Country Research

  • The following information will help you with your country research

    In class, you will be working alone for this section, but in preparation for the conferences, you may be able to divide up the research for your country in your team. Below is a list of important areas to clarify - but do not limit yourself to this list.


    Always start with the country's UN website & UN information - it has been provided by the government itself which is who you will be representing: http://www.un.org/en/members/index.shtml

     

    a.  Physical geography

    a.  Region (continent and sub-region)

    b.  Land-locked or sea access

    c.  Major landforms – i.e. mountain ranges, rivers on borders?

    d.  Who are the neighboring countries? Do you share any natural resources? Potential allies or enemies? (this is the most important thing in terms of strategy)

    e.  Major cities/capital

    b.  Population (http://www.un.org/popin/data.html )

    a.  Health

                                                            i.      Birth & Death rates

                                                       ii.      Infant mortality rates

                                                  iii.      Population growth rates

                                                       iv.      Doctors/10,000

                                                            v.      Major causes of death

                                                       vi.      Average life span

    b.  Major ethnic groups & possible tensions

    c.  Male/female ration & possible tensions

    d.  % of different religions & possible tensions

    e.  age structure

     

    c.  Economics (http://www.worldbank.org/data/countrydata/countrydata.html )

    a.  Breakdown by sector of the population

    b.  Percentage of population below the poverty line

    c.  Principle sources of income

    d.  Natural Resources

    e.  Major exports and imports

    f.  Classification (Developing or Developed & member of the G8, G20 or G77)

    g.  Trade Balance

    h.  Membership in financial organizations

    i.  Currency & finance

                                                            i.      Currency pegged on another currency

                                                       ii.      Net debtor or creditor nation

    d.  Politics (http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/forcomp.html  ; www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook )

    a.  Form of government (public & private - some countries claim to be democracies but are really dictatorships - you need to know both the official and the real version)

    b.  Head of State

                                                            i.      Years in office

                                                       ii.      Type of position

    c.  length of current regime

    d.  voting statistics

                                                            i.      legitimacy (many dictatorships hold elections)

                                                       ii.      % of population participating

    e.  constitution? (find a link to this - it can be useful - what is the role of religion?)

    f.  Multi-party system? How many parties? (who is ruling?)

    e.  Military (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html )

    a.  Numbers: troops, ships, aircraft

    b.  % GDP spent on military

    c.  peacekeeping participation & numbers

    d.  Nuclear/Non nuclear? (have they signed the NPT?)

    e.  Weapons of mass destruction?

    f.  Missiles? Range?

    g.  Arms production & sales?

    1. Treaty Checklist (when did they sign? have the ratified the treaties?)
      1. UN Charter
      2. Human Rights (http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/Documents?OpenFrameset)
      3. Geneva Conventions
      4. Non-nuclear Proliferation treaty
      5. World Trade Organization
      6. Other treaties depending on your topic (the database provides the treaties according to topic and a search engine for each treaty)

    Tip – print out the treaty that best relates to your topic with its signatories – you can catch someone out on whether their country was a signatory or not)

     

    b.      Position on UN Reform – use the Mission website for your country to clarify this

    a.      Security Council mandate and make-up (are they one of the P5? Do they want to be? What is their attitude to this reform)

    b.      Millennium Development Goals

    c.      Secretariat and recent Oil-for-food program scandals

    d.      Payment of UN dues

    e.      UN Human Rights Commission

    f.        Genocide prevention (successes and failures)

    g.      UN role in prevention of terrorism

    h.      Democracy building

     

    Now you are ready to focus in directly on your country’s position in relation to your committee’s topics – remember that you can also use contacts at the UN Mission for your country to help answer your questions, but see me to make sure you have a list of educated questions – if you ask them what their country’s capital is then they won’t continue their conversation.

      

    Tips for Researching Your Country 

    Find your country’s voting records and read speeches on the United Nations Bibliographic Information System website.

     

    Look at the CIA World Factbook for a general overview on your country as well as figures and statistics. The World Factbook is produced by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Would your country’s government agree with the way your country is characterized in the World Factbook?

     

    Check out news and media sources for recent developments in your country. 

     

    Read the US State Department report on your country. Call the US State Department desk officer for your country to find out more about conditions there.