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Frequently Asked Questions

The following points include some of the most frequently asked questions about American Model United Nations International (AMUN). It is written both for schools who may be interested in attending the conference, and for new AMUN participants. As with all aspects of AMUN, we will continually seek to improve this FAQ and include more items and answers that are important to schools. Please feel free to suggest updates at any time.

CONTENTS:

Logistical Questions:

Conference Participation and Preparation Questions:

Rules of Procedure Questions:

Conference Departments and Departmental Information:


What is the AMUN philosophy?

AMUN strives to create a simulation of the United Nations which is as realistic as possible, while still allowing for the fulfillment of the educational goals of our participants. In this, we continually seek to find new information about the UN, its member states and the topics discussed, and to include this information in the simulations at every opportunity.


LOGISTICAL QUESTIONS:

When is AMUN held?

AMUN is held late in the Fall Semester to allow schools the maximum time available for preparation. Our Conference Dates are: Thursday – Sunday, October 22–25, 2020 online. The Opening Plenary session begins at 7:00 p.m. CT on Thursday and the Closing Plenary runs from 5:15 to 6:00 p.m. CT on Sunday. The Conference Agenda is also posted on the AMUN website.

Where is the AMUN conference located?

This year the AMUN Conference will be held virtually. When the conference can be held in person, AMUN is held at the Sheraton Grand Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. 

How much will it cost?

AMUN prides itself on being one of the least expensive major collegiate simulations available. Our delegation and per delegate fees are:

Per Delegation: $35

Per Delegate Cost: $58

Please note that this year’s fees have been adjusted to reflect the online experience necessitated by COVID-19. For questions about typical in-person Conference pricing, please contact mail@amun.org.

Are there any social events as part of AMUN?

AMUN certainly recognizes that the social aspect of any Model UN conference is an important element — how else would all of those ambassadors get to know each other better so they can function more effectively in committees the next day? AMUN provides an After Hours Caucusing space when the formal conference is not in session and encourages participants to take advantage of this open space for gatherings.

How many schools attend AMUN?

In 2019, AMUN was attended by over 1,100 participants from 76 schools, representing 109 U.N. Member States and observers making AMUN one of the largest collegiate level Model UN conferences in the world. As of 1 September 2020, there are 43 Schools and 76 Delegations registered for the 2020 virtual conference.

How many students are typically on a delegation?

For the virtual conference, delegations will range from 3-12 students; we anticipate the average delegation will have between 4-6 representatives. Each delegation may seat one representative on each committee to which it is assigned and may also assign a floating Permanent Representative, who oversees the full delegation. Additionally, schools may place a Justice on the International Court of Justice or a Commissioner on the Historical Commission of Inquiry. Many schools will represent more than one country. 

Is AMUN open to graduate and law students?

Yes! AMUN welcomes any college, graduate or professional students to the Conference.

How do I sign up for AMUN?

Registration is easy, and can be done via a webform or email. A $35 deposit is required to hold each country assigned, and this deposit applies to your total fees due during Conference Registration. 

How will I register for the Virtual AMUN Conference?

Registration for the 2020 Conference will be fully online and must be completed in advance of the Conference. Registration will include a unique link and credentials for accessing the online conference platform and MUST be completed in advance. Details will be forthcoming and distributed via email and on the AMUN website.

How early or late can I sign up for AMUN?

AMUN begins registering schools for the next year with an initial Country Lottery at the previous year’s conference. While this is not limited to that year’s participants, it does give the first choice of country assignments to schools who are familiar with and experienced at AMUN. Following the lottery, country assignments are made on a first-come, first-served basis. A continually updated list of Assigned Countries and Available Countries countries is posted online. In 2020, schools must register for a delegation and submit their delegation credentials no later than 12 October.


CONFERENCE PARTICIPATION AND PREPARATION QUESTIONS:

What kind of research should I do before AMUN?

AMUN participants are expected to be skilled representatives of their country by the time they arrive at the Conference. When entering the Committee room, the student becomes the representative from their assigned delegation. In order to fill this role, among other things students must research: their country (including background and current events), the topics of discussion for their committee, the positions of other countries (both allies and adversaries), the AMUN rules of procedure, and the United Nations. 

