Many Model UN delegates are content to see Model UN as an academic simulation where they can develop important skills, learn about the world, travel and come home with new friends and a positive experience. However, for many Model UN teams, the funding and their relationship with their academic institution depends on bringing back awards. While most societies do not give awards during their weekly practices, be they a Diplomacy Award, Best Delegate Award or Honorable Mention, awards are an inseparable part of most Model United Nations conferences. Whether for the sake of your team or society, for yourself as a competitive Model UNer or as a MUN delegate who does not care about awards and just wants to challenge themselves and improve their skills, the following article on how to win Model UN awards will review some of the most important Do’s and Don'ts to be the most effective delegate you can.
It is true that the MUN tips and tricks in this article will help you learn how to be a good delegate at MUN. However, you will not get a Model UN best delegate award, or any MUN awards and honors, if you do not know how to do MUN research, give effective speeches, have an understanding of how to write a resolution, position paper and all the other elements required before, and during, a Model UN conference. The article below is here to help you excel at the art. It is not a shortcut. This article can help you move from being a decent delegate to a higher spot on the MUN awards list, but you will still need to cover the basics and do the work.
Strategies To Win Best Delegate
Be Self Aware
The first rule for every effective delegate to be yourself. Do not to try to be a character you are not. Model UN is where many people match up against each other on multiple levels and the only way to stand out is as the best version of you.
Many new delegates feel that a good Model UNer is someone who can give a Hollywood presidents or lawyers presentation which decisive after a single perfect knockout punch speech.
That we try to emulate these image these same 20-50 something male protagonists is wholistically wrong. We are not them and what works for them might not work for us. Some of us speak in a softer voice. Some of us naturally speak more slowly. Some of us need to clasp our hands to keep them from shaking and some of us need to keep our ever moving hands from hitting someone in the head.
The key is to realize what kind of character we play, and to be the best version of that that we can. If we are good at compromises, we should make sure to be involved in the lobbying and coalition maintenance. If we are good at ideas and resolution writing, but less good at interpersonal negotiation, we should find a speaker who can push our ideas while leaving us to do what we do best. All aspects of Model UN will improve with time but we need to differentiate between copying a method (for example a strategic pauses during a speech) and a personality (trying to sound like Barack Obama). Whether speaking, or lobbying, we will give the best presentations and be the best Model UN negotiators we can. That will happen most effectively when we are aware of what we can and cannot do.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to Model UN. An empty speech, presented confidently by a self aware delegate, will not get you far. The rule is that everything you say should move the debate forward. This means brings facts to help define the world during the earlier stages. This means bring information which clashes with the other blocks case during the debate stage. This is not to say that the examples you bring can’t be about your country or that you can’t strategically plant information. Each speech should also forward your personal ambitions, and those of your block. The rule of tumb is that you should make sure each speech, motion and point of information has a goal, which is to move the debate forward not just for yourself but for everyone.
Have a Core Case That Can Reach The End
When you choose the policies you would want to see in a resolution, choose ideas you can see surviving the debate, negotiations and strategic compromises. Model UN is not about researching the past for the sake of knowing more. Model UN is about taking information from our research and use it to be able to predict where the debate is going to and a guiding it there.
Some ideas will be too extreme, or too country specific, and won’t be able to get a majority. Look at the topic as an obstacle that needs to be overcome. All delegates want to pass a resolution but to do that it needs to fit the MUN Triangle.
You can choose a policy with two layers, one of which could be negotiated away. You can also start with the final policy that could get a majority and add layers to be negotiated away. A relevant delegate is one who can guide their policy from beginning to end.
The Policy: Giving amnesty to FARC fighters if they lay down their arms, including those who have blood on their hands, and reintroduce them into supervised jobs in Colombia.
The Strategy: Most other delegates who read this clause will focus on the “blood on their hands” part. They will say that murder can’t be forgiven and possibly include the feelings and rights of the families. As a compromise you can take out that part and make this policy only for fighters who did not kill anyone. As a result, your clause gets into the resolution. The other delegates get a win because they “compromised you down” while in reality your clause, which still has significant impact, will not be protected by those you negotiated with and will likely be on the final resolution.
As we can see, a strategic policy meant to survive negotiation is the best way to insure that at least some of your clause will reach the final resolution.
