Delegate Resource Center:
Beginning Your Research
UPMUNC provides two main resources for your preparation: the Committee Background Guide and the Topic Updates. Updates may be found on our Facebook group: University for Peace Model UN Conference 2013 (UPMUNC). Once assigned, your Committee Director and Chairperson will provide instructions for joining the group.
Individual research is indispensable. UPMUNC highly recommends extensive use of academic books, scholarly journals, newspaper articles, and official documents or other literature recommended by the Committee Background Guides, as well as other bodies associated with the United Nations. Some sources that have proved useful in the past include:
Researching Your Committee
The website of the United Nations, where delegates can access individual committee sites, links to specific issues on the UN's agenda and related information and data, links to Representations of Member States to the UN, etc. This is also where delegates may understand the history, structure, and operations of the United Nations.
United Nations Bibliographic Information System
One of the most basic and useful sources delegates should be using when preparing for the Conference. It includes landmark UN documents, resolutions of UN bodies, meeting and voting records or press releases. It provides a research guide to get acquainted with the UN documentation system and allows delegates to research by organ or by main issues.
Others sources include Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), particularly those accredited by the UN, country reports and data published by international or regional organizations. Delegates representing NGOs are â€“ next to consulting their NGOs Web site â€“ also advised to visit any of the above links to gain more insight into the issues and different positions at hand.
Be sure that you understand your committee thoroughly prior to arriving at UPMUNC, including its history, its mandate and purpose, its jurisdiction, its goals for the future, and its function within the UN System and its voting procedures. Most of the committees simulated at UPMUNC operate their own Web sites that are regularly updated. Depending on your committee, you may find books or scholarly articles, which describe its history in considerable depth. Important past decisions or resolutions of your committee often shed important light on its powers, the types of actions it takes, and the methods by which it acts. We will focus on the following organs throughout our conference. All information and language can be found on their respective websites.
Researching Your Member State or NGO
ECOSOC was established under the United Nations Charter as the principal organ to coordinate economic, social, and related work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, functional commissions and five regional commissions. The Council also receives reports from 11 UN funds and programmes. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to Member States and the United Nations system. It is responsible for:
- promoting higher standards of living, full employment, and economic and social progress
- identifying solutions to international economic, social and health problems
- facilitating international cultural and educational cooperation
- encouraging universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
It has the power to make or initiate studies and reports on these issues, assist the preparations and organization of major international conferences in the economic and social and related fields, and to facilitate a coordinated follow-up to these conferences. The Council's purview extends to over 70 per cent of the human and financial resources of the entire UN system.
United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP)
UNEP coordinates UN environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing economically sound policies and practice. UNEP has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, and six regional offices and various country offices throughout the world. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action. Its activities cover a wide range of issues regarding the atmosphere, marine and terrestrial ecosystem. UNEP has aided in the development of guidelines and treaties on issues such as the international trade in potentially harmful chemicals, trans-boundary air pollution, and contamination of international waterways.
United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)
The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the UN system, made up of 47 States responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. The Council's main purpose is to address situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. UNHRC also continues to work closely with the UN Special Procedures established by the former Commission on Human Rights and assumed by the Council.
United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
The Security Council is the primary organ of the United Nations functioning to maintain international peace and security. It is comprised of fifteen Members: ten serve two-year terms and five are permanent Members with veto power (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States). The passage of any substantive decision by the Council requires an affirmative vote of any nine Members, including affirmation or abstention by the permanent Members. If a permanent Member votes against a resolution before the Council, the resolution is vetoed. Unlike General Assembly resolutions, which are recommendations, Security Council resolutions are binding on the Member States of the United Nations.
United Nations Women (UNW)
Created in July 2010, UN Women is the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The creation of UN Women was part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact. It merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system: Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). The main roles of UN Women are:
- support inter-governmental bodies in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms
- help Member States implement these standards and to forge effective partnerships with civil society
- hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality.
Once you have familiarized yourself with the structure, history and functions of the UN System, the next step in your research should be researching your assigned country. If you have been assigned a country, you may wish to begin by researching its political structure, economic condition, religion(s), history, and culture. Familiarity with these areas will assist you in forming and maintaining a consistent foreign policy. Research the problems within your State regarding ethnic and religious minorities, suppression of dissent, division of wealth, freedom of the press, development, healthcare, education, poverty, environment, human rights, etc. Remember to include the more subtle aspects of your State's domestic and foreign policies.
Researching an NGO is very similar to researching a State. If you have been assigned an NGO, you may wish to begin by researching its history, mission, structure, funding, values, purposes, and goals. Familiarity with these areas will assist you in forming a consistent approach to the issues in hand and a consistent style of interaction with Member States. Based on your research, you will decide how your assigned NGO will approach each topic, and the recommendations you will make for potential solutions. This includes identifying blocs of countries and other NGOs that may share the same perspectives and priorities and collaborate with you in committee sessions.
As a representative of the NGO or State to which you have been assigned, you will be expected to work within the historical parameters of your NGO or country's foreign policy at the UN.
Preparing for your Position
It is paramount to remember that the success of UPMUNC depends on the accuracy of delegates in representing their country's/NGO's position. To properly represent your country or organization, you will become familiar with its political philosophy, the economic and foreign policy and culture. The following points are important in your preparation:
Preparing for the Topics
- History: The domestic and international history of a country is often important to know when researching their policy on current events. The history shows recent conflicts, certain existing relations and alliances, reasons for certain stances on a topic, and other factors that may influence foreign policy.
- Political structure and ideology: Does your country have democracy or dictatorship; is it a Kingdom or an Emirate? Is it based on capitalism, socialism, religion etc.? As a representative of this government you must know what their philosophies and interests are in order to properly try to achieve your (their) goals.
- Economy: What is your country's monetary system? Are they dependent on certain resources, areas of business or other countries? To what economic or trade organizations is your country a member? These are all factors that may come into play when trying to reach an agreement.
- Defense: What kind of military structure does your country have? Are they regular contributors to peacekeeping missions? Are they a member of a military alliance? The factors may be essential when discussing crisis situations and trying to offer or obtain assistance.
- Foreign policy: To which treaties are your country a signatory, and has it made reservations? How much influence does it have in the world or its region? Is it a member of a bloc or international organizations that may influence policy? Countries can be very active internationally or be very secluded, advocate pacifism or humanitarian intervention. Knowledge of these facts will determine a successful simulation of the conference.
After you learn more about your country and its policies, find out what the countryâ€™s position is on the specific topics on the agenda of your committee.
To arrive at a resolution, it is important to look at the causes of the conflict or the situation. Delegates must be familiar with the roots of the problem, be it military crisis or climate change. A representative must also be aware of attempts and achievements of the UN, regional organizations, neighboring countries, or NGOs. It may be futile to discuss solutions if they have already proven to be ineffective; however, an answer may be found by innovating on a past effort.
To adequately address a topic, a delegate must be fully aware of the current status of the issue and the factors influencing it. For this it is not only important to know your countryâ€™s involvement, but also that of the UN in general, other organizations and other representatives in your forum. Websites of such organizations or sites dedicated to the issue itself are all very good sources to provide you the expertise you need to address the topics.