How to Effectively Represent Your Country in Model UN
If someone switched your placard and you could still give exactly the same speeches and write the same clauses you are doing something wrong.
Arijan Maldec, USG Chairing
What is the difference between a good delegate and a great delegate? The ability to show that what you are doing is in line with your country’s policy. Doing so adds another layer to how you present and shows how other delegates are not researched if they are missing this level of country representation. In a veteran room full of great delegates the decision of who gets a diplomacy award is usually decided by who did the best job of showing they represented their country.
A delegate can have:
The scary part is that a delegate can do all these things without saying anything about their country or why they chose the policy they did.
This article is going to fill in the missing element of country ownership. It will answer the questions “How do I show that I know the position or my country?” and “What is my driving force?”. The article will teach how to identify and present your position. It will also teach you how to find your country’s ulterior interests. The interest and drive of your country is important because even if the policies, or discussion, goes differently than planned, you still have a general goal to work towards even if the situation changes.
What is Country Ownership
Owning your country is knowing, and showing, that you know why your position is the correct one for your country. This is done by using facts, and examples, about your country to justify your position on the topic. This is first done by establishing your policy margins and later by sticking to them.
Important: You do not need to make anything up
There is always a way to find a connection to the topic . You should never have to fabricate anything. The skill is knowing how to research to find your country’s link to the topic and turning that into a coherent position.
Some countries, like the United States and United Kingdom, have a lot of information available about them. Being an open press, and a large amount of material in English, some countries have policies which are very easy to find. For these countries, it is usually less about finding what the policy is than properly defending it.
Other countries, like Chad, Paraguay or Laos have little to no information available. In these cases, you will not find a clear policy on most issues. This is not only because they are not written, or catalogued, in an easy to find place on the internet. It is also because some countries are just like politicians. They do not want to make promises, or commitment, on certain issues to be held to them later.
You are Uruguay and the topic is combating ISIS. This is what you will find in your first google search.
As we can see, there are only 744,000 results (“USA ISIS” has 27,300,000) and the top articles are not relevant and from 2014. At this point, many a country would say “I have nothing to say on this topic”. You should banish those words from your lexicon.
You may not find anything about Uruguay and ISIS because peacekeepers from Uruguay are not sent there. It could be because Uruguay doesn’t have an issue with Muslim extremism. It could be because ISIS is half a world away. This does not mean you have nothing to say on the topic. It simply means you need to cast a slightly broader net.
Instead of looking for Uruguay and ISIS, research the relation between Uruguay and terrorism as a whole. Find what the Uruguayan policy is on global terror and you will have a direction for your policy and research. While the link is not obvious, it can be found and justified with examples.
As seen in the example above about Uruguay and ISIS, even though there is no direct link or policy, finding the relation and examples to justify it is not difficult.
Another example is shutting down nuclear reactors. Angola may not have an issue with reactors, aside from a loose pledge to build them. However, researching the amount Angola allocates to green energy and renewables, versus coal and traditional energy, can let you know if your country could be pro-nuclear or not.
Understanding Your Position Using the MUN OLaF Method
Are You OLaf?
Our first speech needs to introduce who we are and why we hold the position we do. This is to justify to the chairs all future actions while letting allies and opponents know where we stand. However, some countries need no introduction. For example the United States on North Korea’s nuclear program or Serbia on recognizing Kosovo. In such cases, you do not need to state the position that everyone knows but rather justify why it is the right course of action. You may as well as you cannot change it.
There is a scale which you will need to use when establishing how to present yourself to the committee. You will be somewhere between completely introducing yourself and spending all your energy justifying a position that was imposed on you by your country’s policy. You will be somewhere along this line and will use the Olaf Method to find your place on it.
Introduction —————————v——————————— Justification
OLaF stands for Obvious, Likely and Flexible. If your connection is Obvious you will need to spend your time justifying the position that is set in stone. If your position is flexible you may need to create a position and justification from scratch. As you will see below, there is always a way to connect yourself to the issue and present a strong position if done right.
The OLaF Method
The Options For Your Countries Connection Are: Obvious , Likely , and Flexible
“When everyone knows your name”
Your position is obvious when everyone knows, or can easily research, your position.
United States on private gun ownership
Saudi Arabia on abortion
North Korea on externally supervised elections
China on Tibetan independence
Sometimes the rationale can be clear. In others all you have is how your country voted on the specific issue with no rational or justification for why, for example Bangladesh being completely against Catalan independence. In such cases, spend little time on what your position is and all of your time building a case to show the position you already have to be a legitimate course of action.
