What is Model UN (MUN)? What will it be like? How does it go?
These questions plagued my mind before I started MUN. My first exposure to the MUN world was during the summer of 8th grade. I enjoyed the forum where I had a chance to meet people from different backgrounds and debate with them to come up with a resolution for a problem and write resolution papers for the solution. It helped me realize my potential as a young delegate and what effect will my arguments have on resolving the current issues. I learned some basics of what the camp was going to be all about after research.
Model United Nations (Model UN/MUN) is a simulation of the United Nations (UN). You are a “delegate” who takes the place of a country or an organization. You get to visit conferences to pass your resolutions based on your research before the conference for some important issues today, such as climate change or the refugee crisis. Just like the UN, MUN has numerous organs such as the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Security Council, the International Court of Justice, and many more. You also get a chance to be a part of the resolutions, similar to MUN, which are at the heart of this academic simulation. MUN is all about cooperation and not competition. MUN helps you to also pick your soft skills like research, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.
I recently rejoined MUN and forgot about these important details and this blog post will give a brief of all the different terminologies used during the conferences, such as the General Terms, the different Committee Staff, Speeches during the conference, Parliamentary Procedures followed at any time during the conference:
Group of students representing a Member State during a MUN conference.
A head delegate serves as a liaison between delegation and AMUN (Arkansas Model United Nations) Secretariat, prepares position papers before a conference, and accepts the awards if the delegation receives one.
(This one is pretty straightforward, but) a member state is ratified by the Charter of the United Nations, and its application to join has been accepted by the General Assembly and the Security Council.
A person who gives brief speeches during closing sessions regarding the accomplishments of the committee, and will be presented with a certificate and gavel during the closing session.
These are breaks in formal debate, which will take place in MUN, and during this, countries can more easily and informally discuss a topic. There are two types of caucuses, moderated and unmoderated.
A formal debate is the standard type of debate and this is when delegates representing member states speak for a certain time in order based on the speaker’s list.
An amendment is a change to a draft resolution designed to modify the text. You add a new clause by removing a clause through an amendment before the final vote.
There are two of these:
A friendly amendment, which is supported by the original draft’s resolution’s sponsors & is passed automatically.
An unfriendly amendment, which is not supported by the original sponsors and must be voted on by the member states during the committee session.
A draft resolution is a document seeking to fix problems addressed by the MUN committee, and if passed, it becomes an adopted resolution.
“On the Floor”
An “on the floor” is a situation when a working paper or draft resolution can be discussed upon approval by the Co-Chair and formally recognized by the Chair.
**Unless the working paper or draft resolution is approved, it may NOT be discussed during formal debate sessions.**
A motion is a request made by the delegate that the committee as a whole do something.
An abstain is a situation during a vote, where you choose to abstain rather than vote “yes” or “no.” This signifies that you don’t support the resolution being voted on, but don’t oppose it enough to vote “no.”
A decorum is called on by the Chair when they feel the committee is not being respectful of a speaker, the dais, or their roles as ambassadors.
A speaker’s list is a list of all member states that determines the order in which delegates will speak during formal debate.
A new speaker’s list is created by the Chair when a new topic is opened for debate by indicating that all members and observer states in the committee will be placed on the Speaker’s List in alphabetical order.
A chair may also ask for member states to raise their placards to be placed on a Speaker’s List.
Then, we have the Committee Staff, which comprises mainly the Chair, Co-Chair, and the Legal Counsels:
A chair is the presiding officer of the committee and has the following responsibilities:
They declare the opening and closing of each committee meeting
They ensure compliance with the rules.
They recognize speakers.
They announce the results of the votes.
They rule on points of order.
They have complete control of the proceedings.
They call a speaker to order when the time limit of a speech is limited and the speaker has spoken for the allotted time.
They may entertain motions to recess or adjourn a committee session.
Overall, the chair is the president of the committee and has a whole lot of responsibilities to follow.
A co-chair tallies vote on motions, resolutions, and amendments, and presents these results to the Chair. They review and approve the draft resolution and proposed amendments to draft resolutions. Overall, they assist the Chair.
The legal counsels are responsible for keeping minutes of meetings and they help secure committee rooms during voting procedures.
We now have Speeches that are all about speaking, the heart of passing resolutions:
The opening statements are announced by the Chair after a roll call for each member state for their turns to give their opening statements. These should be a minute or less and should be restricted to general comments about the committee topics. After the name of your country is called by the Chair, the official delegate representing your member state should rise and make the opening statement.