Build Your Case to Compromise
- If they have no reason, because they don’t really have a case and aren’t really representing their country, go to “When Needed, Teach Other Countries About Themselves”
- If they have a reason, try and find a compromise that would make them willing to support this. This could mean adding, or amending, a clause on location or agreeing to add an amendment later. Adding these ideas is good to do as long as it doesn't contradict or water down (too much) the main ideas of what you are trying to pass.
When Needed, Teach Other Countries About Themselves
Experienced Model UN delegates can generally tell you where they stand on a given issue in ten seconds. However, more often than not, many delegates do not think of a clear position and simply have a general direction. When a delegate you are speaking to has no information about their country, some information could be the difference in making them an ally.
Topic: The conditions of the refugees in Hagadera, Kenya
Guatemala: We want to improve the conditions of the refugees. We feel that are in pain and their live should be made better by the international community. The people living in Hagadera deserve better than this. I yield my time to the chair.
When you hear a speech that is so general it could be given by any country in the room, is it likely that the delegate did not research or does not know how to think MUN. As the delegate of Guatemala did not say anything about their country or a policy, it is probably a good move to do some quick research about Guatemala, which you should have ready for when you later negotiate. However, it is not enough to just give them facts about themselves to show that you know more about them than they do. You also need to help them develop their identity as a country. To be most effective, you need to give them information and also get commitments from them.
If a delegate does not say what they do, or do not, want you cannot negotiate. As seen in the Guatemala example above, many Model UN speeches show no clear position and are just a string of words that show general goodwill. In such cases, when you speak to the delegate, you want to get parameters for negotiation. To do this, you should ask them questions Socratic Method style so that you, and more importantly they, will know what they stand for.
The Socratic Method:
1. Ask a question from another
2. Use their answer to form a hypothesis
3. Test the hypothesis
4. Accept/reject according to testing
5. Ask a new question based on the outcome of #4 until you reach a satisfactory conclusion
Example of Get Commitments:
Topic: The conditions of the refugees in Hagadera, Kenya
Guatemala: We want to improve the conditions of the refugees.
Uganda (you): So you want to improve conditions by providing more medicine?
Uganda: What about sanitation? That is a serious problem in parts of the camp. You also have issues with sanitation in your country.
Guatemala: We do?
Uganda: Yes, as of 2010 you provide under 80% of your country with advanced sanitation with generally low and inconsistent service. So, if Uganda were to push for an improved sanitation clause to help countries with underdeveloped sanitation, would Guatemala support that?
Guatemala: Guatemala could agree with that.
The information used above came from 6 seconds of internet search and a wikipedia article on sanitation in Guatemala. Imagine what you could find in 30 seconds. The key is to combine teaching countries about themselves with getting commitments. Once they start to stand for something, see if you can include their name as a signatory or, if relevant, as part of the clauses. In the best case scenario you now have an ally who thanks you for giving them what to say. Worst case they oppose you but now they have margins within which to negotiate and are no longer speaking in vague generalizations.
Give Away Freebies
Unless it directly contradicts major policies in your resolution, or helps another other strong block undermine your case in a significant way, give freebies to less prominent countries in your block, or on the fence. You should be positive encouraging and easy to give verbal agreement, and even add clauses to your resolution, if it means these other countries will now side with you. Many clauses, often about education, do not contradict the main ideas and are generally not as important, even though they seem to matter a lot to the delegate who came up with them. If the clause isn’t good in its current form you, or the delegate bringing the clause, will need to rewrite it. This should only be done if it insures they will vote with you at the end. As they tribal elders say, if it costs you nothing, be generous.
Delegate Tasks That Matter
A staple of the unmoderated part of Model UN committee sessions is the delegation of tasks. In such cases, an Ambitious Solo Player (ASP), who is often charismatic and is afraid to share credit, will delegate tasks that have no real value to less experienced delegates. For example, they would ask their ring of supporters to get signatures from countries who are already with them, or to work on redundant preambulatory clauses.
A good chair is able to see through this and, more importantly, delegates in their block are prime targets be adopted by the other block because they know what they do does not matter. Delegates in a committee are often more intelligent than the ASP gives them credit for. Also, as they learn more about Model UN they want to do something of value.
If you are looking to be the block leader, the best way to keep your allies in your block is to get them invested. There is delegation as a boss and delegation as a peer through teamwork. To help your potential allies get invested, give them tasks that matter. Let them write clauses of central importance to the resolution. Tell them to go try and persuade an educated delegate or negotiate with a potentially important block. You only need one to two clauses of your own in the resolution to get best delegate if you are ahead of the average in most categories. No one wins MUN alone. To keep your block together, and team motivated, do not be afraid to give away tasks that matter. Those who feel they are important are the most likely to stick with you until the end.
