The Background Guide

In all MUN committees the background guide is your ultimate source of information but this is especially true for crisis. As you read the background guide, think of the historical context. The MUNUC staff who run the committee are the same people who write the background guide. So, the background guide will be full of hints as to what crises might come up. As you read the background guide, think of key themes that have appeared in the history leading up to committee, along with “current” issues at hand. For example, if a committee is titled “USA in 1987,” and the background guide is filled with details about the Cold War, the committee will certainly involve events surrounding the collapse of the USSR: the fall of the Berlin Wall, economic relations with reforming countries, denuclearization, etc. Knowing the focus of the committee will help you respond quickly to crisis breaks and can help you write more topical notes.

As you read, keep track of issues you think might come up in committee. Other things to note are key personnages that might make an appearance either in updates or as the motivator behind challenges the committee will have to face. This could include politicians, countries, rebel groups, companies, and any other key actors. These can be useful for helping to craft your backroom arcs as well.

The conference weekend begins with Crisis Breaks heavily linked to the background guide. However, as the committee evolves, individual delegates can affect the committee by exercising their portfolio powers, and causing new Crisis Breaks. Each delegate writes crisis notes to build up and use resources to promote a personal agenda. So, while the background guide is the basis of delegate powers and the committee’s goals, history will quickly veer in new directions.

All crisis delegates are assigned a character that they will be playing during conference. At the end of the background guides you can find biographies, or “bios”, for every character that might be a member of committee. From the bio, you can clearly see the powers of your role and also any resources you already have, which are called “portfolio powers.” The bio might also hold some hints or tips for your character, and is certainly not exhaustive. Some characters in Crisis Committees will be real historical figures but others will be completely fictional. Because of this you don’t necessarily have to do independent research on your character, instead use your imagination to build upon what is there to flesh out your character’s morals, political alignment, connections, and any other resources that you would have at the start of committee. These kinds of assumptions are encouraged as long as they are logical and historically accurate. You are encouraged to define your character as you see fit. If you ever worry that your ideas about your character are too extreme, then ask the crisis director for further direction.

Along with your own bio it can be useful to at least skim over the others. This can help you get a picture of who might be aligned with your positions and who might be a potential ally in the frontroom. Keep in mind that not all characters will be represented at conference, and some delegates may interpret their character differently from how you expect them to, that is okay.