• At Model United Nations




    Dear Delegates,


    I am thrilled to be sharing 2019’s Model United Nations topics with you. This year, the vision behind this study guide was to showcase as many different topics as possible that show you the impact your generation (and those after you) will have on this world. From topics involving combating misinformation in the digital age, to issues with maternal and child health, and even to concerns about managing risks and impacts of future epidemics, the goal behind everything is to help you dig into the topics that will affect your generation and how you can be the change to create a pragmatic and resourceful future.


    The study guide has an admirable list of resources for you to use as you prepare yourself, and other members of your delegation, for the upcoming conference. The more information and knowledge you have in hand when you arrive on the first day of Model UN, the more efficient and proactive you can be when creating resolutions and sparking discussion in your committee groups. All of this will help your committee to create fantastic resolutions for very complex issues. Come prepared for conversation about your country and begin thinking about all of the information that you need from other delegates to round out your perception of each issue. We want you all to be able to take away a greater understanding of each issue and all the perspectives that it can be seen from.


    I hope that you find this study guide to be useful and impactful on your journey into the 33rd Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government Model United Nations! Please enjoy your time of preparation—it is just as important as your attendance at this conference!


    With anticipation,


    Courtney Gysland

    Secretary-General of the 2019 Model United Nations Conference



    The Minnesota YMCA Model United Nations is a simulation of the United Nations assembly. You will find a diagram of the structure of the real United Nations on the following page. For logistical and educational reasons, the YMCA Model United Nations only simulates certain parts of the actual United Nations. Emphasis is placed on simulating the United Nations for the maximum benefit of the delegates. There are a number of committees and topics in the real United Nations which are not being dealt with at this conference due to time and logistical constraints.


    The United Nations’ Role
    When discussing issues and resolutions at the Model United Nations conference, it is important that the delegates realize what the United Nations is. The United Nations is not a world government. It is an international forum, where a group of sovereign nations meet to discuss international issues. The United Nations can offer solutions to international problems, but it is not in a position to force its member countries to accept any decisions. The reason the United Nations exists is to foster greater communications between countries. In order for the United Nations to produce solutions to problems, there must be a great deal of negotiation. This is one of the skills which will be key to success at this Model United Nations.


    International diplomacy has been most successful when nations have found the room to compromise between their national policy and national interests. National policy is a country's original stance on an issue. National interests are a country's response to current events. International diplomacy is the search for common ground between national policy and national interests.

    The product of the approach that will be taken at this conference will be resolutions which have the support of the key nations involved in each issue. A passed resolution which is strongly contested by a key nation is not a successful resolution. Only one resolution per topic area will emerge from each committee. This is because international diplomacy is a series of near-consensus compromises by nations with competing views. Therefore, to be effective, a good resolution must be approved by all major players. Resolutions among nations are possible, but they require compromise.



    You face an exciting, challenging task in preparing to represent a United Nations Member. You must do some intensive research on a variety of topics and be prepared to clearly state the position actually held by your country. Moreover, you must be prepared to make impromptu speeches explaining your country's position on a developing crisis.



    You are individually responsible to prepare for the Model UN so as to ensure that constructive and informed discussion of the issues will take place.




    Attend all Delegation meetings and participate in practice simulations of United Nations organs.


    Research your country as a whole and prepare a Status Report, Position Paper, and Memorial for the Assembly.  


    Review the purposes, structure and major activities of the United Nations. Every Delegate should study carefully the Rules of Procedure for the organ in which they are involved.


    Be prepared to participate in caucusing sessions during the conference with them wherein you will agree on common goals and courses of action to meet those goals.


    Attend all scheduled functions during the Conference.

