MUN (Model United Nations) is a simulation of the real United Nations. A group of students from the same school band together to represent a country, or 'delegation', where individual students are 'delegates'.
The debate is conducted within two sets of bodies: the General Assembly and the Committees. The committees are usually composed of one delegate per delegation, so they are much smaller than the General Assembly. They focus on one particular group of issues, such as human rights or disarmament. The exception is the Security Council; here, there are only 15 countries represented and almost any topic could come up. The most common are those relating to international peace and security.
This section applies to the standard committees (Political I, Political II, Disarmament, Ecology & Environment, Health and Human Rights) only. There are separate pages on Security Council Procedure and Special Commission Procedure
A resolution is the UN version of a law. Technically, resolutions that have not been passed should be referred to as draft resolutions, but in practice this is rarely done. A resolution is composed of preambulatory clauses and operative clauses. The operative clauses are numbered, and these are the ones which put forward some action to be taken (the preambulatory clauses are the background to the problem being addressed). The operative and preambulatory clauses must start with particular phrases. In MUN, there is normally a limit to the number of operative clauses to prevent resolutions from becoming too long. All delegates can submit a resolution to their committee on one of the agenda topics (the agenda will be published some months before the conference). There is a sample resolution on the Documents page, as well as a guide explaining how to write your own resolution. You will need to bring an electronic copy of your resolution with you to HABSMUN for it to be debated. However if you are in the Special Commission we advise you bring clauses that you can lobby.
Before debating of resolutions begins, delegates will need to present and discuss their proposals with other delegates. A good lobbyist should be able to summarise his/her resolution neatly and concisely so fellow delegates can gauge what the aim of the resolution is. Furthermore, they will need to be persuasive to gain allies and supporters of their proposal resolution.
Delegates will require a certain number of co-submitters before they can be selected for debate; this number is chosen by the Chair. There are a couple of regulations to which delegates must adhere. First, a signature that has been obtained from a delegate of the same school as the main submitter is not valid. Second, only two signatures from delegates of the same school are permitted. These regulations ensure that each resolution submitted for approval has substantial support from a range of people in the committee.
Delegates should aim to get signatures from member states that are allied with their own nation’s policy on the particular issue at hand. Delegates may find that they do not have enough signatures, or feel that their chances of success could be improved if they were to merge their resolution with another delegate’s whose resolution has similar views. This has the advantage of combining the co-submitter signature count of both resolutions. Delegates may need to edit the merged resolution to avoid going over the clause limit or to avoid repetition.
Apart from signatures, lobbying is also a time where one may wish to set-up yield chains (see below) and determine potential allies in the committee, as well get to know the other delegates with whom they will be debating.
After the requisite number of signatures has been collected, the resolution and signature sheet should be given in to the Approvals Panel. The Chairs will clarify exact procedure for submission of resolutions.
Debate in committees is split into time for the resolution, time against the resolution and voting. The chair proposes the timings for debate and calls the main submitter of the resolution to take the floor as the first speaker in time for the resolution. After the time has elapsed for speakers for the resolution, debate will move directly to time against the resolution, unless there is a motion from the house to extend debate time.
The main submitter is required to read out the operative clauses of his or her resolution before making a speech in favour of it. Subsequent speeches will only be required to speak on the resolution, without reading it. Speeches will rarely last longer than 2-3 minutes and the chair may ask delegates to come to their closing remarks if the length of their speech is seen to be limiting debate time for the committee as a whole. Delegates may end their speeches before this time if they wish.
Delegates must remember to use parliamentary language at all times. As well as being generally polite, delegates should not refer to themselves as ‘I’, since they are representing a country. They should use pronouns like ‘we’, or refer directly to their country (e.g. ‘Burkina Faso feels…’).
In addition, it is not in order to discuss funding for the UN or associated bodies. For the purposes of MUN, the UN is assumed to have unlimited funding. This is because discussions about funding can ultimately dominate a debate, without delegates being able to tackle the pertinent and interesting issues at hand. It is in order to tackle the funding of non-UN bodies, such as member states; a resolution calling on a state to finance a project may be discussed with regard to that funding. A resolution calling on the UN to finance that same project, however, may not be discussed with regard to funding. It is, however, in order to discuss the practicalities of a proposal, and whether or not it is an effective use of funding.
Following each speech, the delegate will be asked by the Chair whether he or she is willing to take points of information. In the event that they are, the Chair recognises a number of delegates from the floor to ask points of information. Points of information should be relatively short, and must be phrased as questions. If a point of information is too long, incomprehensible, not phrased as a question or if it does not pertain to the resolution or amendment at hand, the Chair may ask the delegate to rephrase it; if the delegate receiving the point does not understand, they can ask the Chair for the same to happen. A delegate asking a question should remain standing until the speaker has answered it. There are usually between 2-4 points of information.
Following points of information, the Chair will give the speaker the opportunity to yield, either back to the Chair or to another delegate. 'Yielding' means passing the floor on to another delegate, or back to the Chair. As such, if the speaker chooses to ‘yield to the Chair’, the speaker takes his or her seat and the Chair will ask the house if there are any further speakers wishing to speak for or against the resolution (depending on which half of the debate is in progress). The speaker may, however, choose to yield to another delegate; if the Chair declares that this is in order, the delegate who has been yielded to proceeds directly to the floor. The next speaker then proceeds to speak as outlined above. At HABSMUN, the usual yield chain will be no more than A > B > C > Chair. Delegates may forge yield chains (i.e. agreements between themselves) during lobbying or breaks, but not across the house; in other words, scrawling 'YIELD TO ME' or similar on the back of a placard to solicit yields (known as 'unofficial lobbying') will not be allowed.
Following speeches, delegates will be required to vote on the resolution as a whole. For votes on resolutions, delegates may vote for, against or they may abstain. Resolutions require a simple majority to pass.
The General Assembly (GA) is composed of all delegates, and debate is conducted in the same way as in committees; however, amendments cannot be submitted. The resolutions debated are usually those passed in committees (they need no further signatures to be debated in the General Assembly).