6.4 Representing an NGO or Non-State Actor in a Model UN Conference

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Back to Unit 6: Preparing for More Complex Conferences.

In most Model UN conferences, you will be representing a Member State of the United Nations. However, occasionally conferences will also offer the opportunity to represent an non-governmental organization (NGO) or a non-state actor in committee. This experience will broaden your understanding of the role of civil society in the United Nations and international affairs. Representing an NGO or a non-state actor will also help you strengthen your role as a delegate because it will allow you to step out of the comfort zone in your Model UN experience, in how you prepare and negotiate in conference.

Preparing for Conference as an NGO or Non-State Actor

Familiarize yourself with their website, mission statement, history, major projects, major donors, where they are working and how they decide what to work on. Writing a position paper may be a bit more challenging as a NGO because information and data may not be as easy to find. Be sure to look on creditable sites, primarily the NGO’s website, for any important information. NGOs’ annual reports are a great way to look closely at the projects they are working on, as well as any current directors or other leaders for the organization. It is not expected that you will be able to find all of the same information expected for a state when preparing the position paper, but perhaps find comparable figures to make it applicable (for example, instead of GDP, find out the organization’s overall revenue ). Being an NGO or non-state actor allows you to be creative with your position based on past projects and work that can be used in your three-point plans. Do not get too stressed if you cannot find information that is listed in the position paper outline for an NGO or non-state actor, but try your best to think of how your organization might act towards a certain issue or topic.

Being an NGO or Non-State Actor in Committee

It is important to learn how to work your role as an NGO in committee. In larger committees, an NGO or non-state actor is rare. However in small committees, you may find more than one NGO in the room. It is important not to feel belittled by the other members in the committee who may try to limit your power since you are not a country. Remember the only difference in the simulation is that you are unable to vote during voting procedure. Be sure to continue with committee as you normally would, gathering sponsors and signatories, and incorporating your three-point plans.

Since NGOs generally cannot vote in a committee, act as the ‘Whip’ in the run up to voting, making sure that states continue to support your positions and persuading opponents to vote in favor or abstain. Create a voting guide (ask the conference to print copies for you) to hand out to delegates stating very clearing how delegations should vote on resolutions and amendments.

Why Being an NGO or Non-State Actor is Important

Although all delegates are important to the UN simulation, being an NGO or a non-state actor is unique experience. Other delegations may have never experienced working with someone outside of member-state lines, so it may pose a challenge. Keep in mind that many people have heard of the countries of the world, but perhaps not the NGO you are representing. Therefore, you want to portray them in the best light possible since you may be the first impression they receive. This is not to say that you should solicit people to donate or follow your cause, but it is important to keep in mind you should always remain in character as a representative from your organization.

Katie James for Pace University, 2013. Version 3.0 BETA. For information, permissions or corrections, contact Dr. Matthew Bolton, mbolton@pace.edu