At AMUN, we recognize that, for many students, diplomacy and international relations are new concepts, and we strive to help your students prepare as much as possible. AMUN provides assistance in this research through the AMUN Handbook. The AMUN Handbook provides a detailed outline of how an individual or a delegation can accomplish the required research and preparation. It further provides a background guide that details the history and current status of each topic, along with a detailed bibliography to assist students in doing additional research

Are position papers required?

There are two types of position papers: internal to the delegation and external, for public use at the Conference. AMUN encourages  delegations to use internal position papers as a preparatory tool. Requiring students to submit position papers can both encapsulate the delegation’s main objectives and also serves as a point of reference for other members of the delegation. Internal position papers can be very specific, talking not only about the country’s public policies, but also about negotiating points and possible diplomatic postures which the delegation can take on each point. External position papers are useful as a public statement of the delegation’s positions, and AMUN requests these from all delegations. Public position papers are published online before the Conference begins and are available throughout the Conference. We have provided Sample Position Papers on the website. Delegations that submit a complete Position Paper by the deadline are eligible for a Position Paper Award

What is purview?

Purview is the designation and limitations of discussed topics within each of the subdivisions of the United Nations. Purview is limited by the powers and authority granted to a committee or council by the United Nations Charter. Purview limitations separate United Nations committees from each other by preventing conflicting statements, defining authority and expertise on specific aspects of broad topics, and breaking up complex issues into separate and more manageable segments. Limitations include making recommendations rather than binding resolutions, or generally discussing a topic rather than a specific incident.

Why is purview important?

One of AMUN’s goals is to simulate the actual United Nations as realistically as possible. In order to meet this goal, simulated committees must remain in purview.

How is purview determined?

While purview is not something readily defined within the actual UN, there are three sources used to understand the allocation of topics between committees and the authority and limitations of each committee on those particular topics.

The first resource is the Charter of the United Nations, which defines the powers of the main bodies of the United Nations. The Charter also addresses the limitation of these bodies to create binding resolutions and their obligations to their Member States.

The second resource is the Agenda of the United Nations General Assembly. The Agenda helps define the topics and how the topics align with the purposes of the United Nations. The Agenda also demonstrates how large issues are broken up between the committees.

The third resource is reviewing previous resolutions passed by all committees on the agenda item. By reviewing previous resolutions on all three agenda items, we begin to see how the topic of terrorism, for example, is split among the committees. Precedent, what a committee can and cannot do, is also indirectly learned by reviewing previous resolutions.

How are draft resolutions used at AMUN?

AMUN strongly discourages delegations from bringing full pre-written resolutions to the Conference. While bringing these resolutions may seem an efficient way to jump-start the body’s deliberations, in reality they short-circuit the collaborative and consensus-building process that is central to AMUN’s educational mission and that reflects the real work of the United Nations.

UN resolutions are usually started by one country (or perhaps a small group of countries) and then circulated to gain broader acceptance. To simulate this practice, AMUN requires resolutions in all bodies except the Security Councils to gain the support of 35 percent of the delegations in attendance before they can be brought to the floor. Also unlike some other MUN conferences, all delegations which sign a resolution are considered sponsors, i.e. a delegation should not sign onto a resolution unless they feel that their nation could vote “yes” to that resolution as it currently stands. This avoids the unrealistic practice of trading votes just to get a resolution to the floor for discussion, and duplicates the UN practice in that resolutions which make it to the floor begin the formal debating process with significant support

What do I do after I finish writing a draft resolution?

After you have written a draft resolution, you must get supporting signatures from 35 percent of your committee’s body. Once you have the required support, you need to submit to the Rapporteur a Resolution Sponsorship Form, with the signatures, as well as a copy of the draft resolution. The Rapporteur will review the draft resolution to ensure it is within purview and follows proper format.

After your resolution has been approved, the Rapporteur publishes the draft resolution. After the Chair announces the draft resolution is available, you may move the draft resolution to the floor. The draft resolution is then voted on during voting procedure.

How do I make an amendment to a resolution?

An amendment can be made to a resolution in one of two ways, by a friendly amendment or a contested amendment.

In a friendly amendment, the amendment is sponsored by all Member States who sponsored the resolution. Once all of the signatures are received, a copy of the amendment is submitted to the Rapporteur, who checks the amendment to ensure it is within purview and follows the proper format. Once the Rapporteur approves the amendment, it is automatically adopted into the resolution.

