THE Model UN MINI GUIDE
Researched & compiled by Heather McTaggart (Under-Secretary-General of Logistics and Operations)
This list has been compiled to clarify some major points that you should be aware of for any MUN conference. Although it does not comprise of all procedures, it strikes the most general ones and breaks them down.
This is a task you must complete before the actual conference begins. Position papers are concise statements about your country’s stance on a particular issue. By ‘concise,’ I mean very concise. No longer than a page is recommended, as chairs only need to briefly be aware of what kind of stance you will be taking in the actual conference.
Researching for a position paper is not as hard as you might believe. For instance, if the topic is on LGBTQ rights in the Human Rights Council and you are assigned Afghanistan, having some background knowledge on Afghanistan’s culture is going to be helpful. Based on common knowledge or from a quick Google search, you will know that Afghanistan is a strictly Muslim country that condemns its citizens from being homosexual. This should be able to lead you to the right direction. Be aware that you cannot decide your country’s position based on your own personal beliefs. Just because you personally believe that being homosexual is not wrong does not mean you should write a position paper of Afghanistan saying how you are fully supportive of it.
The chairs are not trying to look at how much information you can compact into a page-long paper. Rather, we want to see if you fully grasped the topic, so try to be more on point with your argument.
Also, try not to be late with position papers; we know how procrastination can get the best out of you, but this will reveal how unprofessional you are, which can work as a significant disadvantage for you when the dais chooses who to give awards to.
All position papers must be submitted no later than thursday, February 2nd at 11:59 pm, by emailing your committee director
What to Do in Conferences
Pay attention when others are speaking. We understand that as delegates, you have a lot to discuss privately and publicly, and sometimes you might want to talk with other delegates in order to seal a topic quickly. However, chairs will not choose a delegate who likes to interrupt or ignore other delegates to win any award no matter how amazing their arguments have been.
Participate! Many of you who are reading this resource page are joining MUN for the first time, and I understand the fear of talking in front of many strangers. You might worry that you haven’t researched on the topic enough, or you might simply have stage-fright. But do not worry - all the chairs understand that many delegates have never spoken in a professional setting like a MUN conference before, and experienced delegates will also understand you because they remember their first time. In short, nobody is going to laugh at you, so if you don't talk you will probably regret it when you go home.
Most importantly, be professional. Remember the fact that MUN is modeled after actual UN conferences. Remember to refer to yourself as ‘we’ or ‘delegate of [country name]’ instead of ‘I,’ as you represent the country, not an individual. Do not swear. Go business casual - nothing too fancy or revealing.
There are a lot of motions in MUN. Essentially, whenever you want to shift the direction of conference to something completely different, you motion for it. You can motion whenever the floor is open, and the floor is open generally once every 3-4 speaker intervals by chairs. Since there are too many motions, I will mention only the ones that most frequently occur in a conference:
- Motion to Move into Debate: This is a motion to start the debate; this is to be repeated whenever the conference starts anew.
- Motion to Set Agenda: This is a motion to choose the committee topic.
- Motion to Set Speaking Time: This is a motion to set the speaking time for speakers’ list (i.e. 1 minute per speaker; usually it’s set around 1 minute or 1 minute and 30 seconds)
- Motion for moderated/unmoderated caucus: This is a motion to move into moderated or unmoderated caucus for a period of time; a proposer must set how long it will last, but the chair has the power to change the time if deemed too long or short.
- Motion to introduce working paper/resolution: This is a motion to introduce working paper or resolution when it’s done and approved by chairs.
- Motion for Unfriendly Amendment: An unfriendly amendment is made by those who were in a different bloc but wishes to see some changes in the clauses written in a resolution.
- Motion to Move into Voting Procedure: This is a motion to get to roll call voting, where delegates can say either “yes,” “no,” “pass,” or “abstain.”
- Motion to Close the Debate: This is a motion that must be made before getting into voting procedure; once this motion passes, the topic at hand is closed, and there can be no further discussion on the topic.
- Motion to adjourn the debate: This is a motion that must be made before the end of the day; otherwise the debate is not over and nobody can go home!
The word ‘caucus’ sounds fancy, but really, it’s a replacement for a simpler word ‘discussion.’ From my own personal experiences of being a delegate and a chair, questions about caucuses are the most prevalent at the beginning of any conference, whether it is a small one or a big one. This can be a very time-consuming procedure, so to prevent that, keep your eyes open and read thoroughly:
There are two types of caucuses: moderated and unmoderated.
