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Taking Ad Hoc Committees in Model UN to the Next Level

Written by Frank Pobutkiewicz

I'm the founder/Managing Director of the All-American Model UN Programs! If you have any questions, please email [email protected]. Happy MUNing!

October 15, 2019

Taking Ad Hoc Committees in Model UN to the Next Level

Ad Hoc Committees of the Secretary-General are becoming more popular with each passing Model UN season. Once a rare sight, conferences increasingly offer Ad Hoc committees to challenge experienced delegates. An ad hoc committee assignment allures senior delegates on two fronts: first, the committee usually attracts other experience delegates, increasing the odds of a better committee experience; and second, because the committee is not known until the day of or days before the conference, no preparation is required—a very enticing proposition for seniors who are burnt out.

Conferences also benefit from Ad Hoc committees. With top tier delegates attracted to one committee, other committees become more enjoyable because so-called power delegates self-identify and coalesce. Another benefit comes in the form of a more relaxed timeline for preparation. Ad Hoc directors need not release background guides months prior to the conference. This advantage, though, is only a single side of a double-edged sword.

High expectations comes with running an Ad Hoc committee. Even if the background guide does not need to be published months before the conference, directors should aim to have their topic guide finished by then so that they can focus on elevating the Ad Hoc experience above and beyond that of a typical conference.

By drawing head delegates and the most experienced students into an Ad Hoc committee, conferences must live up to lofty expectations. A poor Ad Hoc committee can sink a conference if the most senior students return to their schools with a poor experience.

Here are a few ways that conferences can focus on bringing their Ad Hoc committee to the next level, and by doing so, create a buzz in schools about your conference.


Choose an Easy to Understand Committee and Execute Flawlessly

Ad Hoc committees are an advanced offering but do no confused advanced with confusing. Forget about using time machine, alternate timelines, simulations, dreams, advanced technology in your Ad Hoc committee. Stay away from made-up committees, fantasy committees, or anything that requires specific nonfiction knowledge.

When designing an Ad Hoc committee, your goal is to create the best Model UN experience; the Ad Hoc committee should be the jewel in your Model UN conference’s crown.

When choosing a committee, stay in reality. Pick a specific cabinet, organization, board, IGO, or NGO. There should be no confusion about what the goal of the committee is or what powers the committee has. An over-complex design does not enhance an Ad Hoc committee, the experience of delegates does.

Develop in Depth Position Portfolios and Dossiers

Rather than taking extra time to write the background guide, aim to complete the guide as if you would publish it with all of the other committees for your conference. This will allow the directors to use the period between publication and the conference to focus on developing professional, in-depth dossiers for students that outline a character’s history and personal portfolio.

Here are a few tips for writing a well-thought-out dossier. Aim to write four to six pages per position in your committee. Along with giving each character a name and picture—or finding the historic names and pictures—write a 500-word biography of each character that explores their childhood, marriage(s), motivations, education, and professional ambitions. Next, explicitly outline the portfolio of the character and give each person points of contact to write private directives and crisis notes to. For example, a Home Affairs Minister may have purview over national transportation, immigration, agriculture, industry, and policing. Provide examples of activities the Home Affairs Minister will be allowed to conduct in the Ad Hoc committee, and whom they should contact to issue that order. Finally, include some additional pieces of information that only certain characters receive—blackmail or dirt of another committee member, key pieces of information that go beyond the portfolio such as an offshore bank account, unofficial contacts such as mafia bosses, or private company or government memos.

Guaranteed if you give each delegate in the Ad Hoc committee such a vast portfolio when they first enter committee, it will become the talk of the conference. These delegates will dive into the portfolios and show them off to their teammates and advisors.

Get Out of the Way of the Delegates

Some crisis managers/crisis directors like to dictate the story arc of committee. This is helpful when you do not know the level of experience of delegate and want to ensure a specific conclusion to committee. However, in an Ad Hoc committee, you can assume delegates come with ample experience, so let them dictate the committee story.

Likewise, some chairs are sticklers for proper procedure, whatever interpretation of procedure they believe is correct. To enhance an Ad Hoc experience, think through what “procedure” would look like. If your Ad Hoc committee is the US National Security Council, for example, the President would preside but it is unlikely they would be cutting people off with strict speaking time limits. Ad Hoc chairs need to show flexibility and step into their role alongside delegates.

Enhance the Optics with Special Touches

Small gestures go a long way. Your Ad Hoc committee may be a senior’s last high school Model UN committee, or even the last time they ever do Model UN.

Make your Ad Hoc experience the best memory they have by stepping up the offering.

A small budget can go a long way. Print special placards and badges for Ad Hoc members with special designs, buy national flags or large maps for your committee room, offer sparkling cider in plastic champagne flutes, or order lunch for delegates and have a working meeting.

Even without a budget, think about special touches or abilities to enhance the experience. Use technology, like starting a GroupMe or WhatsApp channel to disseminate crisis updates and notes. Make a committee video to be played at closing ceremonies.


All in all, Ad Hoc committees present delegates and staff with a tremendous opportunities to embody a more creative form of Model UN. The structure is more open to manipulation while still maintaining the organized debate provided by parliamentary procedure. Further, given that Ad Hoc committees are typically full of top tier delegates who truly want to be there, these committees can produce higher quality solutions without the the dead weight of delegates sitting in the back row on their phones. So long as the necessary time and care is taken in the planning and execution of such committees, Ad Hoc can yield a truly remarkable Model UN experience for all parties involved.

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