Research, Resource and Preparation Guide
*STARTING AND CONDUCTING RESEARCH (most of this text is quoted from the UNA-USA website, www.unausa.org/page.aspx?nid=517)
The first part in preparing for the Model U.N. experience is to conduct extensive research. It is important to remember that a delegate’s goal is to faithfully represent her/his country, be knowledgeable of the topic at hand, and know about the U.N. system. Most delegates use the Internet for 80% of their research. (UNA-USA has compiled a list of web resources for Model UN participants at www.una-usa.org)
Research is usually broken down into three parts: country information, the topics at hand, and general U.N. information. Of course the general goal is to weave this information together and realistically portray the country that has been assigned to a specific delegate.
When gathering information delegates should research the following:
1. Delegates need to learn enough about their country so they may respond to the issues raised at the conference just as a real delegate from that country would respond at the United Nations. Delegates must learn general information about the country they are representing: its political structure, history, culture(s), geography, people, infrastructure, economics, transnational issues and the country’s allies and enemies in the world and to what formal organizations it belongs, such as “OAS,” “AU,” “EU,” “APEC,” “OECD,” “OPEC,” etc. Some sources to find out country information include:
A. News and media sources particularly focusing on the specific country that is being represented and U.N. activities throughout the world.
B. The country’s permanent mission at the U.N. MUN delegates can find information on the Internet at www.embassy.org. Delegates can also call the missions directly ask them to send them its position statements on the issues or even ask specific questions to find out how a particular country reacts to an issue.
C. Delegates can look on the U.S. State department country reports or call the U.S. State department desk officer for the country and pick the secretary’s brain about the country’s relationships with the U.S. as well as pretty much anything else related to that country and the issues being discussed at the conference. Background notes on each country can be found at www.state.gov/countries/. Another great source of information is the CIA fact book, which is available online atwww.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html. Here delegates can find a lot of general information such as statistics, names of key political leaders, the country’s alliances, etc. The Library of Congress website also has excellent background information on each country, available at www.loc.gov
D. The United Nations Web site has an abundance of information including actual speeches and country voting records – www.un.org
E. General Internet searches. UNA-USA has compiled a list of Internet sources to help facilitate country research.
TOPIC AT HAND
2. Next delegates should research the topic at hand. Many conferences send out background materials called background guides, or issue summaries, which are intended to jumpstart a delegate’s research. In many cases these materials come with bibliographies and questions to consider attached. These provide great starting points for research on the issues. Delegates should further research the general information on the topic, the country’s position about the topic, actions taken to combat the problem, stances of other countries, blocs, etc. Great areas to look for information include:
A. News and Media sources. Delegates should consult the news and media sources listed in the packet under Research Resources. UNA-USA has compiled links to some of the most popular periodicals.
B. The United Nations web site. The U.N. Economic and Social section has a great index to some of the most popular topics. In addition, through the United Nations Documentation Center you can find resolutions and voting records from the current and previous years.
C. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), such as Amnesty International, have a lot of background information and in many cases great internet links to further sources of research. A list of many is provided in the packet under Research Resources.
D. Policy centers of universities. Many topics, especially human rights, have professors and graduate students who are constantly conducting research. See the list in this packet under Research Resources.
GENERAL UN INFORMATION
3. Delegates should not forget learning about the U.N. In many cases this is the area of research is overlooked. It is important for delegates to learn how the organ/agency that they are in operates, know the U.N. Charter, recent U.N. actions on the issue, conferences that have been held, statements by U.N. officials etc.. The U.N. website www.un.org is the best resource to find this information. The U.N. also publishes many books about the specific topics, and general U.N. information, which can be purchased via their web site. If a delegate is in NYC it is possible to even set up a briefing with a U.N. secretariat member, this can be done by calling the Department of Public Inquiries at (212)963-7710.