MUN Power Delegates and How to Deal With Them

If you have never participated in a Model UN conference before, you will have to learn to navigate the different types of delegates that show up and form your own identity. There are many types of delegates from beginners with potential to clueless played to apathetic players. Delegates can be strong at speeches, coalition building, resolution writing and much else. However, there is one type of delegate who requires a unique approach in how to handle them and those are power delegates.

You may have heard the term power delegate before. It is a term widely used in many Model UN circuits. However, it is not clearly defined. This article will attempt to define a power delegate, highlight the good and bad side of a power del, and teach you how to deal with them.

Introduction

The term power delegate leaves us to wondering if this is a good or bad thing. The answer is that a MUN power delegate can be both. Sometimes power delegates are needed so that serious work can get completed. They can be pushers of ideas and great spokespeople for a group or block. Productive power delegates are considerate of others and constructive to the mission of the group and conference. Then there are the Ambitious Solo Players (ASPs). Their sole purpose is to win awards and will get there by any means necessary. While they can be nice and cooperative if it serves them, they will switch sides and cut allies out of blocks if it serves their purpose. These delegates need to be spotted early so a strategy can be formed to counter their controlling methods.

How do I identify a power delegate?

  1. They may be dressed more flamboyantly than others.
    1. Power delegates want to be noticed. Part of being noticed is being well dressed. In the case of the power delegate, they may be overly well dressed so as to draw attention to themselves. Maybe they are wearing obviously bold and bright colors. Perhaps they have an ascot in place of a tie. For teams that breed power delegates, they will come on the first day with their team tie or pin. Some will come in their institutions uniform. Some of these accessories bring the reputations of their team or society with them. The power delegate will want you to see that. If you notice a delegate that is using these tactics, chances are they are, or wish to be a power del.
  2. At the beginning of the first unmoderated caucus, they get loud.
    1. As soon as the first unmoderated caucus is motioned for and approved, you will spot delegates who immediately try to rally the troops. They will say things like, “All countries in the South-East Asia block meet here now,” or, “All Sub-Saharan African countries need to meet in this corner immediately.” Chances are, the person saying this is your power delegate or has been directed to say that by a power delegate. Often times this call to group is preceded by a note suggesting the upcoming meet or negotiation. Keep an eye out for who sent the note and you will be a step ahead of what is coming..
  3. This person will begin presenting draft resolutions quickly.
    1. Whoever can present the first draft resolution can control the debate early on. It may not mean they have the best ideas, or be formatted correctly but by simply presenting something first will have it much more likely to be discussed.
  4. This person will control the conversation.
    1. You have met people in your life who dominate the conversation. That will be the case of the power delegate as well. They will feel like they are in control of the block you are in and will speak as much and as long as they need to to get agreement from the other delegates for what they are trying to achieve.
  5. They shut other delegate’s ideas down quickly.
    1. When power delegates do let others have their moment to speak, they will likely quickly shut down any ideas that are not their own if they feel those ideas could encompass theirs. If someone within their group or block seems to present good ideas, the power delegate will quickly reroute the debate back to theirs.
  6. They take your blocks ideas as their own.
    1. If any other delegate in the block has a good idea that cannot simply be pushed to the side, the power delegate may take the idea and make it their own.
  7. They have minions.
    1. Power delegates will give orders and send runners all over the place. The runners will usually be from what the power delegate considers a non-threatening delegate whose ideas, or actions, would keep them from consideration for an award. They will send these delegate to fetch delegates from other blocks or send them all over the place running notes.
  8. They are always the spokesperson.
    1. No matter who came up with what great idea or who wants to communicate with other groups, the power delegate will always be the group’s spokesperson. They want to be the face of success for the group.

If you have spotted a power delegate based on the information above, good. Now how do you go about dealing with them?

Methods of dealing with power delegates

So, you’ve spotted the power delegates, or more specifically, the ASPs. Hopefully by now you’ve read our article Successful Negotiation in Model UN. All of your diplomatic skills are going to come into play now and you may have to develop some new ones.

Before we break down strategies to handle all the points listed above, we want you to know that research is always important. In any negotiation situation, you need to know what power you have relative to the others you are dealing with. For this to happen you need information about the topic you are discussing, and the countries of the other delegates you are engaging with.

What does your country have as far as power is concerned? What do you have to offer? On the other side, what does every country in your block have to offer? What do they need? One way to counter power delegates is to know more than they do about the topic and who is around them. Here is a point-by-point breakdown that matches the points from above.

