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Working with a Partner at Model UN

Working with a Model UN Partner
Two representatives work as the Russian Federation.

So, you’re attending a Model UN conference and representing your country with a partner? Awesome. Here are some tips for doing Model UN with a partner.

Have A Plan!

Model UN is the NASCAR race of debate and politics (because of the tempo, not the cowboy hats). You can feel extremely rushed. Lucky for you, you have a partner, and, if you have a plan, then you’re be prepared. Have a list of things that your country wants to see achieved on each topic, a list of things you’ll concede and a list of potential allies in the room. Think about what your goals are for the conference, as individuals and as a team.  Are you trying to learn as much as possible? Does one of you  want to conquer their stage fright or help draft a resolution? Having a plan of action will let you work together better. Be on the same page about what you want to achieve, and you’ll be an incredibly effective team.

Don’t Specialize on One Topic Area

It may seem natural to divide the work in your committee by each taking one topic and being responsible for knowing all you can about it. We caution against this for several reasons. First, you’re both representing your country and should be prepared to answer questions concerning your state’s position at any time. Second, think of the plague. You’ll be in a hotel with 1500 students from around the world. We guarantee at least 20 of them are bringing the flu or some other bug with them. If your partner goes MIA or is too sick to participate, you don’t want your country unprepared to represent itself on a topic. Third, you never know which topic will be discussed when or for how long. If “your” topic only gets discussed briefly you’ll spend the majority of Conference more bored than a cattle rancher at the Committee on Fisheries.That said, it may be natural for one person to take the lead on the research or preparation for a specific topic; just be sure you’re always working together.

Divide and Conquer When It’s Smart

There are two of you, so you have the luxury of being able to divide and conquer. It means you can both talk to different delegations about topics, resolutions and proposals. It means if you need to, someone can leave the room to process a resolution or to talk to your Permanent Representative or Faculty Advisor. Maybe more importantly, one of you can take a break, go get coffee for the team, or, you know, use the bathroom. You can play off each other’s strengths, too. If one of you is better at resolution drafting, maybe they can take the lead there. If one of you is better at interacting with human beings because of your overwhelming charisma, then that’s a thing too. But taking the lead doesn’t mean do all of it yourself, because…

The Rest of the Room Needs to Know This Isn’t a Solo Act

This isn’t a concert and you are not Beyoncé, so don’t be a diva. The room needs to know that your country is represented as a team. So, when you’re afforded an opportunity to speak to the room, you both need to make a showing. Take turns making motions, answering questions, talking to different groups and supporters. Make certain that everyone in the room knows that your country has two strong, dependable representatives and that either of you is well versed enough to address any issue and smart enough to touch base with the other partner later on in the session.

Be a Mentor

If this is your fifth Model UN conference and your partner’s first, this is your chance to be an excellent mentor. Don’t dictate everything you’ll do together. Facilitate and support. Remember how much fun you had during your first Model UN and make sure your partner is getting the same experience, if not a better one. Give your partner room to learn and possibly to fail a little bit. Failing is as important as success, especially with a mentor who can help you learn constructive ways to improve your performance.

Trust Your Partner

We’re not saying you need to be making friendship bracelets or anything (though you can do that if you want), but the best teams are built on trust. If you can’t trust each other, you’re going to blow it at Conference. Quiz each other, debate the best plan of action, yell at each other until you come to consensus, whatever you need to do to trust each other to advocate for your country whenever the other person isn’t in the room, do that. And then…

Take A Break From Each Other

Model UN days are long. You’re going to be in committee together from sun up to sun down, and, like your uncle who won’t shut up about his favorite sportsball team (or if they’re like my uncle, thinks you care a lot about woodworking), you might get a little sick of each other. Take a break, eat dinner with new friends you make at Conference, have lunch with other folk on your MUN Team, go burn off 10,000 calories in the gym, whatever lets you find your Zen again. Do that so you’re not biting each other’s heads off about comma placement on the next amendment.

… That’s It

Be prepared together and you’ll succeed together. Have each other’s back and you’ll have an amazing Conference that you’ll be able to look back fondly on regardless of how many resolutions you work on or how many speeches you give. But most of all? Remember to have fun.

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