In a contested amendment, the amendment is sponsored by 15 percent of the body but not all of the resolution sponsors. Once all of the signatures are received, a copy of the amendment is submitted to the Rapporteur, who checks the amendment to ensure it is within purview and follows the proper format. Once the Rapporteur approves the amendment, you can bring it to the floor. The amendment is then voted on during voting procedure.

What is the difference between formal debate and caucusing?

With the vast majority of the UN’s work now accomplished by consensus, AMUN attempts to replicate this process in our simulations by focusing on caucusing and consensus building wherever possible. In the UN, representatives usually give pre-written speeches into the record, with all of the real work being done behind the scenes. We encourage representatives to caucus as much as needed at the conference, and to work toward consensus in their resolutions. Caucusing time (versus formal debate at a microphone) averages around 75 percent in most AMUN simulations, and more than half of all resolutions are passed by consensus, with a vast majority receiving very few “no” votes. Participants are actively encouraged to work to include all members of the body, and not just form blocs and pass resolutions which reflect narrow interests, and which rarely provide solutions to problems.

What services does AMUN offer delegations at Conference?

AMUN is a truly full-service Model UN Conference. We will make every effort to fulfill all of our participants’ needs, from document processing, to providing extra research assistance, or even directions to a particular restaurant in the area. These services are accomplished by AMUN’s Executive Office, Home Government and Conference Services departments.

Does AMUN conduct “Crisis Simulations”?

One of the highlights of each AMUN Conference are the crisis simulations provided in the Security Council and Historical Security Council. Since the Security Council is responsible for all matters of international peace and security, and since the UN Charter states that the Council may be called at any time to deal with these matters, AMUN traditionally creates a crisis for these councils each year. Highly experienced AMUN staff members prepare a simulation which could feasibly happen in some part of the world, given current military, strategic and geo-political considerations. In the Historical Security Council, this often culminates in a variant of one of the key events which occurred in the year being simulated. In the contemporary Council, this could culminate in a crisis exploding in any part of the world currently in conflict. Council delegations are given enough notice to prepare for the simulation, but circumstances may change in a very real time simulation, and Council members may need to respond to events as they occur. For this reason, AMUN expects that representatives on the Security Councils will need to 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 which might be discussed.

Why does AMUN give out awards?

AMUN stresses that the Model UN experience should be an educational simulation of what occurs at the United Nations, accomplished within the constraints of a four day conference. We also strongly feel that the Model UN experience should not be a competition among delegations, with the inherent implications of winners, losers and judging.

Participants do not have any specific, judgeable criteria to follow, but should rather be focusing on preparing, to the best of their abilities, to fully represent their assigned country on the topics under discussion. This broad based preparation should focus on the UN, on a specific country, on one or more specific topics, and on the complexities of international diplomacy. In the end, AMUN hopes that each student will walk away with a unique, participatory educational experience, learning both from their own studies and from their interactions at the Conference. While AMUN does provide awards for the committees and for overall participation, these are based on purely subjective criteria (i.e. the votes of your fellow delegates) and are de-emphasized at the Conference.

Simulations may suffer if recognition becomes a goal rather than an end result of a job well done, and AMUN encourages all delegations to focus in their preparations on being the best representative of their country. Some schools require official recognition for funding, and AMUN provides awards to fill this need.

What help does AMUN provide for faculty advisor or club leaders in preparing participants?

AMUN’s senior staff members are happy to help schools in any way they can both before and during the Conference. This includes full access to the Executive Director and/or Secretary-General at any time, either by email, phone or mail. We pride ourselves on answering all questions quickly and accurately. AMUN has helped new faculty advisors learn the ropes and assisted experienced advisors in working through complex issues which may arise in preparations. We can help with research questions, logistical issues, or any other areas of Conference preparation. Also, AMUN’s Model UN in a Box Simulation guides are sent in the Fall to every registered school. This serves as a supplement to the AMUN Handbook, intended to walk a Faculty Advisor or club leader through the preparation process. This guide includes background on teaching the rules of procedure and on helping students with effective research. It also includes sample simulations, which can be run in a class or club environment as preparation for the Conference.

Does AMUN provide any “prep” conferences?

While AMUN does not sponsor any prep conferences to help students get ready for the AMUN simulation, we strongly encourage schools to hold internal simulations, or to invite other schools in their area to participate. AMUN will be happy to put registered schools in touch with others in their area. Also, if a qualified AMUN staff member resides near a school, we will be happy to put you in touch with that staff member, who may be able to chair a prep simulation for your school or for a group of schools. Finally, AMUN provides a number of resources to assist student leaders and Faculty Advisors. See the Model UN Resources pages for more information.