This might seem obvious but it is not. Humans can be petty. No one likes a “know-it-all” who shoved their excess of information in others faces. However, there is an emotion that can turn delegates against you which goes deeper than the anger or frustration. That emotion is jealousy.
It’s easy to “hate” the rigid, fact spouting delegate who lacks social skills. It is also easy to hate someone nice who is clearly very good at Model UN, simply because people want what they have. For this reason, the better you are the nicer you need to be, especially when off the floor. This is an issue not only for power delegates but also more diplomatic style delegate who have good arguments, speak well and are competent across the board.
Jealousy is also a tool used by competitive players to turn delegates against each other. For this reason, try to make sure there is always someone in the room who is a better target for collective jealousy / frustration / anger than you. This can be anyone but a strong player in the opposite block could be a good target.
Suggestions for likability
- Include others in important decision making
- Compliment your allies and mean it
- Go to socials and actually have fun
- Be friendly outside the room
- Don’t be over aggressive
- Be patient
- Don’t overreact if someone moves in on your “territory”
Model UN is about so much more than awards. Remember to smell the roses at the building entrance before you delegate your heart out. We also go to Model UN to meet people and make friends. Let that side shine through and you will not only be more likable but also have a better time and come away with more.
Position is Everything
During an unmod, whether discussing ideas or writing the resolution, always physically place yourself in the middle. It should not seem forced but the central physical position is best to be able to respond and interact with everyone. It also helps to make sure you don’t get edged out by some pushy ASP who forces themselves into the middle.
Sometimes there is a rush for middle spots by the power delegates in the early stages. In such cases go back to “Be Likable” and wait the fight for the center out. Usually, they will turn off most of the delegates by their power play and a more calm circle can form. From that point, unless you are running around lobbying and have a trusted ally in the central position instead, you need to be physically in the middle as often as you can.
Have a Clause That YOU Get Credit For
You may speak well, and be the conductor of every unmod, but if the chairs cannot connect some prominent idea in the resolution to you it is likely the Best Delegate will go to someone else who they can connect to a clause. This can happen even if this other delegate didn’t speak or lobby very well. When reviewing your performance, the chairs cannot ask “What did they say?”, “What was their idea?” or “Which resolution clause is theirs?”. If you want to be the undisputed Best Delegate you must have some part of the resolution undoubtedly associated with you.
Have a clause connected to you is especially important if you feel your strengths are speeches or coalition building. You need to make sure that at least one to two ides of yours survive within the discussion (For tips on how to do this see ”Build Your Case to Compromise”). Your ideas need to be clear enough that the chairs won’t be able to rule you out by asking themselves what substance YOU contributed to the discussion. In these cases, you need to read the room and be honest with yourself. If your idea is not one of the main policies in the discussion, especially after two hours of debate, it is likely that you need change something. Otherwise, you will not get credit for influencing the resolution.
When Your Policies Don’t Stick, Join a Clause That Does
If the policy ideas you prepared before the conference don’t stick after the first two to three hours they generally won’t not matter how hard you try. In such cases, your best options are (1) binding your idea to someone else’s policy or (2) jump onto one of the main policy ideas that did stick and start developing it further through additional detail.
Bind Your Ideas
When your clause is somehow related to one of the main ideas being discussed you need to link it to such a clause so that others can defend it as well and you can stop spending all your time trying to keep this idea afloat. To be able to do so, you need to find the strong clause within your block, connect your idea and then bring is up throughout the discussion where you can. Your part may not be the most prominent but it will now be protected, fought for and hopefully remembered when the chairs decided on awards.
Your clause, which is not sticking, is about rehabilitation of teenagers who commit minor crimes in refugee camps, to keep them out of trouble. A clause which talks about recruiting more teachers is getting much more discussion time. During the next unmod, you build a case that the new teachers will teach young people who are rehabilitated additional hours to keep them out of trouble. One sub clause linking your less discussed clause and the more prominent one will let you speak to other delegates, and during formal session, about your idea in a way that now ties into the main discussion. Re-emphasize your link a few times and you are on the way for getting credit for a more relevant idea.
Give More Detail
This further analysis of the policy given but another delegate is to repeat their main point and then add to it layers that show how it previously could not have worked as well. You then continue to build the case with your new layers of analysis as part of the point, showing how the policy would not work, or work as well, without your contribution. This should not be too difficult in the earlier stages of the simulation, as many ideas lack detail and could use further elaboration and explanation.