    More Tips for Delegate Preparation


    1. Compete the required Status Report. These documents serve as a great starting place for a country delegation’s research. To participate in Model United Nations, each country must turn in a completed Status Report before the conference. Since a completed Status Report makes a good resource, it is highly recommended that each country make multiple copies of this document and bring them along to the conference. Links and Resources
    2. Keep informed of current affairs. Since global affairs can change quickly, the Internet and newspapers are often your best source of information. Delegates should start a file that relates to the current state of their nation and its relationship to the rest of the world.
    3. Contact embassies of UN missions. Embassies can be an extremely valuable source of current, hard to find information. The UN website has very helpful links to most missions and can be found on the YIG website. There are several useful research links on the site!
    4. When in doubt, ask a lot of questions. School or community librarians will be able to suggest other resources. Also, as always, don’t hesitate to call the State Office Staff, who will be happy to answer questions!

    Status Reports

    Status Reports help delegates develop a better understanding of their country’s economic, political, and social history. The Status Reports are completed by your country group as a whole and should be a group effort. THE STATUS REPORT SHOULD BE COMPLETED FIRST – BEFORE THE POSITION PAPERS FOR YOUR COUNTRY.

    Position Papers

    Position Papers help prepare delegates for intellectual debate and creative problem solving in committees. Position Papers are the basis of General Assembly, ECOSOC and Security Council resolutions and should be completed by General Assembly, ECOSOC and Security Council delegates, with input and assistance from other members of the country group.


    Resolutions are the basic, formal statements which the United Nations produces to express its collective opinion, suggest a course of action, or commit one or more of its various organs to a specific activity. When a consensus is reached on a topic of debate within a committee of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, or within the Security Council, the body expresses its decision in the form of a Resolution.


    Memorials help ensure an exciting experience for ICJ members, who will be able to choose the most well researched and pertinent cases for hearing. Delegates of the General Assembly, ECOSOC, and Security Council will gain the opportunity to explore their role in the United Nations as a whole.

    All these projects require ample research. One of the most rewarding experiences of Model United Nations comes through this process of researching and working with fellow delegates in preparing for the conference.



    Finding agreements in opinion between countries


    The bulk of United Nations negotiations occurs in caucus groups. In these sessions delegates meet informally, without public scrutiny, to formulate positions and to negotiate with other nations. Amendments to resolutions can be discussed and differences of opinion worked out so that the committee can take some action.




    Productive caucusing is not confined solely to your bloc. Agreement on a proposal is only possible if nations of varying political and geographic areas can meet to discuss their differences. As the number of nations that support a view increases, there is a much greater chance for concrete action to take place. This increases the importance of constructive caucusing, rather than confrontation. Delegates to the Model United Nations are encouraged to contact other Delegates before the conference (the Summit is a good opportunity) to discuss common objectives and strategies for realizing those objectives.


    Caucus groups may be thought of in terms of voting blocs; that is, Member States which tend to vote together on particular issues in the United Nations. For the purposes of our Model United Nations, we shall consider Caucus Groups as informally organized and structured groups of nations who tend to vote together.


    The purpose of the Member States forming Caucus groups is to use the United Nations as a forum for expressing official opinions and as an instrument for protecting their own national interests. Since neither of these goals could be accomplished with all nations pulling in the opposite directions of individual national interests, it has become necessary to combine the common interests of individual nations in an effort to exert a greater amount of political influence within the United Nations.


    Caucusing will take place primarily during the periodic recesses of the General Assembly committees and ECOSOC. Countries are encouraged to set up their own bloc meetings with the help of officers or Secretariat members (helpful college staff) throughout the conference. Countries are also encouraged to apply to host informal gatherings at the conference. Countries may sign up for receptions by the first night of Model UN. Snacks and beverages will be provided for these meetings. For these gatherings, host countries must indicate which other countries they want to invite. See the sections below, for more information.