“I’m pretty sure that’s your position… Right?..”
Where other countries have a general idea on your position but aren’t completely sure.
Germany not wanting to send troops to fight ISIS
Ethiopia’s position on environmental protection vs industrialization
Ireland wants to keep open borders with Northern Ireland
If you’re justifying what other countries expect, spend part your first speech supporting your expected position and move on to develop your case.
If you’re going for the less likely side, you should spend more time (at least first 2 speeches) justifying why your position is different from expectation, after which you move forward with your call to action.
“Who are you again?”
No one has any idea where you stand on an issue.
Chad on establishing global marine biodiversity targets
Argentina on the danger of terrestrial collision with near-earth objects
There are two reasons to end up in the flexible camp:
1. A case where your country has no direct relation to the topic
Example: Chad on establishing global marine biodiversity targets
2. When there is an equal case for going in either direction
Example: Turkey supporting / not supporting the Kurds against ISIS
In both cases, the most important part is facts and examples. Use them to show why there is precedent for your position. Establish a clear linkage with that past situation and today’s case. Show how the examples you are showing support your case. Prepare to defend your stance if challenged.
How to Show Your Connection in Your Speeches
Go to your CIA of your opening speech. In the “Information” section use facts about your country. It does not need to be every “I” but every 2-3 of them should be giving information about yourself, instead of a general example, to help justify your clash or call to action.
Important: Information about your country, for the sake of having some facts about your country, is a waste of time and the equivalent of being off the clash.
“Jamaica, with a proud history of independent rule since 1962, can now also boast the fastest man in the world!” (On the topic of Human Trafficking)
All information has a purpose and the information you bring about you should still be used to drive the general case. If you can do both there is no reason that tie “I” can’t be about you.
The “I” about you can be:
information to show precedent
Information to justify a specific policy
Using examples about you will:
a. Justify your policy margins
b. Bring to light facts to establish the world
c. Show, and keep reminding, that you know about your country
Repetition is key. Just as with anything important in Model UN speeches, keep stringing your country ownership throughout your speeches. Continue this throughout the simulation.
The Benefits of Owning Your Country
1. Chair knows you researched
2. When you justify your policy margins you are rarely challenged on your position
3. Delegates will see you as a researched authority
4. Delegates may even ask you what their policy should be
How do other countries see us?
To understand how other countries look at you, follow the following steps.
Look at the name of the topic being discussed
Look at the name of your country
See what impression hits you
Remember that many delegates (especially beginners) minimally research other countries
Your first impression of you may be the only impression for all the other delegates
From this point on it is your job to educate everyone using the following criteria
Owning your country is what will separate you from good and well-researched speakers. When playing a diplomat, not representing your country is a huge error in strategy and doing that part well can be the difference between Honorable Mention and Best Delegate.
The WAK Method for Finding Your Motivation
Every country can find a connection to the topic being discussed. Motivation and interest can always be found. The questions is if it this connection is a positive one or a negative one. The key is to show how you have the most relevant connection to the topic and why you should be one of the block leaders.
Thinking Like A Delegate
Pretend you are a delegate for your respective country at the United Nations. You know that your role as a delegate representing your country at the United Nations is only a stepping stone in your professional career. There are many positions above you, with more power, more responsibility and higher pay. You could continue in local politics or in the United Nations. To advance you need to do a good job with the job you are doing.
Look at the Model UN topic at hand. It is your job to use the UN platform to make sure to your country’s interests are pushed forward, or at least make sure you do not lose out. You need to advance the interest of your country, as well as solving the global issue, when you choose the policy to put on the draft resolution. When you are writing the clauses, keep at the back of your mind that doing a good job with this resolution, where your country gains, will get you promoted. If you do a poor job you will get fired or possibly thrown in prison.
Model UN allows us to represent our countries without personal favors, or the “knowing a friend of a friend of the family” that got us our position. This give us the opportunity to present our country’s interests in the purest form with other national interest. This remains true even if that interest isn’t “nice”. The WAK formula will help you find your interest within the topic and help you understand how it should drive your motivations and actions.
The WAK Formula for Finding Your Connection to the Topic
In Model UN every country should claim that they have the most relevant connection to the topic, and therefore should have the most say. To show that you should be among those most connected, you need to show why your interest comes first. You interest is always one of the following three. You don’t always need to say it but you do always need to know it. Once you have it, use your Model UN speaking and persuasion abilities to show why it needs to come first. WAK stands for Want, Afraid and Know, which will be elaborated on below.
The W.A.K. Formula
I WANT it
I’m AFRAID of it
I KNOW it
I WANT it
The outcome of the topic benefits your country.
Topic: Cloud Seeding
Connection to the topic: If chemical rain is used for farming, one plane can cover a giant area cheaper, faster and more efficiently. If you are a poor country which does not have cloud seeding, or a water deprived one such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), you want this technology to water more local agriculture for the citizens of your country.
How to show it: The UAE can offer a clause to allow unregulated cloud seeding to countries without water. Representing all dry countries could work towards getting a majority. If the clause passes, you now brought more water to the UAE.
I’m AFRAID of it
The outcome scares you.
Topic: Cloud Seeding
Connection to the topic: While cloud seeding can benefit the country that uses it, the neighbor of an authoritarian country may fear that their neighbors may use the same planes to poisons their clouds or harm them. Another fear can be that chemicals which go through minimal testing may be used en masse to benefit the corporations which sell them. This fear of misuse, or of untested chemicals causing long term damage, is a fear that results from your neighbors using unregulated cloud seeding technology.
How to show it: Give a speech about how chemical rain is used for farming with only short term benefits but destroys the land long term. Talk about the short-sightedness of newly industrializing countries. To counter it, sponsor a clause which calls for a five year trial period on a limited scale in a country far from your own. If this passes you averted potential disaster near or in your home.
I KNOW it
Past experience makes you an expert.
Topic: Cloud Seeding
Connection to the topic: Vietnam can speak against the unregulated use of cloud seeding. Vietnam can bring the example of how the United States used cloud seeding attempt to extend the monsoon season for nefarious purposes from March 20, 1967 through July 5, 1972 specifically over areas of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This intervention with nature made life more difficult for many. The same technology can be used in an even more targeted and destructive manner today.
How to show it: Vietnam can offer a clause about how a global body should be tasked with giving out the chemicals and can cut off the supply at any time. If this clause passes, Vietnam will get credit for regulating the use of chemicals whose forebears hurt the Vietnamese in the past.
Topic: Cloud Seeding
Connection to the topic: Germany has agricultural areas which use precision farming, such as the wine-growing areas in southern Bavaria. Germany can say that it has experience in manipulating nature to provide better, cheaper and safer results than through cloud seeding. The German delegate can have the interest of selling German technology. They can also try to keep artificial enhancers, and genetically modified organisms out of the market. In either case, preventing cloud seeding could serve their countries interest.
How to show it: Germany can sponsor a clause which helps improve agricultural output using precision farming, or a different locally created technology which isn’t cloud seeding. Germany can highlight their expertise to show how they benefit without using such technologies. Passing this, if flagged properly with the chairs, will get Germany credit.
Taking this case a step further, Germany can join forces with some “I am Afraid” countries and, together, they can merge their clauses to prevent cloud seeding for a very different reason.
The dangers of not owning your country
- Chairs and delegates can wonder why you are saying what you are saying
- If you give no facts, others can choose facts about you to publicly set your policy for you.
- If you give no justification to your position, others can use facts about you to show you are off policy, even when you aren’t.
- Another delegate can frame the situation, tell you where you stand and you’ll be fighting to own your identity instead of deciding policy.
The Model UN triangle is what you should consider when coming up with the policy ideas for your clauses.
Fits your countries views = The policy is according to your interests.
However, before we learn about our country’s interest we need to learn how to find our relation to a given topic and how to show it.
Speech time is precious. We have many birds to hit and minimal stones to throw.
Ownership of our country can be done with facts that further our case. Remember how others see us and our position. Prepare accordingly depending on how obvious your position is.
Always speak and repeat your points, even when your side seems well represented. Make sure to be a policy leader, even when your side seems well represented. Finally, it is not enough to show a link between your and your topic. You also need to know what drives you and once you find it, follow it.
Showing your chairs who you are, sticking to it and formulating and passing policy is what defines the greatest of Model UNers. When you know how to own your country you will be among the highest level of Model UN delegates. Effective ownership, together with the mix of skills that you need to perfect as a Model UNer, will have you well on your way to getting there.