Delegate FAQ

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What is Model United Nations (UN)?

Model UN is a simulation of the UN General Assembly and other multilateral bodies. Once a team, or “delegation,” has registered for the conference, it receives a country to represent. Each student on that team will represent that country in a different committee with different topics. In Model UN, students step into the shoes of ambassadors from UN member states to debate current issues on the organization’s agenda.

Delegates attempt to solve real world issues using the policies and perspectives of their assigned country. For example, a student may be assigned the United Kingdom and will have to solve global topics such as nuclear non–proliferation or climate change while acting as the United Kingdom.

While playing their roles as ambassadors, student “delegates” make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the Model UN Conference Rules of Procedure – all in the interest of mobilizing international cooperation to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world.

How did Model UN begin?

While there is no official record of how Model UN began, we do know that Model UN is the successor of a series of student-led Model League of Nations simulations. Some people believe that the first Model UN conference was held at Harvard University, although other colleges claim they held the first conference. Regardless, simulations of international organizations began even before the birth of the United Nations!

What are some of the educational benefits of GWCIA MUN?

For 20 years, teachers and students have benefitted from and enjoyed this interactive learning experience. GWCIA not only involves young people in the study and discussion of global issues, but also encourages the development of skills throughout their lives, such as research, writing, and critical thinking. Through conference organization and committee interaction, delegates gain valuable skills in problem-solving, consensus building, conflict resolution, and cooperation.

GWCIA offers students a chance to educate themselves interactively about international problems while increasing their negotiation and public speaking skills. This dynamic peer-motivated setting is an ideal place for students to apply their knowledge while creating lasting friendships and having fun. The conference attracts students from all areas of study with a great depth of experiences and perspectives provided by delegates and staff from a wide range of academic backgrounds.

Who/what is a GWCIA MUN delegate?

A Model UN delegate is a student who assumes the role of an ambassador to the United Nations in a Model UN simulation through their assigned country and committee topics. Prior to a conference, a Model UN delegate does not need extensive experience in international relations. Anyone can participate in Model UN, so long as they have the ambition to learn something new and to work with a diverse group of people to try and make a difference in the world. A delegate prepares for the conference through research and writing of a position paper. Model UN students often go on to become great leaders in politics, law, business, education, medicine, and more.

What should I do to prepare for GWCIA?

GWCIA participants are expected to be skilled representatives of their country by the time they arrive at the conference.  When walking into the committee room, a student becomes the representative from his/her assigned delegation. In order to fill this role, the student should begin with researching: his/her country (including background and current events), the committee’s topics of discussions, the related positions of other countries (both allies and adversaries), the GWCIA rules of procedure, and the United Nations. GWCIA provides assistance in this research through our background guides, which will be posted on the relevant committee pages.

Who is in my committee room?

Information about the various positions in each committee can be found here.

What MUN terms should I be aware of?

Helpful words to know during the conference can be found here.

What is the difference between debate and caucus?

Information about formal debate, informal debate, moderated caucuses, and unmoderated caucuses can be found here.

What motions and potions are entertained in GWCIA?

Information about motions (used to steer the committee in a certain direction) and points (used to ask questions) can be found here.

How are draft resolutions used at GWCIA?

Like the United Nations, GWCIA does not restrict the drafting of resolutions. Working papers may either be brought to the conference by a delegation or created with other delegations on the floor. A working paper is considered a resolution once it has been voted on and passed by the committee.

More information about working papers and resolutions and GWCIA’s policies towards can be found here.

What is purview? Why is it important?

Purview is the designation and limitations of discussed topics within each of the subdivisions of the United Nations. Purview is limited by powers and authorities granted to a committee or council by the United Nations Charter. Purview limitations separate United Nations committees from each other. For example, one committee may only have the power to make recommendations instead of than binding resolutions, or to discuss a General topic rather than a specific and recent incident. As one of GWCIA’s goals is to simulate the United Nations as realistically as possible, GWCIA committees must remain in purview.

How can I feel more confident speaking in public?

Public speaking is a big component of a Model UN conference and an essential skill to ensure that your nation’s concerns are represented. Speeches are made by individual nations throughout committee sessions. Negotiation can occur on an individual and informal level; however, it is important to present your nation’s views clearly and eloquently to the entire committee.

Make sure you have done your research and that you are prepared. Speaking in front of people can be nerve-wracking no matter what, but if you know what you are talking about, you are going to feel much more confident. Chances are that everyone else is nervous as well, but the best way you can get over your nerves is speaking from the beginning. Remember, the more you practice, the more confident you will be. More information and suggestions for public speaking can be found here.

What does General Assembly (GA) committee procedure look like?

Information about general (non-crisis) committee procedure can be found here. This example is open to change depending on direction from the Secretariat and chair.

How is a crisis committee different from a GA committee? 

