Presentation on theme: "MUN 101 Country and Topic Research. Country Research: The Basics To begin research, delegates should try to learn the basics about their country. While."— Presentation transcript:
MUN 101 Country and Topic Research
Country Research: The Basics To begin research, delegates should try to learn the basics about their country. While there are a multitude of good sources out there, here are a few places to begin: The CIA World Factbook Country Description Page The U.S. State Department’s Background Notes The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office The Library of Congress’s country profiles Country profiles on BBC News The Economist’s country briefings Individual country pages on the United Nations Website
Information Galore When analyzing your countries’ pages on these different sites, keep a few things in mind. Everything is there for a reason, and can be useful Yes, we know that you really don’t care how many miles of telephone lines are in your country, but eventually those numbers might help a seasoned delegate understand how developed their country is. While individual statistics may not be especially relevant outside of your topic, summary blurbs for each section will allow you to grasp the most crucial details. If you’re having trouble retaining all of the necessary information, try jotting down a few notes and committing those to memory.
Allies, Enemies and Everyone Else It is important at the outset to ascertain the identity of your nation’s allies and enemies, regional partners, and economic collaborators. The latter is particularly relevant, because one can often determine the depth of two states’ alliance through their level of trade. The existence of trade relations does not necessarily imply a political or military alliance, but it at least means that the two nations have diplomatic relations, leaving open the possibility of later developments on the political and security front. Furthermore, understanding which international organizations your country participates in will be helpful for finding other allies, as well as determining its policy orientations on certain issues. For example, if your country belongs to NATO, they will generally be on friendly terms with other NATO members. However, if your nation is in an organization that has 100+ member states, it does not mean you are allied with every member.
The Song That Never Ends Knowing one’s allies, basic country information and even more minute details about one’s country is important, but there is still much more to do. Delegates should be up to date with current events taking place in their country and its region, as well as relevant events taking place on a more global scale. Any respectable periodical will do, preferably several. I prefer The Economist, the New York Times, BBC, the Financial Times, and the Washington Post, but there are others. Even when this is done, keep looking. One can never know too much about their nation.
Topic Research: Background Guides When one is placed in a committee at a MUN conference, he or she will also be given a set of topics that they will discuss at the conference. These are outlined in a document known as the background guide, which will be posted on the conference website. This guide will give you a basic summary of your topic. After reading the background guide, it is important that each delegate understand the specifics of the topic as well. Understand what is being done, and by whom. Agency and organizational acronyms are important; know what they are and what they mean. Past international action can be further explored by searching for past UN resolutions on your topic. If your topic is broad or “popular” enough, scholarly articles may have already been written about it. These are useful both to understand past action and possible future steps, and can be found through the MSU Libraries website under “Articles.”
Where Does Your Nation Stand The next step is to find out where your country stands on each of your topics. Delegates should first comb over their nation’s United Nations pages. These sites will often have search bars and press releases where delegates can enter key words for individual topics and find their country’s position. Try to find the website for your country’s foreign ministry, which (if it exists in English) will probably lay out your position on a number of issues most important to your country. If your topic falls within that set of issues, you’re in luck!
When Frustration Kicks in... Chances are that you will not be that lucky delegate that finds everything about their country’s position on the UN page or that of their foreign ministry. Even if you are, keep looking; there are other techniques you should use to fine- tune your position: News sources will describe what’s going on with particular topics, and may make mention of what your nation is doing on the issue - make sure you are up to date. Google is your friend. When in doubt, use search engines with a variety of topic and country keywords to find out where your nation stands. Be careful, though; not all sources are reliable. Imagine you might use these sources to write a research paper, and choose accordingly. Find out who your nation’s ambassador to the UN is. Use their name and a variety of topic key words to attempt to find press releases, and see if your nation has written or passed any UN resolutions on the topic. When all else fails, look at the positions of the major players in the debate, and where your country’s allegiances fall amongst them. Side with the country with whom your country is friendly.
You’re Not Done. Research is a constantly-evolving process, and you might hit more than a few dead ends. If you are past the point where the conference seems worth it, ask for help; many IRO veterans are be happy to help any struggling delegates out. Jim is your first point of contact, followed by Chris and Dane. If they can’t help you, try talking to other members of the E- Board, followed by any one of the wealth of MUN veterans within IRO’s general membership. Finally, get together with other IRO members who are in your committee and talk about your findings. Bounce ideas for solutions and positions between one another. Rest assured, everyone will learn something in the process of this discussion.