    Role Playing

    Representing your country's history, views, and character


    The YMCA Youth in Government Model United Nations program is a simulation of the actual United Nations, where the countries of the world send delegates to act as representatives of the governments of those countries. Your role as a participant in the Model United Nations is to ACT as a representative of the country you are representing for the conference. Your primary goal is to give your government’s views on all the issues in front of your organ, whether you are a member of the General Assembly, ECOSOC or the Security Council. The key here is that you must get into character and play the role of the delegate like you would a character in a play almost. The most important things to remember are:



    You won’t be able to know everything about your country, but the most important tool you have is RESEARCH. The more you know about your country, the government and the people who live there, the better you will be able to make EDUCATED GUESSES about how they would feel about issues.


    Pay special attention to your country’s ECONOMIC, RELIGIOUS and EDUCATIONAL status. Understanding how your country’s trade and overall economic status, primary (or official) religion and overall rate of literacy and education will be key to understanding how your country will be able to respond to many UN issues-not all will be able to support certain resolutions because of religious attitudes, etc…


    The closer you stay to character, the more FUN you will have. Part of this conference’s appeal is that you will spend three days acting like someone who most likely has had a very different life than yours, and will therefore have very different views than yours.


    Remember that you are representing your country’s views, and NEVER YOUR OWN VIEWS. While it is tempting to respond as you personally feel, you must remember that this conference is not about speaking how we feel, but as world leaders feel.


    When in doubt about how your country might feel about something, look first to the views of delegates representing countries which might have similar views. In order to do this, you need to understand what countries have many things in common with yours. The only real way to know which countries are like yours is, again, RESEARCH. In addition, this will help you build coalitions and “blocs”.

    Crisis Situations

    Working together to address introduced conflicts


    At various times over the course of the conference, the Crisis Coordinators will be introducing crisis situations. Crises will involve a conflict between a number of nations, and will reflect the current events of the international world. All nations affected by any crisis will be informed of the situation in the form of a communiqué, either from the Secretariat directly or from their "Home Government." Each country should be prepared to deal with any crisis relevant to them. Should a crisis develop, the Security Council shall be the organ which will coordinate any discussion and/or resolution of the crisis. There will be two types of crises that will take place during the conference:



    1. Crises of Peace and Security will be discussed and voted upon by the Security Council. Only resolutions that have passed through the Security Council on these matters and have been sent to other organs for consideration will be discussed in the General Assembly or ECOSOC. Any delegation that would like to submit a proposal or draft resolution to the Security Council on these matters may do so, as per rule 29 of the Security Council Rules of Procedure. The Council may invite any Member to participate, without vote, in the discussion of any matter which the Council considers to be of vital interest to said United Nations Member, as per rule 28.

    2. Crises of Economic, Social, Cultural, or Humanitarian Nature may be discussed in the General Assembly or ECOSOC, if a draft resolution has been prepared and is submitted to the proper officers. (See rules 5-9 for General Assembly, rule 7 for ECOSOC).


    If you are informed of a crisis involving the vested interests of the United Nations Member which you represent:

    • Communicate with your Home Government as directed by the Secretariat in your area.

    • Meet with your country members to work out a strategy.

    • Meet with other nations, friendly or unfriendly, who are also involved in the crisis.

    • Draft a resolution or proposal for the appropriate organ suggesting a response to a crisis which it is discussing.

    • If the organ has not already invited you, send a petition to the Secretariat asking to be allowed to participate in the discussion.

    Conference Resource Center (CRC)


    The Conference Resource Center serves as a great resource for delegates throughout the conference. If you have any questions or simply want to update or supplement your research, you may be able to find what you need at the CRC. The CRC will be the center of crisis, informal caucus, and communication/reference coordination. The CRC will be open throughout the conference as a place where delegates may find guidance and information.



    The Conference Resource Center will have files of status reports, position papers, and memorials for your disposal. The CRC will also have supplementary resources about United Nations Member States acquired from embassies, and other reference materials. Topic information collected by the Secretariat will also be available at the CRC.

