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Model UN Help Center

Quick Answers to Your Most Pressing MUN Questions

How do I start a Model UN club?

Model UN is not a centralized activity– every club and team operates independently from one another, and there is no central organizing body. To start an after-school Model UN club, you’ll have to find out how your school recognized co-curricular activities. Each school will have different processes for creating a new club, so consult a teacher or faculty member and ask how to begin the process. Most schools will require a teacher or faculty advisor, so contact teachers you think may be interested. They can also help you create a constitution that will govern your club’s functions. Then, begin speaking to friends and peers about the club to grow interest in membership.

How many times should I speak during a moderated caucus?

Many people will tell you that you should always speak as much as you can no matter what. This can be the case in certain instances, but it’s also possible to overkill how much you speak.

The answer to this question varies depending on committee size and type. In larger committees, speaking opportunities are few and far between, so you should aim to speak as much as possible. In committees like this, your placard should always be raised up high whenever the chair asks if anyone wishes to speak; that way, you can establish a presence in committee.

In smaller committees, the answer becomes slightly more strategic. If possible, you should try to speak AT LEAST once in every single moderated caucus. If you speak once during the first half of the moderated caucus, it may also be beneficial to try to speak again during the second half by reiterating your ideas in different words or being responsive to speeches made by other delegates. In rare cases where your country or position is an important player in a particular topic of a moderated caucus, speaking more than twice is acceptable but should be used sparingly. If you feel a need to speak more than twice without being a central player in a discussion, it simply means that your first speeches were not comprehensive enough to get your point across.

When should I start writing clauses for my Model UN draft resolution?

In most US conferences, clauses cannot be written before the official start of a conference when debate is opened during committee session 1. Writing clauses before this time is called pre-writing and is considered cheating within the Model UN community. For most conferences, pre-writing is grounds for disqualification for awards and sometimes even expulsion from the conference.

You are free to begin writing as soon as debate opens, but it’s generally a good idea to wait and hear from other delegates and find ones with similar positions as you before you begin writing. Many delegates perceive people that write clauses before solidifying a bloc as uncooperative or manipulative, so it’s best to hold off at least for a little bit. What you can do to get around this is write out positions you have or ideas you would like to put into a draft resolution as loose bullet points that way you can remember and reference them when it is time to begin writing clauses but are still not cheating by pre-writing.

Should I leave the committee room during debate to write my draft resolution?

If you are a single delegate, in most instances, it is unwise to leave the committee room during formal debate. Debate is important in advocating for your country’s positions and stances. Missing out on debate makes you appear weaker and less visible in committee to other delegates and the chair. Draft resolutions in Model UN are also supposed to be written in groups of delegates called blocs, so writing yours alone during structured debate time can make you seem uncooperative or undiplomatic. If you’re concerned about not having enough time to write your draft resolutions, don’t worry! Committees usually move towards the writing stage during the middle of the second day of a conference, where there will be plenty of longer unmoderated caucuses that you can use as time to write your resolution along with the rest of your bloc. 

The main exception to this would be in a dual delegate committee, where at the chair’s discretion, one delegate can stay in the room and participate in debate while their partner leaves the room with other delegates to write resolutions and optimize committee time.

How should I structure my draft resolution?

Draft resolutions contain three main parts: the heading, preambulatory clauses, and operative clauses.

The heading will vary depending on your committee and conference, but headings will always include sponsors and signatories of the resolution. They also typically include the committee’s name and the title of the resolution.

Preambulatory clauses state the purpose of the resolution or the situation that the resolution hopes to rectify. These clauses are always followed by semicolons.

Operative clauses provide the concrete action being taken to resolve the issue or topic at hand. They can be very specific and are also followed by semicolons. If subclauses are used, they will be followed by commas. If you have one subclause, you must also have a second subclause. The final clause is followed by a period.

For more information about writing resolutions, check out our MUN 101 Draft Resolution Guide.

Does my opening speech really matter?

Absolutely. Opening speeches are your chance to make a strong first impression on the chair and the other delegates in committee. Not only is it important to show other delegates that you’re confident and know what you’re talking about, but it’s also always good practice to share your country’s stances and platform very early on to make sure those with similar stances know that you both align and can potentially work together on a resolution. If you do not show the other delegates in the room who you are as a delegate, you will be perpetually behind in committee.

For further guidance on giving speeches, visit our MUN 101 Guide to General Assembly Public Speaking and Debate.

How should I structure my speeches in Model UN?

This answer can change based on personal preference and speaking style. Generally, you should follow the HIPA structure: Hook, Information, Point, and Action. Your hook is a shocking statistic, anecdote, or joke that grabs the other delegates’ attention. This hook should be followed by a bit of informational background, connecting your hook to the main idea of your speech or position. The point then clearly lays out what your opinion or solution is, with reference to the information as evidence that supports the point. Finally, your speech concludes with an action statement, or simply “what to do next”. This can be something as simple as requesting for a vote on a paper or sending a note if someone wants to work with you in the future or has similar ideas.

For more detailed speech strategies, visit our MUN 101 Public Speaking and Debate Tutorial.

What Should Happen During an Opening Ceremony?

Opening ceremonies are much more flexible than closing ceremonies. Generally speaking, the secretary general should give a speech thanking everyone for attending the conference. There should also be an introduction of the other members of the secretariat as well as their titles and roles. Then after that, some conferences like to introduce the chairs and crisis directors for each committee, but this is not important if you choose to not include it. Conferences also usually invite a guest speaker to discuss a topic of global significance with the delegates attending the conference. Speakers can be anyone, but should be someone involved in international policymaking. Good candidates could be a former diplomat, NGO or think tank leader, or someone who has experience working in the United Nations or another reputable intergovernmental organization. Then, the opening ceremony should conclude with the secretary general hitting a gavel and formally declaring the conference to have begun.

Why should I start a Model UN club?

Model United Nations builds foundational skills that can help students be better prepared for many different future career paths. Model UN can teach interpersonal skills, public speaking skills, confidence, and cooperation. Starting a Model UN club at your school or in your community can help develop these necessary skills as well as further foster a dynamic dialogue between students about relevant issues of global significance. Not only that, but Model UN looks great on a college application and resume.

How do I write a background guide?

Think of writing a background guide as simply writing an extended research paper. Make sure to do extensive research on the topic(s) your committee will be covering and write about all aspects of that topic, making sure to cite your sources along the way. Be sure to include a brief introduction and concluding remarks about the topic at the beginning and end of the background guide, respectively. When writing the background guide, think about what things you would want to know about the topic if you were competing as a delegate. It can also be beneficial to include guiding questions at the end of the background guide to help the flow of committee. Many background guides also include a letter from the dais at the very beginning, which can help delegates feel more familiar and comfortable with their dais staff.

What are important parts of a Model UN club constitution?

Remember that your club’s Constitution will govern how your Model UN organization operates, so include provisions about requirements for membership. Examples include attendance at meetings, financial requirements, or performance evaluations. It is also important to outline the club’s purpose and how it can better serve the student body. Two other aspects of a strong constitution are finances, how the club will be funded, and other officer positions and roles within the club.

Should I write and rehearse my speeches before committee?

No, rehearsed speeches are a very common pet peeve of many chairs and may result in you scoring lower. One large facet of Model UN is its fluidity. It’s impossible to predict exactly where committee debate will go during the course of a conference, and writing/rehearsing speeches before the beginning of the conference may very well end up being a lot of work for nothing. The only speech you should plan out is your opening speech, but even still, writing and reading verbatim is never a strong strategy. 

Speakers are viewed as more confident and knowledgeable when they speak without notes or without reading directly from a page. If you feel you need to have notes with you for your speech, try writing brief bullet points of ideas you want to incorporate into your speech and using them as a guide while you deliver your speech for reference. Ideally, though, once you are more experienced as a delegate, you will leave the notes behind.

What should I do if I can’t think of clauses to write for a draft resolution?

Try to do further research on your topic and solutions that may have already been implemented by the UN or another relevant international organization. If those solutions have proven successful, try to build off of them in your new clauses without plagiarizing the content you found in your research. If the solutions you researched did not work, try to address ways the failure occurred in your new clause. Many common clause topics are neglected in Model UN and can help strengthen your resolution. These include funding mechanisms, collaboration with other international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and enforcement mechanisms if your committee has those powers.

