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Simulations, Roles, and Roleplaying

Simulations, Roles and Roleplaying Simulations, Roles and Roleplaying

The AMUN Conference is a simulation of the United Nations. By its very nature, the quality and tone of debate will be different than at the United Nations in New York. AMUN’s policies, topics and Rules of Procedure are all designed to enhance the educational value of the simulation. Each person involved at AMUN, from representatives to faculty advisors to members of the Secretariat, has a role to play in ensuring a successful simulation. This chapter outlines the various roles and responsibilities of Conference participants.

AMUN Philosophy and the Realism of Simulations AMUN Philosophy and the Realism of Simulations

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

For any issue before the United Nations, each Member State or Observer State will have a variety of responses available to it; however, 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.

In conjunction with our policy on delegations that are “Out of Character,” AMUN members of the Secretariat will work with representatives to ensure the highest-quality, most realistic simulation of the United Nations as possible while still allowing room for innovative and creative thinking to open up new possibilities for the United Nations and the international community.

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The AMUN Secretariat The AMUN Secretariat

The AMUN Secretariat is made up of college students, graduate students and professionals from a variety of fields. All staff are highly experienced in Model UN-ing, both as representatives and staff members at previous AMUN simulations or other Model UN conferences. Secretariat members will chair the committees, serve as Simulation Directors, and Rapporteurs; direct the International Press Delegation and the International Court of Justice; and run the Home Government, Conference Services and Executive Offices. Secretariat members will be able to answer any questions that representatives or faculty members have about AMUN or direct them to someone who will be able to answer their questions.

The Secretariat will also be available at after-hours functions. They will encourage all representatives to move all gatherings to designated areas and to not become disruptive. They will intervene with the hotel, when possible, in disputes between the representatives and the hotel. In the interest of an orderly conference, please follow all directions of Secretariat members.

Executive Office Executive Office

The AMUN Executive Office includes the Executive Director and other senior members of the AMUN Secretariat. This is the primary point of contact for participating schools throughout the year. At the Conference, the Executive Office handles all financial and registration issues, makes changes to credentials as needed, is available at Faculty and Permanent Representative meetings and conducts the lottery for country assignments for the next year’s Conference.

Home Government Home Government

The AMUN Home Government Secretariat is available to help representatives provide an accurate roleplaying experience at Conference. See Chapter 2 for a detailed list of how Home Government can assist representatives during the course of the Conference.

Conference Services Conference Services

Conference Services is the all-purpose information hub for representatives and faculty. Visit Conference Services, on the Ballroom level, to find helpful information about the Chicago area and all things related to the Conference.

The staff will answer your Conference-related questions and provide Conference handouts. Conferences Services is the place to purchase AMUN memorabilia to commemorate your AMUN experience. Conference Services also prints replacement credentials for representatives and faculty advisors. Those applying for AMUN staff can submit their applications at Conference Services.

Dais Staff Dais Staff

Members of the AMUN Secretariat assigned to all simulations except the International Court of Justice and the International Press Delegation are referred to as Dais Staff. The specific makeup of a dais team will vary depending on the type of committee. Generally, resolution-writing bodies will have chairs or presidents who facilitate debate through the use of the AMUN rules of procedure and rapporteurs who assist the committee with the resolution process. Report-writing bodies that submit a report to a plenary body will have presidents to facilitate debate and rapporteurs who will guide the body through the reporting process. In the Security Council and Historical Security Councils, presidents and vice presidents will facilitate debate through the use of the AMUN rules of procedure and assist representatives with the processing of resolutions and presidential statements, and simulation directors will act as the primary source of information for the Councils, including acting as the Home Office for the Councils’ participants.

International Court of Justice Staff International Court of Justice Staff

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is run quite differently than other simulations. The Court is structured and directed by the Justices who participate in the simulation. The AMUN Secretariat members, the ICJ Director and ICJ Registrars, guide the simulation by providing advice about the structure of the simulation and supplemental research to the Justices.