As the Security Council is responsible for all matters of international peace and security and may be called upon “at any time,” as codified in the United Nations Charter, to deal with these topics, GWCIA “creates” a crisis for these committees each year. Highly experienced GWCIA staff prepare a “viable” simulation, which could feasibly happen in some part of the world given current military, strategic, and geo-political considerations.

Committee delegations are given enough notice to prepare for the simulation, but circumstances may change in real time and delegates need to respond to events as they occur. For this reason, GWCIA expects that representatives on these committees should be among the best-prepared students at the conference – able to represent their country’s policies on the broad range of peace and security issues that might be discussed. Information about the different positions, portfolio powers, directives, and schedule procedure for a crisis committee can be found here.

What is a position paper? Is it required?

GWCIA encourages the submission of position papers from all delegates. A position paper is a brief research paper that details your country’s policies on the topics being discussed in your committee, as well as possible solutions that could be crafted. Writing a position paper will help you organize your ideas and information gathered from research to better help you share your country’s position with the rest of the committee. While it is not mandatory to submit a position paper, it is highly encouraged, as most chairs use them to identify students who have gone above and beyond in preparing for the conference.

More information about position papers and GWCIA’s policies towards them can be found here.

How should I begin researching for GWCIA?

In addition to the background guides, the links found here are a great resource for further conducting research.

Why does GWCIA give out awards?

GWCIA stresses that the Model UN experience should be an educational simulation of what occurs at the United Nations, accomplished within the constraints of a one day conference. We strongly feel that the Model UN experience should not be a competition among delegations, with the inherent implications of winnings, losing, and judging. Participants do not have any specific, judgeable criteria to follow, but should rather focus on preparing to represent their assigned country on the topics under discussion to the best of their abilities. This broad-based preparation should focus on the United Nations, a country’s stance on issues, and on the complexities of international diplomacy.

In the end, GWCIA hopes that each student will walk away with a unique, participatory educational experience, learning from both their own studies and their interactions at the conference. We like to recognize those students who have gone above and beyond and have stood out in their research, debate, and critical thinking skills. Awards are decided upon by the individual committees’ dais. We give honorable mentions, outstanding delegate, and best delegate awards, with the number of each varying per committee size. GWCIA does not give school/delegation awards. Committee simulations may suffer if recognition becomes a goal rather than an end result of a job well done, and GWCIA encourages all delegations to focus in their preparations being the best representative of their country.

What are the GWCIA dress code guidelines?

All clothing must adhere to guidelines that portray professionalism and modesty. If a delegate’s attire is deemed inappropriate by GWCIA staff, the delegate will be asked to leave the session and return with appropriate attire. Standard delegate attire for the conference is professional business attire: business jacket, slacks/skirt, business dress, dress shirt (with tie for men), and dress shoes. Dress sweaters, shorts, hats, jeans, sneakers, and sunglasses are considered too casual. Clothes that expose excessive bare skin, reveal undergarments, or are otherwise revealing are inappropriate.

It is not appropriate for delegates to display any national symbols such as flags, pins, crests, etc. on their person during sessions. UN symbols are acceptable. GWCIA will not tolerate any delegate’s attempt to portray a “character” using traditional cultural attire as a costume.

Faculty advisors/team leaders, guests, and volunteer staff serve as role models for delegates. Thus, they are required to dress in Western business attire while participating in scheduled conference sessions.

More information for dressing for success at GWCIA can be found here.

What language is used at GWCIA?

English is the sole language used at this conference. You must be able to speak, read, and write in English in order to effectively participate.

What is the Delegate Code of Conduct?

While participating in the National Model UN Conference, delegates have a responisbility to always maintain the highest level of professionalism and diplomacy. Conference staff, faculty advisors, fellow delegates, speakers, as well as non-GWCIA students and staff, should be treated with the highest level of courtesy and respect, including on social media and in electronic communications. Professionalism in speech, actions, and appearance by delegates is a requirement of this conference and necessary to its educational mission. GWCIA reserves the right to restrict future registration for any participant or school, whose delegates or faculty advisors are not able to uphold their responsibility to the Conference’s Code of Conduct.

Does GWCIA provide meals?

GWCIA provides a lunch as well as small snacks during the assigned break periods. GWCIA does not provide dinners; we leave that up to the delegations. Suggestions for nearby restaurants can be found here and here.

What can I do to improve?

You can only understand and improve in Model UN with experience, so continue to look for more conferences and get involved with your school’s program! Here is a big global list of conferences.

Continue reviewing resources from websites such as Best Delegate and UNA-USA. These sites produce articles and guides throughout the school year for beginners, intermediates, and advances delegates and teams.

Best Delegate offers summer programs, private workshops, private coaching, and webinars. They also provide free training sessions for faculty advisors. For more information, click here.