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The Diary of a Model UN Binder Delegate

I am unapologetically a binder delegate. I am someone who leverages the research that I’ve compiled before a conference to change the flow of debate during committee in a way that benefits my position. While it’s a seldom-used Model UN strategy, let me explain the benefits of why and how you should be a binder delegate.

The key to being a binder delegate is understanding that not all research is created equal. What does this mean? Research allows you to take control and change the debate. If you want to influence the committee, you have to make your research worthwhile to you and the committee as a whole. If the committee wants to talk about climate change, discuss banking, finance, and investment. If the committee wants to talk about refugees, talk about economic development in refugee camps. Do the research. Think outside of the box rather than walk into a committee with the same resolutions that have already been tried and tested. What matters most is that the debate becomes one that promotes your advanced, technical resolutions over the more superficial,  “short term” resolutions that the rest of the room proposes. In a room like that, you’ll be the only one ready to speak about your resolution, your plan, and your ideas as if you’re the expert. That’s because you’ve done your research.

You know what you’re talking about–and the other delegates will know it, and the chairs will know it too. That’s what being a binder delegate is all about.

So how does one become a binder delegate? It all starts with research. I’m researching from the day I get a committee assignment to the first committee session. I’m trying to establish “the Plan”––a committee shaking, groundbreaking plan. Try to force the committee to focus on one of the two topics most high school Model UN delegates fear: banking and macroeconomic policy. A good plan should demonstrate an in-depth understanding of one, if not both, of these ideas for each committee, and you should be able to explain what your plan does and why it is so revolutionary in thirty seconds or less. 

Moreover, your plan should be self-financed, which means no NGO funding. This means asking the hard questions and not stopping until you have excellent answers; this means figuring out how to solve the problems your committee is planning to discuss well before you walk into the committee. For me, it means spending hours pouring over UN recommendations, bank charters, policy reports, and economic papers. If you do all of the preparation beforehand, you’ll be one of the few, if not the only one, to walk into a room where the debate centers on refugees and aid, and the first words to come out of your mouth will be “investment banks…”  From that moment, you will have an edge in the committee. While it’s not a guaranteed formula for becoming the leader in the room, it’s a significant leg up that any skilled delegate can quickly turn into an insurmountable gap between themselves and the rest of the committee. In practice, having a well-researched, incontrovertible plan before you step foot into committee will help you dominate both inter-and intra- block politics.

When competing within your block, having an irrefutable plan quickly allows you to position yourself to become the central writer of your resolution.

This is crucial to justify and legitimize your position on being the leader in Q & A.

But beyond that, an ironclad, sound, and a feasible plan become the foundation of the block, which makes you, the paper’s creator, the block’s de facto controller and leader. Because my knowledge and skills on the topic of the debate are so ingrained in my block, I made myself necessary for its survival. This influential position has often granted me (dare I say) almost dictatorial control over blocks, without the cost of looking like a “power delegate”.

The advantages of binder delegate style preparation are even more apparent during mergers. A good plan might be two to four multi-pages with heavily intertwined clauses that work off one another to create your resolution. As these clauses are so interwoven and central to your block’s position, you can easily use them as leverage in a merger.  You’ll often find that many of the clauses of the block(s) you are merging with are merely redundant versions of what you’ve already written, meaning your clauses have a better chance than theirs of making it through the merger. Alongside your preparedness comes better writing and more complex clauses, which can make your contributions and cooperation essential to the merger, especially if you remained consistent and utilized the same plan to lead your block from the start of the conference.

These are just a few ways that being a “binder delegate” can give you an edge in committee. While I know it may seem easier to wait until the night before the first session to read your background guide, I promise you the more effort you put into preparing for the committee beforehand will pay off.

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