Moderated caucuses are specific discussions. For instance, if the committee topic is about protecting the global environment, a moderated caucus can be specifically about how to deal with nuclear leakage in Japan. Be aware that moderated caucuses can happen at any point of the conference as long as the chair opens the floor for a motion. In order for a moderated caucus to pass, you must reach consensus from at least half of the delegates present. Ergo, if there are 6 people in the room but 2 people outside the room, you must have at least 3 people who agree to get into the moderated caucus. Whoever has motioned for the passed moderated caucus goes first to speak.
Unmoderated caucuses are just like free discussions that you get in classes. Delegates can walk around and talk to people freely without waiting for their turns to speak (but please don’t interrupt delegates when they are talking!)
- Points of Inquiry: This point can be exercised anytime of the conference when delegates have questions regarding anything that is happening during the conference. For example, if you feel confused about the difference between moderated caucus and unmoderated caucus all of a sudden, you can raise your placard and say ‘point of inquiry’ in order to ask the dais to clarify the difference between the two.
- Point of Personal Privileges: You can raise your placard and shout ‘point of personal privileges’ when you feel uncomfortable - for example, if you're too cold or hot while the conference is going on. Most of the time this point is rarely utilized, but do not feel discouraged to use it if you feel too uncomfortable! If you have to use bathroom, however, please do not ask to go to bathroom using point of personal privileges. You can go to bathroom whenever you want.
- Point of Order: this point is used when moderators/directors make a mistake. Let’s say you are China who motioned for a moderated caucus on topic of discussing what to do with sex trafficking criminals. If the motion passes, the dais will have to put your country as the first speaker. If the dais forgets, you can raise your placard and say ‘point of order’ to correct the chair. Of course there are other cases that point of order can be used as long as it is to correct an error in procedure.
A resolution is what it says it is: it contains the product of all the conversations that occurred during the conference in the form of solutions.
The format of resolutions is quite crucial, and the chair may reject your resolution if your format is too haphazard. Usually, resolutions have the heading, the pre-ambulatory clauses, and the operative clauses.
Heading must contain signatories (delegates who agreed on the resolution) and sponsors (delegates who wrote the resolution).
Pre-ambulatory clauses are special ways of addressing the issue at the centre of the debate. Examples of pre-ambulatory clauses include ‘reaffirming that South Korea will support the action of…’ and ‘believing that such actions can provide greater support for those in need.’ There is a list of pre-ambulatory clauses easily searchable online.
Operative clauses present the solutions. They must be linked back to the issues that pre-ambulatory clauses mentioned by providing specific solutions to the discussed issues. There is also a list of operative clauses that can be easily found online.
One fact many delegates as well as chairs seem to forget is that if the committee has moved to voting procedure, nobody can go in or out. The door has been sealed. This can actually be a very good tool. I have an experience of moving into voting procedure while the opposing block was mostly outside writing a resolution, passing our resolution with almost unanimous majority.
Once moved into voting procedure, chairs will begin roll call voting, which means just like the roll call at the beginning of every conference, chairs will call out each country’s name, except this time followed by the answer to agree or disagree with the resolution at hand. “Yes” and “No” are self-explanatory, but there are two other answers that you can decide to say instead: “abstain” or “pass.”
If you abstain, that means you hold back your answer; usually it is used when you neither agree nor disagree with the resolution. However, be reminded that if you abstain, chairs will not go back to you to get another answer from you.
On the other hand, if you say ‘pass,’ chairs will skip your answer for now and go through the rest of the countries on the roll call list. By the time the last country’s answer has been heard, chair will get back to you to hear your answer. In this case, you cannot abstain; you must say either yes or no.
These are some links of resources that are more all-inclusive. You can use these links to further familiarize yourself with the rules.
- http://bestdelegate.com/resources/ (comprehensive list)
- http://www.unausa.org/global-classrooms-model-un/how-to-participate/getting-started/model-un-glossary (terms used in MUN)
- http://www.mfat.govt.nz/UNHB2014/UN-Handbook-201415-6Aug-interactive.pdf (extensive guide provided by the United Nations)
If you have any further questions before the conference regarding rules and procedures, you are more than welcome to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can wait for the first day of the conference when we will have a short workshop to make sure everyone knows the rules. Good luck!