You chose the policy of investing in further viral research. It does not catch at all. Another delegate has a clause to give out existing medicine to the infected population. In this case, you would completely drop your clause and jump on the existing clause by developing it further.
You could add that giving medicines cannot work without specially trained doctors to administer it. You can say the population will make mistakes, not help themselves and waste expensive medicine without it. If done effectively the clause will have specially trained doctors added either to it, or as a separate clause before it. If your charis are good chairs the credit for the idea will go to you because, while it did not start with you, you brought the elements without which the idea would not be as effective.
Be Willing to Switch Blocks, Not Just Ideas
Looking at the example above for “Deeper Analysis” we can see that sometimes we need to drop the policy ideas we came with to stay relevant to the game. Many delegates will read a bad speech because they feel bound to the ink on the page (it is less hard when typed). Many delegates will not drop a policy which is irrelevant to the discussion. In the same way, many delegates feel they can’t leave a block, or coalition, even if it is off policy for them or another block would make more sense for their ideas or opportunity to be a more central player.
Model UN is a living breathing entity. The simulation can go in all directions and every hour brings new challenges. To stay in the game means flexibility and willingness to quickly adapt are essential skills.
The main reason to not switch blocks is that you are concerned you won’t have time to reach a level of seniority within the other block. This limit can be due to time or strong delegates at the other sides head. However, if you are a competent, oftentimes the heads of the other side will invite you to join them to weaken your former block and have another competent player help them pass their resolution. Sometimes a side switching delegates is worth more if they bring a few countries with them but if you are good enough you alone may be worth it.
You should not let worry about losing what you’ve build so far, as far as block position and alliances, keep you from leaving for a potentially better opportunity. We do not switch blocks in a vacuum. Remember that throughout the simulation the other delegates listen to us speak and see us in action. This lets us build ‘street cred’, which can often allow us to jump between blocks and move to a higher position than we would have had we been silent for the entire debate. This is the same logic of a large merger where half the major contributors on both sides share the sponsors spots. Also, you are rarely switching blocks before some kind of agreement is made. Whether during an unmod, lunch or a social, you should have an agreement from the other side that a place will be provided for you if you move.
Do Enough in Areas That Are Not Your Strengths
A good chair evaluates the performance of the delegates holistically. This means they should be aggregating your influence on the following:
Agenda Setting - Your speeches, their content and how they shape what is being talking about. In short, how much you are influencing what is being discussed in the room and where it is going.
Coalition Building and Maintaining - Your work during unmods. The countries you build into a block. Maintenance of the block. Effective work with others and your influence on them.
Resolution Writing - How much writing you actively do. This also connects to “Have a Clause That YOU Get Credit For” so if you only write it, and don’t flag it in your speeches, it is not enough.
You do not need to lead in all of these but make sure to do at least the minimum in the categories which are not your strengths so the chairs have no good excuse to rule you out.
Note that maintaining this balance on your end can only work if the chair is paying attention and performing their role. If your chairs leave to get coffee during unmoderated caucuses or are on their phone and not taking notes when the general speaker's list is taking place, you should inform the relevant secretariat. If this does not work, and they are not willing or able to make their chairs more serious, work extra hard on “Learn What The Chair Likes / Dislikes” (Coming up in a few tips)
Be Aware of When Awards Go In
A delegate should always try to be on top form but some times are more critical than others. Specifically, you should make sure to be as solid as possible before awards go in. Some conferences, specifically larger ones, could have awards decided by the end of the second day.
Words from the Masters:
I delegated in in HNMUN in 2012. I had a paper to write for uni that I put off and, after two strong days I decided that I had to finish the paper and spent the entire third day writing it. I was surprised at the end of the day when my delegation called me and told me I won best delegate. I wasn’t even at the closing ceremony to get the award.
Sometimes your chairs will leave the room with one of the secretariat stepping in to replace them. If this happens it’s too late. To avoid this, try to feel out when awards are given in. It usually isn’t that well guarded a secret. However, make sure to avoid asking your chairs or delegates in your committee. You do not want to seem like an award seeker. Once you have your answer, time your performance to be on a high before the chairs decide the awards. Call for a moderated caucus on a topic that you are a central part of or have your resolution reviewed before this time. If the awards are decided the night before the final day finish the final session well. Also, now is a time to be especially friendly and nice (Read “be likeable” for guidance). Don’t come off to strong, desperate or show you’re aware that the moment of judgement is soon coming. Just be a good version of you, come of calm, relevant and strong and you should be at the forefront of their mind for awards.
