MU E-Mail Login Give to MU MU Blackboard Login MU QEP MU on Facebook MU on Twitter MU on YouTube MU Publications on Issuu MU Photosets on Flickr

 » About the Program

 » Related Links

MU Home » Academics » School of Public Affairs » Department of Government Studies » Political Science Program

Model United Nations Research Packet

Here are six important areas for you to research as part of your preparation for a conference (from

1. Know the UN system. An on-line introduction to the UN and virtual tour of the UN is available for students who want a basic understanding of the UN system at

2. Become familiar with your country's history, culture, political structure, and current political affairs. In addition to resources you may find at your school, university, or public library and on the internet, it may be useful to read fiction and non-fiction books (e.g., biographies) written by authors who live in your country. They may offer insights into the culture you are learning about.

3. Learn about your country's viewpoints on as many of the issues that will be discussed at the conference you will be attending as you can.

4. Know your allies and your opposition. In order to adequately represent your country during the conference, you will need to interact with delegates from other countries. Knowing their positions on your topic will help you predict their arguments during debate. This will be very useful in helping you decide in advance where it might be useful to seek cooperation or compromise.

5. Be familiar with current statistical data on your topic and country.

6. Review the rules and procedures for your conference. These rules are intended to create a level playing field allowing each country to accomplish its individual goals in speaking about their policies while maximizing opportunities for the group to reach agreement or even consensus on the issue. Each conference publishes a set of rules and procedures that are derived from those used by the UN. There are many resources on protocol and parliamentary procedure available through MUN sites and books.

Tips from MUNers (from

• Remember it is not your opinion you are expounding but the country you are representing.
• Be willing to continuously improve and refine your capabilities.
• Do mock trials with team members and neighboring teams.
• Technique matters - so practice it.
• Be aware of different political perspectives - East vs. West and North vs. South.
• Compromise is an art, treat it that way.
• Get hooked on MUN, this will change your life.
• Learn from your experience.
• Hold a debriefing session after each conference to discuss things that worked and things that did not work.
• Keep a record of your feedback and plans for improvement.
• Congratulate your team members (and other players!) on their contributions to the team and the conference.

Other Model U.N. Organizations

The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA - USA) is a non-profit organization that supports the work of the UN. As part of its Model UN outreach, it publishes wonderful resources which are described in its catalog. Their publications include comprehensive information on how to prepare for a conference, updates on global issues, policy statements and analysis as well as an informative video on Model U.N. with footage from actual conferences.

The American Model United Nations (AMUN) has also put together some excellent resources for student delegates, faculty advisors and student leaders who are preparing their school for Model UN conferences. Student delegates should look at AMUN's tricks of the trade for pre-conference preparation tips as well as tactics and strategies to use during the conference. Faculty advisors and student leaders should consult the AMUN Simulation Guide for activities on resolution writing and caucusing as well as instructions for running a practice simulation. (drawn from





A motion to set the speakers time sets or changes the amount of time each delegate has to speak. 

Simple majority vote

A motion to open the speakers list allows delegates to sign up to speak. At some conferences a motion to close the speakers list closes the list for the remainder of the session or topic. However, at most Model UN conferences the speakers list can be opened and closed multiple times. This motion requires an immediate vote.

Simple majority vote

Delegates propose a motion to suspend debate for the purpose of holding a caucus. If you move to suspend the meeting, be sure to specify the purpose and the amount of time.   

Simple majority vote

A motion to adjourn meeting ends the committee session until the next session, which might be the next year’s conference, or after lunch or dinner. 

Simple majority vote

A motion to adjourn debate (also known as motion to table debate) is not the same as a motion to adjourn the meeting. Rather, it is used to table, or put on hold, all of the work that the committee has completed on a particular topic. At some Model UN conferences you can return to this topic later, while at others the topic cannot be discussed again. 

Two-thirds majority vote

A delegate makes a motion to close debate in order to move the committee to a vote, usually when the delegate has made his or her country's position clear and there are enough draft resolutions on the floor.

Two-thirds majority vote

A point of order is used when a delegate believes the chair has made an error in the running of the committee. The Delegate should only specify the errors they believe were made in the formal committee procedure, and may not address the topic being discussed.

Decision of Chairperson

A point of inquiry (also known as a point of parliamentary procedure) can be made when the floor is open (i.e. when no other delegate is speaking) in order to ask the chairperson a question regarding the rules of procedure.

No vote

A delegate may raise a point of personal privilege in order to inform the chairperson of a physical discomfort he or she is experiencing, such as not being able to hear another delegate’s speech.

No vote

A delegate raises a point ofinformation in order to pose a question to a speaker during formal debate. The speaker chooses whether or not to yield his or her time to points of information. 

Decision of speaker

A delegate makes an appeal to the chair’s decision when he or she feels the chairperson has incorrectly decided a point or motion. At some conferences, this formal challenge must be made in writing. The appealing delegate speaks and the chairperson defends himself or herself before the vote.