**If you don’t wish to make one, state “|your country| chooses not to make an opening statement at this time.”**
After going through the list, the Chair will ask if there are any additional opening statements to be made.
This is allowed by the Chair after you raise your placard to be recognized by them. The only exception to this is if you have a “point of order.”
You raise your placard and say “point of order” to the Chair, the Chair will ask “what is your point” and you will explain. The Chair should issue a ruling about the point of order, then.
Upon learning of these General Terms & Speeches, we have the Parliamentary Procedures, the rules which structure and govern debate in committee, at any time:
Point of Information
A point of information takes place where inquiries are made or requests clarification from the Chair concerning parliamentary procedures or any other relevant questions regarding the business of the committee and this CAN NOT interrupt a speaker.
Point of Personal Privilege
A point of personal privilege concerns personal matters and this cannot interrupt a speaker.
Motion to Set the Order of Agenda Items
A motion to set the order of agenda items is following the convening of a committee and it should specify the precise order of consideration of agenda items. They require a second, and may not interrupt a speaker. The Chair will recognize one speaker in favor and one in opposition.
These have the following speeches and require a placard vote. It’s approved if the majority votes in favor.
This is the first of the motions that get the majority vote that will determine the order of discussion of committee topics.
The first agenda item will then be referred to as Topic A, the second as Topic B, etc.
The Parliamentary Procedure after the committee has completed the debate on an agenda item:
Motion to Change the Order of Consideration of Remaining Agenda Items
This motion is designed to change the order of the agenda and must be specific in terms of the order of the remaining agenda items. It requires a second and may not interrupt a speaker. The Chair will then recognize one speaker in favor and one in opposition.
This motion has the following speeches and does a placard vote. Approved if the majority votes in favor.
The Parliamentary Procedure during discussion of any matter.
Point of Order
This regards the conduct of business. It may not interrupt a speaker.
No debate upon this, the Chair should immediately issue a ruling.
The Parliamentary Procedures during debate on an agenda item, draft resolution, or proposed amendment to a draft resolution.
Point of Inquiry
This must be directed through the Chair and may only be made after the speaker has finished speaking but before they have yielded the floor. It cannot interrupt a speaker.
Motion to Extend the Time Limit
This motion extends the time limit for speeches by a specific time. It requires a second and may not interrupt a speaker. The chair will recognize one speaker in favor and one in opposition. It has the following speeches and requires a placard vote. It is approved if the majority vote in favor.
Motion to Change the Time Limit
This motion extends the time limit for speeches by a specified time. It requires a second and may not interrupt a speaker. The Chair will recognize one speaker in favor and one in opposition. It has the following speeches and requires a placard vote. Gets approved if the majority vote in favor.
The Parliamentary Procedures during formal debate on an agenda item:
Motion to Suspend Formal Debate for an Unmoderated Caucus:
These motions are to suspend formal debate for an unmoderated caucus for a specified amount of time (max. Of 15 minutes). It provides delegates with the opportunity to informally discuss the agenda and prepare draft resolutions about the agenda items.
It requires a second and may not interrupt a speaker. It is not a debate and has an immediate placard vote. It is approved if the majority vote in favor. If not approved, the Chair will resume formal debate and recognize the next speaker on the Speaker’s List.
15 minutes must pass in between unmoderated caucuses.
Motion to Suspend Formal Debate for a Moderated Caucus
This motion suspends formal debate for a moderated caucus for a specified amount of time and speaking time (15 min. Moderated caucus with 30 seconds speaking time).
This provides an opportunity to speak on the agenda item. It requires a second and may not interrupt the speaker.
It is not debatable, and has an immediate placard vote. It is approved if the majority vote in favor. If not approved, the Chair will resume formal debate and recognize the next speaker on the Speaker’s List.
Motion to Close Debate on an Agenda Item
This motion requires a second and may not interrupt a speaker. The Chair will recognize two speakers in opposition.
The following speeches have a placard vote. It is approved if the majority vote in favor. If approved, the Chair will immediately move to the next item on the agenda.
Motion to Table the Agenda Item
This indefinitely tables an agenda item, meaning the committee may decide to bring it back to the floor for consideration at a later time.
It requires a second and may not interrupt a speaker. The Chair will recognize one speaker in favor and one in opposition.
It has the following speeches and has a placard vote on it. It is approved if the majority vote in favor.
