Researching Conference Topics
Once you have learned about the country you represent and it's government, people, and economy, you should develop an understanding of the issues that will be debated at your committee. Many conferences send out background materials or issue briefs, which can help jump start your research. You may want to look at the sources cited in these materials for more in-depth information. If the conference background materials pose questions, you should answer them with your country information in mind.
Here are some additional questions to help guide your research:
- What is the problem? How does it affect your country?
- What has your country done to combat the problem?
- What are the various "sides" in the debate?
- Which aspects of the issue are most important to your country?
- If your country is not involved with the issue, how can it become involved?
- How will your country shape the debate at the conference?
- What arguments will other countries make?
- How do the positions of other countries affect your country's position?
- Is there evidence or statistics that might help to back up your country's position?
Tips for Researching Issues
Check out news and media for up-to-date developments on an issue.
Google Alerts is a great resource for finding up-to-date news on your topic. Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries. Just enter terms relevant to your topic, and a digest of relevant web pages and news articles will be sent to your free Gmail account on a daily, weekly, or even instantaneous basis.
Ask your community, school or university librarian if you can get access to LexisNexis Academic Universe. LexisNexis is a system that searches thousands of periodicals. Another service is Questia. This service costs about $15.00 per month, but allows you to access thousands of documents from your personal computer. Ask if your school already has access.
Look at the UN Global Issues page, which has an index to some prominent issues as well as a list of UN agencies that work in various issue-areas. Also, through the United Nations Documentation Center, you can find resolutions and voting records from the current and previous years.
Visit non-governmental organization (NGO) websites. NGOs are an important part of the UN system, in part due to the valuable research and information they generate. Look for NGOs that address your topic.
Read academic publications. Although they can be complex, they provide in-depth information on many issues. Professors, students and researchers are constantly conducting studies and publishing papers.