International Press Delegation Staff International Press Delegation Staff

The International Press Delegation (IPD) is staffed by a Director and Editors who work to produce AMUN’s Conference newspaper, the AMUN Chronicle and keep participants informed about the functions of AMUN via social media. Editors are responsible for assisting reporters in reviewing articles and for suggesting any corrections to spelling, grammar, or style for all articles in each issue. The Director is responsible for making final corrections, passing articles to the Publisher for inclusion in the Chronicle, submitting the final version of the Chronicle to the Executive Committee and Executive Office for approval, and for publishing the Chronicle.

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Delegations Delegations

Delegations are, collectively, the group of people who represent a United Nations Member State or Observer State at the Conference. A school may field more than one delegation; delegations from the same school may share a faculty advisor and meet together after-hours, but their in-character actions during the simulation should be based on their countries’ respective policies. Delegations can range in size from 5 people to more than 20.

The leeway allowed by roleplaying and simulation does not give delegations license to act “out of character.” Representatives should research and generally follow the policies of their State, modifying these as new circumstances dictate. Successful roleplaying involves walking a careful line on policy, avoiding the extremes of either reading verbatim a State’s past statements or creating an ad hoc policy with no previous basis.

The Representative The Representative

Well-prepared representatives are critical to the success of any Model UN conference. A delegation’s job is to research the positions of a United Nations Member State or Observer State, both on the specific topics that will be discussed at the conference and for a general overview of that country’s policies.

With adequate preparation, representatives should be ready to discuss the issues with their counterparts and to prepare draft documents that, based on the specifics of each simulation, codify solutions to problems. These draft documents may be submitted for debate at the Conference provided they meet the requirements for formatting and content as outlined in this handbook.

Finally, representatives attend the AMUN Conference to represent their State in discussing the various issues presented. When representatives enter the opening session of AMUN, they assume the role of Distinguished Representative from their country with all the rights and responsibilities that entails.

At AMUN, however, representatives will have only four days to assume the role of their State’s representative and simulate the actions of the United Nations. This consolidation of time leads to many different circumstances with which each delegation will have to contend. Among the considerations is the fact that representatives will rarely have the opportunity to give a pre‑written speech on a topic. Instead, they will often be forced to verbally react to circumstances as they arise, which may put them in a position where it is reasonable to reinterpret their country’s position in light of new facts. Representatives should not simply read from their country’s established record on the issues presented; they should be prepared to compromise with the other States represented and adapt their policies where needed to meet the current circumstances of the world as simulated at the Conference.

At the Conference, representatives (speaking on behalf of their governments) debate the issues on the agenda to seek solutions to the problems facing the world community by caucusing with representatives who are representing other States and by drafting and discussing resolutions, reports and statements. In the United Nations today, Member States and Observers often discuss an agenda item to reach a solution that can be agreed to by all, or at least by most, Member States. Draft documents can be amended, combined, accepted, adopted by consensus, or rejected, and occasionally, a body will engage is significant discussion and debate and still produce no final document on an issue.

Consensus-building is one of the most important goals for representatives in a Model United Nations simulation. At the United Nations, more than seventy‑five percent of the United Nations General Assembly’s resolutions are adopted by consensus. Adoption by consensus shows solidarity and strong support within the body for a decision or course of action. Passing resolutions by consensus is not possible on every issue, but this figure illustrates the importance of consensus-building in the international community. By aiming for universal agreement on written work, AMUN simulations strive to emulate this aspect of international diplomacy.

At the United Nations, representatives and their consular staffs spend months in preparation, caucusing behind closed doors and interacting with other delegations before an issue is brought to a vote. A United Nations representative, or Head of State, rarely makes a prepared speech that would be surprising to the other representatives present.

The Permanent Representative The Permanent Representative

Each delegation must appoint one person to act as the primary representative for that delegation who will assume the role of permanent representative when the delegation is on the floor for meetings. Schools with more than one delegation must appoint one permanent representative per delegation.

The permanent representative has a number of responsibilities including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Being responsible to the Secretariat for the delegation and its actions
  • Acting as the leader of the delegation for substantive matters
  • Coordinating the delegation across Committees
  • Coordinating and monitoring the delegation’s submission of draft documents
  • Representing the delegation at general meetings of Permanent Representatives called by the Conference
  • Acting as liaison to the Secretariat for any administrative matters at the Conference.

