Crisis Committees in Model UN
Chances are that if you’ve done Model United Nations before, you’ve heard of or participated in crisis committees. Crisis Committees are usually simulations of small, very specific bodies, such as national cabinets, board of directors, rebel groups, or other ad hoc bodies.
More than that, crisis committees operate at a much quicker pace than traditional Model UN committees. This is because crisis committees must rapidly respond to events happening in their universe, usually acted out by a crisis room. While each conference organizes their staff differently, crisis committee generally have a Crisis Director or Crisis Manager. This person designs fake news updates, prepares fake witnesses for the committee, and creates videos of fake occurrences.
The goal of a crisis committee is to advance the story of the crisis situation. One of the benefits of a crisis simulation is that students get the chance to explore extremely specific instances of tragedy and success. While sometimes a crisis committee simulation may not accurately reflect the happenings of the “real world,” the goal is to expose students to a highly elevated, “crisis” scenario.
Inside a Crisis Committee
One of the first things that you’ll noticed when you participate in a crisis committee is that fewer students in the simulation. Traditional Model UN committee can have anywhere from 50-400 students in a room. It would be unusual to find a crisis committee with more than 25.
Tip: Get to know everyone in your crisis committee and become friends with them! You’re going to spend a lot of time with a small group of people; you may as well enjoy it!
Debate flow differs drastically from traditional Model UN committees. Rather than use Parliamentary Rules or UN rules, crisis committees are much less formal. Most will take place entirely in a permanent, moderated caucus. This allows students to rapidly comment on crisis updates, speeches from other delegates, and plans, or Directives, being written by the committee.
(Don’t worry if you don’t know what a Directive is, we’ll cover it later on in Lesson 4: Documents in Crisis: Directives and Press Releases.)
Flow of Debate in a Crisis Committee
The cycle of debate in a crisis committee is much quicker than a traditional committee. A traditional committee is typically tasked with dealing with one, complex issue. Crisis committees, by comparison, must respond to a series of interconnected events.
Here’s what the flow of debate looks like in a typical crisis committee:
- Opening of Debate/Committee: the chair will likely propose a broad topic, or ask for a broad topic, that the committee will begin to discuss.
- First Crisis Update: The crisis room will introduce the first “crisis” to the committee. This could come in the form of a news update, intelligence report, cataclysmic event, or something similar.
- Debate: Immediately following a crisis update, it’s common for the committee to open moderated debate to discuss the update. The purpose of the debate is to write a Directive or Press Release to respond to the crisis update. Sometimes committees will go into unmoderated debate to assist in the writing process.
- Directive Introductions and Voting: Within 10-30 minutes, the committee should have at least one directive written. These directives will be introduced at the chair’s discretion, debated, and voted upon.
- New Crisis Update: Either before voting on directives or directly afterwards, the crisis room will provide another update, usually in response to the action taken by the committee
- Rinse and Repeat.
Tip: Every time that a crisis update is introduced, choose a side quickly and propose taking action! Work with the rest of the committee to refine your idea, but always make sure to propose action to move the committee forward!