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MUN Power Couples - Tips for Double Delegations in Model United Nations

Are you familiar with the term “double delegation” in Model United Nations? In this article, we refer to them as: power couples. They are a recognizable element in any model in which delegates are allowed to pair up as they represent one country. In many cases, this dynamic duo has the potential to somewhat dominate the debate by coordinating their actions to become more efficient and achieve their goals together.

In this article, I will share some of my thoughts on how to maximize the benefit of being in a double delegation.

Photo source: United Ambassadors MUN 2016 Leadership Academy, AUK, Kuwait.

In certain models, as in Harvard WorldMUN wherein a large part of the debate is carried out in an informal manner out of session, it’s necessary that one half of the delegation stays inside to hold the fort, while the other half stays outside to negotiate. In other models, wherein absence while the committee is in session is not allowed, having a co-delegate is handy when it comes to sharing the workload: although when sessions start you might well be able to cope without much trouble, as the debate advances you might find yourself overwhelmed with writing amendments, negotiating via notes, delivering speeches and writing your own drafts. Thus the advantage of being a couple.

There isn’t a unique way of acting as a couple, but there are certain trends that can be easily recognized. In most cases, one of the delegates will be more active towards the public, giving the speeches, raising points and the placard. This can be because he or she has more experience, knows more of the topic at hand or simply because that’s just how the couple works best. Anyhow, the other delegate should use his or her time to reach out by note to other delegations or, if it’s allowed in the committee, to do research in the computer to back up whatever argument the other half is advancing. Besides, as we will see now, to have one delegate not positioning himself or herself very clearly on every issue can be useful when the time to negotiate comes. If both delegates are speaking a lot it is crucial to coordinate the arguments so as not to be repetitive or even worse, contradict one another.

But it’s in the unmoderated caucuses when a good coordination becomes crucial. As anyone that has taken part in a model knows, the crowd soon split up into smaller circles, usually around one or a few delegates who do most of the talking. That’s the perfect time to try to get your project to as many people as possible, but in trying to get a crowd around you, you will inevitably miss the chance to walk other circles and get a feeling of what’s going on in the committee. This can be easily avoided if while one delegate tries to sell a project -be it a working paper, a draft or an amendment-, the other member walks the room to see what other delegates are up to and to look for people with similar stances.

Even when the delegation is not trying to advance a paper of their own and is just listening to others to make up their mind, it’s important that delegates from the same delegation don’t stay together: the time to catch up and talk strategy will come when the unmod is over and everyone has to be seated; until then your goal should be to cover as much percentage of the room as possible. On the other hand, once the debate is more advanced, your priority should be to get your project, or the project you have endorsed, to as many people as possible, especially before an important vote. For this, the delegates should split up and try to form their own circles to whom they can explain the same project, so as to avoid forming crowds in which the message will probably be misunderstood. People like asking questions and especially they like to feel listened, most of all if they feel they could be doing more in committee. If there’s too many people and you can’t dedicate to them the attention they feel they deserve, they might get annoyed.

And yes, in case you were wondering, the vote of the delegation of Aruba, who’s been on his or her laptop scrolling down Facebook since the model started, is as important as the rest, so you should be attentive to them and answer their questions if there were any, even if it seems like a loss of time. Although this is a topic to deal with in another article, it is crucial to avoid people feeling looked down upon: not only to ensure everyone has the best experience possible, but also to prevent disgruntled delegates from rioting and making life impossible for everyone -which happens more often than one would think.

As I mentioned before, to have one delegate out of the spotlight can be advantageous.

Unavoidably, unless you are on a very dull topic in which everyone agrees, by giving speeches and debating you will create some adversaries, with whom nevertheless you will at some point have to compromise in order to pass a resolution. Most likely you will have to backtrack on certain issues or relinquish on points you had presented as non-negotiable. All these shifts of position, which shouldn’t be understood as inconsistency but as pragmatic diplomacy, are easier to carry through if you haven’t been on your feet since the start defending the opposite. On the same line of action, the good cop, bad cop strategy is very useful in models. If your final goal is to authorize 15 reactors, your speeches should demand 20 and the let your co-delegate during unmoderated caucuses reach out to those reluctant with a position of “yes, yes, of course, I agree with you, 15 are enough, let’s see if I can get my co-delegate to agree…” This way, your delegation gives the impression of willingness to negotiate -and creates complicity between the bargaining delegate and the other delegations which is hard to create if you are constantly locking horns with them during debates.

To come to a conclusion I must point out that, although in this article I have tried to present some of the ways to profit from the advantages offered from being a double delegation, each couple is its own, and should try different ways of cooperating to see which one suits them best. I have been to models in which my role was limited to writing drafts and amendments and others in which I was seated only when it was strictly necessary -I encourage you to try different roles with different people. Besides, you will discover that being in a delegation with someone is a really bonding experience: it’s a lot of hours of debate and of work, a lot of plotting -and a lot of fun at the social events. They say that if you really want to get to know a person, you should take them on a trip -I say, take them to a Model United Nations.

Credits: Alvaro Gomez Del Valle, Content Associate.

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