Becoming a Delegate
As a delegate, you represent a member state of the United Nations. You are an emissary of the government of the respective state. You have to represent your state authentically, which means that it is not your own opinion that counts. You will actively stand up for the positions and interests of the state you represent, even if they contradict your personal opinion or a factual solution.
In doing so, you must know your country intimately. While preparing, both together in your delegation and independently, work out the interests and special features of your country by familiarizing yourself with its history, geographical location, social and economic factors, and important allies. It is advisable to look for possible partner countries in advance, which represent similar interests and with which cooperation during the conference seems to be beneficial.
As a delegate, you will be assigned to a specific committee. As a rule, you will deal with two current world political topics within this framework. Preparation for the topics in the run-up to the conference. On the one hand, you prepare position papers in which you present your country’s position to the other actors at the conference. On the other hand, you write working papers that serve as a basis for the work in the committees. Finally, at the conference, you try to work out and pass a resolution with the other delegates in the body based on your country’s position and interests, which thus corresponds to your government’s ideas on the one hand and is acceptable to the other delegates in the body on the other.
How to Research
After you have applied for our MUN, a country is assigned to you. Then preparation for content of your Countries Position starts. If you do not know how to start doing this, this article will bring you guidance and a lot more!
Where Do You Start?
If you type in your state’s name or keywords of a topic on Google, you will quickly come across a wealth of information. Before using a source, it is essential to check if it is reliable.
If you are not sure how trustworthy a source is, a look at the imprint of the site often helps. You do not have to rely exclusively on neutral sources, such as the official website of the United Nations. Concerning for example North Korea’s nuclear program, it is just as worthwhile to take a closer look at statements from North Korea itself, and other big important global players. In this way, you can get an idea of how these countries assess the events in this regard. Objectivity does not prevail in the world of international politics, after all. Information always serves a purpose: it is meant to convince you of a particular point of view. Even statistics do not guarantee objectivity.
As part of your research, you should therefore be able to classify the source of any information. In the following, we have compiled a brief list of sources and helpful websites for your research.
Agreements and treaties contain regulations that have been bindingly agreed upon by all signatory states. If your country has signed an international treaty or acceded to a treaty, you should generally support its content. Websites of international organizations (for example, the European Union) are good sources here.
Official documents such as press releases or strategy papers give you the position of the authors, while national laws show you the current legal situation. Positions from a statement issued by your state can easily be adopted. When doing your research, it is recommended to look at the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs first, and your state’s permanent representation to the United Nations.
Scientific documents and studies present contexts and findings on a particular issue. They are suitable for underlining positions or understanding how complex political interrelationships work. Professional journals, information centres and academic papers are good sources here.
The international press offers a wealth of current news, but also reports and background reports. As journalistic sources, renowned media represent your first choice here. Some examples are: The Guardian, The New York Times, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) or Cable News Network (CNN)). But do keep in mind: Journalistic texts are usually written from a specific perspective and want to convey a particular point of view to their readers. Therefore, they should never be the sole basis of your preparation, but they can serve you well in interpreting scientific documents.
The first port of call for general questions about the United Nations and its handling of specific issues is the organization’s official website. Here information on the bodies and topics can be found, along with resolutions, statements as well as minutes of conferences.
There are some information portals and databases that are explicitly recommended for doing your research:
- Wikipedia is not a scientific source, but it is very useful when it comes to getting a first overview. The database provides you with information on your state, NGO, or otherwise relevant topics.
- If there is an official website of a state, these are always helpful
- the World Factbook of the CIA.
- For a focus on economic data, see the International Monetary Fund’s country information.
- A compilation of various countries can be found at CountryReports; additional country profiles and thematic reports are available at www.infoplease.com.
How to Write a Position Paper
Position papers are the first official step as a delegate or NGO representative towards the conference. They are the result of the preparation.
For each topic that will be discussed in your committee, writing a position paper is required. It describes the attitude of your state towards the respective topic. A position paper is thus an official statement of your government. When writing a position paper, consider the following points:
A position paper does not represent a personal opinion, but that of your government. Accordingly, formulate the position paper not from your point of view, i.e. not in the 1st person singular (e.g. “I think,” etc.), but from the point of view of your state or NGO, thus in the 3rd person singular (e.g. “Latvia is of the opinion…,” etc.).
States and organizations usually try to present themselves in a positive light, nevertheless, they usually stick to the facts; however, their interpretation may vary. Therefore, try to look for controversial actions and attitudes of your government or organization. Note that a position paper should address at least four points for discussion from the committee text in addition to presenting the country’s relation to the issue. Pay attention to spelling, grammar, and a diplomatic style of language. In a position paper, consequently, present your state’s situation concerning a topic under discussion. Following is a list of details your paper must meet:
- the importance that your state/NGO attaches to the topic,
- the experiences it has already made in this field,
- its issue-related memberships in international organisations or agreements,
- assistance and support that your state/NGO receives or that your state provides to other countries,
- actions your state has already taken and intends to take in the future,
- ideas and suggestions on how the international community can resolve the issue from your state’s/NGO’s perspective,
- conflicts that your state/NGO sees in the context of the issue,
- assessment of the behavior of other states.
The paper should remain within a certain framework. Therefore, 300 to 500 words per topic is recommended. Specifics of the paper may vary from conference to conference, therefore read the instructions carefully! After you have shown your paper to the committee chair and it has been accepted, starting at your MUN can be done soon. You will also receive corrections, feedback, and suggestions for improvement from your committee chair.
How to Write a Working Paper
Writing a working paper is the final step for preparation of the conference. A working paper is a proposal for the drafting of a resolution that its author would ultimately like to see adopted by the body. The working paper serves as a starting point for you to negotiate with other delegates by combining and expanding it with working papers from other delegates.
A working paper is intended to be an official statement of the United Nations, therefore paying close attention to spelling and grammar is required, and impressing with linguistic brilliance through a diplomatic style is possible.
A working paper has a strictly prescribed structure and corresponds to the external form of a resolution, but without its official status. The outward form and highly standardised language are important so that member states know exactly what they are getting into. Familiar wording and structural elements signal trust, which is what makes political concessions possible in the first place.
Working papers consist of a single long sentence divided into three sections, ending with a period.
- The HEAD of each resolution, written in capital letters, includes the particular body involved and the subject. This section is automatically generated when you create your working paper on our web pages.
- The PREAMBLE, consisting of at least three preamble paragraphs, serves as an introduction to the resolution and often refers to existing resolutions and agreements as well as the current importance of the issue and the rationale for your body’s action.
- The OPERATIVE SECTION, consisting of at least five operative paragraphs, is the core of the resolution. It contains statements, demands, guidelines, definitions, and proposed solutions. In this regard, the operative section must not contradict the preamble.
Each statement in the preamble and operative section is outlined in a single paragraph. While the paragraphs of the preamble are separated by commas (,), semicolons (;) take over this task after the operative paragraphs.
The individual paragraphs in the preamble and operative section are introduced with fixed phrases, the so-called operators. They are always written in italics and differ between the preamble and the operative section. A list of operators can be found here. When using the operators, pay attention to the scope of your body’s authority under international law. Only the Security Council can issue orders that are binding on the international community under certain circumstances.
Just like delegates at the United Nations, there is the possibility of using subparagraphs and subheadings in the operative section when writing your working paper.
Subheadings are bolded and precede three or more operative paragraphs that are related in content. Subheadings aim to structure the working paper more clearly and to enable the reader to orientate himself/herself easily. Therefore, subheadings should be as concise as possible. For example, “Political measures” and “Economic measures” or similar expressions would be suitable.
Subsections must always refer to an operative paragraph and cannot stand alone. They are numbered with Roman numerals. Subparagraphs are enumerations; therefore, operators cannot be used in subparagraphs.
Just like the position paper, the resolution will be corrected by your chairs. If you wish to submit your working paper to the conference so that it can be debated by the body and play its part in the eventual resolution, it must be submitted to the chair in digital form. It is recommended to have the working paper as a Word document and Google Docs document during the simulation. This way it can be shared with a wider audience when interacting with other delegates without the risk of sabotage.
Bearing in mind
Expressing its appreciation
Keeping in mind
Noting with deep concern
Noting with satisfaction
Taking into consideration
Viewing with appreciation
Draws the attention
Expresses its appreciation
Expresses its hope
Draws the attention
Expresses its appreciation
Expresses its hope
Further recommends Further requests
Strongly condemns Supports
Takes note of
Want to find out more about the MUN-specific words and phrases? Have a look at our dictionary!