Once you have been placed in a committee, it is important that you understand the dynamic of that committee and how you will discuss ways to come to a solution on the problems posed by your committee topics. Know how your committee emulates the style and size of the actual United Nations committee; for instance, a committee in the General Assembly differs in size, mandate, and nature of topics from a committee in the Specialized Agencies. Knowing the history of your committee and how it deals with global problems will also get you prepared and make you feel more comfortable at conference. The history of your committee will be offered in your study guide, so this information will not be difficult to find.
That being said, the study guide is an important foundation, but it is not the only resource you should use in preparing for the conference. After understanding committee dynamics, the most important research you will be on your topic. The study guide will introduce you to the problems relevant to your committee and the ones that your fellow delegates will be debating. Although you may end up only having time to debate one, you cannot predict which topic will be voted on as the primary problem for discussion, so it is best to prepare with equal research for both. Once you have an idea of the issue from your study guide, take a look at the suggested resources and bibliography for your committee guide. Read some of the books if you can, or at least chapters of the books used in writing the guide— chapters, which are pertinent to the questions you have about the committee. A more digestible form of research than reading whole books is reading articles. You can always use Internet resources, such as online journals or Google Scholar, to find archived online articles pertaining to your topic. Search the news and search your campus library as well and you will find a wealth of information on your topics that goes beyond that presented in the study guide. Use of that knowledge for committee debate will be effective in convincing your fellow delegates that your position is a good one, because you have the expertise and background information behind your argumentative points.
Finally, the most important research for staying on policy is research on your country’s involvement in the issues. This may be difficult because not every country is affected in the same way by the issues discussed at the conference. However, there is still a way to find out your country’s policy. You can apply your knowledge of the country’s culture, economy, political system, and population to the topics beings discussed; these factors all significantly affect a country’s approach to a problem.
You can also find out your country’s voting record in the United Nations. The UN Bibliographic Information System is a website that may help you by showing you what resolutions your country has signed or not signed in the past. Once you have a topic and committee, look up actual resolutions drafted in those committees and see what your country has supported. Staying on policy will achieve a much greater effect for the committee in simulating the tensions of the real UN. Looking at actual resolutions on your topic also allows you to see the wording of a resolution, which will help with the more technical aspect of proposing resolutions, and it will also help you see what has already been done. By seeing what has already been tried in your committee, you can avoid proposing overdone solutions and start thinking about new ones that may innovate or revise proposals that were not effective.
The more prepared you are for substantive debate and resolution building in your committee, the more fun you will have, so stay focused, do the research, and come to conference ready to engage in the practice of discussion and compromise. As you are getting ready for conference, make sure to consult AMUN publications geared towards facilitating substantive preparation. The Guide to Delegate Preparation and Rules of Parliamentary Procedure outlines the format of debate and Rules of Procedure and the Frequently Asked Questions document addresses many common logistical issues. Updates to the study guides will be posted by late October and the committee website will list relevant articles to the topics on the agenda.