Gavels over Model UN name placards

What is a General Assembly Committee?

When the typical person envisions Model UN, it is likely that they will immediately picture a General Assembly (GA) committee. This is the ~classic~ form of MUN which has sprouted all the other fun variations that we have talked about (i.e. Crisis).

GA Structure

In my opinion, the best way to describe a GA committee is that it mimics the actual UN. While Crisis committees can cover any topic in the world and can have several different structures, a GA is traditionally a more literal interpretation of what the United Nations does. Many of these committees will follow actual UN bodies, like DISEC, UNODC, or UNHRC. The topics in these committees tend to be historical or current day, as they will either allow you the opportunity to go back and solve a real world global crisis as the UN in a way which you think would have been better, or take on a current global issue that hasn’t quite been handled yet. A good example of this would be UNODC (UN Office on Drugs and Crime) covering the topic of international drug trafficking. This is a very real issue that the UN would potentially pass a resolution on. Furthermore, to keep with UN structure, delegates will typically represent countries instead of individuals. Therefore, you have to know your nation’s foriegn policy, heads of state and government, and allies. For more info on how to prep for a GA, see our article on pre-conference research.While this is the standard way that GAs work, that is not to say there are not other GA style committees that are futuristic or that act as non-UN bodies, it is just less common. I’ll get more into the unconventional GA styles in a bit.

How GAs Run

As far as the way the committee runs, it is an amalgamation of parliamentary procedure, debate, and writing. Parli pro is far more stringent in GA committees. Now, I’m not trying to intimidate you, everyone can always improve on parli pro and mistakes happen to beginners and advanced delegates alike. However, the function of the committee is much more dependent on the structure of traditional parli pro than in a crisis committee. For a more expanded view of how the parli pro works and in what order things happen, see our outline of GA parliamentary procedure. 

Debate is vital in GA committees, mostly because there is no other aspect of committee. There are no crisis notes in a standard GA committee, you may only write notes to fellow delegates (which you should absolutely do to plan ideas for resolutions and build alliances). Because of the lack of crisis, your speaking is the most important part of your performance. Come in knowledgeable and ready to think on your feet, because speeches will make or break your award potential. Unmoderated caucuses will also be vital to your success in a GA. This is the time where you will convince people to believe in your proposed solution. Charm their pants off, have answers to their questions, and rebut the opponents. For more info on unmods and how to become a superstar at them, click here.

Writing is the other major aspect of a GA, as the committee will culminate in the passing of a resolution, which is a very large, comprehensive, and collaborative piece meant to solve the issue at hand. Generally, two resolutions will be presented, one from each block (a group of allies that are working for the same solution), but only one will be passed. If both are passed, any parts of the second resolution that contradict the first resolution will hold true over the first. Resolutions, like most GA things, are more structured than their crisis counterpart: directives. Preambulatory clauses, operative clauses, signatories, sponsors; it’s all a little convoluted. However, it can be learned pretty easily with some practice. See our article on writing resolutions to learn more about the process (wow how many self-promos is that now? 6?). 

Unconventional GAs

I won’t spend too much time on this, because this is supposed to be an into article, i suppose. However, I think it’s important to mention the fact that there are some kinds of GA committees that don’t quite fit into what I previously described. There are futuristic committees that may fall into a GA style, like an intergalactic governing council. There, too, may be a committee that doesn’t have you act as a country but rather as an individual, like a board of directors of a major company. You may also find yourself in an “adjusted crisis” committee. Don’t panic if that’s the case, you’ll make it. Generally, those are a GA style committee with resolutions and all the typical things, but they allow crisis notes in some capacity. It may be limited crisis powers or you may have to send group notes to encourage cooperation. However it is structured, it should be outlined in the background guide (read this to learn how to use a background guide well). If not, ask your chair! They’ll gladly explain, its their job.

Final Thoughts

GAs often get a bad rap from crisis delegates and are seen as stuffy and hoity-toity versions of the scrappy and often silly crisis committees. However, without GA, we wouldn’t have crisis, so lets collectively pour one out for the homies who choose to devote their MUN careers to mastering the fickle art of the GA. If you are a debate person, a UN, history, or international relations junkie, or just got excited by this article, this style of committee may be for you. Long live the GA dels (and the crisis dels that got their start in GA, like me). I hope this gave you an idea of what you are getting yourself into and will give you a basic roadmap for success in committee. Good luck!

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