RULES OF PROCEDURE QUESTIONS:

Where do AMUN’s rules come from?

AMUN’s goal is to replicate the rules and practices used at the UN to the largest extent possible, while still including some additional rules which enhance the educational experience of the students. In an effort to simulate the UN as closely as possible, over the years AMUN staff members have done significant research into the UN rules, including referencing UN proceedings and interviewing UN Secretariat members and diplomats. AMUN’s rules are easy to use in practice, but are fairly complex in writing to cover the mostly unwritten practices and precedents which guide many activities at the United Nations. When AMUN’s rules vary from those used at the UN, this is acknowledged and is only done to achieve a specific educational goal in the limited days of a Model UN simulation. Any changes to the rules are approved by our Rules Committee, which is responsible for maintaining, updating and drafting rules for the body.

Why does AMUN focus on the “will of the body”?

AMUN strives in both our staff training and in our practices at the Conference to focus on the needs and desires of the students who are participating in this educational endeavor. Our committee rules thus focus, as do the rules at the UN, on allowing for the will of the body. As representatives of sovereign nations, AMUN feels strongly that each delegation has the right to pursue their policies as they see fit, directed by their research into that country and by the diplomatic circumstances of the Conference. Our staff, whether on the dais or behind the scenes, will always strive to allow each student the best possible experience. While the needs of the body and the educational priorities of the simulations may sometimes create a situation in which we cannot fully facilitate the requests of a specific representative (e.g. a request to change voting procedures from a simple majority to a 3/4 majority vote), AMUN staff members will at all times attempt to fully explain their rulings on decisions, either before the body or in a one-on-one conversation with the requesting representative/delegation.

Why does AMUN allow different procedural points?

While the UN only allows Points of Order on the rules of procedure, AMUN also allows Points of Information and Inquiry to ask questions or clarifications of the chair, and to ask questions of the preceding speaker. The ability to request information from the chair while on the floor is typically a great assistance to many students who may become confused during the often long and complex proceedings at a Model UN conference. Additionally, the ability to ask questions of a speaker is often a great way to determine other countries’ policies and to get to the heart of a particular topic or issue — while AMUN expects that students will arrive as experts on their country, it is impossible for any given college student to know the policies of all states with whom they may work during the week. For this reason, the ability to question a speaker on the floor is a helpful part of the educational process.

Why doesn’t AMUN use a Speakers’ List?

Unlike the formal proceedings of the UN and many Model UN conferences, AMUN does not use speakers lists, but rather has speakers who are called upon by our trained chairs and dais staff. At the UN, speakers lists are used as a convenience for delegations making formal, pre-drafted policy statements from their governments, often in front of a lightly attended committee. Typically, very little actual debate goes on at the UN during these formal sessions utilizing speakers lists. After an initial round of formal, opening speeches on the topics, most committees will move into much less formal sessions, often done behind closed doors, in smaller groups, and in meeting rooms away from the main session. While a UN Committee will occasionally reconvene for another round of formal debate, it is much more common for all of the work of a Committee to be done behind the scenes. These less formal proceedings then lead into a final session to formalize what was agreed upon, bring a resolution to the floor, make any necessary changes and then vote on passage of the resolution.

Thus, while much of the debate at the UN in New York goes on behind the scenes, by contrast Model UN conferences feature many actual debates, compromises and persuasive speeches that are made from the floor. In not using speakers lists, AMUN allows for more timely debate on a subject, with speakers better able to respond to the subject immediately at hand, as compared to preparing a speech which may not be presented for many hours. This more closely simulates the back room consultations which go on over the course of the year at the United Nations, leading to the final session in which any agreements are formalized in a resolution.

AMUN chairs are trained to recognize speakers in a fair and equitable manner, and feedback from past AMUN participants and faculty advisors has been generally positive on the decision to not utilize speakers lists.

Why can’t committees discuss more than one resolution?

Although the UN technically allows multiple resolutions on the floor at one time, the UN will typically only address one issue in one resolution at any given session. Allowing only one resolution on the floor at a time requires participants to work harder behind the scenes to iron out their differences, and encourages the combination of ideas on a subject from the many bloc groups which naturally arise. Participants are still welcome to discuss multiple resolutions, but these must be brought to the floor for full debate, amendment and voting one at a time.

