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Tricks of the Trade

Nuances, Tactics and Strategies for Model UN

Presented to the 2001 UNA Model UN Summit by Brian Endless
Executive Director, American Model United Nations International

This presentation is split into the two basic components of MUN participation: pre-conference preparation and at-conference participation.


Part I: Pre-conference Preparation
Part II: At-conference Participation
Part III: Conclusion

Part I: Pre-conference Preparation

  • Research – sources include:
    • Country speeches
    • Secretary-General’s reports
    • Country web sites
    • UN Wire
    • Other “print” sources
    • Materials from the conference you will be attending
    • Beware the web!! (know which sources to trust)
  • Set up your preparation files, using folders, a binder, or a similar format
    • Keep them organized for easy reference
    • Get a leg up on everyone else – “Your binder is your friend”
  • Print everything you can – you’ll need a lot of it at the conference
    • Learn how to go through what you printed with a critical eye
  • Share research with your group – there’s no need to work alone
  • Practice speaking in front of the group – there’s no substitute for practice
    • Both informal briefings and formal speeches are good tools
  • Mock sessions are the ultimate practice – and do them with other groups when possible

Part II: At-conference Participation

  • Start caucusing early
    • Introduce yourself to others when you arrive at the conference site, and especially in the time before the meeting is called to order
  • When giving a formal speech, make good use of the time
    • Time for speeches may be short, and you need to be prepared
    • Base your speech on the current circumstances
    • Pre-written speeches versus speaking extemporaneously
    • A note about speaking styles: don’t read your speech!
  • Caucusing is where all the work gets done, and it should be done early and often
    • Behind the scenes versus “formal” caucusing
    • After hours caucusing and personal contacts
  • A view of formal caucusing – concentric circles
    • Stick with the leaders (center of the caucus)
    • Be active
  • What is your role?
    • Some possible roles: leader, facilitator, whip, wordsmith, consensus builder, typist, follower
  • The only cardinal sin at the UN – never act alone
    • Strength in diplomacy often comes through numbers
  • Don’t write a resolution that just states the problem, work toward a solution to the problem first
    • If the answers are simple, why hasn’t someone solved it yet?
  • Whenever possible, don’t condemn
    • If you are trying to solve a problem, condemning one party rarely helps
  • Compromise, compromise, compromise
    • What does your nation really need to see in a solution, and what are you willing to compromise?
  • Credit others whenever possible
    • Nothing makes friends faster than proving that you were listening, and giving credit to others for their ideas


  • Remember: When at the conference you are a diplomat, and the Distinguished Representative of your country – think and act the part and others will treat you that way
  • Always keep in mind: A diplomat’s job (among others) is to “make friends and influence people”
  • Final advice: Suffer fools gladly

If you have any lessons on MUN teaching or planning, or on substantive UN issues, which you would like included in this listing, please e-mail us at AMUN will gladly credit your organization with authorship and provide links to your conference or program.

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