The permanent representative may sit in any committee at AMUN on which that delegation is seated in addition to the two regular representatives allowed in any body, The permanent representative may be assigned to a specific committee or may float throughout the various simulations at the Conference, helping where needed. The permanent representative may not be assigned to a Historical Security Council or the Historical Commission of Inquiry. If they are assigned to the Security Council (Contemporary) they must have a partner. If the permanent representative is not assigned to a specific committee, this person may be in the best position to represent the country if it is called as a party to the dispute in the Security Council or the Historical Security Councils or as a witness in the Historical Commission of Inquiry. Permanent representatives will be asked to provide their hotel room numbers, cellular phone numbers and primary committee assignment (if applicable) to the Secretariat during registration at Conference.

As the leader of the delegation, the permanent representative should be the focal point for coordinating the delegation’s efforts across the various simulations. This person should facilitate your delegation’s ability to maintain coherence in policy and statements across simulations.

Permanent representatives should maintain close contact with all committees to ensure that one representative is not acting inconsistently with their delegation. While the character of the delegation’s roleplaying should be thoroughly discussed in advance of the Conference, the permanent representative must ensure that individuals remain within that character at the Conference.

Permanent representatives should also review draft documents sponsored by the delegation. Each draft document should be considered carefully to ensure that it is within the State’s policies and is of sufficient content to not prove embarrassing to the country if submitted for consideration on the floor. The permanent representative may also lead the delegation in its preparations for the plenary sessions on Tuesday, again acting to ensure consistency and to note how the country wishes to vote on final proposals before the body.

Developing a Conference Strategy Developing a Conference Strategy

As part of its preparation, each delegation should determine its strategy and goals for the Conference. All delegations should be involved in working toward solutions to the problems placed before the United Nations. This requires a great deal of negotiation and compromise, often at the expense of certain positions that may be of concern to an individual delegation. Each delegation’s representatives must therefore decide which items are of greatest importance to their country and set their strategies accordingly. Strategic areas to consider include the following:

  • What kind of role will your delegation play at the Conference (e.g., conciliatory, obstructive, aggressive, neutral or leading)?
  • Will your delegation seek informal leadership positions in each committee?
  • How can your delegation achieve the goals and interests identified in your research and delegation strategy?
  • What other countries will your delegation attempt to work with? Note: these delegations may vary by committee or by topic.
  • Which countries may present adversarial positions to your delegation and how will your delegation respond?

Remember, passing resolutions and reports is not the only or even truest measure of success at the Conference. While each delegation is encouraged to propose solutions on the various issues and to secure passage of resolutions and reports that outline the solutions, representatives must stand ready to compromise to achieve any real solution to the problems being discussed.

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The Faculty Advisor The Faculty Advisor

If a school has a faculty advisor, AMUN suggests that their main role be in working with and preparing the school’s delegation(s) before the Conference. Faculty advisors can assist the delegation in both logistical and substantive  preparation for the Conference.

AMUN recognizes the important role faculty advisors have in a delegation’s preparation for and negotiating the logistics of attending the Conference. Faculty can act as a sounding board for their students during the Conference, but that advice and consult should generally be given outside of official session times. If consultation during sessions is required, it should take place outside of committee rooms.

It is important to note that faculty are not delegates to the Conference. It is therefore inappropriate for faculty to participate in or interfere with the work of the body. Faculty will not engage in caucusing or resolution drafting and may not take a seat at the Member State’s placard. Faculty from one school should never engage representatives from another school in debate on issues relating to Conference participation. Faculty are welcome to observe formal debate from the gallery seating provided at the back of committee rooms. Faculty should model the level of professionalism expected of all attendees of the conference.

Logistically, the faculty advisor may be the main contact with both the Conference and the school administration. This role could include working with finances and group organization, registering the school for the Conference, making hotel reservations, preparing travel arrangements and a host of other preparations. Alternatively, these roles could be delegated and assumed by the delegation leaders or club officers at a school.