  1. Ignore what they are wearing
    1. If the power delegate is overly dressed or trying to be noticed, the only way to handle it is to pretend not to notice. They want attention. Don’t give it to them. Furthermore, you can probably reach an agreement with other delegates to keep an open eye out for the dresses, ties or uniforms of a specific color.
  2. At the beginning of an unmoderated caucus.
    1. If you are in a power position due to the country you are representing, you need to be the one to organize where a block needs to meet. This will negate some of the power delegate’s attempts at control. If it becomes a power play, let the power del be the more aggressive one. This will result in other countries turning to you as the more sane party.
    2. If you are from a smaller country with less power, pay attention to who is organizing your block. If it is a power delegate, be ready to perform some quick power checks.
      1. As your group is organizing around the ASP, introduce yourself to every member present and make sure they know who you represent. Be the friendly face that other delegates can trust. Combine that with a better understanding of the issue and you will become more central.
  3. Have your own draft resolutions ready.
    1. Just as the power delegate may start writing clauses during the first speech of the general speaker’s list, you should do the same. You spent time preparing for this conference. You’ve done the research and you know the issues. Have some clauses penned out and be ready to present your ideas quickly so you can balance out any drafts the power delegate already has.
  4. Don’t let them control the conversation.
    1. You will need to strategically interrupt the power delegate once they get going. If they say something that you need clarification on, or even if you don’t, stop them and ask. This will force them to respond to you instead of simply speaking at you and the block.
    2. Once they answer, ask for other delegates’ opinions on the idea. This forces the power delegate to have to listen, and more importantly, not speak. Try to include as many delegates as possible using this tactic so they all feel empowered. Some of them may have been nervous or afraid to speak, but once they get some of their ideas out, they may begin to assert themselves. Praise the ideas when they express them.
    3. By stopping the power delegate and allowing others to speak, you will become a quiet hero in the other delegates’ minds. They will respond well to you from that point onward, making negotiation easier for you.
  5. Don’t let other delegates’ ideas drown.
    1. If another delegate makes a suggestion but the power delegate simply shuts it down, you need to act. You can say something like, “I think Uganda’s idea on this issue has some merit.” Now you have opened the door to discussion on something that does not belong to the power delegate.
  6. If a power delegate takes good ideas.
    1. Don’t let the good ideas that come out of your block get stolen by the power delegate. If they attempt to present another delegate’s idea as their own, make sure to compliment that delegate for their great idea both in the unmods and in your speeches during formal debate.
    2. By ensuring that others get recognition, the power delegate will have to concede that not everything is in hers control.
  7. Give their minions a purpose.
    1. If the power delegate is sending member delegates on running errands, you need to step in. Yes, some people will be runners, but not the same people every time. Ask the runners to sit and explain their opinion of what the group is working on. Express interest in their ideas and positions. Include them, and they will now be your allies.
    2. If you need to, ask the power delegate to run something for you. If they do it then their power gets knocked a bit. If they don’t do it, point out that everyone should share responsibility equally and make them look selfish.
  8. They don’t always get to be the spokesperson.
    1. When it comes time to explain your position to another block or to the committee as a whole, the power delegate will assume they get to speak.
    2. When you sense the time is approaching for someone to speak for the group, ask someone else in the group to do it. The power delegate will have two options – they can agree or they can let everyone know that they will do the speaking. If it is the latter, then they will look rude and selfish. Either way, you will make your point.

As can be seen here, specifically in the case of an ASP, that the actions you will take will force their hand either showing them to be aggressive or mitigating their power. A power delegates who is inclusive will accept your corrections and make space for weaker speakers. They may be competitive but are willing to play with others. As for the ASPs, as they show their aggression and that they are their own first priority, other delegates will join you in interpreting their flow and pulling them down to earth. Additionally, having an ASP leading your rival block can help give your block additional impetus to work more strongly together.

Conclusion

We are have different Model United Nations delegating styles. You too may be a power delegate. However, if it is your personality to do what was written above, be the right kind. If you want to be a power delegate, be one that builds bridges and encourages others up and moves towards the goals of the conference. Use your abilities to give them a place to speak and feel included. Use your abilities to challenge the ASPs and keep their delegates from being stepped on. Create solutions and work with allies in a way that doesn’t only serve your collective purpose but help them feel good about themselves.

Handling certain power delegates, like the ASPs, is another thing. They are there to gain recognition for themselves and not to be group players the moment the group holds them back. You need to recognize their behavior: controlling, self-centered, and egotistical. To counter the Model UN ASP, use every diplomatic skill in your arsenal to counter their behavior. Undermine them and build your group up. Empower yourself and others while cutting off the power delegate’s ability to control the block and you have not only protected your block but made this simulation a more enjoyable experience for all involved.

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