    Informal Receptions


    A Secretariat member (helpful college staff) will help organize informal caucus meetings. Apply for these meeting times by returning an application to the State Office. Delegates may also coordinate with the Secretariat members during the conference if they want to host other caucus meetings.


    Model UN Newspaper


    Student editorial staff will write, publish and distribute a daily newspaper to inform participants of conference events. This newspaper will also outline various opinions on specific issues and provide insight on activities of special interest to delegates and advisors, as well as provide the official text of any resolutions coming before any organ of the Model United Nations.



    Security Council

    Topics Information Packet


    Regulating Biological Weapons

    Government Transparency and Info Sharing

    Historic Security Council – 1979

    Topics Information Packet


    Situation in Uganda

    Situation in Afghanistan

    International Court of Justice (ICJ)


    Agenda is determined by cases submitted.

    Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

    Junior Economic and Social Council (Jr. ECOSOC)

    ECOSOC (Grades 9-12)

    Jr. ECOSOC (Grades 7-8)

    Topics Information Packet


    Global Wage Gap

    International Arms Trade and the World Economy

    Human Rights Council (HRC)

    Topics Information Packet


    Gender-Based Violence During Wartime

    Child Labor and Education

    General Assembly (GA)



    Mondale GA (Grades 9-12)
    Anderson GA (Grades 7-8)


    All Committee Topics Information Packet


    Political and Security

    Cybersecurity Threats

    Safety of International Travelers


    Economic and Financial

    Money Laundering

    Combatting Misinformation in the Digital Age


    Social, Humanitarian and Cultural

    Poverty and Social Exclusion

    Religious Intolerance



    Health Conditions of Refugee Camps

    Rights of Children with Incarcerated Parents


    Special Political

    Managing Risks and Impacts of Future Epidemics



    Maternal and Child Health

    Civilian Impact of Weaponized Drone Strikes



    Delegates can return to Model United Nations as college staff. Members of the Secretariat have lots of knowledge, resources, and program experience.

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    The organ which has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security is the Security Council. The Council is composed of five permanent members-- China, France, The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States, and 10 non-permanent members, elected by the General Assembly for two year terms and not eligible for immediate re-election. The number of non-permanent members was increased from six to ten by an amendment of the Charter which came into force in 1965.


    While other organs of the United Nations may make recommendations to governments, the Council alone has the power to make decisions which all member States are obligated under the Charter to accept and carry out.


    The Council may investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction and may recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement. Disputes and situations likely to endanger international peace and security may be brought to the attention of the Council by any Member State, by a Non-Member State which accepts in advance the obligations of pacific settlement contained in the Charter, by the General Assembly, or by the Secretary-General.


    The Council may determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression. It may make recommendations or decide to take enforcement measures to maintain or restore international peace and security. Enforcement actions may include a call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures short of the use of armed force. Should it consider such measures inadequate, the Council may take military action against an aggressor? Under the Charter, all Members undertake to make available to the Council on its call, in accordance with special agreements to be negotiated on the Council's initiative, the armed forces, assistance and facilities necessary for maintaining international peace and security. The Council is also responsible for formulating plans to regulate armaments. In addition, the Security Council exercises the Trusteeship functions of the United Nations in areas designated as strategic. The Security Council makes annual and special reports to the General Assembly.


    The Security Council and the General Assembly, voting independently, elect the judges of the International Court of Justice. On the Security Council's recommendation, the General Assembly appoints the Secretary-General.


    Each member of the Council has one vote. Decisions on matters of procedure are taken by an affirmative vote of at least nine of the 15 Members. Decisions on substantive matters also require nine votes, including the concurring votes of all five permanent Members. This is the rule of "great power unanimity," often referred to as the "veto." All five permanent Members have exercised the right of veto at one time or another. If a permanent member does not support a decision but has no desire to block it through a veto, it may abstain; an abstention is not regarded as a veto.


