In contrast to just giving a few topics and then just letting things flow, a crisis is more like a well-rounded screenplay which needs a writer/director. A good one.
Write the story
Choose your cast carefully
1. Exposition - Setting the scene.2. Rising action - Building the tension.3. Climax - The exciting bit.4. Falling action - Tidying up loose ends.5. Resolution - Ending the story.
This is where you set the stage, the event that creates the crisis and brings the actors to the table.1) Exposition
For example, when you do a historic scenario on the Cuban Missile Crisis, you don't start with the blockade or even the Soviet ships at the quarantine line. You start with the discovery of the missiles.Prepare some newspaper articles from that time and pin them somewhere visible to all. You lay the field, the background. You create and build up atmosphere.Place hints and rumors, maybe a threat or an attack that throws the world leaders off their daily routine. Don't reveal too much.
This is where the debate heats up. Accusations fly, resolutions are far away and your delegates should exchange their positions. The more dramatic the better. You should fuel the conflict at this point. The last thing you want is a quick solution. Events should come thick and fast. Divide the nations as best as you can.2) Rising action
This is where allies try finding each other, where alliances start building. A new event could unfold and redraw the board, break up established lines of alliance or conflict and reestablish new ones.
3) ClimaxThis is it. The big bang of your crisis, the moment the villain reveals itself in a spectacular fashion or the hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of man comes crashing down.
During a futuristic crisis that depicted the Arctic oil reserves as the last cache of fossil fuel, the climax was a secession of Greenland from Denmark, virtually eliminating Denmark's share of the claim on Arctic oil - and just an hour later (not in real time), a US Naval Fleet "safeguarded" Greenland with a naval blockade, while at the same time the USA formally recognized Greenland as a sovereign nation.
That event shook the assembled nations and that was the day NATO dissolved.
It should not come too late. If you unleash such an event on the committee, it should not be at a point where they are almost done with their resolutions, as everything they have worked out until such a point will instantly become an exercise in futility. Plan and time it carefully.
4) Falling action
This is when the crisis committee comes up with ways to solve the issue.5) Resolution
It might very well be, that some or all resolutions fail due to veto powers. That is not a failure for the crisis, but rather realistic outcome. And sometimes it cannot be avoided at all. Although you should try do devise a Crisis that has other possible outcomes than an exchance of ICBMs ;)
Oh and another thing: Keep it realistic! Your crisis will -hopefully- be a piece of fiction, that's true. And no one stops you from making up a natural disaster, the start or threat of a new war or a devastating terrorist attack. Don't hesitate to think big, but also don't get lost in your ideas.
3) Casting the crisis
A "collaborator" can be used at times. That is someone who takes part in the crisis committee as a delegate, although they are actually a part of the crisis organization. They can be used in numerous ways:
- To create a fuss and mix things up the way you want them
- To guide the developing situation within the committee along the lines you want them
- To represent critical nations that are at the heart of the crisis
- All of the above at the same time
Ask a couple of additional questions in the application. It should be something that tells you about the delegates' acting skills.
For example: "If you wanted to sit on the Iron Throne, how would you achieve that?"
You should present your crisis with all the media available to you. Here are some ideas:4) Presenting the crisis
- If you have one, make use of your conference Newspaper.
- Use fancy presentation programs such as Prezi, for example.
- Take a look at how one of our members did it for a two-hour session:Copy of United Nations Security Council by Grischa Beissner on Prezi
- Prior to the conference, have one of your teammates read out the news to the camera
- Alternatively, let the Secretary General come into the committee and read out the escalation steps. Have the committee members stand up as he enters etc.
- Make it fancy: Use video clips, recorded speeches by politicians etc.
When do you bring in the escalation steps?
Although timing might seem like an important factor, in real life, catastrophes don't care about it. Just don't dish out the escalation steps too close to the evening. Before a lunch break is fine, though, as it gives your delegates something to talk about.
It might be a good idea to create a fixed timeline with few events along the suspense curve and do smaller, "optional" steps, that you can introduce when the debate slows down and that address different possible developments within the committee.
The News feed
5) Historical and futuristic crisis
Given the limited amount of days that a MUN usually provides, historical crises within the UN that can be used at a MUN are limited to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
However, if you drop the UN-dependency, you can choose whatever you like. From ancient times to the League of Nations, the world is open to you. However, whatever you choose, in most cases you usually end up "tweaking" the historical circumstances a little.
Dealing with the Historical Imperative
The biggest pitfall of historical crises is that the issue has already been resolved once, and people tend to stick to history for some reason.
To counteract this, you can give people personal objectives - or you deviate from actual history.
Deviating from Original History
In theory you can do whatever you want. Just keep it original and at least half-way realistic.You could change the entire narrative. Have something happen in a totally different area of the world, open a new theater within the conflict or add a new kind of danger. For example, go for the hunt-for-red-October style at the height of the Cuban missile crisis and let one Soviet submarine disappear with an unknown objective.
If you do decide to give or change someone's personal objective, make sure not to mix things up too much or go to far, or the delegates will resent you for the changes that you enforce on them.
If you go for a lighter futuristic setting, set up in just a few years or decades in our future, make sure that the delegates know how the world developed. Grischa Beissner once bridged the knowledge gap between the current day and the future setting by handing out three front pages of newspapers, each placed at an interval of a few years in between.
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