Having participated in Model UN for over a decade now, I’ve seen the gamut of committees. Still, some conferences struggle to develop original committee ideas in favor of repeating tried and true simulations. And while I enjoy a Kashmir joint crisis as much as the next MUN delegate, there are more original committees that could be designed.
In no specific order, here are some committee ideas. Feel free to share or use them if you’d like!
Historical Committee Ideas (1899 and earlier)
The Great Sejm (1788-1792)
Committee Type: Large Specialized (60-90 members)
Overview: The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth lasted from 1569-1795 and was one of the geographically largest political unions in Europe. However, because of the internal political mechanisms that held the Commonwealth together, its power was never realized. Wealthy nobles and magnates controlled large feudal swaths of land and were easily manipulated by domestic and international pressures. Unlike other monarchies, the King of Poland was an elected position and armies were loyal to their magnates, not the crown. The Great Sejm, or Four-Year Sejm, was held in Warsaw to re-establish the Commonwealth’s sovereignty and pass a new constitution, the first European state to adopt a modern constitution.
Cape Colony Government (1889)
Committee Type: Crisis (12-18 members)
Overview: The complex history of South Africa lends itself to be an insightful simulation. In 1872, the Cape Colony achieved “responsible government” status, giving the British colony the right to have a parliamentary system with an executive branch. However, more direct control did not lead to the end of conflict. This committee would focus on the Second Boer War (1899-1902) and the internal conflict between the British Empire and the Free Orange State and the South Africa Republic. Specifically, the committee would have to juggle the directives coming from the Crown with local politics and its belligerent neighbors.
20th Century Committee Ideas (1900-1979)
Finish Independence and Civil War (1917-1918)
Committee Type: Joint Crisis, Finnish Socialist Workers’ Republic and the Vassa Senate (12 members/committee)
Overview: With the fall of Tsarist Russia, Finland saw its first realistic opportunity for independence from the Russian Empire. At the end of World War I, Finland declared independence but quickly found itself at odds over what type of government should be installed. The simulation would start in 1917 as one committee fighting to establish Finland. By the middle of the second committee session, sides would be drawn and split into JCC committees– Red Finland (the Finnish Social Workers’ Republic) and White Finland (the Vassa Senate)–to decide the fate of Finland. Delegates should be allowed to choose which side to support, and which committee to be part of.
First World Food Programme Executive Board (1963)
Committee Type: Specialized (36 member states)
Overview: The World Food Programme was established by the UN General Assembly in 1963 on a 3-year trial basis. Its executive board is comprised of 36 members states and is led by an Executive Director. UN program design and execution is often overlooked in Model UN conferences. This committee would be tasked with designing food assistance programs, while juggling budgetary issues.
Recent Past Committee Ideas (1980-2010)
Cabinet of the Fifth Republic of South Korea (1979-1987)
Committee Type: Semi-Crisis (12 Members)
Overview: Modern South Korean history plays scene to a complicated dynamic between domestic forces, foreign influence, and political theory. After the rule of and assassination of Park Chung-hee, the Fifth Republic of Korea was established by way of another military coup, led by Major General Chun Doo-hwan. Despite turbulent internal politics, the period between 1953-1979 is often referred to as “The Miracle on the Han River,” because of the dramatic rise in living conditions and income. How South Korea handles the end of the Cold War has important consequences for its development into a modern state today.
Khasavyurt Accord (1996)
Committee Type: Specialized (30 Members)
Overview: While it would be more popular to simulate the First Chechen War as a joint crisis committee, the negotiation of accord which ended the conflict is a far more nuanced way to analyze the conflict. The Khasavyurt Accord was negotiated between Chechnya and the Russian Federation to end two brutal years of armed conflict between the two sides. However, the Accord was not able to stop a Second Chechen War from breaking out three years later in 1999.
WIPO Copyright Treaty Negotiations (1996)
Committee Type: Specialized (~100 Members)
Overview: The WIPO Copyright Treaty is often cited as the first modern attempt to create an international copyright law. The negotiations of treaty in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) were crucial to the protection of a number of types of intellectual property. The successful passage of this document can only be measured by the number of states that then sign as signatories and those states who can enforce after domestic ratification.
Present Day Committee Ideas
Brazilian Politics: Federal Senate, National Cabinet, Rio 2016 Olympic Organizing Committee
Committee Type: Triple Joint Committees (Senate: 81, Cabinet: 24, Organizing Committee: 12-18)
Brazilian politics have captured international attention with headlines spanning from internal corruption and cover-up to shortcomings on Olympic preparation. The Triple Committee structure allows delegates to explore the internal dynamic of Brazilian politics, while juggling multiple agenda items. I hesitate to organize these committees as a Triple Joint Crisis, as a main crisis arch would detract from the normal flow of each of these bodies.
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
Committee Type: Small Specialized/Crisis (16-24)
By Nigerian law, all oil and gas extraction companies that operate in Nigeria must be organized as joint ventures (JV) with the federal Nigerian government, which operates as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Six foreign corporations have JV agreements, including Royal Dutch Shell (British/Dutch), Chevron (American), Exxon-Mobil (American), Agip (Italian), Total (French), Texaco (now merged with Chevron). The NNPC is tasked with operation in each of these joint ventures and all oil and gas related operations in the country.