To be the top delegate in your committee you will need to maintain a strong performance throughout the conference. This does not mean you can’t be less energetic for a few minutes here and there, or fade out for tens of minutes to write the resolution, you do not want to show activity in spasms. When a delegate is below average, and suddenly shines on the last day, or before the awards are selected, the chairs will, at best, say “that was a good show, pity they didn’t start sooner”.
Give a solid speech in the beginning, be involved throughout and be especially careful to stay strong during committee fatigue.
Stay Strong During Committee Fatigue
The energy of delegates usually comes in waves. There is a lot of enthusiasm at the beginning of each day as well as before lunch and after coffee breaks. There are also times when energy is low, such as towards the end of the first and second day or after a restful lunch. When energy is low less delegates offer to speak and a consistent driving force is important.
The end of the day is hard and the urge to do anything but wait out the clock seems very unappealing. The way to overcome this is to remember that everyone feels the same fatigue as you, and that is what makes those who step above this desire to rest that helps them stand out. Also, those who shine when the room is down get credit for helping at a low point and are sometimes forgive for not being as dominant during the points of higher energy. Don’t see the low points as a drag, see them as an opportunity!
Make Sure To Keep Speaking When You’re Writing the Resolution
Taking part in the resolution writing, at least on a basic level, is a must. Also, in more competitive committees it is important to be part of the writing to protect your ideas and keep you, and your close allies, central contributors. However, even as you perform this important task, you should not drop off of the speakers list.
You might ask yourself “How do I speak when I’m busy writing the resolution?”. The answer is that you do not need to give the speech of your life, nor do you need to speak often. In a 50 person room, to speak every 15 speeches or so, while writing the resolution, is completely doable.
Your speeches do not need to be original, or fact filled. The goal is simply to show that you are aware and still part of the discussion, even as you multitask.
Things you can easily speak about:
- Listen to a speech by the other block, take some notes and give a response.
- Listen to someone from your block and echo their main points.
- Bring up one or two of the main clauses in the resolution to flag it in everyone's minds.
- Repeat a good speech of yours from earlier in the simulation swapping some of the facts or examples (It’s amazing how often your speech will still be relevant).
The content does not need to be perfect but to make sure that the chair does not forget your existence. With practice, it takes only a few seconds here and there to collect the information for the speech and will show you to be a much better and wholistic delegate.
Reorder Your Resolution To Last
When the blocks are about even in size, and a merger did not work, there is sometimes a dynamic where every block will fail the resolution that is not theirs. In such cases, many undecided countries will vote for the last resolution. They do this to have something to show for three days of debate, writing and lobbying. As the resolution that passes gets extra attention when deciding awards (though by no means is it the main factor) you should try and take advantage of this “pity vote”.
For this tactic to work well, you need to disguise that you are reordering the resolutions to make yours last.
Draft Resolution 2.0 is yours. There are four drafts. The main block opposing you is the sponsor of 3.0 and the one you are friendliest with is Draft Resolution 4.0. You, or someone else who works with you (possibly less visibly connected to your block because you obviously are) motions to reorder the drafts in the order of 4.0, 1.0, 3.0, 2.0. Hopefully, moving 4.0 first will be the main focus. If your block and the 4.0 block support the reorder but don’t have the complete majority, 2.0 will end up last with 4.0 the first in the series of resolutions to fail.
If you can, get someone less connected to a specific block, or from another block, to motion for the reordering. However, do not forget the most important rule of all: Do not reorder unless you are sure that your resolution will pass and not another. If there is even a doubt that your reordering might leave you in a worse position best to avoid this altogether.
If You’re Out, Lose Gloriously
Sometimes our block falls apart too close to the end to rebuild. Sometimes our country's foreign policy forces us into a position which doesn’t let us merge with the larger blocks working papers. Sometimes we simply get outplayed. In all of these cases, and others like them, the only way to be considered for an award is to show how other countries are actually:
Have no moral high ground and are simply interest oriented
Violate the spirit of the United Nations
In other words, if you’re out, make sure to lose gloriously.
Losing gloriously will not work with one or two speeches. It needs to be prepared hours in advance. Ideally, you need to start to set up your glorious loss the moment you feel that there is no way for you to be on a resolution, that will get a majority and to remain on policy.
