Yasmine A.

Nov 06, 2021

Soft Skills - The Hidden Curriculum of MUN: Part III

By Ioana Staicu, Lindsey High, Xuan Zi Han

** This article is adapted from the workshop conducted by the MUN Department of United Nations Association Youth Platform - UK (UNAYP) during the 1st edition of the UK UN Youth Summit 2021. **

What about Chairs?
The 2nd group of key stakeholders that lead the conference and mould Delegates are “Chairs,” also known as Committee Directors. Just like Delegates, there are different archetypes of Chairs. 

Strict Chairs are likely to follow the Rules of Procedure (ROP) very firmly and expect Delegates to do the same. Being rigid in their ways, they will follow the MUN format and decorum very strictly. For example, they will prefer Delegates who are aware of how to raise a point or motion and the relevant language that is employed in doing so. Similarly, they will award Delegates who follow the formats of documentation, such as Working Papers and Draft Resolutions. 

Second, Chairs can be described as “Strategic or Diplomatic”, as they award Delegates who harness their diplomacy and strategic skills. Such Chairs will pay close attention to how Delegates form ties and lobby in the Committee, especially in unmoderated caucuses. They will award the strategic, diplomat or even the bloc leader Delegate for their efforts in advocating for their blocs and their interests, floating between blocs to make allies, as well as bringing blocs and countries together. These Chairs prioritise two key characteristics: lobbying and negotiation. Hence, standing out in unmoderated caucuses is crucial. 

Third, some Chairs are the “Public Speaker” and award Delegates on their public speaking skills. The Public Speaker Chairs will focus on a Delegate’s speeches, namely the structure, rhetoric, content and public speaking style the Delegate delivers. Hence, keeping your hand up in moderated caucuses and substantively leading the debate is pivotal if you have a Public Speaker Chair.

Fourth, the “Writer/Author” Chairs focus on how well and correctly formatted the documents such as Position Papers, Working Papers, and Draft Resolutions are written. Is the writing clear and concise? Can the reader understand the stance, national interests, and aim of the Delegate in the Committee? Are the solutions or Operative Clauses in the Draft Resolution clear, understandable, and effective? Is the language too superfluous and verbose? 

Lastly, just like Delegates, Chairs fall on a spectrum. Chairs may have most or all the above-mentioned characteristics, prioritising each of them equally or one more than the other. Nevertheless, Chairs can also be empowered to judge and mentor better. First, Chairs must be communicative and approachable. They should explain and repeat ROPs and formats of documentation, clearing out any confusion. This key characteristic will enable Delegates, especially novices, to perform more effectively in MUN.  

Second, through the approachable nature of Chairs, they should ease Delegates into the conference, via ice-breaker questions or quizzes and introductions. Also, Delegates should be encouraged to attend and engage in socials, allowing them to make friends, foster connections, and become acquainted with their Chairs. Gossip boxes and light-hearted entertainment sessions during Committee are a plus too!

Third, Chairs must be very organised. They should use tools such as a Debate Tracker, Google Sheets/Docs or hardcopy notes to pen down the flow of debate and the strengths and weaknesses of Delegates. Moreover, it is imperative that Chairs have feedback sessions, where they can provide one-on-one critique and general critique, as well as allow Delegates to give them feedback.