In helping delegations prepare for the content issues they will face at the Conference, faculty advisors could either run a full-curriculum class or serve as a resource for a Model UN Club or other organization. They may use the well‑established, proven curriculum provided by the Model UN in a Box simulation guide, which contains resources to assist Model UN leaders in training delegations to participate at a Model United Nations conference. Also, the faculty advisor can coordinate and run preparatory sessions to better prepare students for the Conference.

Grading the Model UN Experience Grading the Model UN Experience

AMUN strongly recommends that faculty advisors not grade students based on quantitative measures of performance at the Conference. This practice often leads to poor roleplaying as the students involved are working for their grade and not necessarily for the accurate portrayal of their country’s positions. Grading or evaluating students on quantitative measures such as these can also undermine collaboration and consensus-building that is at the core of the Model UN educational mission. Several areas where AMUN specifically discourages grading include the following:

  • Students getting “their” draft resolution or amendment to the floor or passed
  • Students speaking a certain number of times (stressing quantity over quality)
  • Students making a certain number or type of motions

If grading is necessary, AMUN suggests the following as possible areas for appraisal:

  • Pre‑Conference preparation, which may include papers or tests
  • Quality of position papers, either internal or those submitted to the Conference
  • Quality of resolutions drafted
  • Attendance at scheduled Conference simulations and being on time for session
  • Effectiveness of roleplaying based on direct observations
    • Clearly stating and basing all actions upon the delegation’s position
    • Effectively working with other delegations, both on the floor and in caucusing
    • Effectively working toward consensus, when appropriate
  • A post‑Conference reflection paper about the student’s learning and experience
  • A post-Conference paper analyzing the substantive discussion from the conference
  • Peer and self evaluation

The interactive nature of the Model UN experience provides incredible learning opportunities for students who attend and become immersed in that experience. AMUN requests that Faculty Advisors not dilute the students’ experiences by linking grades to quantitative performance at the Conference.

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Additional simulation considerations Additional simulation considerations

AMUN Home Government AMUN Home Government

Home Government is a resource center where representatives can obtain information to supplement their pre-Conference research. AMUN’s Home Government has specialized knowledge and training about the United Nations in general and the issues being discussed at AMUN in particular. They are expert researchers who excel at finding information about unexpected aspects of the topics. The Home Government staff will be available to give competent, general advice on many areas. They can also give country-specific advice if a representative is unsure of their State’s policy. While Home Government is happy to provide expertise on a representative’s country, it will not advise a representative how to vote on any issue.

Roleplayers in simulations Roleplayers in simulations

Representatives and members of the AMUN Secretariat may request roleplayers to represent a country, organization or entity that is not represented at AMUN. All requests for roleplayers should be directed to the dais staff. Roleplayers may be brought in to provide the following: a substantive report from the Secretariat; an expert report from a relevant United Nations body; an informational source from a non-governmental organization; or the perspective of an unrepresented Member State, observer or other unrecognized group. Roleplayers may be used to clarify any points of confusion about the work or goals of a simulation or to provide additional technical information about the current status of United Nations efforts in a particular area. Based on the availability of the Home Government roleplayer and at the discretion of the dais staff, representatives may have the opportunity to raise points of inquiry to gain additional information about the subject.

Purview Purview

Issues occasionally arise that are outside the scope of an AMUN simulation. In these cases, representatives should consult their Rapporteur to determine whether the issue may be discussed at the Conference. Representatives in Security Councils should consult their Simulation Directors about such issues. All decisions of the Secretariat are final.

Delegations that Are “Out of Character” Delegations that Are “Out of Character”

Because students attending the Conference are not career diplomats representing their country and, in most cases, will not have lived in the country they are representing, questions do sometimes arise at Conference as to whether the actions of individuals are “out of character” in relation to their delegation’s policies in the real world. AMUN has several specific suggestions to address this issue.

First, and most importantly, being “in character” is the responsibility of each delegation and ultimately falls to the permanent representative or the faculty advisor. There is no possible substitute for extensive preparation on your country and the issues to be discussed before attending the Conference. AMUN operates under the expectation and assumption that the members of each delegation will enter the Conference prepared and more knowledgeable about their individual country and their country’s stance on the issues than any other representative present.