Topic: Cloud Seeding
Australia: “The other countries in this room want to seed clouds with chemicals. They claim it will help crops grow safer and faster. However, the real beneficiaries are going to be Monsanto, Bayer, Dupont and the others who will be the ones benefiting from tampering with the weather to improve crop yields. In fact, it is likely some countries in this room already have governments that fall victim to their powerful lobby.”
Following this speech Australia would bring examples of how various countries not not protect their populations from corporate manipulation and abuse. While the draft resolution would try to show how more food can be made available, Australia would need to show how country after country is at least partially off policy by joining the draft resolution. If other countries off the policy join in, there will be a vocal minority who will try and show that the majority are actually off policy, are doing what is worse for their people and unwilling to compromise. Leading such an opposition, who are more thought out, bring more examples and remain consistent is a definite way to get into the chairs considerations for awards based on contribution to debate.
For more detail on losing gloriously read our article on how to stay diplomatically relevant without a coalition or majority.
Do Not Fear Note Writing
Chairs hate crosstalking. Your fellow delegates who are speaking will not like it as well. You also do not like it unless it is you who is talking. For this reason writing notes is a prevenalt tool in Model UN. It avoids the chairs ire and also lets you avoid the worry of someone else overhearing. You can also use it to communicate across the room. This is even easier to do when double delegating because writing notes does not come at the expense of listening, working on drafts, lobbying or anything else.
Note writing can take up a lot of time and focus so do your best to find a balance. Some notes, however unimportant, can come at a political cost if unanswered. Some notes, with strategic allies, need proper ad detailed answers. Sometimes, after you give an excellent speech, you will be flooded with notes. It is not easy
A strategy to maximize notework in a committee with only individual delegates is finding another competent delegate who is willing to work with you. You can take turns answering notes and even write in each others names. You need to trust this other delegate but this kind of symbiosis can go a long way. If you are a slow writer, pre write headings. If you have unique handwriting, do your best. Note passing and exchange is a very important part of every simulation and not taking part misses an entire layer of information and influence.
Learn What The Chair Likes and Dislikes
This one is very very important. As much as we may pretend it can be quantified, Model UN is a human game. Your chairs will have their own pet peeves and biases. This can’t be helped because we are all human. Good chairs can overcome personal bias, will read the room objectively and make a fair call on awards.
The problem is when we get objectively bad chairs. There can be a whole slew of reasons for why bad chairs get to chair but Model UN is a very large world with many conferences and no overarching body. Because anyone can do Model UN, conferences very in academic quality and accountability. Chairs who let their personal feelings on a topic, or high opinions of themselves, get in the way of an objective evaluation of the delegates performance, should not get in the way of you winning an award. You simply need to tailor your performance to their sensitivities.
One way to learn about your chairs is to ask about them. You can ask people at the conference, or veteran MUNers in your society. It is likely that someone will know someone who has been chaired by them before or, if they are first timers (sometimes conferences have first timers as main chairs) someone has delegated with them in the past. If the main chair has never chaired or delegated before, thus depriving you of any useful intel, you may want to reevaluate the conferences to go to.
Scan the Study Guide
Sometime a chairs bias can be found in the study guide / background guide. If the view of the issue seems significantly slanted, and there is no lack of information online, you found the chairs personal preference. Do your best to not directly oppose what your chair seems to like or value.
Let others go first
If you are unsure what the chair responds to, let others test the water. If you are confident that you can make up the difference of not having a killer start within the first hour, make your speeches good but not great. Watch how the chair responds to louder and more dynamic performances. See what arguments and styles they respond to. After you get an idea of what resonates with them, tailor your performance to that.
Words from the masters:
A beginner delegates worries about their own speech and listens to no one else, an intermediate delegate listens to all speeches and amends theirs accordingly, a master delegate looks at the room, sees the dynamics and personality times, seems what is missing and becomes that.
When unsure, don’t start too strong until you know what you are dealing with. Some chairs will give extra speaking time to those who offer to speak. Somce chairs will try to give to those who don’t speak too often. Some chairs will respect you more when you call a point of order. Some chairs will take the point of order personally and never consider you for any award. Information is your greatest weapon when adapting to your chairs. Good chairs will often be harder to read even but will still do a good job. Adapting to petty sensitivities is more for the bad chairs, and it is a pity to lose an award because you expected them to do a better job than they are capable of. Take the time to watch and learn. Your patience will rewarded tenfold.