What are operative clauses in a Model UN draft resolution?

Operative clauses are the actionable orders or recommendations of a Model UN resolution. The purpose of operation clauses is to design a solution for a particular global issue. 

Operative clauses start with an operative phrase, known as active verbs, such as “designates,” “urges,” or “recommends,” and must include actionable items that are realistic and within the jurisdiction of a committee. Examples include the Security Council sending peacekeeping forces to a country or the World Health Organization organizing an emergency vaccine distribution program. Operative clauses can also include subclauses for further depth of information.

Check out our MUN 101 Resolution Writing tutorial for more information on operative clauses.

What are sponsors and signatories?

Sponsors are people who meaningfully contributed to or helped write the resolution. Signatories are people who wish to see the resolution debated, but do not necessarily have to agree with the content in the resolution. Most conferences will have minimum and maximum numbers of sponsors for any given resolution, as well as a minimum number of signatories for any given resolution.

For an in-depth explanation of sponsors and signatories, read our MUN 101 Resolution Writing Guide.

What do I wear to a Model UN conference?

Model UN delegates dress in “Western business attire” (WBA) during all committee sessions at conferences. WBA is business formal attire that business professionals in the Western part of the world are expected to wear. This would include formal dresses, skirts, pantsuits, button-downs, and suits. Ensuring that you are wearing appropriate attire will help you appear professional and well-kept during a conference.

How should I brainstorm committee topics when running a conference?

When running a conference of your own, developing committees is your chance to get creative! Think about TV shows, movies, or books that you enjoy, and how those universes can translate into Model UN committees. You can also even think about topics or situations you have learned about in history class in order to come up with historical committees. If you can’t think of anything, you can always speak to your teachers about interesting historical events that could play out well as a Model UN committee. Additionally, when developing General Assembly committees and topics, you can research organs and bodies under the United Nations (there are a ton!) as well as the issues those real-life bodies are currently concerning themselves with. If that doesn’t yield anything fruitful, you can also read any well-established news source for inspiration about global topics the world faces today.

What Should Happen During a Closing Ceremony?

Closing ceremonies are largely used as a chance for awards to be announced and distributed. Before that happens though, the Secretary General or another high-ranking member of the secretariat will usually give a speech thanking everyone for a great conference and showing gratitude for the work of the other secretariat members, daises, and crisis teams. Then the Secretary General will give the floor to the Undersecretary General of General Assembly, Specialized Committees, and Crisis in order to present the awards for each committee falling under their category. Awards should be announced in reverse order: Verbal Commendation, Honorable Delegate, Outstanding Delegate, and finally Best Delegate. The winning delegates should be instructed to come up to the front of the room to receive their award and take a photo with the dais and/or crisis team for their committee. The closing ceremony ends with a gavel tap from the Secretary General and a brief statement declaring the conference to officially be closed.

What officers should I have in my Model UN club?

Model UN clubs should always have a president and vice president. These roles can also be called Head Delegate and Co-Head Delegate. These students are responsible for overseeing the organization and outlining the direction of the organization. If your club is on the smaller side, these students can also lead training along with the club advisor. If your club is larger, you may want to elect an officer to lead team training. There should also be a treasurer, responsible for managing the finances for the club and organizing fundraising events. Additionally, all Model UN clubs would benefit greatly from a secretary, who manages attendance and keeps track of notes from club meetings. For most schools, advisors are required to book travel plans and communicate with conferences, but if your school allows students to do this, it can be helpful to elect a conference liaison officer, usually with the title of Director of External Affairs. If your school puts on a conference of its own, you can also have the Secretary General of the conference as an elected position.

What should I keep in a research binder?

The short answer is that this depends on you and your committee. Some delegates find research binders to be clunky and hardly ever use them during the course of a conference. In that case, only include the most relevant and important information in a one-pager just to remind yourself about important talking points and statistics. For other delegates, research binders are extremely useful. If that sounds like you, you should include any relevant information you think you would need or want to reference during committee. For all types of delegates, one-pagers on topics, news articles, academic studies, and copies of legislation can all be great sources to include in a research binder.

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