Two-thirds majority vote

Caucusing (from

Caucusing, or informal debate, is an important part of the Model UN simulation because it provides an opportunity for delegates to collaborate, negotiate and formulate draft resolutions. During a Model UN conference, caucuses can be either moderated or unmoderated.

When a committee holds a moderated caucus, the Chair calls on delegates one at a time and each speaker briefly addresses the committee. During an unmoderated caucus, the committee breaks for a temporary recess from formal proceedings so that delegates can work together in small groups. To hold a caucus, a delegate must make a motion and the committee must pass the motion.

Many delegates prefer to speak during a moderated caucus rather than being placed on the speaker’s list. In a moderated caucus, speakers are usually able to convey one or two key points to the entire committee or share new ideas that have developed through the course of debate. A delegate sometimes chooses to make a motion for a moderated caucus if his or her name is close to the end of the speakers list. By speaking in a moderated caucus, delegates are able to address the committee much earlier.

In most cases, more than half of committee time is used for unmoderated caucusing. Many delegates feel this is the easiest way for them to collaborate and start to formulate draft resolutions.

Tips for Effective Caucusing

Enter the caucus with a plan in mind: Formulate ideas on what your country would like to see included in a resolution. Decide which clauses you are willing to negotiate on and which you are not.

Find delegates in your regional bloc: This is the easiest way to seek out allies. However, if you find that the group you are working with is not meeting your needs, do not be afraid to switch groups.

Provide ideas: Tell others what your country is hoping to achieve. If you do not agree with an idea, do not hesitate to say that it is against your country’s policy.

Negotiate: While it is often necessary to give up something that you want, make sure that you are not giving up anything too important.

Listen: By listening to what others are saying you will able to build on other people’s ideas and add more to the discussion. Listening also shows respect for each delegate in your group.

Do not interrupt: Allow other delegates to finish their thoughts rather than interrupting others in the middle of a sentence. It sometimes helps to write down your idea so that you can bring it up when the delegate is finished speaking.

Record ideas: Start to formulate a resolution in writing. Rather than waiting until the last minute, begin recording fellow delegates’ ideas right away.

Be resourceful: By providing fellow delegates with resolution text, maps or information as they need it, you will show that you are valuable to the group.

Have one-on-one conversations: Speaking with an individual or in a small group is the best way to find out a delegate’s position on an issue. Larger groups are better suited to brainstorming.

Stay calm: In caucuses, delegates can sometimes “lose their cool.” Staying calm will not only help your group be more effective, but will be noticed by the conference staff. Always keep your voice at a normal level. If you see that you are becoming upset or raising your voice, excuse yourself from the group for a few minutes.

Use time effectively: Make sure you have enough time to hear everyone’s ideas so that you can discuss them during formal debate. Try not to waste time arguing over small details that do not seriously affect the draft resolution.

Show respect: Never give orders or tell other delegates what they should or should not do. Be polite and treat all your fellow delegates with respect.

Provide constructive critique: Rather than negatively criticizing another delegate, focus on providing constructive critique. If you dislike an idea, try to offer an alternative. Critique ideas, not people.

Establish connections with other delegates: Although it can be tempting to call a fellow delegate “Pakistan,” “Brazil” or “Sweden”, you can form a better connection with a delegate by learning his or her name and where he or she comes from. Ask the delegate about his or her ideas and impressions of the debate. Showing interest in your fellow delegates at the beginning of the conference will help you gain more support later on and can help you to form lasting friendships. (from


The final results of discussion, writing and negotiation are resolutions—written suggestions for addressing a specific problem or issue. Resolutions, which are drafted by delegates and voted on by the committee, normally require a simple majority to pass (except in the Security Council). Only Security Council resolutions can compel nations to take action. All other UN bodies use resolutions to make recommendations or suggestions for future action.

Draft Resolutions

Draft resolutions are all resolutions that have not yet been voted on. Delegates write draft resolutions alone or with other countries. There are three main parts to a draft resolution: the heading, the preamble and the operative section. The heading shows the committee and topic along with the resolution number. It also lists the draft resolution’s sponsors and signatories (see below). Each draft resolution is one long sentence with sections separated by commas and semicolons. The subject of the sentence is the body making the statement (e.g. the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, or Security Council). The preamble and operative sections then describe the current situation and actions that the committee will take.

Bringing a Resolution to the Floor for Debate

A draft resolution must always gain the support of a certain number of member states in the committee before the sponsors (the delegates who created the resolution) may submit it to the committee staff. Many conferences require signatures from 20 percent of the countries present in order to submit a draft resolution. A staff member will read the draft resolution to ensure that it is relevant and in proper format. Only when a staff member formally accepts the document and assigns it a number can it be referred to in formal debate.

In some cases a delegate must make a motion to introduce the draft resolution, while in other cases the sponsors are immediately called upon to read the document. Because these procedures can vary, it is essential to find out about the resolution process for the conference you plan to attend.

