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Beginners Guide: Rules of Procedure you must remember for your first Model United Nations Conference

Published on December 22, 2021


Beginners Guide: Rules of Procedure you must remember for your first Model United Nations Conference

Have you ever sat at a gathering, trying hard to get a word in while everyone else around you is excitedly conversing? Isn’t it aggravating?

While we may tolerate such scenarios when we are surrounded by those we consider close friends, applying this to a broader scale, such as the United Nations, uncovers a slew of issues, as talks without any legal framework can only lead to chaos. That is why we require procedural rules.

Nothing can get accomplished without structure at the end of the day. As a result, the Rules of Procedure (RoP) were developed to offer oversight over debates, ensuring that they are conducted in a respectful and secure manner. They may differ slightly depending on the MUN you’re attending, so it’s always a good idea to double-check the RoP Booklet provided by your MUN. But even if you don’t have that book, we can teach you some of the most important rules in today’s world, so continue reading!

The Basic Rules

Typically, a MUN can be divided into distinct segments of the debates, each with its own purpose in promoting a topic. The rules within these procedures change slightly because they perform differently.

Structurally you have:

1. The Opening Of The Debate

Roll Call 

Isn’t it true that we all have to start somewhere? The Roll Call is typically used in Model United Nations to determine who is present and how many individuals are present. The Chairs are able to compute the requisite majority in procedural and substantive voting using this method. You can just say “Present” when you hear your country’s name. You can also say “Present and Voting” to add some flair to the conversation and show how serious you are about the topic being discussed. But watch out! This comes at a price. You cannot abstain from substantive votes if you use “Present and Voting,” which means you must actually have an opinion on the subject.

– Setting The Agenda

This approach may vary depending on your MUN. Before starting the debate, you may be given one subject to discuss, in which case this section is theoretically superfluous. If you have many topics to choose from, it will be up to you and the other delegates to decide which one to debate. You should be cautious with these things; based on your country’s policies, you may have a preference for one issue over another; consequently, you should make every effort to get the debate topic that best suits you off the ground. A motion is required to set such an agenda.

Raise your placard and wait for the Chair to recognise you. This is a general norm that applies to all aspects of the MUN debate (except for the unmoderated caucus). After being acknowledged, you state your country’s name and proceed to the top of the agenda to insert your favoured issue first. Always speak as if you are representing your country. There are no “I’s” allowed! It’s “we,” your country’s name, or “as Country Name’s representative.”

When there is no clear preference, some MUNs choose to hold a short discussion between the representatives of various specific topics. After a motion has been raised, the Chairs will call for a procedural voting process, which means delegates will not be permitted to abstain and will be required to vote. A simple majority is all that is required.

Hooray! The nations have been tallied, and a topic has been raised. The debate can now begin immediately.

2. The Debate 

– Opening Statements

Once a topic has been selected, each state’s delegate will give an opening statement in which they will quickly express their position on the topic in question, in alphabetical order. You can use your opening speech to: align yourself with like-minded countries to begin forming an alliance; and bring up specific aspects within the topic that your country is passionate about. This is your chance to shape the conversation in your country’s favour. As you listen to the other countries’ opening arguments, take notes to observe who is concerned about what part of the situation, and with whom you may find yourself in agreement or disagreement on certain themes. This can come in handy later on when you need to collaborate on Draft Resolutions with other Delegates. The discussion will then move on to the General Speaker’s List once this process is completed.

– The General Speakers List (GSL)

Within a debate, the GSL is effectively your default section. Chairs will set a time restriction for each speaker, and countries can then request to be added to the list, taking turns speaking in the sequence set by the Chairs.

If you were to raise the motion for a moderated Caucus in the GSL, you might seek to move the argument in the way you want it to go. This is your chance to look for those who will vote for you. Others may disagree, but they will be able to respond to you on the GSL within their time window. To join the GSL, wait for the Chair to ask who wants to be added to the list, then raise your placard and wait for them to recognise you. If you conclude your speech before your given time is up, the Chair may allow other Delegates to ask you a question, which you can then answer, you may let your time run out, or you may donate your time to another Delegate. What is the best option is entirely dependent on your tactical thinking.