Don’t Be a Suck Up
Play hard to get with the chairs. There will be many delegates who suck up to them and chairs usually don’t like that. If your chair is the type to give into false flattery you should adapt accordingly. Otherwise, you should not engage the chairs but rather have them feel they should get to you. Let others put your name forward when possible. Keep your distance and keep interactions profesional.
Show yourself to be above trying to gain the chairs favor through offering chocolate or false interest in their personal lives. Chairs will be skeptical of interactions outside of the session, so make sure to avoid what can be perceived as you trying to suck up. You can show visibility through speeches and personally engages the chairs by giving in the draft resolution or calling for relevant points. Just as with delegates, we want to be in the position where others seek after us. Where possible, this should be done with the chairs as well as with fellow delegates.
To better understand how a chair sees the room, and for your own knowledge when you get into chairing, check out our article on how to chair like a pro.
Specialized Model UN Committees
How to Win Best Delegate in a Model UN Security Council
The Model United Nations Security Council has a few features that stand out. The Security Council is a small committee, meaning that each vote counts for more and delegates will get much more of speaking time. There are special considerations for the P5, which revolves around threatening, but not using, the veto and trying not to be a pushy jerk (See “Be Likeable”)
MUN Security Council Tips
Tips for the P5
Don’t be a Jerk
First rule of the P5. Showing off that you have a vote, permanent seat or special rights in the committee does you no favors and wins you no friends. Everyone in the room wants to be you, or at least the country you represent. You will win best delegate by being nice, friendly and human. If you don’t, it will be easier for others to turn the room against you.
Motion for P5 Caucuses Sparingly
The P5 caucus gives you a chance to speak to the others away from the room. However, according to almost all Rules of Procedure, the rest of the committee get to set in an unmod. While they could spend the time working on the draft resolution they will, most likely be using the time to plot. They will be plotting about how to supplant you.
Do Not Veto
A veto is like an atom bomb. Until you use it you can be M.A.D. scary. Once you use it, destroying everyone elses work, you are a monster who will not be forgive or forgotten for what you did. This loathing will be heaped upon you because you did not diplomatically find a way out and instead something died.
This does not mean to never do it BUT if you veto you have to make sure to justify it extensively! (See “Losing Gloriously” above for more details)
Get The Other P5 to Veto
If you can get someone else to veto you can make the committee feel about them what they could have potentially felt about you. This comes from setting a clash that, if maneuvered correctly, will eventually force them to veto the resolution. Assuming you can keep the moral high ground them vetoing while you kept your cool and show them for the bully they are could win you the best delegate.
Tips for a UNSC Non P5 Country
Form Blocks of 3-4 and Get Your Own Veto
The P5 have a technical veto but without the votes of enough of the non P5 a resolution can’t pass. It is true that the P5 have an initial advantage but they can only get away with it if you let them. If you can get one, or more, of the P5 to veto (See “Get the Other P5 to Veto” above) you can show yourself to be more diplomatic but that still doesn’t show consensus building or moving towards a solution. With 3-4 countries with you, you now have a Non Permanent Member Veto (NPM Veto) and can block a resolution just like a P5 and this potential
Protect Your Non Permanent Member Veto
With your NPM Veto you outmaneuvered the P5 and forced them to negotiate with. You are now at the big delegates table and prevented them from dividing up the world between themselves. This does not mean you are immortal. You are at the table only as long as you have the NPM Veto, or enough other countries to block a resolution with the numbers. The P5 will be aware that your strength is your block and will try to pick away them. They will bribe, threaten and may even promise to put their clauses in the resolution if they drop you. Do not let it happen. Protect your little block.
Remind The Security Council Who Is Real the “Enemy” Is
Part of the strength of the P5 is that the rest of the room is not united. When a non P5 create a NPM Veto they change the ballance. This works in rooms where all P5 are strong and rooms where only one of two are actually skilled and engaged. However, the real way to disable the power of the P5 is not to attack the P5, either separately or together. The key to reducing the use of those powers is to belittle and mock the “archaic and unfair” structure of the Security Council itself. Start using such language in your speeches and, to seem like team players, at least some of the P5 should join in. This will build up over time and lead to significant peer pressure anytime any P5 uses their rules. If you can make use of the rules feel like cheating, even though it is technically correct, the committee will feel that the delegates who use it are playing unfairly. Every Security Council delegate also delegate in the other Model UN committees. Make use of the P5 rules seem unsportsmanlike. The P5 will probably use these rules to jeers and sighs, especially from the other P5 who want to seem like regular delegates. This active self restraint, by the P5, from using the P5 rules is your best chance to play on equal footing in a Security Council.
