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Return To: The 2020 AMUN Handbook

Introduction to the Security Councils

The Security Council’s primary responsibility is maintaining international peace and security. It has the power to employ United Nations peacekeepers and direct action against threats to the peace. Fifteen Members sit on the Security Council, including five Permanent Members (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) and 10 at-large Member States which the General Assembly elects for rotating two-year terms. A majority in the Security Council consists of nine Members voting “yes;” however, a “no” vote by any of the Permanent Members has the effect of vetoing or blocking actions.

While the Security Council only meets to discuss topics concerning international peace and security, there is a set agenda in each of the Councils for the 2020 Conference. The available agenda topics have been established by the Simulation Directors and are listed in the AMUN Handbook and on the AMUN Website. The Agenda for the Contemporary Security Council will be finalized as of 9 October 2020, and all schools on the Contemporary Security Council will be notified of the final agenda topics. Only the topics covered in the AMUN Handbook and in subsequent fall updates for the Contemporary Security Council may be discussed at the 2020 Conference.

Nevertheless, representatives on the Contemporary Security Council must have a broad knowledge regarding current events in the international community. Periodicals and online sources are some of the best sources available for day-to-day updates. Recommended sources include: The New York Times, United Nations Chronicle, The Times of London, Al Jazeera, the Mail & Guardian, Foreign Policy and The Economist. The UN Wire is an excellent resource for timely information, and one good way for representatives to stay abreast of the most recent reports published by the Security Council and other relevant United Nations bodies.

Historical Security Council (HSC) representatives should approach their Council’s issues based on events up to the start date of the simulation and should do their research accordingly. It is strongly recommended that research be done using historical materials whenever possible. The world has changed dramatically over the years, but none of these changes will be evident within the chambers of the HSC. While histories of the subject will be fine for a general overview, representatives should peruse periodicals and other primary sources from three to five  years before the year in question to most accurately reflect the worldview at that time. Periodicals contemporary to the period, which can be easily referenced in a Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature or the New York Times Index, will provide a much better historical perspective and feel for the times than later historical texts.

AMUN’s Security Council simulation philosophy AMUN’s Security Council simulation philosophy

One of the core principles of AMUN is to mirror the practice and dynamics of the United Nations as much as possible. To that end, AMUN strives to create and conduct simulations that are a realistic representation of diplomacy at the United Nations and the broader international system. We believe this commitment furthers AMUN’s aim to create a fair and fun experience for all representatives and that it enhances the educational mission of the organization.

This commitment to realism is especially important in Security Council simulations where representatives respond to an alternate timeline, and reality shifts depending on the Council’s actions. Representatives are therefore asked to act within the realm of the possible.

Simulation Staff are always available to consult with representatives as they work through their diplomatic options. Representatives are encouraged to seek out Simulation Staff to act in the home office capacity when they need to supplement their research on a situation. Simulation Staff wear many hats, including acting as an in-house resource for representatives about their countries and the topics at hand.

All actions (as opposed to statements) proposed by Council Members must be approved by AMUN’s Simulation Staff, who are charged with managing each simulation’s timeline and alternate reality. As a rule, the Simulation Staff will give representatives a wide latitude in decision making. However, the Simulation Staff may deny a certain action if it falls outside of the bounds of reality or would negatively impact the realism of the simulation for all participants.

For every issue before the Council, each Member is faced with a variety of options of how to react and what policy line to take. A realistic simulation will consider only those options that would have reasonably been on the table for a State at a particular moment in time. In other words, there will always be options States do not consider or dismiss out of hand because they have limited capabilities or due to historical, cultural or political constraints; in a realistic simulation, these options are not appropriate. These unrealistic approaches will not be permitted at AMUN.