Motion to Consider a Draft Resolution
The Draft Resolution must be submitted in advance for approval by the Co-Chair. This motion must be sponsored by two member states and co-sponsored by at least four other member states. Any that don’t pertain to the pending agenda item will not be allowed for consideration by the Co-Chair. The Co-Chair will then assign a number for the draft resolution which will be considered by the committee for approval by them.
The Chair shall then announce the consideration of the draft resolution in order.
This motion is not debatable and it does not require a vote.
The sponsors must submit one paper copy to the Chair and each other member state in the committee. Up to 5 minutes to explain the main provisions and answer points of inquiry is granted and only one draft resolution is considered at a time.
The Parliamentary Procedures during discussion of a draft resolution:
Motion to Close Discussion of Draft Resolution
This motion immediately ends the discussion of the draft resolution, which requires a second and a placard vote. It gets approved if the majority vote in favor. If approved, the Chair should immediately call a roll call vote on the final approval of the draft resolution.
Motion to Reconsider
This motion is following the roll call vote on the draft resolution. It offers a motion to reconsider the vote whether approved or rejected. It requires a second and may not interrupt a speaker. It must be offered by a delegate who voted on the prevailing side. The Chair shall recognize one delegate in favor and one in opposition. It has the following speeches and placard votes. It is approved if ⅔ of the delegates agree.
Motion to Table Draft Resolution
This motion suspends the discussion of the draft resolution for an indefinite time. It requires a second and may not interrupt a speaker. The Chair will recognize one speaker in favor and one in opposition. It has the following speeches and placard vote. It is approved if the majority vote in favor. If the draft resolution has been tabled, the committee may decide at a later time to bring it back to the floor for consideration.
Motion to Remove a Draft Resolution from the Table
If the draft resolution was previously tabled by the committee. This motion is to bring the draft resolution back to the floor for consideration
Motion to Consider an Amendment to the Draft Resolution
These proposed amendments must be sponsored by two member states and co-sponsored by at least four other member states. The Co-Chair will assign a number to the proposed amendment which will be considered by the committee in order of its approval by the Co-Chair. The Chair shall then announce that consideration of the proposed amendment is in order.
This motion requires no debate or vote. The Chair shall then recognize sponsoring delegates for up to five minutes to explain proposed amendments and answer points of inquiry from other delegates.
One proposal amendment may be considered at once.
There are some other Parliamentary Procedures:
Motion to Close Discussion of Proposed Amendment
This motion immediately ends discussion of the proposed amendment. It requires a second and may not interrupt a speaker. The Chair will recognize two speakers in opposition. This has the following speeches and placard vote. The motion is approved if the majority vote in favor. If approved, the Chair will immediately call for a placard vote on the proposed amendment.
Motion to Remove from Table an Agenda Item
This motion is designed to remove an agenda item from the table upon a placard vote and if ⅔ of the delegates vote in favor, it gets approved.
If the agenda item was previously tabled by the committee, bring the agenda item back to the floor for consideration. It’s not in order if there’s another motion, draft resolution, or proposed amendment on the floor of the committee for consideration.
This requires a second and may not interrupt a speaker. The Chair recognizes one speaker in favor and one in opposition following speeches and has a placard vote on the motion.
Motion to Recess
This is to temporarily suspend the meeting to go to recess (done for lunch break and end of the first day). It requires a second and may not interrupt a speaker. It should indicate the time at which the meeting will reconvene. It is not debatable & has an immediate placard vote. It is approved if the majority vote in favor.
When the meeting reconvenes following the recess, the business shall continue from the point at which the meeting was suspended. The Chair may declare suspension of the meeting at any time.
Motion to Adjourn
This motion is at the end of regular meetings of a committee or council. It requires a second and may not interrupt a speaker. It is not debatable and requires an immediate placard vote. It is approved if the majority vote in favor.
I know that these look like a lot, but trust me, it’s not!
Happy Model UN!
Archium Five. “Introduction to Model United Nations.” YouTube video, 2:46. July 16, 2016. youtu.be/gt1LT4XKP5Q.
Cashion, Scott. “Model UN Terms.” Google Slides, Haas Hall Academy Bentonville, September 6, 2022. docs.google.com/presentation/d/1yrZ5TTrx5jiQdl9nGT30_LKMd3UMot_HoUcfQwmW6ys/edit?usp=sharing.
Greater Hickory International Council, hickoryinternationalcouncil.com/pangea-model-un/.