    A State which is a member of the United Nations, but not of the Security Council, may participate, without vote, in its discussions when the Council considers that the country's interests are specially affected. Both Members of the United Nations and Non-Members, if they are parties to a dispute being considered by the Council, are invited to take part, without vote, in the discussions. However, the Council lays down the conditions for participation by a Non-Member State.


    The presidency of the Council is held monthly in turn by members in English alphabetical order. The Council decides its own rules of procedure and may establish subsidiary organs.


    There are two standing committees--the Committee of Experts, which studies and advises the Council on rules of procedure and other technical matters, and the Committee on Admission of New Members; each is composed of representatives of all Council Members. Over the years, the Council has also established many ad hoc bodies.


    The Military Staff committee, composed of the Chiefs of Staff of the five permanent members of their representatives, was established under the Charter to advise and assist the Security Council on such questions as the Council's military requirements for the maintenance of peace, the strategic direction of armed forces placed at its disposal, the regulation of armaments and possible disarmament.


    The General Assembly in November 1950, adopted a three part resolution entitled "United for Peace." Under that resolution, if the Security Council, because of the lack of unanimity of its permanent Members, failed to exercise its primary responsibility in the maintenance of peace, in a case where there appeared to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, the Assembly would consider the matter immediately with a view to making recommendations to Members of collective measures, including the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain international peace and security. If not in session, the Assembly would meet in emergency special session within 24 hours of a request for such a session by seven members of the Security Council (now amended to nine) or by a majority of General Assembly members.


    Resolutions of the Security Council:

    The resolution has been the major vehicle of Security Council action. There are two distinct types of resolutions: 1) consensus resolutions and 2) resolutions adopted by vote.


    The consensus resolution is a creation of the post 1966 Council. The consensus form is ideal for the council for several reasons. It places the emphasis on an image of unanimity when, in some cases, the members would feel obliged to vote against or abstain on a resolution that was formally voted on.


    The resolution adopted by vote is the more traditional approach. Resolutions are adopted by vote when, in spite of consultations, the Council members have failed to reach a consensus; any member may object to an attempt to adopt a resolution by consensus, and thereby force such a vote.


    Presidential Statements of Consensus:

    Often the Council finds that its consensus does not fit conveniently into a resolution form. In this case the Council will resort to a Presidential Statement of consensus. The President may, if he perceives a consensus and sees no resolution, wish to consult with Members concerning the substance of a formal statement. The President then reads that statement in a formal session, and the statement is made an official decision of the Council.



    Communications of the President of the Consensus of the Body:

    This is the most subtle of forms available to the Council. This form is like the Presidential Statement of Consensus except that it is less public. This technique is used when the Council wishes to minimize damaging debate.


    Learn more about Resolutions


    Under the Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are:

    to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations;

    • to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;

    • to recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;

    • to formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;

    • to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;

    • to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;

    • to take military action against an aggressor;

    • to recommend the admission of new Members;

    • to exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in "strategic areas";

    • to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice.


    The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. It is so organized as to be able to function continuously, and a representative of each of its members must be present at all times at United Nations Headquarters. On 31 January 1992, the first ever Summit Meeting of the Council was convened at Headquarters, attended by Heads of State and Government of 13 of its 15 members and by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the remaining two. The Council may meet elsewhere than at Headquarters; in 1972, it held a session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the following year in Panama City, Panama.


    When a complaint concerning a threat to peace is brought before it, the Council's first action is usually to recommend to the parties to try to reach agreement by peaceful means. In some cases, the Council itself undertakes investigation and mediation. It may appoint special representatives or request the Secretary-General to do so or to use his good offices. It may set forth principles for a peaceful settlement.


    When a dispute leads to fighting, the Council's first concern is to bring it to an end as soon as possible. On many occasions, the Council has issued cease-fire directives which have been instrumental in preventing wider hostilities. It also sends United Nations peace-keeping forces to help reduce tensions in troubled areas keep opposing forces apart and create conditions of calm in which peaceful settlements may be sought. The Council may decide on enforcement measures, economic sanctions (such as trade embargoes) or collective military action.