– Moderated And Unmoderated Caucuses

While the GSL is primarily intended to facilitate general talks, there are instances when additional time is required to focus on specific issues, in which case an unmoderated or moderated caucus might be convened. Speakers in a moderated caucus must limit their speeches to the topic at hand. If a trend towards a given issue was already predicted inside the GSL, it may be helpful to propose a move for a moderated caucus on that topic (for a certain number of minutes, with a certain amount of speaker time). This is a chance to really shape the debate, and because many motions for multiple moderated caucuses are frequently presented at the same time, voting is required. Pro Tip: In most voting procedures, the longer motion takes precedence, and the secondary motion is only voted on if the first one does not receive enough votes. As a result, it’s not a terrible idea to make your own motion somewhat longer than the others’. In the MUN world, being tactical is crucial!

An unmoderated Caucus, on the other hand, is a whole different tactical game. For a period, conventional rules cease to exist within it, and one might engage in a freeform argument with no turns, points, or speaking time. You are free to wander about the room, get to know the other countries better, and negotiate and write your draft resolutions. This is where you look for cross-national cooperation and strive to build something based on shared ideals. A motion for this, like the moderated caucus, must be raised. Abstention is not possible because this is a procedural vote. The unmoderated caucus takes as much time as the period given allows.

– Draft Resolutions 

Draft Resolutions, oh my. The world’s biggest henchman in MUN. Having to prepare a document that follows its own set of rules, uses a specific sort of language, and is generally expected to be treated in a professional manner might make people want to flee. That’s understandable! Although the purpose of this post isn’t to teach you how to create a draft resolution, we always recommend conducting some study on the subject before getting started. Sure, you could always delegate the task to someone else, but it’s a well-kept secret in the MUN world that whoever is holding the laptop and typing the document is King.

What is a Draft Resolution, exactly? A draft resolution is a document that presents the suggested solution to the problem at hand and is designed to represent the perspectives and agendas of those who wrote and signed it. Once the arguments are over, it must have a certain number of sponsors who support it and will vote in favour of it. The number of sponsors required varies depending on the Council and the Chair, as well as the size of the Committee.

Once a draft resolution is completed, it should be delivered to the chairperson, who will ideally accept it, after which a motion to introduce it to the rest of the House can be made. After that, you must study the operative clauses one by one within a set time limit. After that, nations will be able to request changes to the clauses you’ve written. If no one objects to a modification within a clause, the amendment is friendly, and the clause can be rewritten accordingly. However, if a sponsor objects, the matter must be decided by a vote.

Amended clauses cannot be re-amended, so be sure you don’t have any objections to a change in your resolution.

3. Closing The Debate

The GSL must be closed before a draft resolution can be voted on, so one must either wait for the GSL list to finish or move the motion to end the debate. The argument will finish if two-thirds of the people agree and are in favour.

If there are many resolutions on the table, the committee will vote on the one that was submitted first, based on the serial number. As a result, it’s critical to act quickly in forming a committee and drafting a competent and well-worded Draft Resolution.

The Draft Resolution is then voted on by the Committee.

– Voting Procedure

Except for those countries who said that they are “present and voting,” the voting mechanism is a substantive vote. That is, everyone who indicated they were present at the Roll Call has the option of voting “Yes,” “No,” or abstaining. Furthermore, if you are a sponsor of the current resolution, you are not permitted to abstain.

Once the voting has been concluded. After a proposal has been approved, it becomes a committee resolution, after which the council will move on to the next item on the agenda. If it fails, the second proposed resolution will be voted on.

Now that you have all the tools to tackle a MUN, are you ready for attending the biggest Model UN collaboration in India between The Big Red Group and Best Delegate?

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