Substantive Information | Print |
Choosing Committee and Agenda Items | Rules of Procedure | Background Guides | Delegate Handbook | Advisors Guide | Awards or Expectations for Performance | Substantive Information: Problems

The second phase of running a successful Model UN conference is structural planning. This stage includes selecting the committees, topics, and means of communication topical information with delegates and faculty advisors. If you are planning a first-time conference, it is a good idea to keep the event small. It is important to make sure that each committee has enough delegates to ensure a lively and interesting simulation. It is also a good idea to choose topics that your committee directors and chairs will be familiar with so that they can provide direction for the delegates during the committee sessions.

The process of selecting committees to simulate is crucial to the success of the conference. You might want to start off with a larger-sized committee like a General Assembly. Holding one large committee also saves money because you will need fewer conference rooms. It is better to begin with fewer committees, because you can always add another committee later if your registration numbers are higher than expected.

During this stage you should decide which rules of procedure to use in your conference's committees. Each Model UN conference uses a slightly different set of rules. You may want to look at different Model UN conference websites to see what types of procedures other conferences in your area are using.

Now is also the time to assign topics to your staff so they can begin drafting background guides. After they are written, background guides should be edited and fact-checked by at least two additional staff members. Staff members should also ensure that guides are written at the proper difficulty level for your conference's delegates.

Choosing Committees and Agenda Items

About a year before the conference, organizers need to choose committees as well as topics that will be debated.

Make sure . . .

  • The committees are timely and relevant to the UN's work;
  • The committees are appropriate for the age group;
  • The committees are interesting;
  • The committees are balanced between economic, social and political focuses;
  • An appropriate number of countries will be represented in the relevant committees (e.g. do not have a General Assembly for only 25 countries). If you have 400 students, have a General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, and Security Council;
  • The topics you would like discussed are actually discussed in that particular committee;
  • You have assigned the appropriate number of topics given the length of the conference. If you have a one-day conference, you should have one topic (two days for two topics, etc.);
  • You have enough space for everybody (in other words, ensure that your venue has enough rooms for your committees); and
  • You have enough volunteers to staff the committees.
To find relevant UN topics and issues currently on the agenda, visit the UN website.

Rules of Procedure

Rule of procedure are the most important thing you provide your delegates. They should be clear, easy to understand, and appropriate for your type of conference. There are many different types of rules out there, so when choosing rules of procedure, keep the following in mind:
  • Most delegates are new to Model UN, so keep it simple.
  • Don't forget to explain the resolution process.
  • If you use another conference's rules of procedure, don't forget to acknowledge it.

Background Guides

  • Background guides are written informational aids for delegates on the topics that will be discussed during a Model United Nations conference.
  • Background guides should be written by someone on your committee staff or borrowed from another conference. If you borrow a background guide, be sure to ask permission first, and credit the conference or organization from which you obtained the guide.
  • Each group attending should receive a background guide.
  • Keep the background guide simple. In many cases, English may not be a participant's first language.
Background guides are brief issue overviews (typically two to six pages long) that describe a topic that will be discussed at a Model UN conference. These guides help student participants (also known as "delegates") understand what they are expected to know in order to take part in a Model UN simulation.

A good background guide will:

  • Introduce students to a global issue;
  • Explain how that issue came about and why it is important;
  • Highlight any important events or international agreements related to the issue; and
  • Pose questions to the students that they should then answer through research and ultimately through negotiation at a Model UN event.
Almost all Model UN conferences give their participants background guides for each committee that students will simulate. Different conferences create their background guides in different ways, though most follow a basic structure.

Delegate Handbook

Why a Delegate Handbook?

The delegate handbook is intended to provide students with all of the logistical and procedural information regarding the conference.

Things to include in a Delegate Handbook:

General Information

  • Tentative Conference Schedule
  • Directions to the Conference
  • Roles at the Conference
  • Rules of Conduct
  • Conference Agenda
  • Dress Code
  • Expectations for Performance

Delegate Resources

  • Delegates timeline and checklist
  • Model UN Skills information
  • Background Guides
  • Research Information
  • Position Papers
  • Public Speaking
  • Resolutions
  • Flow of Debate
  • Points and Motions
  • Rules of Procedure: Short Form
  • Rules of Procedure: Long Form

Advisors Guide

Why An Advisors Guide?
The advisors guide is intended to provide advisors with all of the logistical and procedural information regarding the conference (see the sample advisors guide for more information).

What an Advisors Guide Should Include:

  • General Information
  • Conference Schedule
  • List of Events
  • Information for Schools Traveling to the conference
  • Rules of Conduct
  • Dress Code
  • Expectations for Performance
  • Role of the Faculty Advisor
  • Advisors' Checklist and Timeline
  • Country Assignments
  • Volunteer Needs (if any)
Model UN Skills

  • Background Guides
  • Research Information
  • Position Papers
  • Public Speaking
  • Resolutions
  • Flow of Debate
  • Points and Motions
  • Rules of Procedure: Short Form
  • Rules of Procedure: Long Form
  • Handouts and Activities

Awards or Expectations for Performance

Your conference should acknowledge delegations that do a superb job of representing their country. If your conference supplies awards, you should reiterate to all participants that receiving an award should never be the sole purpose of attending a Model UN conference.

The dais staff and secretariat should judge the delegates. Advisors or delegates can also judge, but sometimes this leads to questions of favoritism. Judges should discuss awards, prior to closing ceremonies.

  • Always try to give at least one award to each school. Obviously, this may not always be an option, but it is especially important to try this with smaller/younger conferences.
  • Make sure awards are fair.
  • Have one person be in charge of coordinating the awards.
Always provide staff with an award sheet outlining criteria and clearly stating what info is necessary for each award (name, school, country, etc.).

Substantive Information: Problems

  • Which Rules of Procedure should we use?
  • Should my conference give out awards?
  • We cannot complete our background guides in time.