    A Member State against which preventive or enforcement action has been taken by the Security Council may be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. A Member State which has persistently violated the principles of the Charter may be expelled from the United Nations by the Assembly on the Council's recommendation.


    A State which is a Member of the United Nations but not of the Security Council may participate, without a vote, in its discussions when the Council considers that that country's interests are affected. Both Members of the United Nations and non-members, if they are parties to a dispute being considered by the Council, are invited to take part, without a vote, in the Council's discussions; the Council sets the conditions for participation by a non-member State.

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    In 1920, the League of Nations approved the Statute of the Permanent World Court. Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union became parties to the statute, but the court did play a role in world affairs throughout its life (1920 - 1940). In 1945, the Permanent Court was reconstructed as the International Court of Justice by a statute annexed to the United Nations Charter. Thus, all United Nations members are parties to the statute.


    Fifteen justices sit on the court. Ten positions are rotated, while five are always held by "The Big Five" (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States). When disputes involve parties not already represented on the Court, and "ad hoc" justice may be appointed by the unrepresented country to act as a full, voting member for that case.


    Technically, the justices are to act as neutral arbitrators in all matters presented to them... All but the President, however, do represent a flag and thus, are concerned with serving their nation's best interests. In preparing for the conference, familiarize yourself with your country's stance on a wide range of international issues. Members of the Court are expected to strike a balance between serving their country and serving the international community. The more you know, the better justice you will be.


    The basic function of the International Court is to decide in accordance with international law, such disputes as are submitted to it. Its jurisdiction comprises all cases on a truly international level that parties submit to it and all matters specifically provided for in the Charter of the United Nations. In resolving issues, the court is not limited to the suggestions made by the submitting parties. They can render any decision which they deem the best solution to the problem. The Court's power in enforcing its decisions is, however, limited. The strongest move the Court can make is recommending that the Security Council or the General Assembly take action against a nation.


    To present a case to the ICJ, a party must prepare a memorial. The Memorials must contain (1) the submitting party's (applicant's) name and signature, (2) the responding party's name(s), (3) Claims of Fact, (4) Assertions of Law and (5) Prayers for Relief. All Memorials must be typed.

    Writing Tips and Sample Memorial


    CLAIMS OF FACT This is a brief outline of issues and facts relevant to the case. The facts detail the events leading up to the dispute. Historical, legal and political research will aid the finding and stating of relevant facts. The facts must be truthful but may be stated in a manner favorable to the applicant.


    ASSERTIONS OF LAW These are the pertinent principles and laws in question. Examples of valid sources of law are international treaties, international conventions, customary law, previous ICJ decisions, United Nations resolutions and the works of noted international law writers and jurists.


    PRAYERS FOR RELIEF This is the section where the submitting party asks the court to act in its favor and states its recommended action. Applicants generally request that the Court direct the Respondent to correct the wrong, recommend sanctions against the Respondent or declare what rights and duties exist between the disputing parties. Respondents generally request dismissal or seek counter-relief against Applicants.


    Each party has a designated amount of time to present its case. Judges may ask questions of the presenters at any time throughout the presentation. The basic format for presentation is 10 minutes for Applicant presentation, 10 minutes for Respondent presentation and 5 minutes for rebuttals per side. The format can be altered by the current Model Court.


    Judges deliberate for as long as they deem necessary. No justices may leave during presentations of deliberations if they plan to vote on the case at hand. They may, however, participate in deliberations even if they have forfeited their vote.


    Voting is done in closed chambers by roll call. Official opinions must then be written for the majority opinion and for each dissenting opinion. The President will make the assignments. All opinions will be collected and announced in the General Assembly.


    Minnesota YMCA Model United Nations is a program of YMCA Youth in Government with support from the International Committee of the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities.


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