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Here are six important areas for you to research as part of your
preparation for a conference (from http://www.cyberschoolbus.un.org):
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 http://www.cyberschoolbus.un.org.
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 http://www.cyberschoolbus.un.org)
• 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
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.
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
MODEL UN PROCEDURAL RULES
motion to set the
speakers time sets or changes the amount of time each
delegate has to speak.
motion to open
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
list can be opened and closed multiple times. This motion
requires an immediate vote.
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.
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.
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.
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.
point of order
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
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
delegate may raise a point
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.
delegate raises a point
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.
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
Caucusing (from http://unausa.org)
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
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 http://unausa.org)
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 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.
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
• 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
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 http://unausa.org)
Some Preambulatory Phrases
Bearing in mind
Expressing its appreciation
Expressing its satisfaction
Having considered further
Having devoted attention
Keeping in mind
Noting with regret
Noting with deep concern
Noting with satisfaction
Noting with approval
Taking into account
Taking into consideration
Viewing with appreciation
Some Operative Phrases
Draws the attention
Expresses its appreciation
Expresses its hope
Takes note of
Both of the above from http://www.unausa.org.
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.
SAMPLE RESOLUTION (http://unausa.org)
General Assembly Third Committee
Sponsors: United States, Austria and Italy
Signatories: Greece, Tajikistan, Japan, Canada, Mali, the Netherlands
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
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
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
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