MUN Bloc Dynamics – Creation, Upkeep and Strategy
MUN is a strategic process with a singular purpose. All of the delegates who attend have the same goal – to pass resolutions that solve problems. It is true that individual awards can be won, but if a bloc cannot come together to produce some form of working paper the whole MUN can feel disappointing. Model UN is a social game. Good ideas cannot become good resolutions unless a strong coalition votes the draft into a reality. Resolutions pass because blocs and alliances get a majority of delegates to vote them through. This guide will analyze MUN committee and bloc dynamics and explain how to manage each of these elements effectively all the way to the final vote.
Building a coalition, or bloc, at a Model UN conference is important, but it can be tough. The building process starts as soon as the conference begins and continues until the final vote is taken. Keeping a bloc together takes serious diplomatic skills. This article will give you an idea of how to create and maintain blocs, as well as how to handle any issues that may come up during a conference.
What is Bloc in MUN?
Definition of a bloc: a combination of persons, groups, or nations forming a unit with a common interest or purpose. *webster
An MUN bloc could be a group of delegates, who have a common goal and want to work together on certain principles and incorporate them into a resolution. A MUN block can be formed based on any common interest such as save values, interests, common enemies, a connection that is regional, cultural, ideological, or any other thing that would unite a group of diplomats.
Just because you have a commonality with another delegate does not necessarily mean you would want to form a bloc with them, selecting who is in your bloc should be strategic and done on a case-by-case basis.
– Get oriented – As soon as the Chair brings the gavel down to start your first committee session, you need to be on the lookout for potential partners. As the opening speeches begin, keep your ears open for delegates that sound competent and whose ideas complement your own.
– Start sending notes – As we discuss in our article devoted to note passing, this is a valuable tool. Why? Because during a moderated committee session you can’t just get up and discuss ideas with other delegates. You have to be quiet and respectful to the delegates who are speaking. As soon as you find a delegate you want to speak to or compare ideas with, start the note process. At the start, it can be something as simple as requesting a meeting during the first unmoderated caucus.
– Speak to your neighbors. You will want to get to know the delegates around you, whether you plan to work with them or not.
– Arrange and organize the first unmoderated caucus. The first unmod will seem chaotic, but it is where initial and potentially conference-lasting relationships are formed. Don’t get left out.
– Don’t be afraid to let go. If you realize a country or delegate won’t work with what you are trying to accomplish, don’t waste all of your time on them. Find new partners.
Interbloc Relations – The Three Rings Approach
We’ve created the Three Ring Model to make the bloc analysis and structure clearer.
- This is the center of the bloc. It contains the delegates who are most involved: the writers, the negotiators, and highly competent idea creators. What are you looking for with inner ring members?
- Oration – Strong speakers that can reach many at once. They are usually also good negotiators with an affinity for speaking with and working in groups.
- Coalition Building and Maintaining – During unmoderated caucuses, inner ring members need to be good at persuading other delegations and maintaining the ones already voting with you.
- Resolution Writing – Inner ring members are active writers and can create original clauses, clean up the writing, and integrate ideas from other delegations into the clauses.
- Members of the second ring will be strong supporters who are invested in the particular clauses written in the resolution. They may be sponsors or signatories, and will be good at getting other signatories on board.
- This ring is filled with less loyal supporters who lean towards voting in favor of your resolution. This could also be filled with newer delegates who don’t have the experience to put them in your inner rings, or it could be delegates who don’t care. Guess what? Their vote counts the same as yours. Be aware that members of your Third Ring can be poached off by other blocs.
- These delegates are not in any of your rings, but they always have the potential to join. They are similar to the delegates in the third ring, but have either not been approached or have not committed to any bloc yet. You can also consider members of other bloc’s third rings as undecideds. Just as your third ring members can be stolen away, you can steal theirs away.
If all of this seems like a strategy game, like Risk or chess, then you’re thinking along the right lines. It is a long game plan for each resolution you are trying to pass. The Second Ring delegates can be used to recruit and maintain the Third Ring. At the same time, they can try to get other bloc’s Third Ring members. Your First Ring members will be the closers of any deal the Second Ring begins with other bloc members.
Meanwhile, be sure that each member of the First Ring knows their role. Chances are, the First Ring delegates are going to be the star delegates, possibly all vying for the Best Delegate Award. Figure out early in the resolution process what the strength of every delegate is.
Can delegates change from ring to ring? Sure. This can be a strategic move. If you are worried that one of your Third Ring delegates is going to be poached off by another bloc, promote that delegate to the Second Ring.
During Unmoderated Caucus
You, or someone you trust, need to keep a bird’s eye view of the whole room during unmoderated caucuses. When you take a step back and look at the room, you will see order rise out of the chaos. There will be multiple blocs, all with their own form of the rings mentioned above. If you get even closer, and really pay attention, you will see delegates move in and out of other bloc’s rings. Sometimes delegations will change rings and move into the land of undecided. Have someone ready to approach these members.
On occasion, a First Ringer will move. If this happens they will likely take some other delegates with them. The split could be for an important reason. The US would leave any delegation that decided to condemn the death penalty because they have the death penalty. If a powerhouse moves, a bloc could fall apart. Be ready to offer something to the delegations that are left behind.
Do not underestimate your Third Ring. They will make up the largest part of your bloc. Keeping them nearby and loyal is important, so you should task-specific Second Ring members with the job of ensuring Third Ring delegates are satisfied. If you sense a shift, give them something. Maybe they want their name on the resolution. Naming them as a sponsor ensures their support, as sponsors are required to vote in favor. If you have to, promote them. The more important a delegate feels, the harder it will be for their loyalties to shift.
Quick and simple tips for maintaining your bloc.
- Don’t ignore anyone
- First Ring members should communicate with Second Ringers regularly. They are your foot soldiers. Since your duties as a First Ringer will keep your busy, you have to keep Second Ringers close so they can maintain communication with the Third Ring.
- If a Third Ring wants to talk, take the time and talk to them. If you brush them off, you might as well be sending them to another bloc.
- Make everyone part of the process
- When you assume that the clauses you write will be accepted by everyone, you are making a potentially dangerous error. First Ring members can get so caught up in their circle that they forget they need everyone else.
- Even if you know the clauses you write will be accepted by others, send a Second Ringer to each Third Ring delegate to update them and ask for input. This is a simple way to keep your allies.
- Amend and lock allies with clauses
- If you want to ensure support from certain delegates you are worried about losing, lock them in by including them in a resolution.
- Consider making them a signatory or sponsor.
- Sponsors MUST vote in favor of the resolution
- Signatories are likely to vote in favor, even though they don’t have to
- Put direct references to Second and Third Ringers into the resolution clauses.
- If they look bored, you can lose them
- If you see that anyone in your bloc looks bored, rest assured that other blocs see it as well. Don’t let them get poached. Get them involved.
- Don’t be afraid to let go
- If you have a Second Ring delegate who is continually trying to get into the First Ring, but they don’t have anything valuable to contribute, you may have to let them go. This type of Second Ringer will want too much without giving any.
Keeping your bloc from one topic to the next
If you and your bloc were successful and passed a resolution on the first topic of the conference, you will probably want to maintain the team you have. It will give you the immediate upper hand for the next topic. If you spent time keeping a good relationship with all three of your bloc’s rings, then upkeep should be easy. Be aware of the following things. Some delegates will leave because a topic may affect their country directly and they may not be able to be involved due to country policies. That is okay because it’s part of the simulation.
Blocs that were not successful on the first topic may fall apart. If you were part of the successful bloc, watch out because they are going to try to attach themselves to your bloc. Figure out which delegates you can strategically use and which ones you can’t.
- As soon as you know your bloc will pass a resolution, start working on other blocs’ delegates. Be ready ahead of time to bring them on board. This will make up for any losses you incur.
- Reward your loyal ring 2 and 3 members. If they did well, think about moving them up a ring for the next topic.
If your bloc was on the losing end of the resolution, don’t despair. It happens. Keep calm and strategize as if the conference is starting again. Seek out a new bloc and get going.
Pros of a MUN Bloc
A MUN bloc’s power grows ever more powerful as the size of the group of delegates grows.
If your bloc has a well thought out game plan they can strategically control a committee session narrative by utilizing each and delegate’s speaker time to advance the blocks narrative and ideals that are in line with their countries policies.
Bloc growth is usually in line with growth in influence on the committee floor, when a bloc leader raises a new idea in committee they already have a loyal following that will back them up.
Remember, with more power comes more responsibility. The higher you rise the harder you fall.
Bloc leaders always need to be well-informed of what is going on so you can run a Successful Bloc.
Having a bloc with delegates with a versatile background will encourage more creativity in your formulation of a proposed resuscitation.
Cons of a MUN Bloc
The power of working together in a bloc is significant when a bloc works well. However, when a bloc doesn’t work well it can sap time and resources from everyone involved. The cons of MUN blocs is when the price is too high to justify the pros.
Energy towards preventing bloc deterioration: Blocs members, especially the bloc leaders, will usually have different interests. Knowing a member could leave, especially if they take others supporters with them, can significantly weaken the bloc. This is why spending excess energy keeping the bloc together, at the expense of not doing other important things, is a con when it comes to MUN blocs.
Decrease in individual effort: As blocs grow some of the delegates in the second ring can feel less involved and often reduce their level of effort. These are the third ring and sometimes second ring delegates. As they feel less reward for their efforts, or that they need to work harder to stay relevant, they may become less involved.
Watered down ideas: Usually happens after multiple mergers of blocs and working papers. When there are multiple bloc mergers and the delegates are all trying to reach a common ground, and combine all the clauses into one working paper. At times bloc mergers often go for watered down ideas to their lowest common denominator.
Stagnation: When there is a delicate balance in keeping countries with strongly different views in the same bloc and supporting the same resolution. When there is a clause that has an exact wording which cannot be changed for fear of fragmenting the bloc you have reached such a point of stagnation. With no ability to amend you bring a lot less to the table when trying to get new supporters or merge with other blocs.
Getting approval from all stakeholders: Making changes can be costly if you need to get everyone to agree. This results in discussions, as well as reviews and new stages of approval. This results in slower changes and less important edits being made. This is usually done to keep the members of the bloc happy and from leaving, but it also often prevents changes needed to onboard new members or make important mergers.
Model UN is not a solo game and the topics being debated and voted on are important global issues. To have a successful conference, good resolutions need to be passed. From the moment you arrive at the conference, you need to start building your team. The upkeep of a bloc is not easy, but it is necessary. With a little effort and smart maneuvering, you can create and maintain a bloc all the way through a vote and with some skill, you can keep that bloc alive the entire conference.