Next, you should develop an understanding of the issues that will be debated either at your Model UN conference or in class. As we proceed through the course, you will be asked to do more and more research on topics on your own. In terms of conferences, you can start with the background guides described above and the background guides provided by your classmates. You may want to look at the sources cited in these materials for more in-depth information. Here are some additional questions to help guide your research:
- What is the problem? How does it affect your country?
- What has your country done to combat the problem?
- What are the various “sides” in the debate?
- Which aspects of the issue are most important to your country?
- If your country is not involved with the issue, how can it become involved?
- How will your country shape the debate at the conference?
- What arguments will other countries make?
- How do the positions of other countries affect your country’s position?
- Is there evidence or statistics that might help to back up your country’s position?
Tips for Researching Issues
While the UN website is the source of all information about the UN it is also very confusing. We advise you to begin with a basic google search on your topic and then select the sites offered that are part of the UN website. Another method would be to take NGO sites and then find the relate UN agency and google that.
Check out news and media sources for up-to-date developments on an issue.
Check out our growing classroom library – together we will scour the newspapers on a daily basis and then collect articles that relate to the variety of topics that we are being asked to cover in class and for the conferences. I will also regular update the website with links that relate to different topics.
Talk to the experts. If you are in or around New York City, it may be possible to set up a briefing with a UN secretariat member. Call the Department of Public Information at 212-963-4475.
Go to the UN website and check out Global Issues on the UN agenda – this is the best place to start the complicated navigation process through the UN website on your issue – take it slowly and write notes as well as downloading information – remember you are trying to answer specific questions to help you develop a position not become a world expert on the topic. Look at the UN Economic and Social Development page, which has an index to some prominent issues as well as a list of UN agencies that work in various issue-areas. Also, through the United Nations Documentation Center, you can find resolutions and voting records from the current and previous years.
Visit nongovernmental organization (NGO) websites. NGOs are an important part of the UN system, in part due to the valuable research and information they generate. Look for NGOs that address your topic.
Enrich your understanding of an issue by discussing it with other Model UN participants and UNA-USA’s expert guest moderators in our discussion forums.
All issues are covered on the UN website at http://www.un.org/issues/