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Return To: Issues at AMUN 2018


The Issues at AMUN handbook is published to assist representatives in preparing for the American Model United Nations (AMUN) Conference. This handbook provides representatives with a substantive overview of the simulations and topics for the Conference. It is intended as a starting point for students’ research on their Member States and the topics under consideration. Its sister handbook, Rules and Procedures, provides an overview of the committee rules and conference logistics with which representatives need to familiarize themselves.

Chapter One: The United Nations provides essential background information to give all representatives a common orientation to the history of the United Nations. This section begins with the origins of the United Nations and covers some important points about its organization and mission. The chapter concludes by highlighting some of the challenges confronting the United Nations today.

Chapter Two: Conference Preparation & Position Papers outlines the recommended process for preparing for the AMUN Conference. Following these steps will place representatives well on their way to acquiring all the content knowledge necessary to be successful at AMUN. Representatives will also find general information about topic purview and position papers.

The remaining chapters contain brief overviews of the topics to be discussed in the various simulations at AMUN. These are intended as a guide and basis for representatives’ further research. In keeping with this goal, each overview includes a bibliography to guide representatives to appropriate sources of additional information. Additionally, at the beginning of each committee’s topic briefs, there is an explanation of the purview of the simulation—that is, what the body can and cannot do. The simulation purview provides context and limits for the goals and actions contained in a body’s reports and resolutions.

The background guides for simulations of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the optional-participation Special Committee contain five key sections: general background on the topic, past UN actions on the topic, current UN action on the topic, future UN actions on the topic and questions to consider. In many cases, the overviews of a complex topic will identify a few limited aspects as the foundation for discussions in the simulation. For example, the general issue of the environment has dozens of subsidiary issues, while the overview may direct representatives to concentrate their research on ozone depletion and limiting the destruction of the rainforests, only two discrete issues. This format allows representatives to go into greater detail in their preparations without needing to research all aspects of a multifaceted main issue and facilitates debate by ensuring all representatives are approaching the same issues.

The background guide for the Contemporary Security Council is somewhat less directive than those for General Assembly and Economic and Social Council simulations. As the Security Council operates with an open agenda and a contemporary timeline, the background guides are intended to introduce some likely topics for consideration by the Contemporary Security Council and to give representatives a starting point for their research. The Contemporary Security Council simulation directors may add to these topic guides throughout the year.

The background guides for the Historical Security Councils and the Historical Commission of Inquiry offer more directive content than the Contemporary Security Council guides. While the Historical Security Councils use an open agenda, the background guide attempts to give representatives a taste of the state of the world as of the simulation start date, which is specified in each guide. These guides also point to the major international issues that were under consideration by the real-life Security Council at the time of each simulation’s start date. The Historical Commission of Inquiry has two defined topics, and the background guide for the Commission is intended to lay out a historical and analytical framework for the experts who will serve on the commission.

The background guides for the International Court of Justice give a basic overview of the three separate cases that will be simulated during the 2018 conference. The guides include a brief overview of important facts for each case, as well as a basic outline of each country’s arguments and most salient points. Finally, the guides both suggest further areas for representatives to research and provide sources to help with that further research.

AMUN’s philosophy in providing these topic overviews is to give participants direction in their research but to leave the difficult work of preparation to them. These overviews are not intended to be the sole source of representatives’ research on the topics prior to the conference.

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