If you, or your delegation, believe that a representative has not done sufficient research and is misinformed or acting “out of character” on a particular issue, AMUN recommends several steps: First, please revisit, internally, the actions taken by the representative in question. Is the representative “out of character” given the particular resolution and situation on the floor? Have circumstances (either in the real world or at Conference) changed such that the representative could realistically modify their country’s stance on a particular issue? Are you certain that you know the actual stance of the country in question on the issue? Many cases of a representative appearing “out of character” stem from one party’s misinterpretations of what was said or of a country’s previously stated policies.

If you still believe that a representative is “out of character,” AMUN asks that you talk to the representative about the issue before bringing the problem to the Secretariat. This can be easily done in a non-confrontational manner by stating something like, “I hadn’t realized that was your country’s position on the issue; where did you see that?”  -or-  “I thought I read something in [state your source] about your country having a different opinion on this issue; have you seen that information?” Directly confronting a representative to say, “You’re wrong on this,” will likely not succeed and could damage your diplomatic relations in the future.

The representative will likely respond in one of two ways to your question. The representative may respond with information to justify his or her position with a statement like, “I did the research and this is my country’s view on the issue,” or they may express interest in the new information you have provided. If this response answers your question, the issue is resolved. If a representative is interested in more information, please suggest that person visit the Rapporteurs or speak to a Simulation Director in Security Council. If the representative is non-responsive or chooses not to answer your question, you can bring the issue to the attention of the Dais Staff who may assist representatives in seeking further assistance from the Home Government Secretariat or Simulation Director.

Chairs, Rapporteurs or Special Rapporteurs may arbitrate disagreements but will never render an opinion regarding an “out of character” situation. AMUN Secretariat members have different roles within the simulations, and Chairs, Rapporteurs and Special Rapporteurs are specifically instructed to not investigate or determine whether representatives are acting in or out of character. Chairs are specifically trained on the Rules of Procedure. Rapporteurs are trained to assist with issues related to the drafting of resolutions and reports and ensuring that documents fall within the purview of a specific simulation. The Home Government Secretariat and Simulation Directors are trained to assist representatives in refining and managing the consistent and accurate representation of their country. If delegations or individuals are finding it difficult to remain in character, AMUN’s goal is to provide them with the information needed to correctly represent their country on a given issue. AMUN will work with the delegation’s permanent representative and committee representatives to resolve the situation.

Because all participants at AMUN are learning about the United Nations as they participate, these situations may occur. AMUN expects that all delegations will take the time necessary to prepare and correctly portray their countries on each issue under consideration. AMUN also asks that representatives not jump to conclusions about other delegations’ roleplaying without having a detailed background on the other countries’ positions on the issues. Finally, AMUN asks that representatives on all sides handle potential “out of character” situations with the utmost diplomatic courtesy for all parties involved. The AMUN Secretariat will be the final arbiter of any “out of character” disputes that arise at the Conference.

AMUN Rules of Procedure AMUN Rules of Procedure

While substantive discussions of the issues form the basis of any good simulation of the United Nations, the rules of procedure are essential to facilitating the substantive debate which occurs. In general, these rules are intended to provide an even playing field, allowing each country to accomplish its individual goals in advocating their policies, while also maximizing opportunities for the group to reach agreement, or even consensus, on the issues. Several levels of preparation are possible on the rules. For new Model UN participants, AMUN recommends that each person have a working knowledge of the principal motions that can be made during the simulation, encapsulated on the Rules Short Forms. The Dais Staff of each committee will assist representatives in using these rules and assist in bringing everyone onto an even playing field. For experienced representatives, especially those who have not attended AMUN in the past, we suggest reading AMUN’s rules in‑depth, both as a refresher on these rules of procedure and to note differences from other conferences a school might attend. Most Model UN conferences use slightly different rules of procedure, and in some cases, the contrasts are significant. In order to best facilitate everyone’s experience, it is incumbent upon every participant to learn and use the rules established for this Conference. All representatives are encouraged to attend the appropriate Rules and Roleplaying session on Saturday afternoon before Opening Plenary. These are led by senior AMUN Secretariat members and are designed to give representatives an overview of AMUN’s rules and procedures.

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