Observer States in a MUN Security Council
Some feel that it is difficult to win Model UN awards as an observer. This is incorrect. Observer countries in a Model UN Security Council are not allowed to vote on the final resolution. They are still allowed to vote on all procedural motions (which moderated caucus to discuss) and can write clauses in the resolution. Observers should be as involved as if they had a vote. They should show a stronger performance before closure of debate because they will have a harder time in the final stages of the game. The way to balance that is to give on topic motion and own the ideas so that the resolution that is voted on has the observers fingerprints all over it even if they can’t vote on it. Throw in stressing the bad form of the P5 to use special rules and the observer can be at relevant as any member of the room. Make sure to be extra stable during the first 2/3rds of the session and trust the chairs to do the math. Not all chairs evaluate correctly all the time but good chairs are aware of the setback observers have and give awards accordingly.
How to Win Best Delegate in a General Assembly
While many of the tactics above will work in all committees, some work better in small and medium rooms, which have more speaker time and each vote will count for more.
Model UN Committee Size Matrix
10 - 30
30 - 70
70 - 100
100 - 400+
In giants committees, delegates speak significantly less and chairs usually miss most of what is happening outside the room. The chairs could also miss your performance because of the giant mass of humans lobbying, drafting and rewriting all over the place. As there are so many people, to be more prominent you need to make sure the chairs see what you do and not just that you do it.
In a giant room, the key to success is to make sure that what you are doing is seen by the chairs. As there are less speeches, and more delegates, you need to emphasize actions where you can. Also, in giant GA’s you will often have a double delegate, so you can divide tasks. However, the chair might not know you are both connected and that needs to be made clear if you are going to function independently and want to get joint credit.
To Do In A Giant Room:
Be the, or at least a, member of your block to contact person with the chairs
Be the one to give in the draft resolution (if it doesn’t cause drama)
Echo other countries names so they echo you
If chairs are around make what you are doing more visible
If pages are watching, make sure they see you doing good work
Exaggerate your note writing and passing to make it more visible
When in the room, always raise your placard
Sometimes speak to the chair with your double delegate to clarify that you count as one
Use your country’s name a few times within the few speeches you have
Words from the Masters:
My double del and I took part in Harvard WorldMUN twice. The first time we spoke nine times between us in a room of 400 delegates. That was considered a lot and we didn’t win the award. The reason the chair gave us was there was friction within our block. We didn’t feel that justified the call, as the chair barely left the podium to watch an unmod. The following year we went back and spoke between us four time but won the award. There were two main differences between our two attempts. The first was that we avoided petty conflicts as best we could. The second reason was that we made everything visible. We sat in the middle of the resolution writing. We passed many notes. We always offered to speak and we ran around to remind our block to vote. Later we were told that this visibility was noticed by the pages and the vice chairs who, when awards were being decided, said that we had to be on that list.
Keep in mind that other delegates will try these tactics as well and petty fighting will lose points. Always be calm and avoid arguing, especially in front of the chairs. If someone else is aggressive let them show their colors. Chairs in large rooms are also aware that they don’t see everything. These chairs will often ask delegates what they think is happening. If the chairs occasionally ask you how you feel the room is going it means they see you as reliable and trustworthy, which is a very good place to be.
Overall, giant rooms are not easy and one does not have the opportunity to do what we are used to doing in most committees. There is less room to speak and shine and more likelihood to be swallowed up or become irrelevant. The rush towards getting a resolution out first, and to amass numbers gets in the way of quality debate or some forms of strategic lobbying. Large GA’s can be fun but should be taken with a pinch of salt and seen as an extreme corner of the Model UN world and not what the game is about. Go in with a good attitude and avoid taking it too personally. You should be fine.
To Sum Up
Advanced strategy in Model United Nations is not simple. Delegates improve from conference to conference. As Model UN is together with, or against, people there are no shortcuts as everyone improves together. The strategic steps above are here to let us know in what direction to think when we are looking to outperform the performers and be a diplomat among diplomats. This article is here to give ideas and inspiration on how to be effective at Model UN and not necessarily teach how to win awards at MUN, though it does that as well. Knowledge is power and the power given here is intended to enhance your gameplay, and personal skills, not to hurt others. Have a moral compass when you simulate a Model UN committee and remember that while it is about the awards for some it is about having a good experience for all. Stick to those principles and regardless of winning a best delegate award you will be a winner every time.