By Laila Bera, Director of Delegate Preparation
We are about 6 weeks away from our sixth ALAMAU conference and we hope that you’re researching, and practicing your speeches in front of your mirror because it is going to get lit in those committee rooms.
In this article, we give you some dope tips on how you can get your research on point. We hope that you find this useful. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any more questions and enquiries on delegate preparation.
Your committee’s study guide will provide you with lots of information about the topic as your committee’s chairperson would have spent several months researching to compile the guide. Let that be your primary source of research.
How to research your committee?
It is very important that you understand the committee or international organization in which you will be a delegate. You will find below some questions that are meant to be a starting point for your committee research.
- What is the full name of your committee? Does it function as an independent organization, or is it an organ of the African Union?
- Why was your committee founded? When was it founded?
- What document established your committee?
- What are your committee’s powers?
- How many members does your committee have? Who are the current members of your committee?
- How is membership determined in your committee? How long does membership last?
- When and how frequently does your committee meet?
- Does your committee report up to another committee? Does your committee have sub-committees?
- How would you describe your committee’s role in the African Union system?
The study guide provides a brief overview of the above information however, you are encouraged to use secondary online sources.
How to research your topic?
To develop a broad understanding of your topic beyond the study guide, here is a 4 – step guide to researching your topic:
1. Develop an overall understanding of the topic
Break the topic up into smaller issues to make it easier to understand. Also, know the key actors: which countries are most affected by the topic and which countries have the most impact on the topic. Read about the topic through articles published in newspapers, academic journals, and foreign policy magazines and through statements made by topic experts.
2. Know past actions
Visit to the committee (organization’s) website and look for the most important resolutions on your topic. You should realize that your committee is not the only body working on this topic; other committees and countries have probably taken action as well. Find out the most important actions taken with regard to your topic and who undertook them. Find or develop a timeline of important events and major actions taken on the topic.
3. Understand the current situation
Conduct a news search on Google News, BBC, The Guardian, Al Jazeera and national newspapers, and even blogs (however, utilise these as supplementary sources rather than primary sources). You should also seek to find official documents and statements about the topic; perhaps a statement made by your president at the African Union or the United Nations, or a statement made by one of the cabinet ministers in your country’s government or any other top ranking official. Similarly, search through the African Union website to find the most recent resolutions that have been passed on the topic.
4. Determine future outlook
Look for predictions and trends indicating where your topic is going. Is the situation improving or deteriorating? Are the actions being taken effective or inhibitive? In other words, you are looking for critiques of the current situation and recommendations for what to do in the future.
How to research my country?
- Knowing your country
You have most likely been assigned to be the representative of a country with which you are not very familiar; most likely in a different region of the continent from the one in which you live. A number of research avenues are available when researching about your country
It is important to know the background of your country before you begin to research specific topics. Even a general search on Wikipedia will prove very helpful, although we do advise that you do not cite this as your primary source of information.
2. Understanding your country’s foreign policy
Every country has a foreign policy statement. Foreign policy can be broadly defined as the set of goals that state officials pursue abroad; the values, interests, and concerns that underlie those goals, and the means or instruments used to pursue them.
Beyond knowing the specifically stated foreign policy of a country with respect to the issues under discussion in each committee, delegates must be aware of the broad foreign policy goals of their countries relating to domestic and international interests.
A significant aspect of foreign policy is an awareness of who your allies and trade partners are, and how your country interacts with the other actors in the international community. In the process of negotiation, which occurs during the drafting of a resolution, the pursuit of foreign policy involves responding to different considerations, most important of which is to strike a balance between pursuing your interests and reaching consensus with your allies.
Where can you find information pertaining to your country’s foreign policy?
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs website
To find information on your country’s foreign policy, the best place to start is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Often, this website will have extensive information pertaining both to the position of your country on various issues, and to the values and interests that shape that position.
2. Embassy/Consulate of your country
Another very useful resource, especially if your country does not have a Ministry of Foreign Affairs website in English or any other language you are familiar with is the embassy or consulate of the country you represent in your city or region.
You should also visit the websites of organizations that work specifically on your subject area. Below is a list of useful websites you can visit if your topic focuses on:
Terrorism and security: The Institute of Security Studies at http://www.issafrica.org/
Health: The World Health Organisation website, http://www.who.int/en/
Trade: The World Trade Organization at http://www.wto.org/
It is also recommended to visit the WWW Virtual library, http://vlib.org/ for a catalogue of resources providing current updates on various issues.
CIA fact book: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html – Here you will find a list of all the basic information pertaining to your country, including its GDP, population, literacy, brief historical summary, and other important details. It will also give you a list of all the international treaties and organizations the country is a party to, as well as a brief account of the several international disputes that the country is involved in.
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