Why does the Security Council use different rules?

The smaller size of AMUN’s Security Council and Historical Security Council allow these bodies to more closely follow the actions taken by this body in the UN system. The Security Council is a body in which it is paramount to hear the views of all members, since they act not only as representatives of their own countries, but also as representatives of the international community. This often includes both very formal procedures when discussing issues in open session, and often a much more direct and focused approach when in informal session (see description below). Among other areas, AMUN replicates this process in the use of open procedural debate on motions. Interviews with representatives who have sat on the UN Security Council led to the realization that the Council does not use pro and con speeches for debate on motions, but rather allows for full debate on a motion until the body has exhausted what it has to say. In practice, this and other Security Council specific rules give a greater flavor for the uniqueness and importance of the Security Council and its members at the UN.

What is a Consultative Session?

Again duplicating UN practice, the Security Councils spend much of their time in consultative session. As opposed to a typical caucus, consultative sessions usually involve representatives sitting at their places in the meeting but conducting their discussions in a much less formal setting, not constrained by the formal protocols (both in rules and speaking) required in regular debate. Consultative session can greatly facilitate the negotiating process, and much of these Councils’ time can be spent in these sessions, only going into formal session to codify and vote on resolutions and amendments. Consultative sessions may also be used in the Special Committee, which provides a simulation of a different UN sub-committee or specialized agency each year.

What is “germane” to the topic in an AMUN debate?

While many Model United Nations conferences restrict discussion to the immediate item on the floor (the resolution, amendment, etc.) AMUN follows the United Nations practice in allowing the sovereign nations represented to discuss any aspect of the topic area on the floor which they feel is relevant. This may include discussion of the overall topic, of a resolution or amendment on the floor, of another proposed resolution or amendment, or even discussion of moving discussion to another, more relevant topic area. AMUN’s chairs will provide a wide latitude in allowing for germaneness in speeches.


CONFERENCE DEPARTMENTS AND DEPARTMENTAL INFORMATION:

What is AMUN’s Home Government?

Home Government (HG) is the ultimate source of substantive, content specific information at the AMUN Conference. AMUN’s dais staff and chairs are trained as neutral facilitators of the discussion in their body; unlike some Conferences which use a director structure, AMUN chairs do not become involved in the content, leaving that up to the sovereign nations debating in the body. 

Home Government, on the other hand, is intended as a substantive resource should representatives have any questions about specific issues on a topic (resolutions, treaties, etc.) or about their nations’ policy on an issue. While AMUN expects that all participants will seriously prepare for the Conference, limits on preparation time and materials often leads to a situation in which a representative has not previously researched a document that is referenced by someone else in Committee. 

The Home Government staff are trained and experienced researchers with significant resources at their disposal, including a library of books, UN documents, maps, and Internet access to assist in answering students’ questions. Questions can range from “can I see a copy of GA/1234/add.1?” to “I’ve researched my topic area, but what’s my country’s policy on ________?” The Home Government staff may also provide role players to any AMUN simulation if a country, NGO or international expert which is not represented by a school is needed to further discussions. Additionally, the Home Government may provide representatives of UN bodies such as the IAEA, UNICEF, UNHCR, etc. or countries that are not represented at the AMUN conference.

What is AMUN’s Rapporteur Department?

The Rapporteur Department was created to ensure resolutions follow the proper format and the content is within purview. Rapporteurs are placed in committee rooms to help Representatives with drafting their resolutions

What does the International Press Delegation do?

The International Press Delegation (IPD) is staffed by AMUN Secretariat members and will provide journalistic style coverage of Conference events on social media and the online publication, the AMUN Accords. AMUN Participants may also conduct Press Conferences, which may be attended by others and covered by the IPD staff.

How can I participate in the International Court of Justice?

Our International Court of Justice (ICJ) is unlike most other ICJ simulations in that students act as both judges and advocates to the ICJ. First, cases are determined and assigned to individual delegations to argue as advocates. Additionally, any delegation may choose to submit amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) briefs on any case(s) in which their country has a vested interest. Finally, fifteen students are chosen by a separate application process to serve as the ICJ Justices. With the assistance of the ICJ staff, these students set Court procedure and hear each case in oral argument. During the arguments, advocate(s) from each side present their cases before an actively questioning Court, with opportunities for rebuttal. Following the oral argument, the Justices move into closed deliberative session to discuss the legal merits of each case and render the opinion of the Court.

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