This commitment to realism does not mean that simulations have a set trajectory they must follow. In the HSCs there will certainly be many deviations from historical timelines, and re-thinking the way diplomacy played out in the past is encouraged. The same is encouraged in the Contemporary Security Council. As situations change, so do the options and attitudes of the Council Members and other countries. There are near-infinite possibilities within the bounds of realism, and our Simulation Staff will help representatives work through their options.

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Declarative statements and operational decisions Declarative statements and operational decisions

Security Council Members are able to make declarative statements and operational decisions that will affect the course of the simulation; this ability to change reality makes these simulations different from other simulations at AMUN. Council representatives must actively bring their State’s policies and capabilities into the simulation. Representatives are welcome and encouraged to make declarative statements—including real or implied threats and deals—that do not carry operational implications outside of the United Nations; however, representatives must always consult with the Simulation Staff before making any operational decisions.

Operational decisions include any actions that would have a real-world effect outside of the United Nations, including, for example, the announcement of movements of, or actions by, national military forces. In these cases, the Simulation Staff act as the home office or government of the involved Member States(s).

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Parties to the Dispute Parties to the Dispute

Sometimes other States and organizations will be involved in the deliberations of the Council as Parties to the Dispute.  It is customary for the Council to request the presence of relevant Member States during discussion of a topic relevant to that State’s interests, however it is not required. During the 2020 Conference, most Parties to the Dispute will be supplied by the AMUN Secretariat in the Home Government Department. There may be some limited opportunities for AMUN delegations to participate in the Security Councils as Parties to the Dispute; these will likely be arranged in advance with the AMUN Secretariat.

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Roleplaying in Historical Security Councils Roleplaying in Historical Security Councils

AMUN’s HSCs are unique not only in their topics, but also in their treatment of those topics. History and time are the HSC’s media, and they are flexible. History will be as it was written until the moment the Council convenes; the start date for the historical simulations is provided later in this chapter. From the start date forward what transpires will be dependent upon both Council Members’ actions and Simulation Staff decisions. Council Members are encouraged to exercise free will based on the range of all the choices within their national character, upon the capabilities of their governments and within the bounds of realistic diplomacy.

Effective roleplaying for an HSC Member State will not just be a routine replay of national decisions as they evolved in that year. Indeed, the problems of the era may not transpire as they once did, and this will force active evaluations—and reevaluations—of national policies. Thus, it cannot be said that the policy course a government took in that year will necessarily be the wisest. Even were circumstances the same, it is not a sure thing that any given government would do things exactly the same way given a second opportunity to look at events. History is replete with the musings of foreign ministers and heads of state pining for second chances.

Both HSC simulations will follow a flexible timeline based on events as they occurred and as modified by the representatives’ policy decisions in the Council. The Secretariat will be responsible for tracking the simulation and keeping it as realistic as possible. In maintaining realism representatives must remember that they are roleplaying the individual assigned as their State’s representative to the United Nations. They may have access to the up-to-the-minute policy decisions of their States, or they may be relatively in the dark on their State’s moment-to-moment actions in the world.

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Other Aspects to Consider Other Aspects to Consider

  • Council Representatives must actively bring their country’s policies and capabilities into the simulation when discussing problems and issues before the Council.
  • Representatives should consider the cost of involvement by the United Nations. An increase in costs often causes the Security Council to re-prioritize its efforts.
  • Sovereignty and the role of the Council and the United Nations are also key points to consider. While state governments often do not want international meddling in what they feel are national policies or disputes, this in no way lessens the responsibility of Council Members to make the effort and find ways to actively involve themselves in crisis solutions. This task must, however, be accomplished without violating the bounds of the Member States’ national characters.

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Background Research Background Research

The following sections offer brief synopses of the main international situations facing the Security Councils. For the Contemporary Security Council these briefs are current as of summer 2020. Information for the Historical Security Councils covers information available up until the respective start dates of each simulation. AMUN recommends that representatives have a solid foundational knowledge of the background of major international issues. The topics laid out in this handbook are provided as a starting point for further research.

 

 

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