We have all been there, the excitement before the conference but also the imminent task that comes along with it – researching your position and the topic of the conference. In the light of recent debates on whether you can just “wing your way” through a conference as suggested here, I can only strongly encourage committed and truly interested MUNers to take a step or two further. But how does an in-depth research strategy work out? Five steps towards a thorough research:
1.Check committee topics & competences
Before you are applying for the MUN you want to attend, make up your mind in an informed manner – which topics speak to you most? Maybe one where your study-background fits, maybe something totally of the radar? A quick read usually gives you an impression of the topic and issues at hand. Check also which committee you are applying for – what are the competences of your committee to contribute to a solution? Pay special attention towards the Security Council rules or to regional bodies such as an African Union or EU committee.Goal: Know what you apply for!
2.Basic 1.0 Research
Now you know your role, your committee and the topics you are bound to discuss. As an entry point, a quick peak at Wikipedia might be helpful, but this is in no way going to prepare sufficiently for your work in the committee – after all, you want to learn more than a first google search can deliver, right? After you know roughly what to do, time to go through the study guide! Your chairs have prepared a roadmap for further research, they will give you a sufficient insight into the historical background and the past actions of the international community, however, you need more than that for sure. Goal: Be aware of the general situation!
3.Country Specific Research
After having informed yourself sufficiently about the situation and the committee at large, now it is time to research your role as a diplomat of a specific constituent. This is a very crucial task – you are an advocate for your country, you are a diplomat interested in a solution but that solution should be in line with the policy-expectations of your country. Again, start out maybe with Wikipedia to get an overview, but after, dig in deep! A solid mix of news to know about current events via e.g. BBC or Al Jazeera, a historical overview provided also by many youtube videos and scientific analysis by renowned scholars about the situation in your country, its role in the international community and past actions will be most successful!
4.And the others…
You now know what you want – but it is sometimes even a slight bit more important to know the opinions and strategies of others in your council. You need to make sure you know the general stances of other members and ask yourself questions like “Who is close to my position, who can be my ‘partner in crime’?” or “Which members are those that have a neutral stance, could they be convinced and if so, how?”. Naturally, during such a research, you also find out who your opponents are – especially in big councils, that knowledge is crucial. Which strategies seem likely for them? Which arguments will they bring forth to counter yours? And most importantly, how is your reaction going to be? With this research on the other members, you will gain a first insight into the to-be-expected outcomes and to which extent your persuasion skills will be needed to make your case. During opening speeches, make sure you cross-check your research with what members of your council propose – this will give you a good insight into enemies and allies in your search for the perfect resolution
You have done a lot of research now, some of it may find its way into the position paper, but certainly not everything. Make sure you organize your information effectively. You will have only very limited time during the session to access information and the faster you can find data or quotes, the better. Bring maybe some key notes printed, but mostly, make sure you organize your research in an accessible manner on your laptop. Know where you stored what – everyone has their own ordering system but some key documents you should have bookmarked for easy access during sessions!
So the implications of this resolution are clear – look for a holistic approach for MUN research, go beyond the first google results and make sure you know where to find what – about both your country and the positions of your fellow co-delegates.
For key resources MUN:Planet provided you with an overview here
For further advice, check out the section on MUN research here on MUN:Planet!
Image source see via flickr.com