Preambulatory Clauses

The preamble of a draft resolution states the reasons for which the committee is addressing the topic and highlights past international action on the issue. Each clause begins with a present participle (called a preambulatory phrase) and ends with a comma. Preambulatory clauses can include:

• References to the UN Charter;
• Citations of past UN resolutions or treaties on the topic under discussion;
• Mentions of statements made by the Secretary-General or a relevant UN body or agency;
• Recognition of the efforts of regional or nongovernmental organizations in dealing with the issue; and
• General statements on the topic, its significance and its impact.

Operative Clauses

Operative clauses identify the actions or recommendations made in a resolution. Each operative clause begins with a verb (called an operative phrase) and ends with a semicolon. Operative clauses should be organized in a logical progression, with each containing a single idea or proposal, and are always numbered. If a clause requires further explanation, bulleted lists set off by letters or roman numerals can also be used. After the last operative clause, the resolution ends in a period. (from

Some Preambulatory Phrases

Alarmed by
Aware of
Bearing in mind
Deeply concerned
Deeply conscious
Deeply convinced
Deeply disturbed
Deeply regretting
Expressing its appreciation
Expressing its satisfaction
Fully alarmed
Fully aware
Fully believing
Further deploring
Further recalling
Guided by
Having adopted
Having considered
Having considered further
Having devoted attention
Having examined
Having heard
Having received
Having studied
Keeping in mind
Noting with regret
Noting with deep concern
Noting with satisfaction
Noting further
Noting with approval
Taking into account
Taking into consideration
Taking note
Viewing with appreciation






Some Operative Phrases

Calls upon
Declares accordingly
Draws the attention
Expresses its appreciation
Expresses its hope
Further invites
Further proclaims
Further reminds
Further recommends
Further requests
Further resolves
Has resolved
Solemnly affirms 
Strongly condemns
Takes note of





Both of the above from

Sponsors and Signatories

Sponsors of a draft resolution are the principal authors of the document and agree with its substance. Although it is possible to have only one sponsor, this rarely occurs at the UN, since countries must work together to create widely agreeable language in order for the draft resolution to pass. Sponsors control a draft resolution and only the sponsors can approve immediate changes.

Signatories are countries that may or may not agree with the substance of the draft resolution but still wish to see it debated so that they can propose amendments.

A certain percentage of the committee must be either sponsors or signatories to a draft resolution in order for it to be accepted.


Approved draft resolutions are modified through amendments. An amendment is a written statement that adds, deletes or revises an operative clause in a draft resolution. The amendment process is used to strengthen consensus on a resolution by allowing delegates to change certain sections. There are two types of amendments:

A friendly amendment is a change to the draft resolution that all sponsors agree with. After the amendment is signed by all of the draft resolution’s sponsors and approved by the committee director or president, it will be automatically incorporated into the resolution.

An unfriendly amendment is a change that some or all of the draft resolution’s sponsors do not support and must be voted upon by the committee. The author(s) of the amendment will need to obtain a required number of signatories in order to introduce it (usually 20 percent of the committee). Prior to voting on the draft resolution, the committee votes on all unfriendly amendments.

Ultimately, resolutions passed by a committee represent a great deal of debate and compromise. They are the tangible results of hours if not days of Model UN debate. As a result, it is important to become familiar with the resolution process and practice drafting resolutions using the proper structure and wording.


Resolution GA/3/1.1

General Assembly Third Committee
Sponsors: United States, Austria and Italy
Signatories: Greece, Tajikistan, Japan, Canada, Mali, the Netherlands and Gabon
Topic: “Strengthening UN coordination of humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies”

The General Assembly,

Reminding all nations of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the inherent dignity, equality and inalienable rights of all global citizens, [use commas to separate preambulatory clauses]

Reaffirming its Resolution 33/1996 of 25 July 1996, which encourages Governments to work with UN bodies aimed at improving the coordination and effectiveness of humanitarian assistance,

Noting with satisfaction the past efforts of various relevant UN bodies and nongovernmental organizations,

Stressing the fact that the United Nations faces significant financial obstacles and is in need of reform, particularly in the humanitarian realm,

1. Encourages all relevant agencies of the United Nations to collaborate more closely with countries at the grassroots level to enhance the carrying out of relief efforts; [use semicolons to separate operative clauses]

2. Urges member states to comply with the goals of the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs to streamline efforts of humanitarian aid;

3. Requests that all nations develop rapid deployment forces to better enhance the coordination of relief efforts of humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies;

4. Calls for the development of a United Nations Trust Fund that encourages voluntary donations from the private transnational sector to aid in funding the implementation of rapid deployment forces;

5. Stresses the continuing need for impartial and objective information on the political, economic and social situations and events of all countries;

6. Calls upon states to respond quickly and generously to consolidated appeals for humanitarian assistance; and

7. Requests the expansion of preventive actions and assurance of post-conflict assistance through reconstruction and development. [end resolutions with a period]


The information compiled in this handout was drawn from the following internet sites: