own opinions get in the way of debate. Yes, I’m looking at you North Korea (DPRK)
Overall, Model UN provided me some of my favorite high school friends and memories. I hope you too enjoy your experience and I hope these tips made you laugh (and improved your Model UN strategy). If you have additional tips to share, comment below!
Special shout out to these amazing MUN veterans for their input: