How to Prepare a Research Binder for Model UN
The best delegates are usually those with the most information. It is this knowledge, strategically used, that allows them to be key diplomats during a Model United Nations committee session. At those conferences which do not allow electronic devices or internet use, access to information becomes even more critical. To excel in such cases delegates need research binders, to be able to organize information effectively and reach it quickly.
Researching countries, committees, and topics for the conference is the most important thing you will need to prepare. As you have seen, there is so much information available, it can be overwhelming. As a delegate, you will have to learn your country, committee assignment, rules of procedure, and how to write Model UN position papers and resolutions. If all of this data does not get organized into a research binder, you will not have the information you need when you need it. While most things are electronic in nature now, for conferences that do not allow electronics, nothing will be better than having a physical research binder to take with you. Besides, electronic devices will most likely not be allowed informal committee sessions, so it will be best to have all of the information in print form.
This article will help give you an idea of how to create a research binder. We will give you a breakdown of what needs to go in it and give some resources where you can find some of the information. Also, for those who can bring in computers or electronics, this guide can give you useful ideas on how to sort your folders and files.
1) Study Guide/Background Guide
Have a short section of United Nations history here, but not much. Just some major dates and conventions will be useful. Check our articles on UN history and The UN Today for some general information.
You will want to have some good background information about the committees they are representing. What is its mandate? How long has it been around? What are its major accomplishments? Knowing the ins and outs of their committee will ensure that they can focus their energy on the topics at hand.
2) Country Information
For a good idea of how you can prepare research for your country, check out on how to research for Model UN.
As the guide says, don’t go too far back with your research. What happened in your country’s past is important, but will a civil war in the 1950’s effect the outcome of negotiations in your committee. Remember, every country has history, but the UN focuses on the here and now. Your committees will be focused on modern issues that affect the world today, so focus on what your country is doing now and in its very recent past.
4) Treaties, Conventions, and Think Tank Papers
The United Nations Treaty Collection web-page will help you find out which treaties your country is a signatory to. If the topics for your committee concern specific treaties, find them print them out. If your country is a signatory on the treaty then know why. If it is not, then there is probably a specific reason for that. Use the treaty collection page as a resource to begin research.
A list of UN declarations and conventions can be found here. The database can be searched by year or by subject.
Be sure to look for information relevant to your country and committee at some reputable Think Tanks. Some of the top Think Tanks are listed here. Be sure to gather as much relevant information you can that will help you prevail in MUN negotiations.
5) Countries in Relevant Blocks
You will need allies at the conference, but you want to make sure it is with countries your country would usually be allied with. For example, if you represent Ukraine, there is little chance you will be co-sponsoring a resolution with Russia about the need for global cooperation.
Refer to our article that outlines regional organizations. Is your country contained within one of these larger blocks? This is a good place to start looking for allies. What other countries share similar issues with yours? Find them and work with them. If you represent a smaller country, don’t think you won’t be able to form a large voting block to be taken seriously. Have this information in your binder and ready to present during caucuses.
6) Committee Background
You will want to have a complete understanding of what your committee’s mandate and purpose is. Find your committee here on the UN’s website to get started. You will want the following:
- Committee mandate
- Major accomplishments
- Current involvement
- Your country’s involvement with the committee
7) Your Ideas
Have a realistic idea of what your positions will be when you get to the conference. You will know ahead of time all of the topics that will be discussed. You will probably have written a position paper for your country to send to the committee before the conference, so keep the research you used for the paper and put it in the binder.
You will have your research binder and will know your positions. You will know who you need to get on your side as allies.
Make a list of the most important things for your country. You know what positions you will generally take, so be ready to defend them.
8)Rules of Procedure/Points and Motions
After watching this video and checking out our points and motions page, you will have an idea of what to expect. The UN Association of the United States has a page dedicated to rules of procedure and a chart that you should print out and put in the binder for reference.
How to Include Your Own Notes
Many conferences do not allow delegates to bring pre-written resolutions. This could create an unfair advantage to some delegations, especially newer ones. That does not mean that you can’t plan well for what they “think” they may write about.
Based off of the positions that will be up for debate and the research the students have completed, here is a list of things they should have in their “ideas” section of the binder.
Know ahead of time countries who share similar positions
Be ready with facts and information for them
Number and Facts
Have your counties demographics and economic numbers
If the committee is going to discuss HIV/AIDs then have your country’s data about that separate and ready to use
Specific facts from reputable sources are hard to argue against
To get statistics on your country’s demographics, economics, and other vital information, you can go to the UN member list here. The CIA World Factbook is also a good resource. Having factual numbers ready to present during formal sessions and unmoderated caucuses will be powerful during debates. It is hard to argue with facts.
3) Previous Resolutions/Voting History
You need to research how your country has responded to issues within the UN, including resolutions it has sponsored. At the UN Member States, On the Record webpage, you can find the information you need. You can search your country’s sponsored resolutions, general debate statements, and activities within different committees.
When you know the topics that will be discussed in committee, it would be a good idea to narrow your search down to see how your country has responded to those issues recently. Print these resolutions out and have them in the binder for reference.
Current global situations
MUN is a fluid environment and adapts to what is happening in the world
Use this as talking points in a moderated and unmoderated debate
To Sum Up
A one-inch three-ring binder should be sufficient for this information. Make sure to get tabs for each section. Every delegate would benefit from having their own binder. Remember, Model UN is an activity designed primarily to help students gain skills they will use to further their academic careers and beyond. Research skills are a large part of that. By making this research binder, you are doing more than just preparing for a conference. You are preparing for a lifetime of the organization.