Research

After familiarizing yourself with your country’s identity and foreign policy alignment, you already have a solid starting point for research on your topic. The next step is to collect facts and central documents.

Read an Encyclopedia

A good encyclopedia will likely have related articles about your topic. By design, these articles can give you a general overview of the topic area and provide a rough “birds eye” perspective. This is important as you can easily lose sight of the overall issue if you approach the topic through specialized literature that tends to focus on subproblems.
You will find relevant encyclopedias in public and university libraries and you may, of course, use Wikipedia.

Approach the Topic Academically

Now that you have a general overview of the topic, it is time to put your academic research skills into practice. Use databases and relevant journals to acquire articles and data on your topic. Also check your library for monographies and anthologies.
It’s a good idea to broaden the topic area a bit for this type of research. Articles on related topics or about countries relevant to the problem may contain useful information.

Focus on the Region

This is especially true for security topics. Does your problem affect a certain region or country specifically? Look for information on these regions. This will provide useful context for the problem and may already identify leverage that the international community can use to solve the issue.

Go Back in Time

Usually, academic research encourages you to work with the most recent publications. But for Model UN, it can be extremely helpful to look at old publications and, ideally, discourse analyses of previous debates about the topic area. As yourself, policy makers do not exist in a vacuum. Their decisions and resolutions are influenced by academic debates and trends. Identify previous debates to understand the context for past resolutions and government policies.

Build a Position for your Country

Now that you are thoroughly informed about the topic, it is time to build your position. This means that you have to identify your country’s interests, areas of compromise and any non-negotiable parts of the issue. Many delegates erroneously put this step first. This however has certain disadvantages.

First, you will have a bias towards the academic material. This may lead to a failure to identify central issues and grievances that your opponents will likely address.
Second, you will look for facts that will support your previously established position, making it harder to come up with new strategies that would benefit your assumed country.

To build a position for your country, you should expand on the general information that you have already collected as part of the preparation process. Press releases, speeches and other public material provide a good source for further research into the established position of your country. UNBISNET and the websites of governments, embassies and permanent representations at the UN and state press agencies can be considered good sources for these materials.
Do not hesitate to research the debate in domestic media on this topic and consider differing views between political parties and individual leaders. Should you be unable to understand the native language of your country, look for English language newspapers such as China Daily and international broadcasters such as Deutsche Welle, Russia Today etc. If your country recently had an election, the new government may not support an international issue that the previous administration had. Therefore foreign coverage of the election can be an essential source.

You should then construct a best case and a worst case scenario for your country, based on the information that you have gathered. The best case scenario generally meaning that you accomplish all of your objectives while not having to compromise at all. Since you will absolutely have to compromise during negotiations, the next step is essential.

Identify Primary and Secondary Objectives

Your country usually has more than one specific interest and objective in a topic area. You might for example be interested in continued access to certain raw materials or markets. Or you may wish for a friendly leader to remain in power. You should separate the most important objectives from the least important ones. For instance you may be able to tolerate economic sanctions if they do not harm your own economy while a military intervention would endanger your supply situation.

Speak the Language

Especially in speeches given in parliament, at the UN or before other organizations, a certain way of speaking about the topic area can be identified. Nations often have a specific vocabulary and a set of phrases when referring to the topic and of course also a general foreign policy direction that can also be identified through several catchphrases.
You should study them and integrate the language into your position paper and speeches at the MUN.

Advocacy Groups

After finalizing your country position, look at content published by NGOs and other advocacy groups. With your new national “glasses” you will quickly recognize those groups that you agree with. Due to their nature, they are especially useful at providing data that stresses the urgency to act and the severity of the problem.
Due to your academic knowledge of the topic, you can also identify less convincing groups and likely arguments that your fellow delegates will attempt to use against you.

United Nations Materials

Finally, you should read all resolutions that your committee has passed on the topic. If there are too many of those, find the most recent ones and read all of the past resolutions that they refer to.
Usually there are only very few central resolutions in which a lot of action is taken by the committee and shorter documents that only affirm previous resolutions, extend mandates or implement very few changes.

At DuEMUN you will usually debate topics that have recently been addressed by the UN. Therefore it is also a good idea to look at the meeting records for the most recent session of your committee.

As the UN may deal with issues in several different committees and councils, you should not limit your search to your own committee alone.

A good source for resolutions is the UN Index to Documents and the Official Document Search (ODS).
Most importantly, UNBISNET is the single most important source for any document on the United Nations.

There you will find speeches that your country’s representative has made at the UN, voting records and resolutions.

Voting Records are important for countries that do not provide a lot of material on their position. They will generally vote with a bloc (such as the G77) or a major ally (likely one of the P5). Look for patterns!

Press releases and presidential statements can provide a good insight on disagreements between member states, especially in the Security Council and should not be disregarded.